The appropriate 'development of doctrine" (in iconography) at Our Saviour.
Solid Catholic teaching for all to see.
Undoing the Sacred at the Church of Our Saviour in Manhattan.
I call it a travesty. I thought this type of personality 'marking' was gone - that a new pastor just can't show up and attempt to restore a parish to it's 'former glory' on his own initiative. In this case, there was no former glory, just a bare canvas; allowing for the Church of Our Saviour to be appointed and given its visual glory by it's former pastor, Fr. George Rutler - financed in part by the donations of faithful parishioners. As one author noted:
Fr. George Rutler was pastor of Our Saviour from 2001 until he was transferred in 2013 across town to St. Michael’s, a less prominent location. In the twelve years of his service to COS, he proved himself a gracious and effective steward. He reversed the parish’s decline, eliminated its debts, enlarged and revivified the congregation. Most visibly, he renovated the church building with great sensitivity. - MM - First ThingsI can't tell you the number of churches I have seen 'renovated' in my lifetime. By bishops, priests, seminary rectors, Catholic schools, religious superiors, liturgy committees, and so on. Wonderfully appointed 'sacred spaces' white washed overnight, tabernacles exchanged for a lock box, statues winding up in antique shops, architectural details in architectural antique emporiums, and so on. I worked in a Catholic institution for several years, and almost every time a new superior was appointed, the statuary in the building changed, memorials were ripped out, and replaced with new shrines. The changes were made to suit the piety of one individual, or in an attempt to get on board with the latest liturgical trend. It was subjective demolition, and a means of flaunting authority.
Is this diocesan competitiveness? Is there some sort of vendetta against the former pastor?
It can be argued - perhaps - that Fr. Rutler did the same thing - until of course you examine the art. The artist/iconographer Ken Woo is a master iconographer. His work is of the highest quality, theologically, artistically and architecturally. The interior of Our Saviour has been embellished, quite literally - divinely. I know Rutler is perhaps 'disliked' by some - he's not your ordinary priest. He can be off-putting to the more casual observer, since his manner may strike one as a little pompous. Indeed, I had a hard time getting used to him when I'd see him on EWTN, but he won me over. There are very few priests as erudite and doctrinally sound as he is. Likewise he is an expert on art history and church design. Until now I didn't know he was responsible for commissioning the exquisite design and iconography of Our Saviour.
Is it appropriate use of funds - spending money to 'fix' what doesn't need fixing?
The current wreck-ovation, vandalism, is handed off as a renovation. That is unfortunate. It seems to me it is an iconoclastic desecration and rebuke to faithful, devout Catholics as well as the former pastor. Again, as Maureen Malarkey notes in her essay at First Things:
The new pastor began his tenure by making liturgical changes and, to the dismay of parishoners, by removing fourteen of the most prominent icons. In a gesture mimicking the iconoclasm of sixteenth century Reformers, the denuded pillars were white washed. On Tuesday we learned that the remaining ones, included the magnificent Pantocrator, are slated for eviction. Why? Is Fr. Robbins acting on his own initiative or at the behest of higher-ups? Certainly, a pastor has both his druthers and his prerogatives. But the severity—the totality—of this de-adornment gives off an odor of reprisal. It is hard not to sense malice at work. Whose? To what end? - MM- First ThingsPlease read the entire essay here, and at the end are instructions on how to contact the Cardinal, to politely ask that the church may be preserved from further dismantling. Please be respectful. I'll repost the address here: Email: email@example.com or by phone: 212.371.1011 Ext 2935. Letters marked “Personal and Confidential” can be sent to His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 1011 First Avenue, New York 10022.
Taking the spoils and scattering pearls before swine.
There is much talk of why people are leaving the Church, why men no longer go to Mass. This is one more reason. When my Italian parish church was 'renewed', the high altar, communion rails, and central tabernacle were removed - as were the memorial plaques of donors. Old timer Italians, who donated in the name of their deceased loved ones, donated piously to embellish the church with the most noble of furnishings, the best money could buy, for the honor and glory of God. They were heartbroken when the marble altar rail was sent to a dump. Now the church belongs to a Christian fundamentalist group - while another parish church of my youth has been desacralized, sold and is now a mosque.
It's a scandal.
Fr. Robert Robbins is the pastor at Our Saviour,
and the man responsible for the take-down.
He is also rehabbing-renovating his rectory:
Katrina Fernandez is updating on this story - check out her blog here: Help Prevent this Church Wreckovation. Please avoid the innuendo and ad hominem you'll find in the links and commentary if you choose to respond or contact the Cardinal or Fr. Robbins. Thanks.