Is Abp. Wester Feeding His Flock to the Wolves?

by Michael Hichborn  •  •  June 18, 2018   

A dangerous vision for 'priestly formation'

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The 2018 Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) annual assembly is being held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 25–28. This places the assembly in the archdiocese of Santa Fe, where Abp. John Wester presides. As we reported previously, the AUSCP is a dissident organization pushing for ordained women deaconesses running priestless parishes — among other abuses — so this couldn't be an official diocesan sponsored event, right?


In June of 2016, Abp. Wester agreed to provide "assistance and support" to the AUSCP as its new episcopal moderator and is currently listed as such on AUSCP's leadership page. In January of this year, Abp. Wester hosted the AUSCP's leadership team, committing to "welcome participants and preside at the assembly Mass" at their upcoming assembly. In other words, he is giving the AUSCP access to the flock Christ has entrusted to his protection and support, allowing the AUSCP to spread their errors both nationally and perhaps even to a parish near you.

AUSCP's Vision for Priestly "Formation"

The upcoming 2018 AUSCP Assembly has priestly formation as one of its primary themes and topics.

First, some background. In 2016, the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy called for each conference of bishops to update their programs of priestly formation. The AUSCP placed steering this process in the U.S. as one of its top three priorities at the 2017 AUSCP Assembly in Atlanta. In January of this year, the AUSCP released a white paper outlining their concerns and recommendations on priestly formation to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.


A full analysis of the AUSCP's vision of priestly formation will be addressed in a future article, but here are some highlights from the AUSCP's recommendations to the USCCB:

  • AUSCP Claims: Too many recently ordained priests are not showing "faithfulness to Vatican II" and are trying to undo the hard work of Vatican II-inspired priests. Priestly formation needs to root this tendency out. (Section I B.)
    • Our Translation: New priests should follow the "spirit" of Vatican II and do nothing to curb previous modernist interpretations.
  • AUSCP Claims: Priests should not view themselves as Alter Christus. "The repeated emphasis on such notions undergirds a sense of distance, separation, elitism, clericalism, insensitivity and superiority, all of which have been critiqued by Pope Francis." (Section II B.)
    • Note: This is an attack on both the nature of the priesthood and the hierarchical structure of the Church. Priests act in the person of Christ (In Persona Christi) when bringing us the sacraments and as Alter Christus ("another Christ") by virtue of his ordination. Pope Benedict XVI stated, "As an alter Christus, the priest is profoundly united to the Word of the Father who, in becoming incarnate took the form of a servant, he became a servant (Phil 2:5–11)."
  • AUSCP Claims: Current priestly formation "reflects a classical and fixed worldview rather than an historical and dynamic one." (Section III B.)
    • Translation: Priests should be modernists.
    • Note: Having a "historical and dynamic worldview" is a hallmark of the dialectical thinking of the heresy of modernism.
  • AUSCP Claims: "Serious consideration needs to be given to having women to serve as professors of theological disciplines and as spiritual directors for candidates. The assumption that only priests should serve as spiritual directors of candidates … needs to be reconsidered and revised." (Section V, C4)
    • Note: The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an integral part of spiritual direction. This will not be possible under this arrangement.
Sr. Katherine Schuth, OSF

Father Bob Bonnot, chair of the AUSCP leadership team, demonstrated the disdain AUSCP holds toward tradition-minded priests while writing a review of Katherine Schuth, OSF's book Seminary Formation. Father Bonnot wrote the review for the dissident organization FutureChurch (which favors open use of contraception, same-sex civil unions, remarriage for divorced Catholics and women's ordination), saying:

Numerous factors have contributed to the current situation in which many recently ordained priests, most born after 1965 who never experienced the pre-Vatican II Church, come out with a determination to minister in a pre-Vatican II way. Some emerge complete with cassock, biretta, fiddleback vestments, capes, preference for Latin and the novus ordo (Tridentine) liturgy, and, most importantly, a clerical mindset. In my recent meetings with priests across the country I heard laments about this reality everywhere.

Read the rest at Lepanto Institute.

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