Action Alert!

The Shameless Archbishop . . . Weakland's Self-Revelations Are A Cautionary Tale

by Paul Likoudis


In light of the publication of former archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland's autobiography, Paul Likoudis comments on the arrogant and consistent actions taken by the archbishop to undermine the Holy See's intentions regarding Vatican II, which were key in implementing "reforms" leading to serious liturgical abuses and division within the Church.

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The Wanderer

Publisher & Date

Wanderer Printing Co., St. Paul, MN, May 28, 20092

"It is quite human for the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings; what is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without the need to have recourse to God and His mercy" — Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor.

+ + + When the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen would encounter an ex-Catholic who bragged that he had left the Church, the archbishop would bluntly respond, "Oh, what was your sin?"

Today, we have the spectacle of the former archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland, OSB, proudly bragging about his sin, recalling his past sexual affairs with other men and objecting to the Church's teaching that homosexuality "is objectively disordered."

"Those are bad words because they are pejorative," he told The New York Times' Laurie Goodstein in an interview heralding the May 29 release of his autobiography.

Weakland's public proclamation that he is a "gay" American and the attention he is drawing to himself with his new narcissistic, tell-all book, A Pilgrim in A Pilgrim Church, one Milwaukee Catholic told The Wanderer, "is opening a can of worms. Even worse, it is like he is ripping off all the scabs from the still-festering wounds he left in this archdiocese."

One of the motives in telling his story, Weakland wrote, is that he is concerned about "revisionism," and wants to tell the true story about his amazing career, where he was front and center at some of the most important events in the life of the Church in the latter half of the 20th century. He was most disastrously part of the liturgical "reform" that followed Vatican II.

Weakland's admission that he is, and has been since his teenage years, a homosexual, is yet another indication that homosexual liturgical revolutionaries were the driving force behind the demolition of the Roman Rite of the Mass. That process began more than five years before the revised Missal of Pope Paul VI, the Novus Ordo.

The late Msgr. Richard Schuler of St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, Minn., had the misfortune of observing Weakland closely as he led the liturgical wrecking crew that had commandeered the newly formed Church Music Association of America in 1964. Msgr. Schuler wrote in A Chronicle of the Reform: Catholic Music in the 20th Century (Sacred Music: 1990) that Weakland and his co-conspirators around the world were united in their opposition to the liturgical renewal called for by Vatican II. They routinely ignored appeals from the Holy See to stop their "useless and harmful" innovations. They carried on a massive public relations and propaganda campaign in both the secular and Catholic press, as well as in deceptive, official- sounding communications to priests and religious, distorting what the Church desired in terms of sacred art and music.

In his Chronicle detailing the debacle that Weakland (and his co-conspirators, notably Fr. Frederick McManus) caused, Msgr. Schuler wrote: "The records of the meetings of the members of the commission on sacred liturgy, together with the suggestions of periti and the final discussion of the document in St. Peter's, form the foundation for future study of what was exactly the intention of those who gave us Sacrosanctum concilium.

"Several things concerning sacred music were crystal clear: Gregorian chant is the special music of the Church and must be given primacy of place; the long tradition of sacred music in all styles must be fostered and used; the purpose of music in the liturgy remains the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful; the reforms begun by Pius X must continue and grow, especially the active participation of the people. The council clearly reaffirmed the musical traditions of the Church and at the same time gave ample challenge to musicians to continue and enlarge their work in the service of God's worship." From the time Sacrosanctum concilium

was released, Archabbot Weakland dissented. He especially could not give his assent to the use of Gregorian chant. As Msgr. Schuler noted: "A meeting was sponsored in Kansas City, Mo., November 29 to December, 1966, by the American Liturgical Conference. Opposition to the sixth chapter of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was voiced by Archabbot Weakland who said that ' false liturgical orientation gave birth to what we call the treasury of sacred music, and false judgments perpetuated it.' Those 'false judgments' seem to have been made by the fathers of the [Second Vatican] Council who ordered that the treasury of sacred music be preserved and fostered. . . .

"This was the beginning of efforts that have continued over the past 20 years to undermine the intentions of the council fathers and the work of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae, founded by Pope Paul VI for the express purpose of implementing the directives of the Vatican Council in matters of liturgical music. Those who were unhappy with the role given to sacred music in the sixth chapter of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy have never ceased to oppose what the Church has ordered for sacred music in its liturgy.

" They have by their actions set Church music back to a state far worse than when Pope St. Pius X began the work of reform in 1903. They have promoted their own ideas of what music and liturgy should be, but these fail to correspond to the decrees of the council or the documents that followed after the close of the council. A careful analysis of the legislation given for the universal Church and the reality as it is presently promoted in the United States exposes a considerable divergence between the two . . .

"Since liturgy expresses belief, the importance of using it to diffuse errors is clear. Most Catholics know their Church and their faith chiefly through the Sunday Mass. When their worship is turned about, so will their very religion follow. When liturgy becomes entertainment, secularized and profaned, then its role as the expression of Catholic dogma is weakened and even lost for those who look to it for their spiritual sustenance, the 'primary source of Catholic life,' as Pope Pius X called it.

"The resurgence of modernism or neo-modernism was well organized all over the world. It spread with incredible velocity and efficiency. Indeed, there are those who think that an international conspiracy was operating. An agency called the International Center of Information and Documentation concerning the Conciliar Church (IDOC) promoted the tenets of neo-modernism and functioned on an international level with associates in every country. All areas of Catholic life came under its scrutiny, and the names of those working under its direction included some of the best known scholars, religious, and clergy of this country. Their aim was the same in liturgy, catechetics, religious life, education, the press, social action, and even Church music.

"What was happening was not without direction and purpose. To counter required equal if not greater organization, and such was not at hand. The results of the greatly advertised ' changes' introduced into the postconciliar Church by the modernist camp can be seen in the catastrophe we have witnessed in the closed schools, defections from the clergy, decayed religious life, fewer converts, a substantial drop in attendance at Sunday Mass, theologians who defy the Magisterium, fewer vocations to the priesthood, and the banality, profanity, and ineptitude of what is now promoted as liturgical music.

"Who is responsible? In the field of liturgical music, those who voiced their opposition to the conciliar directives at the congress in Chicago and Milwaukee were associated with the National Liturgical Conference, Universa Laus, the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy and the Music Advisory Board organized under that committee.

"The activities of these groups in the years following the Fifth International Church Music Congress provide the answers to many of the questions asked by Catholics who wonder what has become of their musical heritage, what has happened to deprive them of the sacred worship of God that the liturgy should be. They wonder, in a word, why the clear orders of the Second Vatican Council on the reform of sacred music, set out in the sixth chapter of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, have not been heeded and implemented in the United States," wrote Msgr. Schuler.

Msgr. Schuler's essay, available online at, also details how Archabbot Weakland and his co-conspirators arrogantly and consistently defied clear instructions from the Holy See with regard to liturgical music and music programs, and even explicit commands to dissolve the organizations that were destroying the legacy of sacred music that began with Pope Pius X. Their efforts culminated in the "hootenanny Mass."

Msgr. Schuler recalled: "Typical and perhaps most interesting of the innovations engineered through the Music Advisory Board by Fr. McManus, Fr. [Godfrey] Diekmann, and Fr. Weakland was the 'hootenanny Mass.' The scenario began in April 1965, when Fr. Diekmann delivered an address entitled 'Liturgical Renewal and the Student Mass' at the convention of the National Catholic Educational Association in New York. In his speech, he called for the use of the 'hootenanny Mass' as a means of worship for high school students.

"This was the kickoff of a determined campaign on the part of the Liturgical Conference to establish the use of profane music in the liturgy celebrated in the United States. Universa Laus had already begun a similar effort in Europe. In September 1965, the Catholic press began to carry reports of the use of hootenanny music by those in charge of college and high school student worship. In February 1966, the Music Advisory Board was called to meet in Chicago, with an agendum that included a proposal for the use of guitars and so-called 'folk music' in the liturgy.

" It was clear at the meeting that both Fr. McManus and Archabbot Weakland were most anxious to obtain the board's approval. The archabbot told of the success of such 'experiments' at his college in Latrobe, Pa., where, during Mass, the students had enthusiastically sung, 'He's got the archabbot in the palm of His hand.' Vigorous debate considerably altered the original proposal, and a much modified statement about 'music for special groups' was finally approved by a majority of one, late in the day when many members already had left." But once the rubber stamp had been applied, the intensity of the debate and the narrow margin of the vote were immediately forgotten. The Music Advisory Board had fulfilled its function; it had been used. The press took over. American newspapers, both secular and ecclesiastical, announced that the American bishops had approved of the use of guitars, folk music, and the hootenanny Mass. Despite repeated statements from the Holy See prohibiting the use of secular music and words in the liturgy, the movement continued to be promoted in the United States and in Europe. Deception played a part, since American priests were allowed to think that the decision of the Music Advisory Board was an order from the bishops themselves.

"In reality, an advisory board has no legislative authority, nor does a committee of bishops have such authority. Decisions on liturgical matters need the approval of the entire body of bishops after a committee has received the report of its advisers and submitted its own recommendations to the full body. The hootenanny Mass never came to the full body of bishops; it did not have to. The intended effect had been achieved through the announcement of the action of the Music Advisory Board and the publicity given to it by the national press. It was not honest, and further, it was against the expressed wishes and legislation of the Church. . . .

" The gullibility of the American clergy and their willingness to obey was used. A confusion was fostered in the minds of priests between the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy and the Liturgical Conference, which indeed had interlocking directorates. As anticipated, most American priests failed to distinguish between the releases that came from them, taking the proclamations of both as being the will of their bishops.

"Meanwhile, the official directives of the postconciliar commissions in Rome rarely reached most American priests. They knew only the commentaries on them provided by the liturgists both nationally and on the diocesan level. As a result, the altars of most American churches were turned versus populum; choirs were disbanded; Gregorian chant was prohibited; Latin was forbidden for celebration of the Mass in many dioceses; church furniture and statuary were discarded." These innovations which distressed untold numbers of Catholics were thought to be the orders of the Second Vatican Council. Rather, they were the results of a conspiracy whose foundations and intentions have yet to be completely discovered and revealed.

"The Church is clear in what is its liturgical reform. The documents for an ongoing work, begun by Pius X and slowly developed through several pontificates, reached their fullness in the council and the later instructions that undertook to implement the will of the council fathers. Formulating the specific details of the liturgical renewal fell to the pontificate of Pope Paul VI. In the area of sacred music, the most significant document was the instruction of March 15, 1967, "Musicam sacram."

That document, which is still binding, lays down the Church's law on what is to take place at Mass. Forty-two years later, one might wonder if any bishops, besides Weakland, have heard of it, so well was it buried.

Weakland's peculiar revelation, furthermore, reinforces the groundbreaking work of Canadian Catholic journalist Sylvia MacEachern, who was the first to investigate and document the role of a clique of homosexuals in deconstructing the Roman Liturgy with the intention of effecting a permanent moral revolution against the papacy and the universality of the Catholic faith.

In 1966, she noted, at precisely the same time that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Liturgy sent out a missive to priests decreeing the vernacular, instructing them to turn their altars around and to give Communion in the hand, the leadership of the conference sent a letter to Canadian Justice Minister and future Premier Pierre Eliot Trudeau supporting his proposals for the decriminalization of abortion, divorce, contraception, and homosexuality.

With this perspective, it is no surprise Weakland's 25-year tenure in Milwaukee was marked by his frequent outbursts at the Holy Father, his toleration (even encouragement) of liturgical abuses, his close collaboration with Planned Parenthood, "gay" activists, sex educators, his persecution of traditional-minded priests and his protection of pedophile priests — to say nothing of the hundreds of mean-spirited and downright nasty letters he wrote to lay people.

A Catholic News Service report on the forthcoming autobiography captures Weakland's petulance.

Brian T. Olszewski reported under the headline, "Archbishop's book details lifelong journey, struggle with sexuality," that in the book's epilogue, Weakland "returns to why he has written his memoirs, adding that he 'often had a front seat' in the Church and world history that parallels his life.

"Noting concern about 'revisionism' that he detected particularly when people were writing about the years of Pope Paul VI's pontificate, the archbishop wrote, 'I have thought it important to say how I, as one individual, saw what was happening then. True, it is only one believer's experience, but, I hope, one worth sharing and saving for posterity'."

Weakland's life story goes from being a poor boy in Pennsylvania coal country to a meteoric flight to the top of the Benedictine Order, a world traveler, a cosmopolitan bon vivant, only to have his youthful hopes of a modern Church dashed on the rocks of John Paul II's pontificate. In fact, Weakland blames the Pope and his Curia for his subsequent downfall: "His relationship with the Vatican during the papacy of Pope John Paul II was not easy," reads the CNS story. "'On every ad limina trip without exception, I noticed that I would be singled out — the other bishops were never aware of this — and told to meet with' the heads of various Vatican offices, Archbishop Weakland writes.

" 'Upon arrival in their offices, I would be presented with a list of complaints. These were actions or decisions of mine that seemed to irritate the Pope and members of the Curia' . . .

"During the bishops' spring meeting at Collegeville, Minn., in 1988, Archbishop Weakland learned that the Vatican Congregation for Bishops had asked another U.S. archbishop to investigate him. He writes that no one from the Vatican spoke to him about the outcome of that investigation during his ad limina visit in December 1988."

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