This is the story of recent interaction I had with Nora Bradbury (Director of Faith Formation, St. Patrick’s Church in Victor, NY). I’ll just lay it all out there mostly because it’s easier to copy-and-paste than to paraphrase the whole saga and I don’t believe there’s anything all that private being revealed here. The interaction began with this email from Nora:
I’m writing to ask if you would remove an inaccurate post on Cleansing Fire. You have posted my name on your “worst hits” list dated September 4th, 2011, with a link to the original post dated December 26th 2010. You say that I am a member of SBNR and I am not. I did have SBNR listed on my Linkedin profile at one point as a topic that I speak about and though I may have briefly jumped in on an SBNR Linkedin group to see what the conversation was, I do not ascribe to that ideology. I have been a church-going Sacrament-receiving Catholic all my life and it is my fondest hope, as well as my life’s work, to pass on the Faith to the next generation in hopes that they will become the same. Thanks for your time.
Yours in Christ,
Thank you for contacting me to clear this up – I really appreciate it. I have updated both posts and have removed your name. If you want something further – like a post stating essentially what you’ve said below – just let me know. I can certainly understand your desire to reach out to the SBNR group (or to just learn what they’re about) – that is a good thing. I have at times checked with people before posting what appears to be scandalous material to make sure of their intent. In your case, I decided just to write the disclaimer that you certainly might have good intentions (as you did). It was bad judgment, however, on my part to put it into the “Worst Hits” before checking with you. I apologize to you for that.
I felt bad that I may have highlighted someone on CleansingFire who didn’t warrant it, but I was glad I gave her the benefit of the doubt from the get-go (a good reminder that it’s always best to give the benefit of the doubt).
What I hadn’t realized was that prior to contacting me she had posted this on facebook:
I just found out that I’ve made the “worst hits” list of a local conservative Catholic hate website. I’m not sure whether to be creeped out or flattered. I’m in excellent company though Joe Marcoux, and Ed Palumbos also made the list. The charge is that I am spiritual but not religious (SBNR) I think many of my friends would be surprised to hear that I am not religious
As it turns out the Gospel of Niceness has its limits as the comments to this post spawned comparisons of me to the KKK and the Westboro Baptist Church in addition to Nora’s initial comment calling us a “hate website”. The Gospel of Niceness is very intolerant of those who don’t subscribe to it – they will label you a hater, a racist, and a bigot before you can blink. And, of course, those who subscribe to the Gospel of Niceness are most assuredly your intellectual superior (see this interesting post today). I subsequently asked Nora for the opportunity to respond to her friends’ comments:
Someone pointed me to your facebook post in which you reference this incidence. I realized that your facebook page is open so I went and read it for myself (and glanced at some of the comments). I sent you a friend request in hopes that I might respond to some of the comments. I so enjoy a good dialogue, so I’m hoping perhaps you’ll let me post this comment:
I’m the one who posted the article that referenced Nora on what she calls the conservative Catholic hate website. In case you’re wondering, here’s what I wrote:
“Nora Bradbury-Haehl’s linked-in page (where she claims to be a member of SBNR). She is also Director of Youth Ministry at St. Paul’s, Webster. Those two things are mutually exclusive. Before we rush to judgment, perhaps we give Nora the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she’s only a member of the SBNR group so that she can evangelize the truth of the Catholic faith to them.”
Pretty hate-filled, isn’t it? Just wanted to let everyone here know that I gave her the benefit of the doubt from the get-go. At Nora’s request, I removed the reference to her. My apology to her was that I didn’t check with her about her intentions of joining that group on linkedin. The reason I didn’t do this is because usually when I do that, I either get no response or someone tries to pick a fight. In this care, I should’ve checked with Nora first. Instead I gave a disclaimer that she very well could have good intentions (which she later told me she did and I applaud her for that).
So you might be wondering why I would even post what I did. Here’s a short synopsis of what this site is about:
Catholicism (like any religion) has boundaries. To go outside those boundaries is to work against the institution. This particular diocese happens to have a serious problem in that many of its pastors, teachers, and professors teach things that are outside of these boundaries, while claiming to be teaching Catholicicism. This is being dishonest. Whether you believe in Catholicism or not, I think most people have respect for the virtue of honesty. If you are a Catholic teacher and are teaching things that are contrary to the Catholic faith, then you are not being honest. I’m not saying Nora fits into this bucket – I don’t have any idea really. But, I can tell you that many (most, perhaps) of those in power in this diocese do. To be more specific, here’s just 3 examples – 1) male-only priesthood 2) the intrinsically evil nature of contraception and 3) the instrinsically evil nature of the homosexual act. I’m guessing most people commenting above would vehemently disagree with those things and you are free to do so. I certainly don’t hate people with those beliefs – I have good relationships with many people with whom I disagree. What I suggest, though, is that people with those beliefs be honest that they are not inline with Church teaching and above all else don’t teach those things in the name of Catholicism.
Why do I bother with this website? Embracing Catholicism (all of it – every last bit) changed my life. Everyday I praise God for reaching out to me even though I strayed away from Him. I want others to have the same opportunity – to be presented with the authentic Catholic faith…- a faith that can heal, bring peace, help you to love others and to love the life that God has given them, and to look to Him every step of the way. Our forefathers in the faith went to unbelievable pains to pass it on – the least we can do is to not diminish it and treat it like something inferior.
With all that said, if you still want to call me a hater, then so be it. May each of you be blessed.
for more see this post here:
I waited a few days and didn’t received a response. In the meantime, a friend of mine had alerted me to a few articles written by Nora that call into question certain infallible doctrines of the Church (thus showing that she is not fit to teach the Catholic faith.) So, I sent her another note:
I don’t know if you’re still pondering letting me defend myself of being a hater (along the lines of the KKK and Westboro Baptists) or not, but in the meantime, I’d like to give you the opportunity to let me know if you still stand behind what you wrote here:
I’ve been (fairly) quiet on the issues that Ratzinger called for silence on- the ordination of women to the priesthood, birth control to name a few- but I think that time has come to a close. I’m tired of not talking about important things- sexuality, power, who is allowed to do what and who gets to say so. I’m tired of working and worshipping in an environment of fear and mistrust. I’m NOT leaving and I’m NOT going to be quiet.
Martin Luther addressed the abuses of the hierarchy in his time and ended up excommunicated.
For these women too, their love for their church and their fidelity to the Gospel brought them to a point beyond the boundary.
If you wish to discuss, I can explain to you why these statements are troubling – especially for a teacher of the Catholic faith. If not, just let me know if you happened to have changed your position on these issues. I want to offer you the opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings that might be present in those statements.
It’s been a week and I have yet to receive a response from Nora. It appears that from these actions and from her linked article above, Nora understands well the principle that “silence gives consent” (see video below). Now I have another term to be on the lookout for – “church-going Sacrament-receiving Catholic”. My future response to that claim will be, “that’s great! and I assume that also means you are true to Magisterial teaching?”
Another quote from her articles linked above:
We’ve got a new pope, he’s the guy that brought us loyalty oaths… Maybe he will surprise us. In the meantime, anybody need a drink?
And what’s the point of the dreaded loyalty oath? Honesty and transparency. It is meant to require those who are put in positions to teach the Catholic Faith to assert that they will indeed teach the Catholic faith and not something else. It’s the perfect opportunity for Nora to “not be quiet” about what she believes and declare publicly that she doesn’t agree with certain infallible teachings of the Church. And what, in her opinion, would be so bad about that? She is perfectly free to go teach whatever she believes in another Christian community. She is not, however, permitted to suggest that doctrines that have been infallibly taught are open for discussion. For someone whose “life’s work is to pass on the Faith to the next generation” I would think that honesty and transparency would be given high regard. Just recently our Holy Father made this very observation saying that “he [Judas] would have left if he were honest.”
Another point worth noting is that while Nora’s facebook page is open to anyone who has a facebook account (at least the last time I checked), after I sent her a friend request, she has explicitly blocked me and only me from seeing anything she posts. I’m still holding out hope that her spirit of dialogue will kick in and she’ll get back to me.
Before someone accuses me (once again) of being judgmental (calling upon this past Sunday’s Gospel to prove their point), I’d like to very briefly review some aspects of sin. Sin has an objective component and a subjective component. It is not wrong to look at an objective act and call it sinful or erroneous. It is the subjective aspect about which we must be very careful and always give the benefit of the doubt. In Nora’s case (and probably thousands upon thousands of others in this diocese) we must always give the benefit of the doubt that she has been improperly taught. Just consider the fact the local institutional Catholic Church has for the most part encouraged this type of dissent and blessed it. Being in “good company” is what a lot of these folks rely upon. I could see many well intentioned people falling into error without being fully culpable. At some point this culpability fades away as folks are presented more and more with the truth, but we can never judge when a particular individual has reached that point. That is up to God and God alone.
Here’s a link to the video in case it doesn’t embed properly.