Man of the Year, keeper of the faith?

Man of the Year, keeper of the faith?

The local newspaper for Dedham, Mass., has named Fr. Stephen Josoma it’s man of the year, naming him “the keeper of the faith.” For anyone familiar with the archdiocese of Boston, Fr. Josoma is one of the most visible of the “progressive” priests. Right now, he is pastor of St. Susannah’s parish, which is on the closing list, but previously he was stationed with his good friend, Fr. Ron Coyne, the pastor of now-closed St. Albert’s who publicly denied the doctrine of hell.

Let’s look at some of Fr. Josoma’s statements just from this article.

[The change from Latin to English in the Mass] was one of the changes to Catholicism that Josoma saw as positive, “making it more tangible.” He also supported a movement of no longer studying the Bible strictly in the literal sense. “Once you open that door, it changes everything,” he said.

He’s more right than he knows and in a way that I don’t think he means. Once you open the door, and throw out the literal sense, then you have the Protestant reformation, i.e. anybody can say any verse of the Bible means anything they want it to mean. We all become our own pope and magisterium, and that’s where the dreaded fundamentalism comes from.

In many ways, Josoma has carried the spirit of a more approachable church and faith to his parishioners even today. “We’re taught that the church has all the answers, but there’s no room for individual growth that way,” he said.

  • I love how a secular newspaper thinks it’s qualified to name ANYONE as a “keeper of the faith.”


  • the former spokesperson was Chris Coyne.

    Being a priest I am hesitant to throw stones at my brothers since I have too many faults of my own, but Don hit the nail squarely:  “beware being lauded in the categories of the world…”

  • Uhm…

    Isn’t it the Pontifical Biblical Commission that also rejects studying the Bible “strictly in the literal sense”??


  • And just where is the “money” going to? To help survivors of abuse…Kind of an interesting situation that VOTF types want to stop the closings and so stop the flow of funds to help the survivors? Seems that they are only for helping survivors when it demands sacrifice from those other than themselves or when it further weakens the Church so they can reshape it.

  • Litteral sense “Interpretation of the bible”:

    A long document, possible to skip through the headings of little importance to the point of “literal sense” as well as to put the PBC in context in the opening paragraph.

    Take note of the sections:
    II. Hermeneutical Questions
    B. The Meaning of Inspired Scripture
    1. The Literal Sense, 2 Spiritual Sense, 3 Fuller sense.

    A quick scan through this document, I do not see any rejection of litteral sense, but the opposite.

    In general, when I look at our church’s history, I see a church moving continuous from crisis to crisis (and some juggling in between). Example: Consider the History of Dogma – the number of heretical -isms are staggering. Remember that a heretical view can only be such when coming from within the church. I find motivation in this, not easily, it takes much effort. More proof, it seems at times daily,  that Jesus is real, His promise to His Church about the gates of hell proving true repeatedly.

    Those catholics who tend to the foul tasting luke warm side as well as the “single source root cause/conspiracy theorist” catholics need the good fight taken to them with joy.  Evangelisation should not exclude people at both ends. It appears that much effort has always been needed and given to engage heretics with the motivation being their salvation, not justification of our own comforts, prejudices or faulty unchallenged position.  Grumbing about the bad effect of the actions of these people serves only to play into the hands of the devil as it derails our efforts and focus.

  • RP,

    The PBC rejects stopping at the literal interpretation, but it also says that beginning with the author’s original intent is vital to biblical interpretation. But when people, especially progressives, say they no longer study the Bible “strictly in the literal sense”, it means that they usually reject the literal sense with preference for their own meaning that they read into it (i.e., eisegesis). Thus when Paul says that whem man lays with man, it is an abomination, such people either say that’s not what Paul is saying or they reject it because was a closet homosexual, or somesuch.

    After all, when did the Church ever read the Bible only in the literal sense. If that were true, then where would our doctrines about Mary, about the Holy Spirit and about so much else be?

  • Perhaps you might ask what Fr. Josoma actually means when he talked about rejecting a strict literal interpretation of the Bible.

    As for the doctrines about Mary, the Holy Spirit, and so much else, most of them come from Sacred Tradition, not so much from Scripture. Scripture comes first, of course, so we would reject a tradition that conflicts with scripture. But the doctrine of the Assumption, for example, has no scriptural basis—only Tradition.

  • Josoma said. “You encourage them to find their own answers, and to trust in their answers.”

    Is it me, or is the sentiment expressed here by Fr. Josoma the #1 underlying reason why Mass attendance has plummeted over the last 30 years ? This sentiment says ‘go ahead and be your own god – no need to seek the one true God, as He has revealed Himself.

  • Dano, I agree with you. What is the point of attending Mass or even learning why exactly you are a Catholic Christian if the highest standard of faith depends on your own feelings and experiences (i.e. ‘I get nothing out of Mass’)?

    This is the reason CCD has been such an abject failure for @ 40 years… most of it is based on experiencial learning.

  • I read an interesting interpretation of the sin of Idolotry the other day, by a protestant none the less.  Idolotry is not just setting up a thing as your God, althought it is this.  Idolotry is essentially making god a puppet threw which you expound your view of reality, it doesn’t matter if you build a golden bull, or call your god Baal, Zeus, Lucifer, Money, Lust, or even if you call your god the god of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.  When you refuse to take God as he reveals himself, instead impossing your own world view on god, you are committing idolotry.  The One, True, God is the God of Truth, and anyone who sets up a lie against the Truth is a lier and a murder, a son of the father of lies. 

    To disconnect the Spiritual Sense from the literal is remove the anchor from the biblical text in order to deprive the scriptures of their Truth, in order to co-opt them.

    Faith and Tradition are equal aspects of God’s revelation in history, but they are just that, Revelation in and through history and they can not be removed from their context least we risk loosing the meaning intended by the writers, and more importantly by God who reveals.

  • The problem with studying the Bible non-literally should not be called “Protestantism,” unless you want to engender confusion. Protestantism today takes the Bible far more literally than most ot erh Catholic curia, who appear hopelessly side-tracked by higher criticism. What the Man of Year meant by studying scriptuire non-literally is simply dismissing it. The functional principle may of independent thinking may have animated Protestantism, but only in liberal Protestantismn has it meant dismissing the Bible as such. And that strategy has shipwrecked it. As it is much of Catholicism. It is no more fair to equate his words with Protestantism than it is to equate Kung’s with Catholicism. Clarity, please. All ills spring not from the Reformation… at least not directly.