Why does Archbishop Gomez tolerate this festival of dissent?

Father Chris Ponnet of LA archdiocese tells parochial school teachers: "I try to figure out how to say a Catholic mass without the word Jesus"

Fr. Chris Ponnet celebrates liturgy at the LA Catholic Worker house. (image from lacatholicworker.org)

Year after year the Religious Education Conference (REC) in Los Angeles produces a new raft of horror stories: accounts about speakers who gleefully dismiss the established teachings of the Church, cheered on by an audience composed largely of people who are paid, by one American diocese or another, to instruct young people in the Catholic faith. Why does Archbishop Gomez tolerate this festival of dissent? I don’t know.

This year, Joseph Sciambra reports, a priest who works in the Los Angeles archdiocese exhorted parochial-school teachers to “affirm” 2nd and 3rd-graders who announce that they are exploring a different gender identity or sexual preference. To encourage little children in that direction strikes me as a form of child abuse. In fact the word “millstone” pops into my mind. Still that advice was not the most shocking statement that Father Chris Ponnet made.

According to Sciambra’s report, Father Ponnet said:

I assume when I walk into a Catholic mass at a Catholic school, that 40% if not more are non-Catholics….So I try to figure out how to say a Catholic mass without the word Jesus. It’s an interesting approach. Most of my Catholic friends begin to wonder whether I’m Catholic.

A priest who can celebrate Mass without mentioning the name of Jesus (and isn’t it interesting that he speaks of the “word,” Jesus?) clearly is not intent on the re-presentation of Christ’s Sacrifice. How can he act in persona Christi if he sees the Lord as an unwelcome guest at the event? This priest, by his own words, raises questions about whether he actually intends to perform the Eucharistic Sacrifice—thus, whether he is celebrating a valid Mass.

Full story at Catholic Culture.


  1. Anonymous says:

    So this priest is against encouraging children who aren’t Catholic to be attracted to Catholic faith; he is against celebrating Mass with explicit reference to Jesus. But he is for encouraging children to explore “gender identities” that do not accord with their biological sex. Archbishop Gomez needs to have a conversation with this priest pronto.

  2. Lou Varini says:

    There are other alternatives to Roman Rite Masses. Masses (and the Sacraments) from any of the Eastern Catholic Churches (Maronite, Melkite Chaldean, Byzantine, Syro-Malobar), are just as valid and beautifully reverent. Even more, the priests actually use the Holy Name of Jesus.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Click on Joseph Sciambra reports link-he has a few articles on what was said at the REC workshops on LGBTQ. I thank him for attending and reporting. Now we need people to attend other workshops and report on them. Not to get people in trouble, but the Bishop can’t be everywhere. And if he doesn’t care, other bishops do. And they won’t know unless somebody attends and reports online.

  4. Anonymous says:

    When parents choose to send their non-Catholic children to Catholic schools, they do not expect Catholics to modify their religion for them. The way they deal with it is “that is what they believe. Here is what we believe.”
    The priest should be told by his bishop to Say the black and Do the red.
    But the prevarication on something so important is indicative of a level of dishonesty that really needs to be addressed.

  5. drewelow says:

    fr ponnet made a point of dressing in alb and stole for street theater as he and another alb and stole wearing priest were arrested for blocking a public trafficway to protest the war in iraq in march 2003. he didn’t seem to need to strip away catholic identity for the non-catholic drivers who could only imagine why jerk priests were making them late to work, hospital, emergencies, school, etc. perhaps he wanted the public to feel that he was ‘Jesus or the Word of God in action. most probably thought that a large man dressed like obi Wan Kenobi’ was lost on the way to Comicon. but for the childrens’ mass, no catholic identity when he is required to be in at least alb and stole.

  6. Michael McDermott says:

    “how to say a Catholic mass without the word Jesus”

    As I recall Jesus is the Name of the Risen Lord, and not just another word plucked from a thesaurus

  7. Steve Seitz says:

    Fr. Ponnet needs to become reacquainted with Christ’s Great Commission: “Go — Make disciples of all nations.”

    Archbishop Gomez needs to take command of his diocese. Has he deluded himself into thinking that he won’t be held accountable on the day of judgement.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I wrote to Fr. Chris Bazyouros, director of the religious education office, to complain about the R.E. Congress. He didn’t respond. I wrote to Archbishop Gomez. He didn’t respond either.

    Fr. Chris and Archbishop Gomez don’t care what anyone else thinks. They are not going to fix the problems at the conference. They think they are above everyone else and nobody else’s opinion matters. They are doing grave damage to the Church. There you have it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Does he think people who are non-Catholic don’t google “What Catholics Believe” before they put their kids in Catholic schools?
    With smart phones people carry encyclopedias, dictionaries, catechisms, etc in their hands these days. They can find out if you are lying in less than 2 minutes. Once they catch you in a lie, it’s over.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There are priests at the REC that play fast and loose with the truth, especially the Church’s teaching on LGBTQ, birth control etc.
    We are not a cult that tells people what they want to hear (even in the name of being welcoming and loving) to get them to join our church or stay in our church. Then later they find out that they were deceived, conned, into joining a Church that they would not have joined if they had been told the truth,
    Tell the truth. Not what you wish was true.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The title is misleading. Archbishop Gomez does not tolerate this festival of dissent. He sponsors it. It is an event put on by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, even though it is held in the Diocese of Orange. He is responsible for it.

  12. Tolerate is the wrong word. Regarding the REC, Archbishop Gomez promotes, encourages, endorses, enjoys, commissions, blah blah blah…The question is why he wants this abomination in his diocese. The answer will no doubt be unsettling.

  13. Archbishop Gomez has been good for LA. Masses are more reverent and the FSSP was invited in. Keeping this Mahony era Marxist shindig is inexplicable.

    • Anonymous says:

      It isn’t going anywhere. They claim they get people from all over the country and from other countries. Most people who attend really like it. The bishop should make sure that everyone who attends will hear authentic Catholic doctrine and teachings. There are plenty of Catholic speakers available. It is a betrayal when you attend a diocesan event and someone teaches you something wrong.
      I once knew a young lady who attended a catechetical instruction and came back with an idea that was not true. I overheard her teach it in a CCD class. I advised her that it was not true and told our pastor she was teaching it, but I couldn’t tell every parent of every kid that their child had been taught something wrong.

  14. We, Christians should not change or alter our dogma to accommodate others. We should love and tolerate others according to the teachings of our Lord, but always maintain our faith as given to us by Jesus Christ and the discipls thereafter, and guided by the Holy Bible. Church services were established to commemorate the sacrifices of our savior and Lord Jesus Christ. How can we have any church service without mentioning the name of Jesus, if we deny him now, he will deny us in our second life. Those who do not like to hear our savior’s name have a problem we should not solve for them, especially at the cost of changing or denying our faith.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The best thing that can be done is when Archbishop Gomez hears of something that has been taught incorrectly or has given a false impression at the REC, he print a correction in their Archdiocese newspaper and on their facebook page and in parish bulletins.

  16. Is there anything positive, or even neutral, which the author sees in the Conference?

  17. Anonymous says:

    [Keynote Speaker] Dr. Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, doubled down on CRS’s commitment to maintaining dues-paying memberships in contraception and abortion spreading organizations, providing funds to abortion and contraception distributing organizations, and retaining the employment of a vice president who is a homosexual activist in a same-sex “marriage.”

    The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions…

  18. Sandra Natale says:

    Fr. Chris Ponnet has been trouble for years, and I don’t know why he is repeatedly given this public opportunity to spread his leftist views that usually contradict our faith. Same with Fr. James Martin, SJ, who was also there. There are a lot of reasons to be critical of the REC, but there is so much that is wonderful! Don’t write it off so easily. I have attended Congress for 30+ years. Contrary to what your article states, the vast majority of people there are volunteers in their parishes. There are people from every walk of life, from California, and from places across the country and around the world. Whether they are speaking about personal spiritual growth, or ways to enhance your religious education instruction, or how to improve…

  19. Sandra Natale says:

    …ministries at the parish level—the majority of the speakers are excellent, in line with the Church, and truly inspiring. They give us the spiritual food and support we need to keep going and growing. This year, for example, I heard some of the best talks I have ever heard, from Fr. Joe Kempf and Mr. Mike Patin. One of the best things about Congress are the exhibits—opportunities to buy books, music, religious articles, etc., to enhance your own spiritual life and/or your ministry. I just invite everyone who read this article to come to Congress and see for yourselves. It is truly an inspirational experience, and the chance to gather together with thousands and thousands of people who seek God’s Kingdom is an amazing experience…

    • Anonymous says:

      Fr. Joe Kempf from the St. Louis Archdiocese? St, Louis has been blessed with great archbishops. Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Rigali and now Archbishop Carlson. They have an auxiliary bishop who is an exorcist. Glad the Faith is spreading to LA.

  20. Sandra Natale says:

    Is it perfect? No. But as we reflect this Good Friday, remember that the man chosen by Jesus Himself to Head the Church denied Him three times; that the band of disciples and LIVED with Him were frightened and hiding. They weren’t perfect either. Despite the controversial speakers, the REC far outweighs them in the good that it does, I assure you. Happy and Blesswd Easter to all!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sandra Natale, thank you for writing your comments here. I am glad that you found faithful things there. But I want to remind you that it only takes one error to mess people up. Then they go on to mess other people up-even if they are not a catechist. They tell family the wrong thing, friends, they talk about it a Bible Studies and parish dinners.
      My MIL told her whole family things that were wrong. Nobody ever doubted her. Nobody ever asked a priest. I caught some of her errors, but some didn’t get discovered until 2 generations later.

      • Anon, some examples please, without family names of course. What kinds of errors did they make that messed people up? It would help us understand. I’ve been in lots of Lexio Divina sessions, but I’ve never heard anyone say something that wasn’t Catholic teaching. Some examples would help. Thanks.

        • Anonymous says:

          You don’t have to attend Sunday Mass when traveling.
          You cannot take Eucharist more than one time per day.
          When we make the sign of the cross, we go vertically for God and horizontally for people.
          God makes mistakes
          Jesus did not know he was God.
          No multiplication of loaves just a miracle of sharing.
          The Church won’t ordain women because undeveloped countries won’t except it.
          Divorced people can’t receive communion.
          If you attempt to get an annulment and are turned down, you can get married.
          Vatican II changed everything, especially Marian devotion.

    • The Real Ralph says:

      That’s your opinion. If it can’t be cleaned up, it needs to be shut down. St. Peter may have been weak before he received the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost, but he wasn’t sick in the head. “Controversial” speakers? Are you kidding? The speakers you call “controversial” are venomous heretics. You want them spreading their dissent among the lambs? This is a big reason why Catholic education in this country is so weak. It produces Catholics who think heresy isn’t bad, it’s just controversial. Keep drinking the Kool Aid, you’re halfway gone already. This conference could be cleaned up in 5 minutes if Gomez had the spine to do it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Truer words were never spoke!

      • Sandy Natale says:

        I invite you to come and see all the good that is there at Congress. The Holy Spirit is definitely present. As Jesus said, “Come and See”. You should be happy that so many thousands of Catholics care enough about their faith that they seek to grow in their knowledge and personal relationship with God. I know God is pleased. You’re right, I should have said heretical regarding Fr. Martin and Fr. Ponnet. They should be dealt with by the Church itself, and their teachings condemned. But I can’t agree that Congress should be condemned as well. I know what it has done for me, and for many others. I pray that you have a truly Blessed Easter!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Christocentricity in catechesis also means the intention to transmit not one’s own teaching or that of some other master, but the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Truth that He communicates or, to put it more precisely, the Truth that He is. We must therefore say that in catechesis it is Christ, the Incarnate Word and Son of God, who is taught – everything else is taught with reference to Him – and it is Christ alone who teaches – anyone else teaches to the extent that he is Christ’s spokesman, enabling Christ to teach with his lips. Whatever be the level of his responsibility in the Church, every catechist must constantly endeavor to transmit by his teaching and behavior the teaching and life of Jesus. Catechesis Tradendae 6

  22. Anonymous says:

    He will not seek to keep directed towards himself and his personal opinions and attitudes the attention and the consent of the mind and heart of the person he is catechizing. Above all, he will not try to inculcate his personal opinions and options as if they expressed Christ’s teaching and the lessons of His life. Every catechist should be able to apply to himself the mysterious words of Jesus: “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”
    Pope John Paul II Catechesis Tradendae 6

  23. Anonymous says:

    22. 1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.
    2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.
    3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.
    Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy

  24. I did not attend the Congress, but I did review most of the program sessions. What a gift to the people of the world to have this chance to help those who help others in their faith journey. Was there a session or two that I wondered about? Yes! But two or three sessions out of hundreds isn’t the majority by any means. This event would not last as long as it has if it were as bad as some on this site make it out to be. Go one year and participate, then report back. Watch the Youtube of the opening session and the wonderful Mass. See the enthusiasm of the participants.

    • Truth-seeker says:

      To Bob One: This isn’t a numbers game: more good than bad. Any large gathering of the faithful to increase/expand their knowledge of the Faith should not contain ANY presentations contrary to Church teachings. This only confuses [brainwashes?] those attending. And it is much, much more dangerous when a gathering [like the REC] bears the imprimatur of, and has its speakers vetted by, the teaching authority of the Church—in this case, the Archbishop of Los Angeles.

    • Anonymous says:

      It was more than two or three sessions.
      When a speaker says that Jesus sprained his ankle a few times, it is not contrary to the faith. But it is a person who is just making something up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Two problems:
      You can’t tell anything by the program sessions blurbs.
      A person of faith can know to avoid the controversial speakers but could end up messed up by someone who is not controversial because their is no oversight. There is no one making sure that what is taught there is in conformity with the Catholic Faith or the best practices of the Catholic Faith.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t have to be heretical or unfaithful or controversial to mess people up. You just have to wrong. I’ve been wrong. You have been wrong. James 3 starts with:
      Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly,
      for we all fall short in many respects. If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also.

  25. I always notice that there are lots of Religious Sisters in full habits who attend the REC.

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