Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Beware the Mission Statement

I am very wary of mission statements for any organization. However, catholic parishes that have them usually are leaning left or have completely fallen over. The latter has happened at St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis.

Below is the mission statement as found on the parish's website:

Church of St. Joan of Arc
Mission Statement

St. Joan of Arc is a joyful Christian community
which celebrates the loving Word of God
in worship and in action.

We transcend traditional boundaries and draw those
who seek spiritual growth and social justice.

We welcome diverse ideas and encourage reflection
on the message of the Gospel.

We are committed to the equality
of all our members and strive to ensure
their full participation
through liturgy, education, and service.

By these means we seek to empower all
who come to grow in wisdom and bring to reality
the promise of Christ.

Okay... there is absolutely no mention of anything that would identify this parish as being Roman Catholic.

Theology professor R.R. Reno, a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, wrote the following in the February, 2005 issue of First Things:

What my reception into the Catholic Church provided was deliverance from the temptation to navigate by the compass of a theory. The Catholic Church has countless failures, but of this I am certain: Catholic Christianity does not need to be underwritten by and idea... The Catholic Church needs no theories. She is the mother of theologies; she does not need to be propped up by theologies.

The church of St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis seems to be the antithesis of what Professor Reno has so astutely noted. SJA seems to be more interested in a Unitarian notion of religion which encompasses many theories of many individuals. That is okay at SJA since it "welcomes diverse ideas."

That is very dangerous.

In the February 2005 print issue of crisis, Mark P. Shea takes SJA to task and points out its dangerours "ideas" that often result in horrid liturgical abuses:

It's a beehive of activity at St. Joan's. No pro-life work, adoration, or ordinary Christian prayer, of course. But there is the neo-pagan eco-spirituality task force, the ingenious readings from Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Megan McKenna substituted for Scripture during the Mass, the weekly guest homilist, the Hatha Yoga in the sanctuary, the staff bursting with gay pride, the mission statement indistinguishable from a Unitarian committee on Spelling Reform for Guatemala, the lectures asking "Is Jesus God?" with the refreshingly straightforward condescension of the apostate.

Cardinal Pell of Sydney, Australia (one of the good guys) identifies four beliefs of Roman Catholics in his book Be Not Afraid that is a collection of writings and sermons he has given over the years. They are core ideas that should be reflected in any mission statement:

Four Catholic Foundations

1. We believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who loves us.

2. We believe in one Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, who died and rose from the dead to save us.

3. We believe in the Catholic Church, the Body of Christ, where we are led in service and worship by the Pope and the Bishops.

4. We believe that Jesus, Our Lord, calls us to repent and believe; that is, to choose faith not doubt, love not hate, good not evil, and eternal live in heaven not hell.

This is our faith. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

Now it seems to me, that the only thing that needs to be added to the above in order to create a mission statement is: "Our mission is to publicly live our faith in all we do as individuals and as a parish."

Of course, the AmChurch breed would probably cringe in horror at the sight of such a rigid theological statement that has no room for "diverse ideas" and viewpoints. If your parish sounds anything like SJA, be very wary.

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