Monday, August 27, 2012

Fr. Bob Pierson, O.S.B, St. John's Abbey, Collegeville Minnesota, Redux.

Ignoring the obvious.

Conservative 'fringe' sites have written about the scandal of priest-monk Bob Pierson who has gone public in his rejection of Church teaching by his public support of gay marriage.  No one in Catholic media seems to pay attention.  Michael Voris pointed out that fact when he covered the scandal last week in a Vortex episode.  Finally, a mainstream Catholic blog, by a Catholic husband and dad is calling attention to the situation:  Acts of the Apostasy - click it and go see what Larry has to say about it.

Bringing it up again...

Why is it important to get some answers and see some action concerning this issue?  Because St. John's is a major abbey with a University - they teach your kids.  It is a liturgical center as well - they influence the Church in the United States and other English speaking countries, and that influence affects your parish, your pastor, your liturgist, your parochial school - you and your kids.

Religious havens.

Traditionally the religious orders have been the place to accept and ordain men who are ssa - homosexual - gay - what have you.  Fr. Pierson admits that he knew he was gay when he was ordained.  I'm sure the entire community did as well. 
“I knew that I was gay when I was ordained,” Fr. Pierson stated, after saying that he was “offended to learn” from a 2005 Vatican document that the Church has declared that men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies cannot be priests. - Source
Many gay men have been ordained within their religious order, only to leave and get themselves incardinated as secular priests in dioceses across the country.  Many have done so without problems or notoriety - consider Fr. Sirico - a guy with a sordid past makes good as Catholic priest-economist, EWTN celebrity.  Unlike Pierson, he does NOT defy Church teaching and endorse same-sex marriage.

Public statements.

Does Pierson really defy Church teaching and get away with it?  Pretty much, even when the Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis protests.  From another source I found the following exchange:
Father Pierson, in addition to his penchant for nude gurus, has a Facebook relationship with another dissident silenced by the Archdiocese, Lucinda Naylor, who was terminated as "artist" in residence at the Basilica of St. Mary's in downtown Minneapolis [...] Naylor asked about his situation, he wrote:
Dear Lucinda: That sounds great! Thanks for your words of support. Yesterday I finally heard from Archbishop Nienstedt. “He is not amused.” In fact, I no longer have permission to minister anywhere in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. Abbot John is supportive of me, but wants me to avoid any more public talks. The amount of negative publicity has been over-whelming. These rightwing Catholics are a really vicious bunch of people. Anyway, in August I am free on August 7, 14, 15, 28, 29,& 30. I hope one of those dates works with Dale’s calendar. He and I have met briefly before, but it will be good to visit over dinner, and wonderful to be with you and Maura as well. THANKS for the invitation. Blessings!
How does St. John's get away with it?

Archbishop Nienstedt is proactive, to be sure, and he does what he can.  Yet St. John's has gotten away with a lot over the years - decades.  I've heard the stories and I've known some of the players.  The Abbey retains its prestige; it is well founded, and well endowed.  Likewise, the University enjoys a good reputation, and more importantly, as I suggested, it is well supported by influential donors and alumni.  We've seen in the Sandusky scandal at Penn State how scandals can be glossed over, hushed up, by institutions more concerned about reputation and status than they are about ethics.  Perhaps this explains why St. John's Abbey has gotten away with so much through out the decades?  Or have all the stories been exaggerations, rumours, even lies told by disgruntled former monks and students? 

Despite its reputation, I've never heard of any canonical investigation regarding the abbey - monastic visitations are not made public, therefore one wouldn't be aware of their occurrence, nor conclusions.  It is my understanding that an abbey is autonomous, answerable to the Holy See, but not necessarily the local ordinary.  I'm not a canonist, so I do not know all the legal technicalities.

What I do know is that Fr. Bob Pierson, O.S.B. is a monk who ran the abbey guesthouse, scheduled retreats, worked with youth, and is active in at least one gay and lesbian support group, who publicly stands against Church teaching regarding sexuality and same sex marriage - yet, as he apparently noted to Lucinda Naylor, "Abbot John is supportive of me, but wants me to avoid any more public talks."   In other words, lay low and this too shall pass.

Sounds like the Abbot runs a pretty tight ship up there.  Not.


  1. Wasn't someone at St. John's a suspect in the Jacob Wetterling dispappearance?

    1. Not sure - I know Josh Guimond's dad thinks his son's disappearance has something to do with the monks. Josh was one of a series of students who disappeared one Halloween night years ago - not all near St. John's however. Sounds very medieval, doesn't it?

  2. Hi Terry - it isn't only Catholics: my neigbor (moved away but still owns house -) began as a Methodist Minister in Minneapolis - upon telling his bishop he was gay, he was quietly removed, but he insisted on some kind of de-frocking ceremony - I guess the Methodists have 'moved-on' from this anti-gay stance ? I don't know. all I Do know is how close to the surface lies a rage, confrontational & awful - I don't get this: what is it, this outrage ?
    I ended up having it directed at me and was left really shaken. Lou

  3. This is really a scandal. However, I'm not sure I understand the relationship of an Abbey to the bishop of the diocese it's located in? Does the local bishop have the same authority over a monastery as he does over chuches in his parish? This has never been clear to me.

    Somebody should impose adult supervision, in any case.

  4. Cy the stalker: You read every thing I write don't you.


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