It’s Getting Awful Crowded Under that Bus. Another Catholic School Apologizes for a Speaker Teaching Catholic Morality


It’s getting awful crowded under that bus.

Another Catholic high school has apologized to “outraged” parents for a speaker who spoke on Catholic morality. The lucky winner this time is Prout School in Rhode Island.

It’s the same old, same old song once again. According to an article in Catholic Culture Father Francis “Rocky” Hoffman, who is the executive director of Relevant Radio, gave a talk to a group of high school students whose parents were subsequently “outraged” by its content.

Outraged parent, Kathleen Schlenz, says that the talk was “offensive regarding divorce, homosexuality, and even adoption.”

Just like the proverbial slot machine, David Carradini, principal of the Prout School apologized, saying that Father Hoffman’s answers to student questions “were not entirely representative of the full breadth of Church teaching on a number of complex and sensitive issues.” Dan Ferris, the Providence diocesan school superintendent, followed up with a statement proclaiming that the remarks were “disappointing and pastorally insensitive to Church teachings.”

In an interesting twist, Father Hoffman’s presentation was recorded so that it could be aired on Relevant network. Parents at Proust School said that the address should not be aired.

First Sister Jane. Now Father Hoffman. And I’m not even mentioning the mess in Seattle.

If this keeps up, we’re going to need a whole fleet of buses.

From Catholic Culture:

For the 2nd time in recent weeks, parents of students at a Catholic high school are protesting that a speaker’s presentation on Catholic morality was harsh and insensitive.

Parents of students at the Prout School in Rhode Island have expressed outrage over an appearance by Father Francis (“Rocky”) Hoffman, the executive director of Relevant Radio, a network of 33 Catholic stations. Kathleen Schlenz, whose daughter attends the school and heard the lecture, said that the presentation was offensive “regarding divorce, homosexuality, and even adoption.”

Father Hoffman, who was on retreat, was unavailable to comment. But David Carradini, the principal of the Prout School, apologized for the presentation and said that Father Hoffman’s answers to students’ questions “were not entirely representative of the full breadth of Church teaching on a number of complex and sensitive issues.” The Providence diocesan school superintendent, Dan Ferris, also issued a statement, saying that the priest’s remarks were “disappointing and pastorally insensitive to Church teachings.”

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  • SisterCynthia

    I suppose their complaints re: his words pertaining to adoption probably revolved around stating the rather orthodox position that children should be given a mom and dad, not two of one of those or one who has embraced a sinful lifestyle. But if he really was spewing some off the wall nonsense, you’d think the parents would WANT it aired, for the sake of proving the priest to be a heretic and how right the parents are. Unless, of course, nothing he said was heretical and it is they themselves who would only come out looking like they hate the Church’s doctrines. That can’t be, can it??? ;)

  • Ryan

    This is ridiculous, it really is. If what Fr said was in fact in keeping with the teaching of the Church then there is absolutely NOTHING to be saying “sorry” for. Are we really going to start “apologizing” for God? Lord have mercy. We are called to present the teachings of Christ to the world, if they reject it then that is between them and the Lord, but WE must remain faithful to Him. If you say you’re “sorry” for his teachings, you are rejecting Him.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      People have done this ever since St.Peter before the cockcrow. Nobody ever wants to “know the Man” if it means getting driven away from the nice place by the fire. St.Peter repented it bitterly, but we are also told that if we deny Jesus before men, He will deny us before the Father.

  • Theodore Seeber

    “pastorally” is becoming a keyword for the left of “lying to erase sin from the discussion”.

  • FW Ken

    Bp. Tobin of Rhode Island banned Patrick Kennedy from Communion over abortion, so he’s not a shrinking violet. It will be an interesting to see how he responds to this.

    • timhillman

      Simple. His school superintendant apologized to the community. Tobin silent. Hmmmm.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      He should start by sacking his diocesan schools director.

  • pagansister

    Some of my former students went to that high school. It is not an easy school to get into and has a very good reputation education wise in the state. Too bad folks got upset by the talk—wonder what he said that was so upsetting?

  • peggy-o

    At least it was recorded so folks can know exactly what was said instead of hearsay.

  • Manny

    This is beginning to feel like the disappointment one feels with politicians one supports when they let you down. I’m especially thinking of George H.W. Bush (the father) when he broke his no tax pldege or with Chief Justice Roberts when he allowed Obamacare to be constitutional. Can I trust our bishops?

  • jlangfel

    Having heard Fr. Rocky on a couple of occasions in person and as a regular listener to Relevant Radio, I suspect the reaction to this is from poorly catechized Catholics who are more in tune with of the church of nice not the Church of Salvation.

  • Mrshopey

    I would like to hear his talk. That our actions have consequences must be unnerving to some (singe parents/divorce-remarriage/etc). Once upon a time, it would have brought us to our knees and to a confessional.

  • AugustineThomas

    God bless Fr. Rocky and Sr. Jane!

  • fredx2

    I have listened to Father Rocky for quite some time. He would never say anything untoward or insulting.
    I am starting to think these little incidents are set up beforehand. Here is the trick – whenever someone who talks about the orthodox aspects of Catholicism is invited, there will be protests. The media will be alerted. Question: If a speaker appeared at your school and said something odd, would it show up in the media, first thing? or would it be handled without the media getting involved. It seems the media is quickly getting involved in these instances.
    Note that in neither case were we told what they said that was so terrible. Only that some dear little child swooned after they had been exposed to the basics of Catholicism – apparently for the first time.
    What they may be trying to do is build a narrative for the media. After a couple more of these staged events, it becomes a “trend” and the media can report it. The stories will start on ABC – NBC – CBS – “All over the country something is happening at Catholic schools. Students are leaving in anger as they are taught Catholicism. [Shot of poor, outraged student saying "They were so mean...they just bashed gay people and said divorced people were not as good as anyone else. I was so upset.] [Shot of mother: "She was so upset, she was crying. I heard that several students left the assembly crying...Teachers were crying...] [Shot of students protesting, taken close up so you can't see there are only four of them]

    • Bill S

      That is just a cynical attitude toward people who expect to be treated with common decency. When Catholic teaching conflicts with what most would consider to be common decency, it is the teaching that should be questioned, not the concept of common decency. Common decency requires that we not be so quick to judge people who are different or are in a different situation than ourselves.

      • Marie Noybn

        Catholic teaching NEVER conflicts with “common decency” only the decadent and sinful lifestyle that the world currently enjoys, learn the difference. and when they conflict, it is the TEACHING which should be followed, when it is an infallible and unchanging teaching, and not simply a discipline. We don’t judge people, but we do and SHOULD judge actions, in order to teach and correct.

        • Bill S

          When it comes to certain issues that the Catholic Church takes exception to, common decency requires Catholics to recognize that others don’t see everything their way and that is OK. Catholics should not be preaching in the public square and condemning actions that are accepted by society in general such as divorce, contraception, same sex marriage, etc. They should just remind fellow devout Catholics of what the Church requires of them and only them. This is what Paul did in his letters. He addressed them to his followers, not to those who didn’t accept his teachings. There are many people who do not accept the teachings of the Catholic Church in certain issues. They live according to their own conscience and tend to follow the protocols of politeness and common decency. That is more than I can say for certain judgmental Christians.

          • FW Ken

            Actually, Paul preached in public many times, often being chased out by rioting crowds. Some things never change.

            • Bill S

              It is one thing to evangelize. It is another to preach Christian morality to those with a different worldview.

              • FW Ken

                Well, that’s a stretch, Bill. But anyway, if you don’t want to listen to what Christians have to say, change the channel.

          • margaret1910

            Even if I accept your premise, this did not occur in the “public square”. It was at a Catholic high school. If parents do not want their children told what the Catholic Church teaches, and that what the Church teaches is true, then Don’t.Send.Your.Kids.To.A.Catholic.School. Seriously, your argument is just nonsense.

            In this country, you have a choice of schools. Public, Catholic, Other Christian, Private secular..No one is forcing you to send your children to a Catholic school.

          • prolifemomri

            One would assume that Catholic high school students are “followers” of Jesus Christ, accepting the Gospel. I’m wondering if someone neglected to warn Fr Rocky that many of these students might be hearing Church teaching on culturally sensitive topics for the first time. Their reactions could have thrown him off. But then everything is speculation until we have the text. Certainly the accounts are one-sided, and even then Fr Rocky’s words are not quoted. You would think that a distressed audience member would remember the words that upset them…

            • pagansister

              All children going to high school, public or private are not immune to outside influence. One could assume that Catholic high school students are “followers” of Jesus Christ, and accept the Gospel. However at that age many children are beginning to question things, if they haven’t done so before. I wonder if the students were upset by the talk or was it the parents? Questioning in itself is not a bad thing, it is a part of figuring out who one is, IMO. Some of those children will leave the Church either for another faith and some for no faith at all. Some will stay with the Church and be faithful for life.

            • Bill S

              Catholic schools might be run by Catholics but they are open to students of all faiths or no faith. There is no requirement to be Catholic to go to a Catholic school. They happen to provide a great education at a reasonable cost and are attended by many non-Catholics. For that reason, common decency would dictate that controversial topics be handled with the appropriate inclusiveness and political correctness.

    • prolifemomri

      Don’t know if that was the case, but shhhh….It would be sadly effective.

  • Graham

    AMERICANS are in love with their Sin. Thanks VATICAN II.

    • irena mangone

      Excuse me stop blaming Vatican II for your own Inadequacies every thing certain Catholics don’t like from the present Holy Father etc is blamed on Vatican II. My goodness don’t look at the world at large . All the crap that is out there blame Vatican II . sorry it makes me so cross when People do that are you folks against blessed Pope John the 23 being canonised a saint after all he started Vatican II do you honestly think that if the catholic world stayed the same as pre the council lfe n the world would have remained the same

  • timhillman

    ’tis incredibly disingenuous for the congregation here to comment on the reality of The Prout School. For full disclosure, I am an atheist formerly employed at Prout in a position of authority. As someone who has spent the better part of his life teaching or being schooled in one tradition or another, rest assured that in terms of the catholic life of the school, it is vibrant, thoughtful, caring and what I once considered a fine example of a school fulfilling its purpose as a church and evangelical structure. I have corresponded directly with Fr. Rocky (interestingly NOT on retreat as was supposed) and we exchanged forthright and honest discourse.

    Fredx2- it took a good long while before picked up by the media. Until two days ago, the story was limited to an article in the South County Independent. Since then, it has been picked up by a variety of Catholic-centric publications throwing the school and it’s children under the bus. The Prout School had a reputation as a solid academic school, as well as a reputation as the most singularly conservative Catholic school in the state.

    And indeed @fredx2:disqus while Rocky spoke to me of tolerance, you go so far as to say this “Only that some dear little child swooned after they had been exposed to the basics of Catholicism – apparently for the first time.” That statement alone is a condemnation of children and the school when you know virtually nothing about the school, the incredibly well-educated catholic constituency, and their utter and complete focus on Catholic teaching. In the LaSallian and Sisters of Mercy tradition, Prout students pray before each class, offering intentions for the sick and troubled. At the top end, some of the most spiritual students I have seen…so please, condemnation of the children is beyond the pale, and suspicion of the news media being so enamored of a story from a 600 student school in the singularly most catholic state in the US is hyperbolic speculation.

    @jlangfel:disqus sorry, but you are off the mark as well. I know these people personally and they are not from the “church of nice”. Not when they told my son, and this is a quote “We do not care anything about your self-esteem. Your father isn’t her to protect you now.” BTW- the son is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of a prominent music program, a church organist and choirmaster. He was taught at Prout to respect faith traditions. he’s an agnostic, but his actions support a faith tradition. Get it? Only when he (falsely) confessed to being gay on a final exam in senior religion in order to satisfy the teacher’s needs for personal stories. he got an “A.”

    • Josephtheworker

      Opus Dei priests GIVE retreats all the time, often over a Thursday-Sunday period. So he could be giving a retreat and still able to respond to email.

    • pagansister

      Thank you for your post and insight into the school. Having taught in a Catholic elementary school for 18 years in RI, I never heard anything but praise for that school. A few of my former students (as I mentioned below) went there.

      • Marie Noybn

        itmay surprise you both to realize that none of us actual Catholics are reassured by the fact that the atheist and the pagan like the school.

        • pagansister

          No, I’m not surprised at your comment, nor does it bother me. However I find it interesting that you state that “none of us actual Catholics etc——” which sounds like you feel you can speak for all the other “actual” Catholics. Define “actual” Catholic. :-) Rebecca has been kind enough to let most of my comments stand and in the end it is her blog to let comments thru or not. I can guarantee Rebecca doesn’t always agree with my opinions. She is my idea of an “actual” Catholic as are a few others who post here.

        • pagansister

          BTW, what do you know about the school? Do you know someone who has gone there? I do. Just wondered how you can judge.

    • prolifemomri

      There’s a good chance the reaction of “throwing the school and the children under the bus” might be an attempt to balance the unfair accusations. No balance is given in any news account to defend a priest who is known to be a solid and excellent presenter of Catholic teaching. As to the “singularly most Catholic state” not so much. If you were present at any of the State House hearings in the battle to defend marriage you would have witnessed far too many ” devout Catholics” promoting same-gender ‘marriage” as a potential good from their dissenting Catholic perspective.

  • Stu

    If I were truly offended by something that was recorded, I would want it aired.

  • Strife

    Supposed “catholic” institution is deeply offended by authentic Catholic teaching.

    Supposed “catholic” institution is deeply hurt that Intrinsic Evils are not tolerated by authentic Catholic teaching.

    Supposed “catholic” institution is deeply outraged that The Catechism of the Catholic Church is actually being taught out loud.

    “Catholic” – I don’t think that word means what Progressives THINK it means.

  • Strife

    Being thrown under the proverbial bus should become a badge of honor for all faithful Catholics.

    In fact, some Catholic newspaper or blog should create a “Martyrs Wall of Shame” for these brave souls. And we Catholics should celebrate this sacred rite of passage in the secular world.

    This is great! Thank you Lord may I have another!

  • la catholic state

    Prospective Catholic teachers and parents should be required to sign a statement saying they will uphold Catholic teachings at school. If not enough ‘Catholic’ parents and teachers will sign…..maybe respectful non Catholics will sign up instead.

  • LWC

    I’m still awaiting what exact scientific evidence any of these speakers cited. Asserting the homosexual orientation is not rooted in genetics is pure alchemy. You could no more pay or intimidate one into being gay than you could pay or intimidate one into being straight. Instilling blue contacts onto brown eyes no more transforms eye color than one acting counter to one’s orientation transforms sexual orientation.

    • Marie Noybn

      It is a Catholic school, it does not have to have scientific proof, merely CATHOLIC BELIEF, that is the point of a Catholic School. Don’t like it, want only things that can be proven with the scientific method (which means nothing that relies on faith, so, better be a school of St. Thomas) And by the way, saying that homosexual orientation IS rooted in genetics has ALSO not been proven, and much evidence to the contrary, ie twin studies, but regardless the Church teaches only about BEHAVIOR (which CAN be controlled) not inclination… but you don’t want taught that or your kids taught Catholic beliefs, send em to secular schools, its that easy.

      • LWC

        Well as a Catholic, and scientist, I can assure you the preponderance of evidence is heavily weighted toward genetic influence (and perhaps mitigated by environment). Further, the Church asserts the act, and not the orientation, to be sinful. Nonetheless, you cannot be surprised when kids find themselves under an assault of lessons against sexual immorality that appear to be discordant from their growing understanding of human sexual identity and the reality in which that sexuality is based. They too understand that orientation cannot be compelled no more than blue contacts makes your brown eyes blue.

      • LWC

        As a Catholic, and scientist, I can assure you the preponderance of evidence is heavily weighted toward genetic influence (and perhaps mitigated by environment). Further, the Church asserts the act, and not the orientation, to be sinful. Nonetheless, you cannot be surprised when kids find themselves under an assault of lessons against sexual immorality that appear to be discordant from their growing understanding of human sexual identity and the reality in which that sexuality is based. They too understand that orientation cannot be compelled no more than blue contacts can make your brown eyes blue.

      • LWC

        And you would have had a more prompt reply; however Public Catholic is still determining whether to approve it. I suppose dissent is a baaaaad thing.

        • FW Ken

          Actually, Rebecca takes Sunday off.

        • Dale

          LWC, the delay in having our posts approved by the moderator can be frustrating at times. Certainly it slows down the discussion. This is not always a bad thing, if it allows tempers to cool. But, yes, at times it can also feel like an impediment.

          On the other hand, moderation is often necessary to allow discussion to take place. When responding to hot button topics, emotions can run high and heated personal invective is not uncommon. Such comments overwhelm and destroy rational conversation.

          Comboxes need to be policed if they are to be worth reading. How a website or blogger chooses to do this will depend on how much effort and resources they want to put into the effort.

          Rebecca puts a good deal of time and effort into making sure the conversation remains polite and productive. From what I have seen, she doesn’t axe comments simply because they express an opposing viewpoint. If she did, I wouldn’t bother posting here.

          • pesq87

            In addition, waiting for your comment to be approved gives you the opportunity to reread it and edit it or delete it.

      • jeffersonian_nc

        Read my post above regarding identical twins. As it turns out, at the most detailed level of dna, they are not identical – thus all of the prior identical twin studies on all sorts of things – including Parkesons disease – have been upturned.

    • texasknight

      There is that pesky little study on identical twins.

      Jesus says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”

      • jeffersonian_nc

        And a further study on idential twins – at the genetic level they are not identical as it turns out. Study came out 4-6 years ago from the University of Alabama (with other unversities collaborating) – one of the few unversities in the world that has the equipment to dig that deep into the human genome.

  • Laura Lowder

    Helllloooooo — Who’s not recognizing the modus operandi of the rainbow mafia, any more? Why are these schools and churches acting as if they’re utterly blindsided when this is how things have been going for a couple of years? We’re lucky to have been left alone as long as we were.

    It’s time to quit with the defensive act and to start going on the offensive.

  • Fr. Sistare

    Fr. Rocky came to Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, RI, to speak. I am the part time chaplain there. The students and faculty asked him questions which he answered right off the cuff. There were difficult moral questions asked, to which he responded beautifully, with the full Catholic doctrine that we as Catholics profess at Mass each Sunday. Even though I was not present there at Prout, I have no doubt that the problems lie with the parents and their version of the Catholic Faith, rather than with Fr. Rocky and the Teachings of the Church. Many of the students that go to Catholic high schools these days are not practicing their Catholic Faith, especially b/c their parents aren’t. We need to keep our Catholic identity even though the students and parents are not.

    • texasknight

      Thank you for your yes Fr. Sistare!

  • LWC

    Apparently dissent is only carried so far in this forum.

    • hamiltonr

      I actually have other things to do besides read comments for this blog. Sometimes, it takes me a while to get to them.

      However, I do delete comments from time to time.

  • LWC

    Father Z a ‘moderator’ in these parts?

  • ME

    For anyone who listens to Go Ask Your Father on a regular basis when he goes into schools and addresses high school students, he is very blunt, and he makes a point to distinguish what the church teaches, and will preface his statements of opinions as such. I’ve never been offended by what he says, but for someone who does not understand or want to hear the truth, I can imagine they can feel oppressed with the best of them…

  • ME

    Also, the articles I’ve read regarding this… None have quoted what was deemed to be offensive…

  • texasknight
    • hamiltonr

      Thanks for the link. I’ll try to write about it next week.

    • Dale

      Unless I missed it, the pope never mentioned Fr. Rocky. The pope did affirm Church teaching, which really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

      The controversy about Fr. Rocky’s speech is that he took some positions which were out of the mainstream. I am not sure exactly what that means, but members of Opus Dei are sometimes a bit extreme.

  • David Sharples

    “The Providence diocesan school superintendent, Dan Ferris, also issued a statement, saying that the priest’s remarks were “disappointing and pastorally insensitive to Church teachings.””

    Two comments:
    1. Excuse me MR Ferris! The last time I checked.. the Bishop, not the school superintendent, was the Head Teacher.
    2. “pastorally insentive”. You Mr. Ferris should be fired for doing such a lax job of heading up the schools in the diocese. Oh, I know, I know, everyone has really great SAT scores and the football team won the championship last year, and you’re all very accepting of all kinds of behavior and practices, and your open to all ($) people, not just persons who adhere to the Catholic Faith . But that is not the point sir. That is not the point of a Catholic school.

  • Alex Cortez

    The “…more non-Catholic students…” part makes my skin crawl, why would you want that?! By the way this was stated by Prout’s principal who retired last year. Here’s the article about his retirement: