The Big Picture at St. Andrew’s

medium picture

First, the medium picture.  I have expressed to friends privately my opinion that this “resignation” is not a done deal.  If I am right, this is good news for Fr. Long’s supporters and bad news for his opponents (like me).  My past experiences with the diocese lead me to this conclusion.  We thought, for example, that a meeting with the diocese was a “done deal” only to have the diocese cancel it and refuse to reschedule.  Since the bishop has arrived, the policy of the  diocese on Fr. Long has been clear: stonewall the opposition.  Thus, what is obvious to me is that this “resignation” is by no means voluntary on the part of the bishop or Fr. Long.  They are doing this as a response to the pressure coming from the opposition: the letters, the emails, the phone calls, the requests for meetings, the music director’s resignation, etc.

And the BAA boycott. Those who have sent letters about Fr. Long know that the bishop’s policy has been to ignore them—with one notable exception.  Those who sent letters expressing their support for the boycott received  a quick response with the bishop’s personal signature on the letter.  Don’t kid yourself—the boycott got the bishop’s attention—the resignation came the very week that the boycott was announced.

To anyone paying attention, it should be obvious that the “resignation” was forced by a strong opposition. The conclusion I draw is this.  If the opposition weakens, or is perceived to have weakened,  Fr. Long may stay at St. Andrew’s after all.  If the opposition stops writing letters, and supporters start writing them, and if the boycott poll swings in favor of Fr. Long, I am not at all convinced that we will see a resignation at the end of February.

Just take a look at the comments at this website and look at the boycott poll.  Long’s supporters are much busier than the opposition.  This isn’t over, and Fr. Long’s supporters know it.

big picture

The big picture is this.  As I showed back in October, (here, here) the modernist apostasy that Fr. Long promotes already has a firm grip on the church hierarchy.  And as Pew research has documented, this modernist gospel “that science has replaced the Bible” is emptying the Catholic Church: 6.5 Catholics leave the Church for every person that enters, and science-inspired skepticism was among the chief reasons for leaving:

About half of current religious “nones” who were raised in a religion (49%)
indicate that a lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention “science” as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said “I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.” Others reference “common sense,” “logic” or a “lack of evidence” – or simply say they do not believe in God.

Thus Long’s message that St. Paul was wrong, that Jesus didn’t know everything because he wasn’t divine, that the Church’s teaching on sexuality is harmful, and that science ought to replace the Bible is not winning souls for the Church—quite the opposite, as reason and logic would expect.

Fr. Long is indeed a breath of fresh air—FOR ATHEISTS. The claims being made by his supporters on this website just don’t add up. There just are not that many people clamoring to sign up with “The Church That Is Wrong About Everything.”

The bigger picture for Long’s opposition, as I see it, is not St. Andrew’s at all.  And it’s not Fr. Long either.  It is this poisonous heresy of modernism which we must confront.  It is robbing souls of their salvation and it is robbing people of their mental health and stability, as I argue in my book.  And today this heresy just got a fresh boost of energy from the publication of Steven Pinker’s much anticipated book, Enlightenment Now.  I will be discussing this book soon.

10 thoughts on “The Big Picture at St. Andrew’s

  1. through another lens

    Eric, there were 2 well-publicized (in the bulletin & web) and well-attended meetings held at St. Andrew on 8/16/17 and 8/23/17. They were held in response to the high number of parishioners who were questioning what Fr. Long was saying and doing from the onset of his tenure at St. Andrew. Fr. Long was in charge of both sessions.

    As for the idea of a “small clique operating within the shadows of the parish”…My spouse and I separately belong to a total of 9 ministries in the parish and in each setting there was widespread alarm and discussion before and after ministry meetings about what was going on at St. Andrew concerning the shift in day to day operations of the parish as well as the theological shift from the ambo. These discussions did not take place during ministry meetings that we attended. There was never any co-ordinated plan associated with any ministry we are involved with. Parishioners were making individual decisions as to how to respond on their own – most deciding to write letters of concern to Fr. Long and/or the Diocese of Raleigh. As we attended Mass each week-end from July through February we learned of more and more parishioners who were doing the same, but none of these parishioners were operating with direction from a small clique.

    There were attempts in the Parish Council to address the growing issues surrounding Fr. Long’s appointment as Administrator at St. Andrew, but by December 2017 five of eleven council members had resigned, and long time volunteers had left/been pushed out of their ministries or had seen their ministries dissolved. Fr. Long replaced the council members with his own selections.

    My own concerns about Fr. Long centered around some fundamental tenants of our Church concerning Eucharist. Soon after arriving at the parish, Fr. Long removed the words “nourished by the Eucharist” from our parish mission statement on the parish website and in the parish directory. (The rest of the statement was left intact.) Fr. Long told staff and parishioners that funeral Masses (i.e. funerals which include Holy Communion) would no longer be the norm at St. Andrew and would instead be Liturgy of the Word only – without Communion. He changed or omitted prayers during the Consecration at daily Mass and for week-end liturgies. When I finally had the opportunity to ask if he believed in Transubstantiation, Fr. Long was evasive and would not give a “yes” or “no” answer. I could not understand why any Roman Catholic priest would have so many Eucharistic issues and I lost confidence in Fr. Long’s belief in the Real Presence.

    I would agree with you that there were parishioners “… who knew nothing and were not engaged…”, because I spoke with a parishioner today (2/27/18) on the church campus who did not know that a new pastor had been appointed.

  2. Jill Sullivan

    Father Long brought a breath of fresh air into the church. He doesn’t so much preside, but rather joins the community in worship. I don’t remember him ever saying an unkind word. He proposed views that aren’t the black and white catechism edicts we grew up with. Black and white is easy. We live in a gray world, and he opened our minds to new ideas. We don’t have to agree with them. But we should always be questioning and trying to improve.

    Jesus Christ proposed views that were contrary to the Old Testament. He too was persecuted and got rid of. That didn’t stop his Christian ideals from taking hold. Father Long isn’t divine. But perhaps he is God’s instrument to open antiquated concepts to discussion. If so, he has succeeded.

  3. titrisol

    It is sad for me to see the parish fractured due to a bad experience. I personally tried to communicate my concerns to Fr. Long and never got an answer; many of his sermons injected half-truths and world visions that contradicted not only Catholic teaching but what I have learned by experience so I was not a fan.
    However, having the church in blue during advent did it for me. The external signs are important as they convey emotional messages that our subconscious absorb.

    At this point in time all we can do is pray to Our Lady for a better tomorrow and for the unity of our church and our parish.

  4. Eric Lynch

    Everyone who has taken issue with Fr Bill due to their interpretation of his homilies and pre-reading introductions, is obligated as a member of the Church to call it into question. So I do not fault anyone for bringing it to the Diocese via letters or boycotting the appeal to get your message heard. I personally did not hear the same message that you have taken issue with here and I support Fr Bill.

    However I am deeply disappointed that you have done this as a clique within the parish in the shadows and haven’t engaged the whole of our community. There was no effort to engage the parishioners outside of your circles, no effort to communicate your unease and now your actions have seemingly brought change to our parish. We are supposed to be a community and you took no action to communicate with the rest of us. Speaks to the fact that we aren’t really a community; we’re a vocal group who pressured the Diocese for change and a majority who knew nothing and we’re not engaged.

    I am not surprised by the the actions of Fr Bill or the Diocese but please take responsibility for your actions. You did it for what you believe is good reason so you should own your actions and step into the light and communicate with your fellow parishioners.

    1. C. Davis

      Well, as I’ve stated here before, I’m personally aware of around 75 people from all different demographic backgrounds that have left our parish and/or written letters of concern to the bishop. (Those are just the ones I’m aware of.) This’t an isolated group of just a few individuals.

      All of this activity may not have been apparent to the typical Sunday church-goer, but it’s not like anyone had the ability to schedule a conference in the fellowship hall to publicly inform everybody about this.

      If that were an option, it would have occurred.

      1. Eric Lynch

        I understand that 75 seems like a lot of people but with 2,974 registered families in 2016 75 people would be 1-2% of parishioners (I don’t know the average registered family size in our parish to be more accurate). Even when you consider only the financially active families, 75 people represents maybe 4%. Their opinions are still valid so I’m not trying to dismiss them. I am trying to establish the magnitude of those who are offended.

        Calling a parish meeting is one of the reasons that Pastoral councils exist. A meeting should have been requested through the council and they would/should have held a forum. This has been my experience in other parishes (specifically dealing with church consolidation and abuse issues). If the Council rejected such a request we have another issue. Was a meeting requested?

        Thank you,
        Eric

        1. C. Davis

          It is my understanding is that the pastoral council was intimately involved in this. I believe at least one person even left the council during this time, but I can’t attest to their reasons for resigning. All I can say is that a SIGNIFICANT number of parishioners directly approached Father Long about their concerns and were brushed off. Then they escalated their concerns to the bishop, which is an appropriate next step. My understanding is that the pastoral council has merely an “advisory” role to the priest and lacks any authority over the priest and his decisions. Father Long was entirely in control here.

          Please understand, the issue here is not the parishioners choice to express their concerns to their bishop. The issue is that Father Long consistently promoted views that are in direct conflict with church teaching. The parishioners merely REACTED to a serious issue that originated entirely with Father Long. Please don’t lose focus of that and start blaming concerned parishioners who did what they are called to do in a situation like this – escalate their concerns to their bishop.

    2. Ninny Compoop

      Eric – I agree with you wholeheartedly. There were a large, LARGE number of people who really enjoyed Father Bill as a breath of fresh air, while a small vocal fraction (as you indicated, less than 5% of the parish) generated the noise and boycott. I don’t find it frustrating that individuals disagreed, I find it frustrating that the parish council did not raise these issues to the parish at large in a clear, transparent, formal way – specifically outlining the concerns. Much of what I have seen so far as concerns reminds me of the Pharisees – getting hung up on the colors in the church during lent, while missing the point of love, tolerance, and compassion that was so central to Father Bill’s uplifting message each week. I suspect this will run its course and St. Andrew’s will slip back to where it was – the younger and more diverse parishioners (the future of our church) will go elsewhere – I am trying to decide whether to take my family (and my own quite substantial weekly and annual BAA donations, LOL) to St. Michaels or STMM. I have visited both parishes in the past month, and the difference is just stunning by comparison.

  5. mar

    https://web.archive.org/web/20180214201045/http://dioceseofraleigh.org/news/priest-assignment-and-deacon-appointment-announced
    Priest assignment and deacon appointment announced
    02-12-2018

    The Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama, Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh, conveys the following priest assignment and deacon appointment.

    Effective March 1, 2018

    Reverend J. William Long has submitted his resignation as administrator of Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish in Apex, which Bishop Luis Zarama has accepted.

    Reverend John G. Durbin, pastor of All Saints Parish, Hampstead, and All Saints Mission in Surf City, is appointed pastor of Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish in Apex.

    Deacon Richard Mickle, assigned deacon at All Saints Parish, Hampstead, and All Saints Mission in Surf City, is appointed administrator of All Saints Parish, Hampstead, and All Saints Mission in Surf City.

  6. Chris

    One comment that makes me want to throw up – “Don’t kid yourself—the boycott got the bishop’s attention—the resignation came the very week that the boycott was announced.”

    When $$ is the issue, it gets attention – as a way to protest against or force the Bishop to make a change.
    Sounds too political to me. Never thought I would have to get involved in church politics, and here I am.

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