Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Archbishop Speaks (or Writes)

By Mitchell

(We report, you decide: continued.)

Our friend (and now fellow blogger) Hadleyblogger Ray has shared with us his correspondence with Archbishop Flynn regarding Fr. Altier. First, the Archbishop's email:

To interested party

Thank you for your recent note. I appreciate that you have benefited spiritually from Fr. Altier’s homilies. He has done much good work and is not being “silenced.”

Fr. Robert Altier is a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in good standing. He wrote to ask me for permission to extend his radio ministry. I reviewed the situation and discerned that a break from his multi-media apostolates might be beneficial to him and to the parish of Saint Agnes. His primary responsibility has been and continues to be as assistant to the pastor there in ministering to the parishioners. The specific reasons for this decision are within the context of a bishop’s relationship with his priests. It would be most inappropriate to discuss them with others.

Many people have leaped to inaccurate and unkind conclusions. They do a disservice to Fr. Altier and to me. I pray that Lent will be a time for them to examine their consciences and grow in charity. They would be well-advised to listen to or read some homilies about the perils of rashly judging others and about the respect owed to the successors of the apostles.

Some people have mentioned concerns with regard to the “safe environment” programs for children. Let me assure you that pastors in this Archdiocese have a number of options from which to choose and that parents always retain the right
to withhold their children from any program to which they object.

I hope that you may avail yourself of some of the other good spiritual resources on the radio, Internet or in good, old-fashioned books. I personally enjoy the insights of the periodical missal Magnificat. You are also free to visit Saint Agnes where Fr. Altier continues to actively minister.

With every good wish, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, D. D.
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

Ray's reply: As an aside, “To Interested Party” is a strange salutation for a letter coming from my Archbishop. I’m sure that there must be a more “pastoral” salutation that could be used.

It might make some sense also to set up an special email account for the Archbishop for such emails.

My comment: This response is pure Archbishop Flynn: at once pastoral and condesending, thoughtful and tactless, intriguing and infuriating. In many ways it reads like a letter of recommendation written by an HR department for an employee that has been fired: cautious in the extreme, stressing the obvious, providing nothing that could be used against them, adding nothing to the base of knowledge.

To the archbishop's suggestion that his critics "would be well-advised to listen to or read some homilies about the perils of rashly judging others and about the respect owed to the successors of the apostles," his point is correct, and well-taken. One could only add that the archbishop himself might be well-advised to consult scripture, particularly Matthew 18:6.

UPDATE: Regular Guy Paul received the exact same response (form email, anyone?) from the archdiocese (scroll down to the end of the post to read), and has some pointed comments of his own.

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