Friday, September 18, 2009
KENAI, AK -- Arius and Constantine. Luther and Prince Philip of Hesse. And now, Bergkamp and Menting.
Like these heretics and the authorities who endorsed them, Fr. Roger Bergkamp, OMI and Parish Administrator Margaret Menting are but the latest pair to teach and promulgate heresy at Our Lady of the Angels parish in Kenai, Alaska.
During a recent session for the "Generations of Faith" catechism curriculum at OLA, Fr. Roger denied multiple Church teachings on the Sacraments, notably the necessity of baptism for salvation. When a parishioner objected that these teachings were matters of doctrine, not personal opinion, Fr. Roger simply dismissed him and later told another parishioner that "I teach the Christian religion and I will not be bound by teaching only the Catholic faith." Upon being called a Catholic priest, Fr. Roger denied this title, saying, "No, I am a Christian."
Following up on the objections of these parishioners to Fr. Roger's behavior, Ms. Menting, in her role as Parish Administrator and head of the "Generations of Faith" catechism, circulated an email suggesting that such parishioners should "put away the Catechism and Canon Law for awhile. The catechims and the Doctrine are man made by the men of our church." [sic]. Ms. Menting then went on to propose "the Bible which does not change" as an alternative to Catechism and Canon Law. In doing so, Ms. Menting follows in the footsteps of the former administrators of OLA, Sr. Joyce Ross and Sr. Joan Barina, whose teachings and policies contrary to Canon Law are well-documented on these pages.
This blog will attempt to deal with each heretical teaching by comparing it with the Catholic teaching it contradicts; however, it is important to note that there is a common thread of Protestantism in said teachings. Fr. Roger denies the role of the Church and its priests in dispensing the sacraments and Ms. Menting denies the role of the Church as the authoritative interpreter and teacher of Sacred Scripture. Both of these denials are themselves doctrines that can be taught at any Protestant church in Kenai -- they are manifestly not authentic Catholic doctrines, and as such should not be taught at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church.
It should also be noted that Fr. Roger, by virtue of his priestly ordination, is especially entrusted with a responsibility to teach the authentic doctrines of the Catholic Church to the parishioners of OLA in accord with the Second Vatican Council: "Let [priests], as fathers in Christ, take care of the faithful whom they have begotten by baptism and their teaching." (Lumen Gentium, 28)
FR. ROGER'S THESES
1. "Jesus sharing in experience in my life is a sacrament."
2. "A person in the woods who wants to receive Jesus has, in that act of wanting, received Jesus, and that is a sacrament."
3. "Intentional communion (desiring Jesus) is a sacrament."
4. "If we are sorry for our sins, in that moment of being sorry they are forgiven, and that is a sacrament."
5. "Baptism is unnecessary for salvation."
Fr. Roger -- "Jesus sharing in experience in my life is a sacrament."
Catholic Church -- This thesis is subtler than it first appears. First, we should define what a sacrament IS.
In straightforward terms, sacraments are "efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us...they bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions." (CCC 1131)
A sacrament, then, is the means by which Christ, who is "the resurrection and the life" (Jn 11:25) comes to His people, and it is efficacious - that is, a sacrament contains within itself, independent of our worthiness, that grace which is the life of Christ. In this sense, it would be true to say "Jesus shares His life in my experience of a sacrament", or even "Jesus, in a sacrament, shares in experience in my life."
However, Fr. Roger said neither of these things. In fact, he said that "Jesus sharing in an experience in my life" -- which would be the sum total of all experiences ever, since Jesus is God and by His Divine Nature shares in all experiences of everyone's lives (cf. John 1:3, Col 1:16-17) -- "is a sacrament." This of course leads to the absurd proposition that everything, so long as it is has been experienced by someone, is a sacrament.
To be fair to Fr. Roger, he probably meant "Insofar as I willingly invite him, Jesus sharing in an experience in my life is a sacrament." Although less absurd, this is probably even more heretical in its finiteness. Man holds no power over God, by will or no. Nor can man dictate the efficaciousness of God's grace. The efficaciousness of the sacraments is not attributed to man, but to God; or, more articulately, to God-made-man, the Son of God and Son of Man, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, in His earthly life, established the sacraments as "'the masterworks of God' in the new and everlasting covenant." (CCC 1116) Inextricably bound to the Church, which is the Body of Christ, the sacraments are only available through the same Church, by the means of dispensation which Christ prescribed: the ministerial priesthood. This is, of course, what the catechism teaches:
"The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church." (CCC 1120)
While the priest says the words of consecration, it is the power of God acting through him (in persona Christi) that makes the bread into the Body of Christ. Likewise for the other sacraments -- the efficacy of a sacrament, which is part of its very nature, is the grace and power of God acting through His Church, which is His Body. No person may confect efficacy independent of the Church. The grace of God may act independently if and when a person invites Christ into their lives; however, this is not a sacrament.
Therefore, "Jesus sharing in an experience in my life" is not, in and of itself, a sacrament.
To be continued. Please pray for Fr. Roger Bergkamp, OMI, Margaret Menting, and Our Lady of the Angels parish.