Liberal Legacy Still Wreaking Havoc in Albany

News: US News
by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 22, 2020   

Ex-seminarian: Bp. Edward Scharfenberger not completely in the dark

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ALBANY, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The diocese of Albany under current Bp. Edward Scharfenberger remains a hotbed of liberal idealogues, homosexuals and canonical violations, says a former seminarian.

With a slew of supporting e-mails and recordings, an ex-seminarian who wishes to remain anonymous to protect some good priests, informed Church Militant that the diocese of Albany coerces seminarians to meet with particular spiritual directors in violation of canon law.

If a seminarian resists pressure to visit a designated spiritual director not of his choosing, the resistance is held against him by being noted and filed along with buzzwords like "rigid" and "resistant to formation," he said.

Coercing seminarians to see a particular spiritual director violates two canon laws:

Can. 239 §2. Every seminary is to have at least one spiritual director, though the students remain free to approach other priests who have been designated for this function by the bishop.

Can. 246 §4. Students are to become accustomed to approach the sacrament of penance frequently; it is also recommended that each have a director of his spiritual life whom he has freely chosen and to whom he can confidently open his conscience.

Reportedly, Albany Bp. Edward Scharfenberger is aware of the situation. The former seminarian said he once told the prelate about the practice during a meeting in which Scharfenberger acted surprised and assured the candidate he would look into the matter. There was never any follow-up.

Father Anthony Ligato was and remains the diocesan vocations director and Fr. Rick Lesser was the former seminarian's supervisor. Lesser now serves as the assistant vocations director.


Ligato and Lesser e-mailed the former seminarian with instructions to attend sessions with spiritual director Fr. Christopher DeGiovine, the current pastor of St. Matthew's Church in Voorheesville, New York in the diocese, because they wanted him "to have exposure to the liberal Church."

He said he saw DeGiovine four times. During two sessions, he said DeGiovine brought up homosexuality.

The second time, DeGiovine started talking about homosexuality in an approving manner, stating, "In the ancient pagan times homosexuals were regarded as being closer to the Divine."

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Fr. Christopher DeGiovine

DeGiovine continued to talk about shamanism in an approving manner during the meeting. The former seminarian said the topics had nothing to do with what they were discussing and led him to conclude DeGiovine had a fascination with the interrelations between homosexuality and paganism.

Lesser asked DeGiovine how the seminarian's spiritual direction was progressing, another violation of canon law: "Can. 240 §2. When decisions are made about admitting students to orders or dismissing them from the seminary, the opinion of the spiritual director and confessors can never be sought."

DeGiovine was uncertain the meetings were in the context of "spirtual direction" and told Lesser the former seminarian was not "opening up," something the diocese chastised the candidate along with wanting a new director.

DeGiovine admited once the diocese misuses "spiritual direction" in this way, and he disagrees with the practice.

DeGiovine has written for Celebration Publications, a division of the liberal National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company. Launched in 1972, it was shut down in 2019.

The National Catholic Reporter dissents from Church doctrine on women's ordination, contraception, homosexuality and other immutable teachings.

One of DeGiovine's articles for Celebration, titled "Surrender and Rebirth," begins with a quote from Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu and explores "the great Lutheran theologian Jaroslav Pelikan." Another, titled "The Communion of Saints and Souls," reflects on different quotes, including one from Sr. Joan Chittester, a long-time dissenter from Catholic teaching on female ordination and abortion.

In addition to sending the former seminarian to DeGiovine, the vocations director, Ligato, also made him attend a workshop led by Katie Down of Sound Well Creative Arts Therapy (SWCAT), "an integrative creative arts psychotherapy and intuitive healing practice with a focus on mindfulness, creativity sound and music."

In the ancient pagan times homosexuals were regarded as being closer to the Divine.

SWCAT also offers "sound baths" and reiki, a practice one ex-reiki master has warned is occultic and spiritually dangerous.

The former seminarian also told Church Militant that Lesser once permitted a woman's lesbian partner to be called her "spouse" from the ambo during a funeral.

A widower, father of three and retired veterinarian, Lesser was ordained in 2015 at the age of 61. Regarding his decision to become a priest, he told local press on the day of his ordination: "I did not have an epiphany or anything like that."

The former seminarian concluded by saying this type of serious disregard for Church laws, teachings and even basic respect for some who are vulnerable in the diocese seems to be the prevalent attitude among certain leading clergy in Albany.

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