(The above photo was taken by Joan Kiburz and appears at STLToday. It pictures the Archbishop at St. Cronan Parish, with a beaming Fr. Kleba, who appears to be holding a stuffed puppy dog with a plastic bag over its head.)
This is an excerpt from a post by Tim Townsend at the STLToday religion blog:
Archbishop Carlson visits St. Cronan’s, Kleba
By Tim Townsend
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Continuing his march of reconciliation, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson celebrated Mass at St. Cronan Catholic Church in St. Louis Saturday.
In his year as head of the Catholic church here, Carlson has celebrated Mass at scores of churches. So what’s the big deal that he was at St. Cronan’s?
In November 2007, two women were ordained as priests in a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests. The ordinations were hosted by Central Reform Congregation, though they were not recognized by the church, which does not ordain women as priests…. Four months later, Burke – who is now the prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, or supreme court – declared the two women excommunicated.
A month after the ordinations, the pastoral leadership of St. Cronan’s – known for its progressive social activism – asked CRC’s rabbi, Susan Talve, to an Advent vespers service. … about 150 St. Cronan members gathered under a tarp in the street next to the church and held the service – with Talve – in the freezing rain.
The two ordained Womenpriests – Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath – were there. As were Seán Collins and Sister Louise Lears – the two members of St. Cronan’s pastoral team under the church’s pastor, the Rev. Gerald Kleba. Both Collins and Lears had also been to the Womenpriest ordinations at CRC. Kleba did not attend the ordinations, and was not at the prayer gathering in the rain outside his church a month later. … The archbishop eventually placed Lears under the canonical penalty of interdict.
Two weeks after Lears’ original hearing, Kleba was also summoned to meet with Burke. Kleba later said Burke told him the archbishop believed the vespers service with Talve had been organized “to undermine his role as leader of the diocese.”
…Carlson seems to have been on a war path of reconciliation. He made a point to tell the press, on the anniversary of his first year in St. Louis that he had worked “very closely with St. Louis University,” and was “back on the board at Cardinal Glennon.”
Burke had a strained relationship with St. Louis University’s president, the Rev. Lawrence Biondi. He resigned from the board of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center Foundation over the appearance of singer Sheryl Crow at a benefit concert because of her support for embryonic stem cell research.
“Every journey begins with a first step,” Carlson said last week. “Maybe that would characterize my year.”
And then he went to St. Cronan’s.