< The Pittsburgh Story: What They Didn't Tell You

The Pittsburgh Story -

What TORCH Didn't Tell You


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A Dynamite Omission


 The TORCH (Traditions of Roman Catholic Homes) Website at www.catholic-homeschool.com was recently updated but, as of October 17, 1998, they left out a dynamite portion of one of their featured articles

That article was actually part of a workshop entitled "The Pittsburgh Story - Working WITH Your Diocese" led by Fr. Kris Stubna, Secretary of Education, Pittsburgh, PA, who played a key role in the Pittsburgh Homeschool Sacramental Guidelines entitled "Faith Education in the Home." Fr. Stubna is also known as the author of Catholic Vision of Love, the highly debated "chastity"/ sex education curricula used in Pittsburgh Catholic schools.

Fr. Stubna's public speech was given at the July 1998 annual NACHE (National Association of Catholic Home Educators) convention. The TORCH website reports that their organization provided excerpts of Fr. Stubna's speech in their September 1998 newsletter, and it notes that TORCH is now supplying Fr. Stubna's speech on the site.


While the TORCH website does feature Fr. Stubna's personal presentation at the workshop, TORCH did not include the most interesting Question and Answer session that immediately followed this speech and is, incidentally, easily verified via the tapes made of the convention. The workshop was a "standing room" only event, and homeschool leaders and families present were welcome to "dialogue" with Fr. Stubna during the workshop. The Q&A session, then, could be construed as a "dialogue opportunity" - one which TORCH surprisingly failed to make public.

In order to provide the Catholic homeschooling public with complete information, Keeping It Catholic offers the entire Q&A session here. A link to the actual speech follows.


Actual Transcription From the Tape

First was the speech and then the Q&A session

(the latter appears below)

 (All color emphasis below made by Keeping It Catholic.)


GENTLEMAN IN AUDIENCE: In regard to what you have up on the board - you say "great men talk about ideas and small men talk about other men" - I guess I'm a medium sized man 'cause I'm gonna talk about your ideas - <audience chuckles> - I have a question in regard to the statement you have made in regard to teaching - the guarantor of the teaching being the bishop. I guess if you look around you, you realize that some of the bishops are not exactly teaching the faith.


In fact, we even heard the good bishop (Bishop Myers) this morning refer to the fact that there are "bad bishops." Who then is the guarantor of the faith if we cannot rely on the bishop, and what about the Magisterium of the Church? Correct me if I'm wrong but I didn't hear you say anything about the Magisterium of the Church...in what you said----


FR. STUBNA: Yeah, I think just to that point, I think I mentioned the Magisterium a number of times. But the Magisterium---uh--The question concerned about who really does guarantee the soundness of doctrine and what about if a bishop is perceived to be not a good bishop - is the thrust of your question.

The Magisterium of the Church is the - are the - bishops of the Church...(pause) --the bishops with the Pope make up the teaching Church.


Secondly, the answer to your question --- is the Pope. We are either Catholic or we are Protestant. If we take on ourselves the ability to determine who is right and who is wrong, we become Protestant. That's what Protestants did. When they didn't like what their pastors were saying, they went on and formed their own community with people they thought met their interpretation of the Gospel - and we know what happened.

And this is not a denigration of protestantism, it is just a historical reality. That's why there's so many different brands of Protestantism. It depends on YOUR interpretation of what's right and wrong. What we rely on constantly is the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that has guaranteed the soundness of doctrine through the Magisterium - the bishops of the Church.


When the pope appoints a bishop to a diocese, he isn't appointing - um, that bishop doesn't get his authority from the pope. The bishop gets his authority from his ordination as a bishop. The pope simply locates him in a part of the country that needs him. A bishop teaches in communion with the pope.


Who will determine that? It's the Pope - and until the Pope makes a decision that the bishop is not a good bishop, none of us can do that; none of us can say that. That, I think, is maybe not a satisfying answer but what makes us Catholic is our ability to know and to believe that at every moment the Holy Spirit continues to guide us in the way of all truth through the Church. And the bishops who are in communion with the Pope are the ones that guarantee that. The people don't remove a bishop. The people don't determine whether a bishop is good or bad. The only one who can do that is the Pope.


Question 2


LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: But what about the Catechism which says that we don't have to obey our parents, priests or bishops if they tell us to do something mortally sinful?

FR.STUBNA: Right - and again, I think your question is that we don't have to obey them if we determine something is wrong. What you are referring to is the primacy of the personal conscience.

When we keep that in context number 1 - we have to to make sure our conscience is totally well-formed. It's an agonizing process.


Could we as an individual ever come to the decision in our hearts that something that's being told us is wrong and we need to....(trails off)---that's a private, personal decision and you have every right to make that. The wisdom of the Church is that you'd better be awfully sure that you've done everything you can - because there's an awful lot of other people here saying this. You can do that as an individual.


Does any individual have the right to lead others after them? That's where the sin comes in!

Does any other individual work to convince someone else that what they believe is the truth IS the truth? That's where you get into dangers.

You have a right as an individual because on Judgment Day you will stand before God, just you and God. So if you come to that decision, the best thing to do is to go and do what you have to do, but do it quietly.

Do it for your own good. If it involves your immediate family, that's one thing, because you have a responsibility to your children. But that's it.

You know, the decision is so profound, that I would say it should happen only in extreme circumstances. Because, again, if we believe what the Church says, the Pope has the ultimate responsibility for being sure that the Church is teaching in the proper way. He has every avenue open to him to correct things when they go wrong. So - we are putting ourselves in his place when we make the determination that somebody is not doing the right thing. That's how serious it is.


 Question 3


LADY FROM THE AUDIENCE: We have a bishop whom we cannot obey...he has asked us as homeschooling parents to do that we feel is morally wrong. If we cannot follow him, and if he's not open to us, how can we dialogue with him?


FR. STUBNA: It's a practical question that is a very difficult one to answer. All I can say is based on the principles of the Church - number 1, we can always dialogue with people. Many times the misunderstandings come about because there hasn't been a clear articulation. There isn't the kind of stance in dialogue that enables people to sit down and talk together. And again, this is part of the cross that people carry - that's one aspect of the long-suffering that's demanded of people of faith.


Has every effort been made to truly communicate clearly and articulately what it is we are doing? Have all of those avenues been pursued? That's the responsibility that's placed on the family and the parents.


Or is it just too easy to move in another direction, because we don't feel the support? Or if someone has put burdensome obligations on us - can the dialogue lead to conversion and change of heart? Absolutely. It happens all the time.


The real hope here and the value is that we need to always see as our goal - communion with the Church. When we're NOT in communion with the Church, the goal still is that. It may take us a longer time to get there. But if we're striving towards that -- that's what I'm saying is the primary focus.


 Question 4


LADY FROM THE AUDIENCE (faintly): The Church can supercede the (inaudible) - either... in that goal of teaching ----

FR. STUBNA INTERRUPTS THE QUESTION: You're talking about an individual priest or bishop -- You are --- all of us --- make up the Church. We can never teach apart from the Church. When you're teaching as a parent, you are teaching in communion with the Church. The guarantee of that teaching is the bishop.

That's the way Christ instituted the Church and there's no way around that. If the perception is that the bishop is somehow not doing his job, I can just tell you that there are procedures in the Church to remove a bishop, and the only one who can do that is the Pope.

The Pope is so concerned with the teachings of the Church that he is not going to allow a bishop to teach heresy.


You know, you may not like him, he may not be doing exactly the right thing (audience response with rustling movement noise, some inaudible speech is heard)---You know, I see a lot of tension in here about bishops. I'm just saying that I understand from my own experience in the dialogue that we've had with a lot of homeschooling families that this is not an easy issue.


But we need to be sure that we don't err on the side of setting ourselves up as the arbiters, as the ones who have determined, "I know what's right," "This is what's right," "I have made that decision."

When you do that, you have made a personal conscience decision that you're going to answer before God. But when you step out of the communion of the Church, you are on very, very shaky grounds.


Question 5


LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: Are you saying that if a person challenges a bishop or [questions] that he's teaching heresy, then that person's out of communion with the Church?

FR. STUBNA: No, no - that's not what I'm saying. (Audience murmurs become louder)...No, that's not what I'm saying.


LADY IN THE AUDIENCE (genially): It sure sounds like it, Father.


ANOTHER LADY (faintly): ---(inaudible) ---until the Pope says he's a heretic - we can't---but I'm not saying that---


FR. STUBNA: Let's keep things very clear. The bishop is in charge of ensuring that the doctrine of faith and morals is correct. There are levels of that authority.


What I find with some homeschooling families is that everything is mixed together. For example, if a diocese makes a policy about a textbook, or about attending CCD classes, that's a completely different matter than teaching the Faith, than ensuring the soundness of doctrine with regard to faith and morals.


Question 6


LADY IN THE AUDIENCE (CONTINUING HER QUESTION FROM QUESTION 5): There are things that are taught in CCD classes that are not being taught correctly -- that is what I'm talking about.


FR. STUBNA: No, I'm talking about a decision for a homeschooling family --like you are saying - on what grounds are you arguing that there is a problem? That the bishop is saying something wrong? That the parish is doing something wrong? There are different levels of that.

If the teaching is in question, that is one very serious matter. If we are talking about methods and techniques and requirements, that's a different matter altogether.


I'm talking today in a particular way about the teaching of the Church, and that teaching - the pastor and the bishop have the responsibility by their office to ensure that's done properly.


If you, as an individual parent, determine in your situation that what's being taught is heretical, you have the ability to move out of that. If that's your decision, do that.

I'm just saying that you have to be very cautious about that decision, because it's easy to move in that direction - we don't like something, out we go. That's a very easy move.

We have to be very careful when we move ourselves out of the context of our faith community. That's the concern.


 Question 7


GENTLEMAN: In my own personal experience, the clergy is very open to homeschoolers, because they see what we do. The parish priest knows who's in his parish...Most people are lucky if they darken the doorstep of that church twice a year. (Laughter from audience)They love us, but the problem that I'm seeing is within the chancery and the local CFC's. They actually said to me, "If people found out you homeschool, our CCD would close." We are not talking about a school, we are talking about a CCD program. Where is the focus? Is the focus that I'm passing on my Faith, or is it that they want to protect their own institution?


FR. STUBNA: I can tell you from our experience, that is not a concern at all. There are other dioceses that I know of, I can't speak for every diocese, but I am saying that there are many, many Catholic educational officials, and particularly at the bishop's level, whose responsibility is to teach the Faith. How that's done, there are any number of ways. I could make a case today for the importance of Catholic schools because we believe in them. That doesn't mean that homeschooling isn't good.


Or when we make a case for homeschooling, that doesn't denigrate Catholic schools. We are working together as a family, and there's a need for all of them - I think a lot of officials are open to things - you know, this is a relatively new phenomenon for many of them. They really don't know how to judge it, and I think it will be judged by its fruits. The dialogue that comes about that you are saying is positive at the parish level needs to find its way up the channels so that other people who are responsible for those decisions can also have that same experience.


Question 8

LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: What do we do as parents, when we are forced to put our children in a Confirmation class that is nothing but pagan rituals - someone telling our children about breaking down the hierarchy and women priests...we are told that if we don't do this, then our children aren't going to receive the sacrament. What can we do? This is clearly heretical.

FR. STUBNA: All that I can tell you (Kimberly Hahn is heard whispering to Father) - and I'm being told that we have another speaker (Father begins to move away from microphone), is when things are found to be heretical, they need to be communicated.

In my fours years (voice grows fainter) of Secretary of Education, I've never received one letter - (inaudible) and I take that job seriously. You have to make sure you have the facts...you have the goals...


(Background questions continue

as Fr. works his way out of the room)


Click here to read Fr. Stubna's speech.

You'll find it most informative!


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