Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
So some organization called Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice was going to hold some conference in England on June 18. They invited Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most ardent champions of orthodox Catholic teaching and worship to speak at the conference. He kindly agreed to do so. Then, somebody apparently pointed out to the cardinal that the group spent a lot of time fomenting reactionary dissent. So he bailed. Does that make everything the English bishops do peachy? No. But it did send a clear message that the healthy response to problem bishops is not to foment reactionary dissent.
Response: The conference organizers, either in complete and utter ignorance or sheer stupidity, decided to invite Fr. Paul Kramer and Robert Sungenis to speak in his place, thereby confirming the wisdom of Burke’s decision to get out while the getting was good.
Fr. Kramer is notable for his theories of a vast “They’re tunneling under your house” conspiracy involving Rome in some sinister plot to hide the Real Third Secret of Fatima. He also feels himself called to hold forth on how the Second Vatican Council (a valid council of Holy Mother Church) was “satanic.”
Sungenis, meanwhile, vaunts a phony Ph.D from some boxtop diploma mill, some nutty theories about geocentrism, dinosaurs living together with men, the Third Secret, and (most pernicious), a crazy anti-semitism that has reached epic proportions in recent years. Here, for instance is Sungenis’ penetrating analysis of the Holocaust:
“As for Germany’s relationship with the Jews, well, the Germans treated the Jews very nicely when the Jews were excised out of Russia and migrated to Germany. Then the Jews turned on the Germans because they got a better deal from someone else.”
Yes. You read that right. The Holocaust was that reprehensible period when the Jews turned on the Germans because they got a better deal from someone else.
There’s plenty more where that came from and a quick Google on the part of the conference organizers would have discovered it, as well as Sungenis’ growing hostility to both Benedict and John Paul II. Did you know, for instance, that Sungenis feels himself competent to declare John Paul II is in hell?
“if you check the Catholic Encyclopedia you will see that there is still a debate on whether canonizations are infallible, and I believe John Paul II’s case will make the question even more controversial than it has ever been. For me it will settle the issue permanently.”
Sungenis’ long paper trail of crazy, dangerous, and irresponsible oracles is not hard to track on the web. Small wonder his bishop told him to remove “Catholic” from the name of his website. And small wonder he has been in defiance of that bishop and increasingly shows contempt for the Magisterium.
Now one would think that the organizers of a conference with “et Pontifice” in the title would exercise more caution before allowing conspiracy theorists who think the council satanic and the Pope a “neo-catholic” to speak. However, I will charitably assume that the conference planners are, like many folk, not tuned into the Interwebz and therefore were wholly ignorant of Fr. Kramer’s and Sungenis’ loony ravings.
However, William Oddie seems to be fairly media savvy, what with a column published on line and all. So what mystifies me is how he turns his fire, not on the deranged ravings of Sungenis or Kramer, nor on the person who, with preternatural folly, thought it a brilliant idea to put them before the public as sane defenders of the Faith who are more or less interchangeable with Burke, but on Cardinal Burke for wisely disassociating himself from the craziness and fantastically bad planning of the conference by backing out when he discovered it was going to be a farrago of paranoia led people who take seriously two conspiracy theory kooks who attack the Magisterium as heterodox and satanic.
Wise decision, Cardinal Burke. You saved the Church yet another public embarrassment. Well done!
Update: Dr. Oddie very graciously offers a retraction of his complaint and acknowledge the extreme folly of inviting Fr. Kramer and Sungenis to this event. Well done again!