CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (ChurchMilitant.com) - An "evening of Thanksgiving" for the Reformation, held in the diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, avoided the hard teachings of Christ in favor of glossing over differences between Catholics and Lutherans. Held at St. Kilian Parish Thursday evening, the joint prayer service featured Lutheran bishops and ministers, and was titled "An Evening of Thanksgiving in Remembrance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation."
Church Militant arrived on the scene to cover the event, getting comment from the pastor as well as from Bp. Edward Malesic of the diocese of Greensburg, who presided over the ceremony. Church Militant Resistance members also showed up to pray the Rosary in reparation for what they view as an erroneous approach to ecumenism.
Saint Kilian's pastor, Fr. Charles Bober, was resistant to Church Militant's presence, refusing to go on record or give comments on camera, telling crew they were making something out of nothing and to "open" their minds. Church Militant was not permitted to film the entire ceremony.
The service was attended largely by the elderly. The youngest people in the sanctuary were Church Militant's crew, the altar servers and one member of the choir.
The service featured several Protestant ministers, men and women, all present in liturgical garb. Bishop Malesic, Fr. Bober, the Lutheran bishops and all of the ministers processed down the center aisle of the sanctuary. The service opened with a video message from Bp. David Zubik of the diocese of Pittsburgh:
My dear sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ, welcome to the new beautiful St. Kilian Church, as we mark this evening of thanksgiving, thanksgiving that we are not what we were 500 years ago. As we are reminded in the document "From Conflict to Communion," Catholics and Lutherans have so much of the faith in common that they can, and in fact should, be thankful. ... Our worship tonight highlights that which we already share, particularly our desire to love God above all, in our neighbor as ourselves. As we pray with and for each other this night, our words cannot, must not simply be lip service. Instead, our hearts must continue to be full of desire to be one.
Bishop Zubik concluded, "May we grow closer each day as sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ, and work each day to fulfill the prayer of Jesus, that they may all be one. May God bless you all."
The ceremony consisted of hymns and Scripture readings, interspersed with "witness talks" by Donald J. McCloid of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), Rev. Donald B. Green, formerly of the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, and Helene E. Paharik, a lay woman affiliated with the Catholic-Lutheran Planning Committee.
The talks contained no mention of the infallibly condemned errors of Lutheranism. Rather, the "witness talks "focused on shared apostolate efforts between Catholic and Lutheran organizations.
Following the ceremony, Church Militant spoke with Bp. Malesic. We asked him why the event was referred to as an "evening of thanksgiving" and what Catholics should be giving thanks for. Malesic said the event was not to give thanksgiving for the Reformation but rather to commemorate it. He didn't explain what the difference was.
Members of Church Militant Resistance in Pittsburgh arrived early to pray the Rosary in the church. Giving comments on their reaction to the ceremony, Greg and Julie Kessler told us they didn't see any substance in the event and no discussion of important differences between the Lutheran and Catholic religions. Lynnette Shuster, who became a Catholic five years ago, said the indifferentism present in the Church caused pain for her and discouraged members of her family from even considering becoming Catholic.
Church Militant also spoke with the executive minister of the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, the Reverend Liddy Barlow of the rabidly pro-abortion and pro-homosexual United Church of Christ (UCC), among those present in the ceremony. Barlow wore a stole embellished with rainbows, which she told us was not a statement of support for the homosexual movement — in spite of the fact that Barlow presides over same-sex weddings. Her Facebook profile features a post that reads, "Hey LGBT Pennsylvanians — I do a pretty good job with weddings and would be thrilled to preside at yours."
Another post reads:
Sometimes I don't bother posting political things here, because I figure either y'all agree with me already or I'm not likely to change your minds. But sometimes someone says something that is so egregious that I fear my grandchildren might one day ask me why I remained silent. So, for the record, grandkids, and excuse my language: Donald Trump's proposal that the U.S. close our borders to all Muslims is dangerous, racist, un-American, terrifyingly ridiculous [horses**t].
When Church Militant asked Barlow about the UCC's pro-abortion and pro-homosexual stance, she evaded and instead implied that the denomination takes a neutral stance, saying that members have a variety of views on different subjects. Of her rainbow stole, she told Church Militant that it signified God's covenant with Noah after the flood.
While the diocese of Pittsburgh is celebrating a non-Catholic religion, it is engaged in a marketing campaign aimed at its dwindling number of Mass-going faithful and bracing for its existing priest shortage to become even more severe.