Something good in Oregon

Something good in Oregon

Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, has taken an interesting step. He is requiring ministers of the Eucharist and catechists to sign an Affirmation of Personal Faith. The usual suspects will scream bloody murder about freedom of conscience, but in reality what we have is a bishop endeavoring to make sure that those who act and teach in his name are actually doing so with full fidelity to the Gospel. Good for Bishop Vasa.

  • Wow Bishop Vasa really wanted to say a bunch, didn’t he? 

    I thought it was really well thought out.  He makes it clear that its not just about keeping the kids safe but teaching them what the Church says.  Can’t argue with that at all.  In fact, I wouldn’t have minded if he upped the ante a little more with reconciliation for Eucharistic ministers prior to each time they served.(just an example) 

    There was one piece that I had a problem with.  “No one can claim a legitimate right to follow a conscience which is clearly not formed in a fashion consistent with the very clear teachings of the Catholic Church”

    It reads as if he is stepping out of the parameters of lay ministers and making a global statement.  I think all of his statements prior were qualified to that realm.  Saying ” Hey if you don’t believe what the Church says, thanks but you can’t help”  which I am totally on board with.  But if that statement is more global, I would take issue with it. 

    Correct me if I’m wrong.  If he’s still speaking to the realm of lay ministry, again, total agreement. 

    Overall its clear through his writing, that Diocese has a wise man at the helm

  • I think it is a good idea as I met a fellow catechist who did not believe in mortal sin and had apparently been teaching this for nine years. 

  • Jaime,  the statement is global because it is MEANT to be so.

    Silly ideas about “religious freedom” have obscured the Church’s position on the matter—but the fact is that the Church believes that all men have a moral obligation to find the Truth—-the fullness whereof is in the Church.

    Briefly put, error has no rights, and no one has a right to be wrong.

  • I couldn’t agree more Derek!!  Boy that Derek Jeter’s a pretty smart guy… and good at base..

    Oh crap I’m busted.


  • “And if no one has the right to be wrong, there would be no need for redemption. “

    Hey Derek Yankee man,

    There is no ‘right’ to be wrong… only the free will that God grants us.  We have the ability to be wrong, therefore – and that ability is amplified by the seduction of evil (Satan) and our own pride – but it is not a ‘right.’

    We have a need for redemption, for having used our free will to turn away from God.

  • Again Sinner I would refer you to the CCC quoted saying man’s response to God in faith must be free. 

    You are correct that everything comes from what God gives us.  But the Church is saying within that gift of free will, we must come to God freely (sp?).  I have the right to vote.  But that right has been given to me. 

    But not to stray off the topic too much.Directly relating to the quote of Bishop Vasa.  I have the right to make my own decisions.  I have that choice.  It is the Divine that calls me to make the proper choice.  But I am not required to.  I must do so freely.

  • Freedom consists not in doing what we want. Freedom means doing what we ought to do in accord with the will of God. You are not exercising free will when you turn away from God, and it is eminently within the bishop’s duty to tell people that if they disagree with the Church’s teachings that their conscience is not properly formed.

  • Oh I agree with you completely that it is within the bishop’s duty to tell people that their conscience isn’t properly formed.  But the distinction here is that he’s saying no one has a right to make a decision without a properly formed conscience. 

    I am intrigued by your statement that you are not exercising free will when you turn away from God.  Could you expound on that?  I don’t get how you can have free will to follow God but not to turn away. 

  • Agreed, Jaime, that God’s intent is that we have free will, and that we come to Him of that free will.  (For it we didn’t, true love of God would mean nothing…)

    But a true ‘right,’ on the other hand, is granted by God – which you are entitled to by the application of God’s morality and design.  (You have a right to freely enter into true Godly marriage – and to engage there in the act which creates new human life…)  Free will is not something you ‘deserve;’ it is a gift provided to you by God – to make you truly meaningful…

    Other ‘worldly’ rights are granted by higher worldly authorities.  You have the ‘right’ to vote, because it is granted by our Constitution. 

    But though we are provided free will, God doesn’t give us a ‘right’ to be wrong (to sin, to follow evil, and so forth).  He only gives us the capacity to do so.  And He wills us with all He has, and with the infinite gift of His son, to not make the wrong decision.

    If we do so, we are fools.  We have no ‘right’ to be a fool.  But we assuredly have the capacity!

  • I don’t think that’s what Bishop Vasa is saying. I think he’s saying that we have a duty to form our conscience properly before making decisions. I think there’s a difference. Just like we have a duty to learn how to drive a car properly before we drive one. Sure you have to get a learner’s permit and practice driving, but before you head out on the highway, i.e. make real decisions, you need to have been properly formed as a driver.

    My sentence about freedom is a paraphrase of something Pope John Paul said in a speech during one of his visits to America and he was addressing it to America. I couldn’t find the exact quote, but he said essentially what I wrote.

    Freedom is not the freedom to do anything. Freedom is the freedom to do what is right. Choosing sin and death is not freedom, but slavery to evil.

  • See and I thought you were going the Janice Joplin route on freedom.  I do agree with you (and the Holy Father) on the fact that choosing sin is choosing slavery.  But another way to say that is I am free to give up freedom. 

    I’m still pondering your driving analogy.  You got me thinking….

    After revisiting the letter, I do think point 27 is more contextual to the lay ministry than what I originally gave it credit for. 

  • Hey, Derek,

    You’re bleepin’ BUSTED!

    Dom? I would request that you exorcize this demon toot sweet!

    (For my friends in New Yawk and also Palm Beach, this translates to ASAP.)


  • No one has the right to be wrong.  As ninenot correctly stated—error has no rights.  Some people are wrong; all people are sinful.  That does not mean they have a right to be sinful—they just are. 

    ” therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will.”  They’re not being forced.  No one has to be a Eucharistic minister or whatever.  That is not a right—it is a priviledge. 

  • Here is my take on Bishop Vasa,

    Nos. 2, 3, and 4 are liturgically linked to the priesthood.  I think that it is a good idea if he is seeking to follow the documents Ecclesia de Eucharista and Redemptionis Sacramentum.  Personally, I think that it is a great idea, for a number of reasons that will make the NOW (National Orginization of Women) VERY angry.  (Although I would not call it “Ministry of Reader,” but rather what it is, Office of Lector.)  It shows and teaches a fuller idea of priesthood, both ordained (ministerial) and universal.

    Nos. 5-8 seem to be right in line.

    Nos. 9 and 11 are the strongest language that I have seen yet on the issue of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

    “The degree to which this perception is justified varies from one Bishop and from one Diocese to another. God must ultimately be the judge. The truth seems to be that there was an excess of compassion for erroneous priests, a defect of concern for the children who were repeatedly put at risk and a lack of resolve to deal with manifest sinfulness.”

    We need to foster this type of compassion and understanding toward all persons

    No. 18 is also a great summation of the Nicene Creed.

    Nos. 21, 22, and 23 are very discriminatory, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  His logic is sound and I think that the Truth behind the matter is clear.  Morality from a Catholic scope.

    As far as No. 27 is concerned;  “Furthermore, it is one thing to claim a right to follow one’s conscience, even if it is erroneously formed, it is quite another to insist that one be afforded certain privileges, to which one has no right, while following that manifestly ill-formed conscience.”

    I find this fascinating.  It is quite true.  While one has the right, because of free will to either accept or deny Catholic teaching and the Church, if one claims the Church he does not have the right to to dissent, claiming free will.  For to do that, from a Catholic perspective is sinful
    and contrary to free will.  It actually binds one to the “slavery of sin.”
    And that is where Catechesis comes in.  I would also say this.  It is directed toward the laity, but can be applied to those who are ordained or religious, just as easily.

    I think that No. 34 is a bit misleading for an ordinary minster is not temporarily entrusted, but permanently entrusted.  It would seem that he is also expanding the scope of the Extra-ordinary minister of Holy Communion. I find that a bit disturbing, but acceptable; as long as the compitent Ordinary minister allows for the action to take place.

    I find the idea of instiuting installed Acolytes and Lectors is a good one; although, there will be some women who will disagree with me.  For, if those are extensions (or Offices) of the ministerial
    priesthood, then they are rightly prescribed for males only.

    His role of Extra-Ordinary minister of Holy Communion is expanded and there are certain concerns for me, I would accept them.


  • There might be a few men that would disagree with that position as well Camilam

    Again Michigancatholic, if he’s keeping it to the realm of extraordinary ministers, he’s correct.  And if no one has the right to be wrong, then no one has the right to choose God as well.  Which I would actually agree with.

  • Jaime,

    Proof lies in the pudding.  In a purely ministerial role, installed Acolytes and Lectors are properly called as men, because they are extensions of the ordained priesthood; for they are minor orders, still installed to this day.

    A seminarian is installed as Lector after 1st Theoloy and as an Acolyte after 2nd Theology.  So, it would stand to reason that if he were to follow the same model of having installed ministers of Lector and Acolyte, as in that of permanent Deacons, then they would properly be called as male.

    In actuality, one who has left the seminary and is installed as a Lector, rightly has the option to excerise his ministry, as does an Acolyte.  This would be a great advantage to many parishes if those who have these offices were to step forward and excersise these ministries.

    Extra-Ordinary is a different matter all together though.  As it stands now, those who lector at Mass and those who serve at Mass for the most part are extra-ordinary ministers of the Liturgy.

    Should these offices be fostered?  I think that they should.  Because there is so much belly-aching about the lack of priests, installing Acolytes and Lectors would greatly assist the pastors.  And would give a greater and authentic scope to the fullness of the ministerial priesthood.  And also, it would give credence to the authentic roles of lay men and women in the Church.


  • Camilam,

    “The conference of bishops may permit qualified women to proclaim the readings before the gospel and to announce the intentions of the general intercessions. The conference may also more precisely designate a suitable place for a woman to proclaim the word of God in the liturgical assembly.[55]”

    This can be found at

  • Certainly right Mich.  However since 1969 the Conference of Bishops have given women permission to be readers during Mass.  GIRM 1975 verifies that in its american appendix. 

    The 2003 version states nothing that retracts the bishop’s permission.  Nothing that I can find anyway

    Please feel free to teach me

  • Jaime,

    You miss my point.  I spoke to that already.  I am not speaking of women as extra-ordinary ministers of the Liturgy.  In that sense, it is proper that women can be utilized in that manner.

    I said, “Extra-Ordinary is a different matter all together though.  As it stands now, those who lector at Mass and those who serve at Mass for the most part are extra-ordinary ministers of the Liturgy.”

    However, I am speaking of a particular thing, Ordinary ministers of the Liturgy.  Those who have the Office of Lector and the Office of Acolyte are called specifically to be male.  The reason; the offices that I speak of are proper extensions of the ministerial priesthood.

    If Bishop Vasa is going to institute these offices in his diocese, they are offices to be held by men.  That is what I am saying.

    I said that I think that this is a good idea, and I still stand by that.  I think that this distinction is a good one to make insofar as it is the logical extension of active participation of the laity, much in the same way as bringing the permanent deaconate into the ranks of the clergy was.

    So, while women can act as extra-ordinary ministers; I would assert that the Offices that Bishop Vasa is promoting are particular to men.

    This has to do with ministerial priesthood and nothing to do with the GIRM.  However, if you want to get sticky about the GIRM, I would expect you to start promoting the Liturgy facing away from the people, as the GIRM calls for that.

    God Bless,


  • OK, back on topic…..

    I spoke with a priest friend of mine about what Bishop Vasa has said.  He told me that if this was done in his diocese, it would go a long way in helping with catechesis.

    He also totally agreed with the idea of instituting the Offices of Acolyte and Lector.  He told me that it would be a great help on a consistent basis.

    I asked him what he meant by that and he said that every weekend there has to be a schedule of who is going to read and who is going to serve.  If these Offices were instituted, then he wouldn’t have to worry so much about Lectors.  Precisely becaue the Lector would be reading every weekend.  What he would do with the Acolyte is make him the emcee of his parish and put him in total control of the altar boy (server) program.  However, due to his office, the Acolyte would be expected to participate in the “High” Liturgy every weekend.  Again, taking pressure off of him, to a degree.

    I asked him about the different Masses on the weekend.  He said, well, since I have to be at all of them and I am an Ordinary minister, then so would they.  It is a vocation not a privilege, or a right, or merely a convience for the pastor.

    Sure, there would still be a need for extra-ordinary ministers of the word and altar boys (servers), but the need would be dramatically reduced.

    And as far as extra ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, he said that having an Acolyte would almost eliminate the need for them on a weekly basis.  Then they would only be needed on solemnities and bigger feasts.  In a parish his size only two ministers of Holy Communion are needed, on a regular basis.

    I then asked him about larger parishes.  He answered that there is no limit on how many can be installed as Acolytes and Lectors.  If the vocation is present and fostered, then there can be several.

    But he was relating to me on the level of a pastor of roughly 700 families.  Obviously, the larger the parish the more need for installations. 

    Father Larkin also wanted me to re-iterate that this would not take away from the need of extra-ordinary ministers, but it would take the pressure off of the laity to feel obligated.  Again, this is a vocation, not a right or a privilege, even for the extra-ordinary ministers.