The Curious Case of Fr. Edwin Dwyer is a Lesson for U.S. Catholics

mass, prayer, petition, funeral, worship

Catholics in the U.S. learned three important lessons recently. We learned these lessons from our bishops.

The first lesson was if you are teenaged Catholic boys wearing MAGA hats, your bishop, and even bishops from other dioceses, will quickly throw you under the bus to appease the liberals. On the other hand, if you are the powerful but liberal and dissident Catholic Mayor of New York you will get a pass from your bishop when you legalize the murder of unborn innocents.   And finally, if you are priest who loves the Latin Mass in a parish with a handful of loud mouthed liberals, in a diocese being run by a bishop who also leans left, you are in a no-win situation.

This is pretty much where things stand these days. Even if you are in the right you will probably be condemned as being wrong but what’s clearly wrong will most certainly get a pass.

Covington

The Covington story is old news now. Diocese of Covington Bishop Roger Foys was quick to issue a statement condemning the students’ behavior based on few seconds of out of context video. He said appropriate action would be taken “up to and including expulsion.”  Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville was quick to jump on the condemnation bandwagon, and Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky soon followed.  But as we all know by now, the boys did nothing wrong.  They were, in fact, victims.

Cuomo

But after Cuomo recently signed the heinous The Reproductive Health Act, bishops in New York proceeded with the utmost caution. As CNA reported, “Bishop of Albany Edward B. Scharfenberger, questioned if supporting and signing this law could impact Cuomo’s standing in the Catholic Church and ability to receive communion.” Yet canonist Ed Peters stated back in 2011 that Cuomo should be denied Communion based on his co-habitation living arrangements.   That Cuomo would sign and celebrate a heinous law is beyond the pale.  But Scharfenberger and Cardinal Dolan seem to be moving very slowly, and not taking any “appropriate action” in regard to Cuomo whatsoever.

Fr. Dwyer

This brings us to Bay City, Michigan. Fr. Dwyer was trying to re-introduce some of the beauty and reverence of the TLM, albeit in a very limited way, to Catholics at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Bay City, MI, in the Diocese of Saginaw. He was doing this in an effort to bring Catholics back to Mass in a diocese that has seen a constant fall off in weekend Mass attendance.  This angered “a handful” of the liberals in the parish who let Fr. Dwyer know they did not like what he was trying do.  They were apparently very outspoken at a parish meeting on January 21.

Even though there appears to be more support for Fr. Dwyer’s efforts than opposition, the belligerent liberals also complained to the liberal bishop who moved quickly.  Fr. Dwyer was removed from the parish and placed on leave effective Feb 8.

Nuthin’ to worry about?

We should not be surprised by any of these three incidents. Too many of our bishops today suffer from Ivory Tower Syndrome, Ostrich Syndrome, and Denial. Many are also guilty of malfeasance. And heterodoxy is slowly replacing orthodoxy in many dioceses and archdioceses.

Some of these problems were on display at last fall’s USCCB Meeting when Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, Florida said in regard to the sexual abuse that the bishops should not get too worked up over what’s going on. “People are coming to Church; they’re praying; they’re sending their kids to catechism [class]; the life of the Church is moving on. If you’re not reading the blogs, if you’re not watching cable TV, this is not front and center for most of our people.”  His comment was reportedly met with some applause.

In Wenski’s view then, and all the bishops that applauded him, everything is fine in the Catholic Church. Catholics are still praying, paying, and obeying so there’s nothing to worry about.

Yes, Catholics are still going to Church, but less than half as many Catholics in the U.S. are going to Mass each week than were going to Mass 50 years ago. And as so many polls point out, too few Catholics today agree with Church teaching on morality.   Far too many today seem to accept the Protestant teaching of once saved always saved that lets people pretty much act how they want and do what they want to do.  Why does this not worry Wenski and his brother bishops?  Why does the falloff in Mass attendance over the last 50 years not bother all of our bishops?

No good reason to object

All three of these incidents are troubling.  But the situation Fr. Dwyer has found himself is especially unsettling. There is absolutely no good reason for parishioners to protest or get angry about their parish offering both Novus Ordo and Extraordinary Form (EF) Masses.  And there is no good reason for a bishop to remove a priest from a parish for trying to re-introduce reverence and piety back into the Mass.  Even though a handful of progressives prefer the NO, the majority of parishioners support Fr. Dwyer’s efforts.

Some Catholics prefer the Novus Ordo Mass, and that’s fine. But some Catholics prefer the reverence and piety of the EF.  Of course there’s room for both, but apparently not if you are a liberal.

As I wrote a couple years ago, “Catholic laypeople, especially those who are conservatives and TLM aficionados, need to speak up and get more involved in running the parishes they belong to – volunteer to serve on the parish council or take part in any parish ministries (like Faith Formation or whatever name their parish gives to Religious Education) where they can make a difference. They can even just take some time to talk to their parish priest and let him know they’d like to hear sermons more geared toward explaining doctrine and examining current social issues.

“The new, modern, post-Vatican II Church has seen a tremendous fall off in both vocations and mass attendance. Clearly, the progressive plan for modernizing the Church has been a failure. Traditional, devout Catholics need to take a page from the progressive playbook – they need to get involved in order to change things.”

Divisiveness is spilling over

Unfortunately, the divisiveness that now infects our country politically also carries over into religion. Progressive Catholics don’t like anything traditional in any way, shape, or form.  Just like political progressives, progressive Catholics seem bent on causing trouble.  They want to make conservative, traditionally minded Catholics conform to what they think is correct and right.  And Catholics who believe in tradition and orthodox Catholicism have to fight back.

In the case of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Bay City, MI, the parishioners who supported Fr. Dwyer need to make their voices heard.  They need to let Bishop Walter Hurley, the apostolic administrator of Saginaw who removed Fr. Dwyer from the parish that they are not happy. They also need to stand up to the “handful” of liberals who are being so vocal.  The question is, will they do that or will they Instead just “go along to get along.”  If that happens it will be a shame.

It will take is some resolve on the part of those Our Lady of Peace parishioners who support Fr. Dwyer’s efforts. An empty or nearly empty church on Sunday will send a strong message.  (No, I’m not saying don’t go to Mass; I’m saying go to mass at other parishes.)  A petition signed by a majority of the parishioners and submitted to Hurley asking for Fr. Dwyer’s appointment as pastor at Our Lady of Peace is another good message.

And maybe a copy of the petition should be sent to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to the United States. Perhaps a letter explaining how he screwed up in requesting that Hurley be appointed apostolic administrator of Saginaw should accompany the petition.

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23 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Fr. Edwin Dwyer is a Lesson for U.S. Catholics”

  1. I to am a member of Our Lady of Peace, and I am very upset with this decision. First and for most many have written letters to Bishop Hurley, I have, I have called and left messages, and have also emailed. As of today still no response. I will continue to do this everyday. I might add I pray and ask everyone who is in support of Father Edwin Dwyer to pray that God will soften the heart of Bishop Hurley to hear, and accept the emails, letters, and calls of those that support Father Eddie. WE that love and support him, WE WANT HIM BACK!!!

  2. All those Bishops who are progressives under the influences of the wicked post vatican-11 are leading souls to hell, let me tell you. Their
    agenda is to get along with the world to loo k good and enjoy social status. They are merely concerned with building community rather than building a church of prayer and holiness along with charity where it is most needed and necessary. They disrupted the original and infallible catholic teaching on morality in many ways that the faithful don’t know what to believe. These progressives should not supported and should be radically criticized.

  3. We are a war! Not between flesh and blood, but between principalities and powers! Light and darkness, good and evil. This war makes all the other wars of humanity rolled into one look like a picnic! The enemy has angelic intelligence, which is far greater than ours. He is an expert tactician! He full well knows that if he can snipe the leaders, the followers will disperse. Strike the shepherd, scatter the sheep. Beginning in about the 1920’s, the Church was infiltrated by well-trained Communists with the sole purpose of undermining and destroying the Church. By the 1950’s some of these men reached the rank of bishop and even cardinal. (Read the testimony of Bella Dodd, who personally admitted to placing over 1100 young men into our seminaries while she was a Communist operator in the U.S. She later converted to Catholicism. The other group that has infiltrated the Church for the same purpose is militant homosexuals.
    I’m not saying that there aren’t great priests and bishops in the Church. I’m saying that we cannot trust all of them. From a strict standpoint, there is no such thing as a “liberal Catholic” or a “conservative Catholic.” The Truth does not admit to liberal or conservative. It just is. And, strictly speaking, what is the truth? Jesus Christ!, who said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the light.” Either we are in the truth, or we are out of the truth. Period. If we are Catholic, we accept ALL of Holy Mother Church’s teaching.

    1. There is also a book out there called AA-1025, which is a published diary of one of these so-called priests from the 1940’s who were really plants from the KGB. If his number was 1025, then there were at least 1025 planted KGB in our priesthood, how much damage was done and I am sure they were recruiting less than holy men to become priests, so multiply that.. I pray that True Catholics find the right parishes and defend the legitimate priests. Remember, Jesus said, by their fruits you will know them. Pray also for discernment.
      God Bless.

  4. I am someone that actually does prefer to “Novus Ordo”” to the EF (and I prefer the Byzantine liturgy to that), and I think you’re absolutely right. I actually wrote in a blog that I have about dealing with a Pope bashing (as in he does it during his homilies) priest and an abortion “rights” supporting priest (that never openly preached it). It does get confusing.

  5. Also in Saginaw we have 3 priests “on loan” currently. Fr Prentice in Detroit, and 2 in Calif. Fr. Jenuwine and Fr. Roa. All very good priests. we would travel past a few Catholic Church’s to get to where these priests were at. Mass was done well no surprises. Confession was awesome. “Traditional” so not welcome in Saginaw

  6. We have arrived at a very sad state of affairs when faithful Catholics are routinely kicked under the bus while Catholics who are obstinate public sinners get a pass. It is appropriate to remind our clergy that they are shepherds, and shepherds must keep the wolves at bay. The problem is that too many of our shepherds can’t (or won’t) distinguish the wolves from the sheep because, it seems, they are ignorant or behave in much the same manner as the wolves.

    After 30 years of drowning in the liturgical goofiness in the Diocese of Victoria, BC, I left a diocesan parish for an Ordinariate community that welcomes Tradition-minded Catholics and celebrates the Mass with reverence and the dignity it fully deserves. I realize that parishes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter are few and far between, but if Catholics want a (much) better home, give the Ordinariate a try. That, or join a parish of good and holy groups such as the FSSP or ICKSP.

    We should pray for our errant and weak bishops. We should, when clergy fail to uphold Tradition, ask God to relieve us of those who are unwilling to promote the Gospel and defend the Truth.

    1. Wow, I was living in Victoria when Vatican II came down the pike and it is great to hear from someone else who went through the insanity and came out alive. The fact that you survived 30 years of it is amazing in itself. Have been in the Archdiocese of Vancouver for more than 30 years now and, on the whole, find most of the NO masses very reverent although some friends choose to attend the TLM parish of Holy Family. Something, though, is bothering me and can’t put my finger on it. Maybe my imagination is over active these days and my gut instinct that all is not well in our Archdiocese will turn out to be just that an over active imagination.

  7. Terry LaForest Lynch

    Excellent article. I am a parishioner at Our Lady of Peace, supporting Father Eddie. I just have one correction of the article. Father Eddie was not offering the Extraordinary Form, the Latin Mass. Every change he made was in accordance with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal of the Novus Ordo.

  8. Fr. Dwyer will be celebrating mass at 9:00 am kn Sunday at Holy Family in Saginaw, Michigan. All of his parishioners should attend that mass this weekend instead of one at Our Lady of Peace.

  9. The problem with the Church is not bad bishops or goofy priests. The problem is the apathetic, silent, lazy majority of the laity. Most do nothing, contribute little financially and complain. While every parish has good, faithful, devout people who further the work of the Church they are in the minority. Thank God for the active folks.

    1. Fr. Khouri,
      I would like to respectfully disagree with your statement that bad bishops and goofy priests are not the problem. I believe that they are very much the problem. Yes, there are many good bishops and priests (and I pray for them because they are in a very tough spot)—but more and more we are feeling the great damage to our Church from very poor, weak bishops and priests. And their influence seems to be in the ascendancy. Some, I believe, are outright evil, but others are just weak and refusing to swim against the prevailing current.
      The fear of political retribution, that is being felt strongly among those clergy who serve or teach in Rome, is also felt here in the States. The good priests, who want to truly shepherd their flock, know that they are in danger of getting reprimanded or even removed from their parishes for homilies that support orthodox Catholic teaching if their bishop is among those who moisten their finger and stick it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. And those few good bishops who have the courage to break ranks with their more liberal brothers, such as Bishop Strickland of Tyler,TX, must feel pretty lonely.
      Yes, we need active laity, but we are desperately in need of HOLY bishops and priests, who are real spiritual leaders. Historically, when religious leaders failed in their duties, God had to send His prophets. He will not fail to do it now.

    2. Father, please, those who hold power set the tone. All bad news about the Catholic Church emanates from the priests and bishops and cardinals. Not the laity.
      The RCC in the US has many bad bishops and many scared priests who want to be everyone’s friend. Bring souls to Christ, well, not so much.
      To be frank, I trust, maybe six US bishops and no diocese apparatchiks.
      View the latest vile remarks from a Catholic bishop, Jolliet Illinois, on why he won’t say Jesus founded the Catholic Church. Yes, true, read it and watch it said on a Catholic college campus. This leech should be removed immediately. He will never be removed…bet on it.
      I have given up on the American Church, not the Faith, but the skeleton of a church which infiltrated with homosexual men bent on its destruction.

    3. So true, I hear if parishioner’s don’t like real Catholic teaching homilies, they complain and the good Priest is sent away, sometimes to a place is MD that “reprograms” them, but it is a punishment to these good priests.

  10. Good article. Heterodoxy does seem to be in many cases to be “slowly replacing orthodoxy in many dioceses and archdioceses” or perhaps it’s been there a long time, only now it’s more easily recognizable.
    For example, officials in my diocese, a better description would be “bureaucrats”, have a strong dislike for anyone who doesn’t practice contraception.
    That’s right, these officials have a strong dislike for not only for what the Church Teaches in Humanae Vitae, but for couples who actually believe and follow what the Church Teaches. Go figure.

    And the Bishop.. well… it’s …
    – the River in Egypt Syndrome…
    Da’ Nile.

  11. I grew up Catholic and attended Mass prior to Vatican II. I saw and see in the Novus Ordo a strange banality leaning toward Protestantism. I feels like each person attending (participating?) is able to deny the grace of the Mass or take advantage of it. I thing there is a need to return to the Mass of St Gregory (in English), which is almost identical to the liturgy of Rome pre Vatican II. It has a reverence built in.

  12. I see in today’s opening caption at Big Pulpit, there is a painting of Purgatory. One of the inmates appears to be wearing a miter.

  13. Pingback: THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  14. Mr Van Son,

    I have a great idea, and one that will help get the cause going. You happen to live (probably) within a 2 hour drive from Our Lady of Peace Parish. How about printing out a stack of flyers with suggestions, and either passing them out after all the masses or placing them on the windshields? It must be made clear that all of those who disagree with what has happened to Fr Dwyer must participate in order to make a difference.

    A starter list:

    1. Attend Mass at a different parish until Fr Dwyer has returned AND is allowed to continue with his work in restoring beauty to (all of) one Mass per week.

    2. Do NOT financially contribute to the parish, whatsoever.

    3. Do NOT contribute any time or talent to the parish.

    4. Write the Bishop and the Nuncio in a respectful, but firm, manner, making concerns clear, and stating what will be done until this matter is resolved in a positive way (Items #1-3).

    5. Determine who complained to the bishop and confront them (Why couldn’t they have just attended a different Mass since the Mass is NOT “all about them”.

    I have confronted several priests and many lay persons. I have been smacked down about 90% of the time. It doesn’t stop me, albeit I am bit more afraid. Clergy can be quite cruel, but so can the average in-name-only Catholic. That doesn’t mean that I have the right to give up trying. The lay faithful of Our Lady of Peace Parish need to know that taking the above actions is acceptable, and that, in actuality, they are really the only form of persuasion we laity have available.

    Perhaps you will be the catalyst for resolution and restoration in the parish. What a tremendous gift that would be to God’s children.

    1. Cheryl,
      Taking any kind of action is something the parishioners at Our Lady of Peace need to do, on their own, if they liked what Fr. Dwyer was doing and agree with the changes he was making. Any kind of interference by a non-parishioner, “an outsider” if you will, could unnecessarily complicate matters. The parishioners at Our Lady of Peace must decide for themselves to what extent they are willing to prosecute this (in the non-legal sense of the word). It is their parish.

    2. If it’s a beautiful church Fr Dwyer was booted from and people stopped attending, the bishop would probably shutter it and sell it to a Protestant church that appreciates the design or to a bar or coffee shop entrepreneur or chain. It would be better to do as that one said and get in committees and what not in order to improve things.

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