Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Argument over Berkeley parish escalates

Jul. 05, 2011
National Catholic Reporter

BERKELEY, Calif. -- A conflict over styles of pastoral leadership at a parish here escalated last week when theOakland diocese posted a statement on its Web site claiming that a retired former pastor, who had recently been askedby the current pastor to leave the rectory, had caused “many pastoral difficulties.”The statement said these included “failure to observe the necessary steps to insure the valid and licit celebration of thesacraments (especially marriage)” and other liturgical deviations.

Fr. George Crespin, pastor emeritus at St. Joseph the Worker Parish and the priest in question, replied that thestatement is “filled with misstatements, questionable assertions, and in some cases lies.”While acknowledging that he may not have “as rigid an approach to sacramental ministry” as the current pastor,Crespin, in a letter to fellow priests, said he resented “the questioning of the validity of the sacraments that Icelebrated” and was writing “to defend my good name and to refute attacks on my 49 years of ministry.”

Fr. John Direen, pastor of the parish for the past two years, told NCR that he stands by the statement against the pastor emeritus.

St. Joseph the Worker Parish is well known for its social justice ministry. It provided a safe haven for Cesar Chavez,founder of the United Farm Workers, when he was receiving death threats, and was a sanctuary church for CentralAmerican refugees.Crespin, 75, had lived at the parish for 30 years while serving as diocesan chancellor and later as pastor and pastoremeritus. Early last month Direen asked him to vacate the rectory, saying the two men had different leadership stylesand that he wanted to take the parish in a different direction. Jul. 05, 2011National Catholic Reporter

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