MINNEAPOLIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - Some faithful Catholics are calling for the closure of a Minnesota parish notorious for heterodoxy and liturgical abuse.
Catholic website Complicit Clergy is encouraging fellow Catholics to call and email Abp. Bernard Hebda of the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese to ask him to close St. Joan of Arc parish in Minneapolis.
The parish has been a center of controversy on several occasions over the years. Most recently, a gay couple came up to the pulpit before Mass and gave a seven-minute speech about their decision to baptize the boy they are raising — who was conceived by in vitro fertilization and brought to term in the womb of a surrogate mother.
Speaking to the parish before Sunday Mass, the same-sex couple said they had the boy baptized Catholic and made a blasphemous joke claiming Christ Jesus "had two dads" — alluding to God the Father and St. Joseph.
Following backlash to the gay couple's talk, St. Joan of Arc pastor Fr. Jim DeBruycker issued an explanatory letter in the parish bulletin. He wrote, "Just because the couple is gay does not mean we are promoting a 'gay agenda' — whatever that means — any more than we promote every part of our straight parishioners' 'agenda.'"
He noted that there had been a meeting with Abp. Hebda, during which the archbishop "accepted our apology and understood we were not purposely at odds with him or the Church. He did request we be more proactive in working with our speakers and he asked us to use this as a teaching moment to better present the Church's teaching."
In October 2018, Abp. Hebda canceled plans to have Bp. Robert Lynch speak at a Formation Day following outcry from Catholics. LifeSiteNews reported that Bp. Lynch originally had been slated to speak at an event in late November but was removed from the program in October.
Lynch, a retired bishop from the diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, has been accused of failing to properly handle allegations of clerical sex abuse. There was also a $100,000 settlement over an allegation that Lynch sexually harassed a male staffer.
In an email to clergy on Oct. 11, Abp. Hebda noted that some parishioners had expressed concern about having Lynch speak. Hebda then stated, "If you are contacted on this matter in the future, kindly share that Bishop Lynch will no longer be participating."
In reference to the recent scandal at St. Joan of Arc, Complicit Clergy comments, "Why Archbishop Hebda has continued to allow this den of dissenters to function as a parish is beyond us."
"Keep in mind this latest event is but one example of a long and sordid history of dissent," it adds, citing a long list of scandals that have taken place at St. Joan of Arc over the years.
On Palm Sunday in 2014, the parish had a "puppet Mass" in which actors wearing large masks and costumes danced and sang during the liturgy.
A YouTube video appears to show another puppet performance taking place at St. Joan of Arc at an Easter Sunday Mass in 2015.
The parish also had a puppet Mass on Palm Sunday in 2008. It was performed by a puppet-theater group named In the Heart of the Beast. The puppet-actors danced and sang during Mass in an interpretation of Our Lord's Passion.
Puppet Masses like these have happened in other places as well, and they are considered a liturgical abuse. One of the better-known instances of this kind of liturgical abuse is the puppet Mass that took place at a Call to Action event in 2008. Video of that liturgy is often cited in discussions of liturgical abuse.
Also in 2008, the archdiocese shut down St. Joan of Arc's annual gay pride prayer service — a move that sparked some outrage in the local LGBT community. Apparently, organizers still had the Catholic LGBT prayer service but hosted it just outside the church instead.
Back in 2004, the parish was ordered by the Vatican to remove content from its website related to a gay pride parade. But the parish continued many of its pro-gay events, according to a November 2004 report from The Wanderer.