Saturday, September 3, 2011

"There's something about Mary" Father Paul Wharton comments.

BACKGROUND: On 29 August Judy posted on this Blog "Content in Ignorance". It was a good post and a great discussion followed.

In the comments box I said that many non-Catholics don't understand why we Catholics honor Mary.

Father Paul Wharton - a guest author on this Blog - read the post and comments but somehow he was unable to comment. Something wrong with computers no doubt. Anyway ... Father Paul has written to me as follows:

"For some reason I was unable to leave this comment on your recent post. So here it is. I hope you will read the recommended post and pass it onto others. 


What an interesting and timely discussion. I have found that most prejudice against Catholics is so to ignorance and lies. A priest I was stationed with in 1985-1986 told me that when he was Pastor in Bluefield, WV he was speaking with a Catholic vow and Protestant girl who were beginning preparation for marriage. When he asked the woman why she was so agitated, she asked, "When do I have to sleep with you?". Her minister told her that the priest gets to have sex with any woman he prepares for marriage!

Unfortunately, we Catholics are all too often unable to answer questions Protestants ask us. Here is an interesting way to deal with the often asked accusation: "You Catholics worship Mary!"


My spirituality blog can be found here:


  1. Most Excellent - Many Thanks.

  2. I also received the same email from "Paul Wharton". I did not realize that he is a priest, nor that he is a guest author here with us.
    Thanks, Victor.

  3. Hello The Note and Judy,

    I'm pleased you enjoyed this contribution from Fr Paul. He joined us recently as a guest author on this Community.

    God bless.

  4. Actually, Victor, I'm sorry to say that I did not "enjoy" this contribution at all. It made me very uncomfortable and I'm not so sure it is appropriate. It seems to be based on hear-say rather than direct experience or circumstance. I'm not so sure that it is in the best interest of what we are trying to accomplish here in this online Catholic Community. Where was Father Wharton "stationed"? Is he a former military chaplain? I think, that we, as Catholic Christians, understand that there is MUCH misconception, rumor-mongering, and outright misunderstanding of the beautiful Catholic Faith in the world. However, my post was related to an instance where direct falsehood was being taught in a formal way (i.e. an online high school class) and that is what prompted this discussion. I'm not sure it behooves us to comment on mere "I hear about a priest who was preparing someone for marriage and....) type situations. As I said, most of us know that there are these types of conversations among those who do not subscribe to the Catholic Faith. However, I was trying to gear this post to discuss "what has caused some of this" and "what can we, as Catholics, do to ensure that "Truth" is being taught about our Faith". The above comments from Father Wharton do not address these issues and I'm not so sure we should include these types of "stories" on this blog.

  5. Judy,
    I couldn't agree more. I have some, actually a lot of difficulty with what Fr. Wharton posts on his own blog. I thought the story he related in this post was inappropriate on so many levels. I didn't really think his comment fit in with the heart of what you were saying in your post. When I first read his comments, I kept quiet, not so sure I can do so any longer.

  6. Thank you Judy and Karinann for your valid comments.

    You're right that this Community blog is to stand for, and teach, the Catholic Faith.

    Fr Paul's comment above, as I read it, gives an example of how anti-Catholic lies are spread by those who do not follow our Faith. The young lady in question had been fed lies about the Catholic priest who was about to marry her. I suspect Fr Paul's intentions in mentioning this is to make us aware how far people are prepared to go to attack the Catholic Faith.

    His link on how to respond to comments about the Virgin Mary, I thought was very helpful.

    You're also right Judy in asking "what has caused some of this" and "what can we, as Catholics, do to ensure that "Truth" is being taught about our Faith".

    As I said in my comment, in the UK there isn't direct anti-Catholic feelings per se. But I understand this to be the case in the US. To understand "what has caused it" one has to look back into recent, and not so recent, history of our Church in the US and world-wide. I gave examples of miss-understandings of what we stand for.

    Fr Paul gave an example of an outright lie.

    As to your second question Judy, "what can we, as Catholics, do to ensure that 'Truth' is being taught about our Faith"; I suspect the answer lies primarily in prayer. Then in us being well-informed about our Faith, and then to have the courage to stand up and proclaim our truth calmly and appropriately when it is necessary so to do. We can do this in person as circumstances allow, and we can also do it through what we say in our own personal blogs and here on this Community blog.

    I certainly try as best I can to ensure what I say here and on my personal blog is according to the Catholic Faith. Which brings me to Karinann's comment above.

    She is not alone in voicing concerns about what Fr Paul writes on HIS blog. She has avery right to her views on this.

    But how do we as individuals, and as a Community, deal with this?

    the answer is not different to the one I gave above. First through prayer. Secondly we voice our concerns in so many different ways:

    We can write individually to Fr Paul asking for clarification and voicing our concerns.

    We can comment on his blog voicing these concerns.

    We can invite him here to explain his beliefs and respond to our concerns.

    Or ... we can do nothing and let something that concerns us continue on its way whilst its primary source is unaware of our concerns.

    I do not advocate the latter course of action. So I remain open to your suggestions either through these comments box or by e-mailing me privately if you wish. A member of this community has already written to me privately and we've had a long discussion resolved, for now, I hope, amicably.

    Thank you again Judy and Karinann for voicing your concerns here. It shows that as a Community we can communicate with each other openly and honestly.

    God bless.

  7. I have voiced my concerns to Fr. Wharton about a particular recent post on his blog which highlights "Rashani's Way". This entire post and Father's seeming approval/support of the retreats caused me, as a Catholic, great concern. Hopefully, he will respond to the questions I put forth there; asking for his clarification of how a Catholic priest can support any other "Way" but "The Way of the Cross in Jesus Christ".

    As for the first part of your comment above, Victor, just as you wrote that perhaps Father was trying to let us know just how far some people will go to spread lies about the my opinion, as a priest, in order to maintain a sense of decorum and politeness, he could have (SHOULD have) written just THAT and not the crass and lewd details that he included.

    Again, it is hear-say and I think we should stick to "facts" on this blog as that was the impetus for my post to begin make certain that we are posting/publicizing facts, when dealing with the Faith.

    I was hoping you would answer my question as to where Father W. was "stationed"? Was he a military chaplain. If so, in what branch of the military; where and when?

    I feel that as a Catholic priest, Fr. W. could have added so much "good" to our discussion above, perhaps offering us a few practical suggestions on how to deal with these situations and also some insight on what he believes to be the main causes of the wide-spread misconceptions of the Faith here in America. Instead, he chose to "muddy the waters" with a crude story. I find this to be quite inappropriate behavior for anyone; much less someone in his position.

    I am thankful that God allows us all to connect here and, hopefully, grow closer to Him, stronger in our Faith, and enlightening to others who visit here...however, I think that the Administrators of this blog (I am not certain who is serving in this capacity) should secure the page by moderating all comments before publishing. Victor and I are both authors, so I'm not sure that pasting Fr's comments as Victor did would have been caught by the "moderator" because I think an author's comments go directly to the post without moderation. Not sure...but worth considering so that these things do not continue to occur.

    Keeping in mind the following might help:

    1) We want the content of this blog to contain Catholic Truth and to ecumenically discuss the Faith in a thorough, polite, and charitable manner.

    2) We do not wish to promote/publish rumors or stories of third-party behavior that are not related to our posts. This is GOSSIP.

    3) We should allow visitors, authors, guest authors, etc. to include links in their posts or comments which lead to sites, articles, books, etc. which are opposed to or contradicting of Catholic Teaching.

    With those 3 things in mind, one can see that not only does Fr. W.'s comments above raise concern, but his entire blog does, as well.

  8. It seems I'm unable to edit my comments. Number 3 in the previous comment, should read, "We should NOT allow". Apologies for the typo.

  9. Update:

    To Victor and all who are concerned,

    As I mentioned in my earlier comments, I was gravely concerned about a recent feature Father Wharton posted on his blog about "Rashani Retreats". I was so disturbed by it that I left Fr. a comment on his blog, requesting that he clarify things for me and explain how a Catholic Priest could be a supporter/promoter of something that does not even so much as mention the name/idea of Jesus Christ, but rather, promotes "Rashini's Way". I have now just come from re-visiting Fr.'s blog as I was hoping to find correspondence from him in answer to my comment. I was surprised to see that I can no longer FIND the post about Rashani and therefore, there is no answer to my comment because the entire post seems to have disappeared. If anyone is familiar with the post I am talking about, and knows where to find it, please let me know. If Father Wharton sees this comment, please respond Father in answer to the questions I posed to you on your blog and also to now explain why it seems that you have removed both your post and my comment.
    Thank you. Also, Father Wharton, I think it would be a comfort to many readers here, if you would add a few thoughts about what you were trying to accomplish with the story you sent to Victor and me by email and why you felt it was appropriate to the discussion we are having here. Hearing from you directly, in a public manner, would be of great assistance to us all at this time. Thank you.

  10. Judy, Is this the post you are referring to?

    Not sure I agree with all he said in response to your concern. Also he didn't answer your questions about how he incorporates these beliefs into his Catholic faith and if the Catholic Church endorses them.

  11. Hello again Judy and Karinann,

    I really and genuinely hear your concerns and to some extent I agree with what you say.

    Let me first address this from Judy: "I was hoping you would answer my question as to where Father W. was "stationed"? Was he a military chaplain. If so, in what branch of the military; where and when?"

    The honest answer is - I don't know.

    I have never met Fr P Wharton. I visited his blog, he visited mine. He commented on one of my posts on my blog and he subsequently published it on his blog. He contributed originally two articles to the Community blog here (click his name in the labels entry above to read them), and they were well received. Then he contributed S is for Silence.

    He tried to comment on Judy's post but somehow couldn't so he e-mailed me and Judy with his comment which I posted above.

    His comments above have raised some concerns which I've tried to explain in my previous comment. I felt he was trying to give an example of anti-Catholic lies. I understand if anyone feels the example is inappropriate but he says it was a fact (not fiction) related to him by another priest. We can chose whether or not to believe a priest.

    I also understand your concerns about the items posted on his blog. I have not seen the post mentioned by Judy; and cannot explain its removal, nor the fact that he has not replied to Judy's concerns.

    I offered in my previous comment to invite Fr P to address us here about our concerns. Would you like me to do so? Alternatively feel free to e-mail him direct.

    On a general note. Let us remember to act charitably when we comment about someone with whom we may disagree, however valid are our concerns. We have here a priest who presumably has the backing/support of his community and his diocese in what he does and says. I presume his blog is read by such people who may not feel like we do.

    I repeat, we have every right to our views; and I share some of Judy's and Karinnan's concerns. Let us all individually pray about this and let the Holy Spirit enlighten us on how to deal with the situation.

    Judy suggested a number of points on how to "manage" this Blog. When it was first started, not so long ago, this Community blog deliberately did not have any rules. It is not an exclusive club but a gathering of like-minded Catholic people who respect each other, and are comfortable enough to to discuss openly and honestly their concerns. I believe we need to keep it so.

    This blog has, inadvertantly, faced its first test. Let us pray it is able to resolve its current difficulty the way Our Lord would wish us to do.

    God bless.

  12. I have followed Karinann's link to Fr P's blog and to be honest (I'll regret saying this), I am a little confused.

    On the post in question, Fr P quotes a poem from a non-Catholic and acknowledges its source.

    Am I to understand that if I were to quote from a non-Catholic on my blog, or here on this blog, I would be wrong?

    God bless.

  13. I tried to submit a comment addressing some issues but it was lost (something about a null value). I'll try to quickly reconstruct them in a word document, lest I lose them again. I'm assuming by some of what's been discussed here that Fr. Paul's fidelity or Catholicity are somehow in question. Lest I come under the same sort of suspicion, here is a link to my blog. You'll find nothing heterodox.

    Fr. Paul is not a military chaplain, though I'm unsure why it matters. He's a priest in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and has been stationed at many parishes. The word "stationed" has entered the vernacular and is used simply to refer to the "station" at which you work.

    The post on Rashani did not disappear, and he answered the original comment in about eight hours. I'm not sure why it would look like it disappeared on your end. Perhaps the internet "burped". Stranger things have happened.

    On the points he made in his response:

    1. Fr. Paul is always careful to cite his sources rather than tacitly accept credit for them. Interestingly, had he failed to cite the source, any reader could have legitimately assumed the writing was from a Christian mystic, so similar is the content.

    2. I agree that anything posted could seem like a recommendation unless the author specifically rejects the association (by saying for example "this is not a recommendation").

    3. This poem could have easily been written by St. John of the Cross. It speaks to the purgative phase of mysticism, and in fact, the same process that the desert fathers speak of long ago. Could he have used a Catholic poem instead? Of course he could have. This poem spoke to him, and he saw the truth in it regardless of the errors of its source. Perhaps someone else could identify with it in the same way where another author would have been inaccessible. More on this in the next point.

    4. The Church has never shied away from accepting truth from sources outside of its visible confines. The council fathers stated that "many elements of sanctification and truth" can be found outside of the visible Church. St. Paul spoke of the Gentiles' ability to know the natural law without the benefit of revelation. Augustine found deep truths in the pagans Cicero and Plotinus, reconciling Christian belief with many Neo-platonic ideas. Pseudo-Dionysius did the same. St. Thomas was the great synthesizer, taking what truths could be found in the pagan Greeks and Muslim Arabs and Persians and using them to illuminate our Christian faith. If Jesus Christ is the Truth, then obviously, all truth is His, regardless of where we find it. In this poem, is there nothing true? If there is, it is from God, not Rashani. If there is not, then we have made grave mistakes in recognizing many mystics as saints.

    5. This is true enough, though perhaps a warning was warranted. He could have said "this site is not Christian and does not contain Christian content", though a mere moment on the site would show that to anyone. On the other hand, Fr. Paul has, depending on the day, between 100 and 200 views. Five people have clicked on that link. I imagine that he's correct and many more would have done so had he posted some kind of warning.

    6. On this final point, I could not be in more agreement. Finding myself swept away when Odysseus visits Hades can remind me of my own mortality and spur me to better love my friends without causing me to prepare for Charon's toll or to ready a sacrifice for Athena. I understand that the principles of friendship and love are universal and come, not from Homer or his gods, but from the Holy Trinity. The fact that I can see God's principles reflected in a pagan work mean simply that God is great, not that I should do as Homer does.

  14. Yes, the internet must have burped...I am thankful that Karinann has linked me back to see the post again and Father's comments.

    Firstly, let me clarify that I was not in any way referring to the poem in Father's post. It had nothing to do with my comments or concerns. I was referring to the site which Father links us to "Rashani's Retreats".

    As I shared with Father in response to his comments (which, in my opinion, do not address my concern at all) one can give credit to an author of a poem without leading the faithful to a site that promotes New Age activity and ideas. We are obligated NOT to promote these things, as Catholics. Let us consider as to whether or not the Holy Father would link others to such a site.

    I am glad to see that Father did comment...I received a private email...which, is in fact, his public he must have the two linked. Father asked me for suggestions and I have offered them. Hopefully, he will find them useful.

    As to this blog, yes indeed, any time you launch a Catholic ANYTHING online, you will be tested.

    I agree that this is community wherein we are free to share our thoughts even when they are not in agreement with one another. However, I do not believe that we should ever allow posts, links, or activity here that promotes false religions or is opposed to Catholic Teaching.

    If you'd like to read my comments back to Father, I am publishing them on his blog.

    Thank you all for coming together in these concerns.

    Incidentally, Matt, I asked about the word "stationed" because I had never heard it used in that way before; without being in conjunction with military service..."it matters" simply because I was wanting to know a bit about Father's background. Thanks for your comments.

  15. Wow. I am completely taken aback about all the controversy. I apologize for how I have completely unintentionally offended or scandalized any readers of this or my blog.

    My orthodoxy has never been called into question. I encourage you to read ALL my posts as well as my own writings before jumping to that conclusion. Read the last two homilies I posted and tell me which parts are not Christ-centered.

    My parishioners past and present would laugh at the accusation or insinuation. I, on the other hand, cannot. It is very discouraging to have my faith and priesthood called into question by people who have never met me, heard me preach, lived in a parish I have served, talked to me or been with me at the bed of a dying person at 3:00 a.m.

    Father Paul Wharton

  16. I hope no one minds if I step in and offer my own observations on this:

    Father, I don't think Judy is suggesting here that you are not kindhearted and dedicated to your parishioners. I know you have personally taken the time to address a question of my own and I appreciated you doing so. I think one of the things that Judy (along with myself and a number of other people) is concerned with is your links to New Age pantheistic sites. Being aware of the inherent dangers of New Age thought she simply brought it to the table in a forthright manner and is asking why, as a Catholic priest, you would link to sites like this one and some similar to this. To be honest, I was curious too but not brave enough to ask. Christians of every denomination have been seduced by New Age thinking and have left their churches because of it. It's a huge problem in our country. It contains a subtle mixture of truth and lies and, in an insidious manner gradually leads people away from Christ rather than toward Him. It leads people to focus on self instead of Christ. I know far too many people who have walked away from the Sacraments due to the influence of New Age thinking.
    I hope this helps explain our concerns and am looking forward to your reply. God Bless!

  17. I suppose we can learn from this that words matter.

    I am questioning now whether a blog site with multiple contributors will last for very long without some rules and/or procedures.

  18. I'm trying to post again, but this blog continues to give me problems. It's probably a Google thing. They control so much of the internet that it begins to slip between their fingers.

    I've expressed my concerns here:

    On the first point, the today's comments on Fr. Paul's blog strike me as saying "I don't believe you because you aren't handling this like I would".

    On the second point, it is most definitely a Catholic practice to accept truth where it's found. That practice has its beginnings in scripture, and was made more explicit by the council.

  19. To say that "truth is where you find it" and that we "accept truth where it is found" are two very different things. VERY different.

    As my husband often says, when people are having an online discussion, there is a huge gap created by the absence of eye contact, demeanor, and in-person communication.

    I am sure, Father Wharton, that you serve your parish well...and as I, myself, have been at the bed of a dying person at 3 a.m. I understand full well the sacrifice, the spiritual depth, and the sorrowful blessing that this brings...I am sure that the Lord has and will continue to bless and reward you for helping His loved ones to leave this world and return home to him.

    As a website owner, and as a Catholic in a very protestant-minded industry (homeschooling businesses online), I have learned some very valuable lessons; many of which have to do with humility. It takes a lot of practice and prayer (as you might have already found) to write publicly, in such a way, that we can witness for Christ's Truth, in a charitable way, without leading anyone astray. Sometimes, people are faced with the Truth that we write and they WALK away because they are not ready to accept it. Sometimes, we word things in a way that is easily misinterpreted; without meaning to, of course. When someone writes to me to admonish or correct or question something I've written, I try my best to answer the questions directly, to receive the criticism with a grateful heart, and to learn from the experience so that I can improve my communication skills online.

    I do not understand why you find it so surprising Father, that members of the Church would be concerned about a Catholic Priest linking to a site like "Rashani's Retreats".

    However, the issue did not remain there. It grew to be even more of a concern when you would not answer our questions in a direct manner. You still have not. Why, as a Catholic priest, would you link to a site that promotes New Age thinking? If you feel that the only way to give credit to a poet is to link to a site, then perhaps you must weigh the value of publishing the poem at it really worth publishing if you feel you must lead readers to a site that promotes a dangerous spirituality?

    I thank everyone who has commented in this discussion for I have learned some valuable lessons and will try to be more careful in my wording so as not to be misinterpreted or seen as being "combative". This is not my intent.

    I must say, that even if I would know you in-person, I would still come to you privately and question your choice to link to Rashani's site; as well as other things/links that are on your blog.

    As we end this discussion, I leave with a hope (still) that you will comment directly on why you believe it is ok/good/valuable/insignificant or (other) for a Catholic priest to link to sites that promote New Age thinking.
    Do you truly see no problem with this Father?

    May the Lord continue to bless and keep you in His loving care and grant you much joy in your vocation. Thank you for answering the Holy Father's call to use modern technology to share and spread the Catholic Faith.