Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Breakdancing Priests - Why Celebrity Priesthood Is An Oxymoron

A Catholic youth conference at Steubenville University concluded recently.  I'm not certain of the timing, only that it was a fairly major event.  Someone who attended posted video to her twitter account regarding one of the concerts that occurred.  It featured two priests breakdancing.  Here it is.

Some good people objected to these priests carrying on in this fashion.  There has also been some discussion of this matter on facebook.  Many of the comments there betray a lack of appreciation for the dignity of the priesthood - and these come from faithful Catholics no doubt.  I'll post some of them below so you can get a flavor of them.  Below that I'll post some of the twitter conversation.

A little update - Since I started this post, I issued a few reply tweets to that video.  That apparently was enough for Katie Prejean McGrady (original tweeter) to block me from her twitter page.  Therefore I can only see it from here.

In looking back to see what I wrote on these matters at other times, I was reminded of this post that I wrote two months ago.  That is a post in which I address the lack of esteem that even good Catholics seem to have for dignified adulthood and the futility of emotion-based evangelism.  Many of them really do believe that young people won't pay attention to the truth unless priests disregard their own sacerdotal orders.  I'm also linking to another post that I wrote: while that post's topic isn't really germane to the topic of this post, the second paragraph has an analogy regarding "spiritual poison".  I've no doubt that many good things do occur at that conference.  However, this video teaches young people, and all ages for that matter, that emotions and "feelings" should take precedence over intellect, reason and will.  After the jump break I'll put up some of the facebook comments and why I believe they are emblematic of the mindsets that see such juvenile behavior as actually desirable.

Two common mantras uttered by some of these people are: 1) "priests are only human" and 2) "people need to see that priests/religious are human".

I attempted to answer #1 to the left.  Priests are not "merely human" simply because of the effects of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  I made that point in the second comment.  Please note the "ridicule" icon at the bottom of that comment.  Someone obviously thought my comment was hilarious.  I'm at a loss to divine how I erred.  Could it be that the person simply didn't want to consider my remarks and thus defended him/herself by dismissing them outright?

What I didn't address at that time was #2.  Why do people need to see that "priests are human"?  What else would priests be?  Also doesn't that statement imply that priests should conform to a disordered perception of what it is to be human?  If they have to prove humanity to a given group, aren't they constrained to conform to false and worldly standards of what constitutes humanity?  Is there anything inherently human in a priest swirling his hips like Elvis Presley on stage and then spinning on his curled spine on the floor?

Here's another telling discussion.  Again the book to which I referred was "The Priest: A Man Of God" by St. Joseph Cafasso.  The woman doesn't seem to think it relevant because it's 300 years old.  Well, Scripture and Sacred Tradition are much older.  Age doesn't matter because God's word is timeless as He is.

She also said that "if it was wrong, their bishops would have shut them down".  Well, lately the bishops haven't been shutting down far worse things for many reasons.  Remember when then-Archbishop Joseph Tobin refused to halt a lesbian "wedding reception" at a local KofC hall?  Most recently we've heard of the drug-and-sodomy orgies in Vatican offices, under the nose of Cardinal Coccopalmerio.  I could go on and on.  The fact that bishops look the other way cannot be taken as approval of misbehaviors.

Here we see some incorrect concepts of evangelism.  Regrettably that is how people were taught.  This woman says that in order to evangelize properly, one must find common ground with the audience.  Well, doesn't that depend on the nature of the "ground" in question?  One of the priests is Father Leo Patalinghug, and I believe he is the one who was to the left of the video.  That dance he did, particularly at the start, was reminiscent of Elvis Presley.  In the 1950s, Presley was censored from some venues for swiveling his hips in sexually suggestive manners.  I regret that Father did the same thing.  I've no doubt he meant to imitate Presley in that manner, but that is precisely in fact what he did - same goes for the other priest.  That kind of "common ground" is no foundation for evangelism, and is in fact the antithesis of the true Gospel message.

On that Twitter page there was quite a debate about the merits and demerits about that performance.  Frankly, I was appalled at the snark that Father Patalinghug hurled at some of the others.  See for yourselves.

I for one fail to see what a profile picture has to do with the merits of one's remarks.  Father seems to think it does, or is just using that as an excuse to dismiss her comments.  She's right.  Both of these priests displayed very unpriestly behavior in front of kids.  Father Patalinghug in particular carried on in a way that would make Elvis Presley look tame in comparison.

In this series of comments they are replying to someone whose comment I can no longer see because I've been blocked.  Note Father's snarky comment about Gregorian chant.  Go back to his previous comment and ask how Catholics ever "celebrated the faith" without breakdance.  That was no celebration of faith, for an authentic celebration would be focused on Jesus Christ and nothing else.

Mr. Titus is quite correct.  The focus at that event was on the musicians and priests, by design.  And what did Father mean by referring to Jesus as "entertaining" or "boring"?  Such descriptors of God are silly almost to the point of blasphemy.

Then McGrady (tweeter) said this in reply to those of us who objected.  If ever there was testament to the brain damage caused by celebrity-priest adulation, it's her call for yet another mega-bucks hootenanny such as the debacle endured several weeks ago.

In one of the Facebook comments I made mention of a book written by St. Joseph Cafasso called "The Priest: Man of God".  Here is a quote from St Alphonsus Ligouri regarding "Dignities and Duties of the Priest.  Now I'll link to the story of a priest who understands his real sacerdotal dignity.  Nowhere do you see any evidence of silly, shallow ideas of what constitutes Christian joy.  He is thinking of nothing else but Jesus Christ.  This is the kind of authentic priestly dignity that will attract converts and vocations.

These were all that I could save before I was blocked by Katie Prejean McGrady.

This happened within minutes of me leaving some replies to other comments on this post.  It's clearly within her right to do so, but it certainly shows that she doesn't tolerate debate that well.  I'd not be surprised to learn that my comments are no longer on that page.

Several of the twitter comments contained the following video from Sensus Fidelium on modesty.  Here it is.  Despite the picture making it look like it has been removed, the video will play if you just click on it.


  1. All I can say is, God help us.

  2. If you don't understand that there is something wrong in this video without being told, you won't understand if you are told.

  3. You mistakenly say some of the comments in support of these break-dancing priests were made by "faithful Catholics." That, also, is an oxymoron. I firmly believe that very few of those who were born post-Vatican II, and, therefore, poorly catechized, and attend the NO are faithful to the Church as established by Christ. Many are called but (very) few are chosen, Pope Benedict has warned. He said he would prefer a much smaller Church of faithful Catholics.

  4. Katie, of course, charges money (simony anyone?) to spread the Gospel (replete in jeans no less). In point of fact, the Gospel is to be spread freely. Here we are, in a crisis possibly worse than ancient Rome and the "gospel"(?) is being spread for a charge?? I, for one, do not recall Sts. Peter or Paul charging money to preach the Gospel.

    God will not be mocked. The Faith needs to be taken seriously, and not as a smiley, feel good session that comes for a $$$.

    Finally, Katie - from my review of her website - is not under any oversight from a bishop regarding her mission to "preach". This is strictly prohibited.

  5. You're absolutely right to call this out. Over at CatholicCulture.org. an essay was just published which concludes with this statement: "Why are we facing a shortage of priests in the western world? A significant part of the problem lies in the fact that we don’t treat our priests as men set who are consecrated and set apart. Too often we see them (and worse, they see themselves) as ordinary men like us, who happen to play a different role in the parish."

    Its validity as a rite notwithstanding, the Novus Ordo has deprived our priests of their true priestly identities and when those like our breakdancers above still, in spite of every force arrayed against them, follow God's call to our altars, they get there and are made to be nothing more than presiders, presiding over what is primarily the gathering of the faithful 'round the table for a community meal. If some among them do at some point discover the "old" Mass, they will discover that God has set them aside for the purpose of offering Him the One, Holy, Sacrifice of the Mass. Then they will discover how they are set apart for something so profound and glorious, something which defies description. God hasten the days of the restoration and we might pray for these two men of God, that they will also discover what they were truly called by Our Lord to do.

  6. Well....so much for my theory about discovering the "old" Mass: apparently Fr. P offers it too. Maybe the distinction between officers and enlisted in the military works metaphorically in this instance. Effort is made to ensure that they don't drink, party and otherwise "cut a rug" together for a range of very serious reasons. Priests are the officer corps of the Church Militant and us people in the pews are the foot soldiers. They far exceeded the boundary of the dignity attendant to their office, kinda like if a Pope were hypothetically place a beachball on the altar just after Mass or had a bunch of scantily clad circus performers gyrate and dance in a performance in front of St. Peters, or wear a clown nose for photos with newlyweds.

  7. It's 100% approved behavior. Here's another video with the same priest and his bishop:

    1. I saw that video. I didn't recognize Fr Patalinnghug. Is Bishop Malloy his bishop?

    2. That's Fr. Romke, not Fr. Patalinnghug. Fr. Manno - a certifiable attention whore - is the same priest in both videos.

  8. Janet, I agree with you, especially with St. Joseph Cafasso and St. Alphonsus on your side. But please don't be too hard on Fr. P, as he is otherwise an orthodox, very prayerful priest. The exuberance of youth and memories of the life he left behind might have been too much to dispel when young people are around.

    Fr. P was a topnotch break-dancer when he was called by the Lord to the priesthood. It was his way in dealing with his grief at his mother's passing. But when he answered the Lord's call, he gave up everything, including a nice girlfriend that he had hoped to marry.

    Okay, all that is no excuse for him to go back to break-dancing, now that he's a priest. But at least it's not as obscene as some Franciscan friars on YouTube who dreamily fly and pirouette all around the altar during Mass.

    Hip-swinging like Elvis is not overtly sexual; if I remember right (and I'm in my 70's), it was Elvis' music and song lyrics that good Catholics found offensive in my time.

    As regard entertaining kids with acrobatic stunts before and after leading them in prayers, St. John Bosco did so, too, even with magic.

    I'm not saying you were wrong in your assessment of the nature of the priesthood. I'd like to request only, if I may, that we not be too hard on Fr. Leo Patalinghud. (Total disclosure: I'm Filipino and a fan of his cooking show.)
    Thank you and God bless you.

    1. I've seen pictures of Mother Angelica with a super soaker, St. John Bosco juggled and danced for kids.

      If this was at Mass, or involved other suggestive dancing I would have a problem. Otherwise criticism of this skirts too closely to Jansenism for me.

    2. I believe St John Bosco did that before he was ordained, not afterwards. As for the Mother Angelica pictures, please cite source. The priest doesn't cease being a priest when he removes his Mass vestments. The behavior, especially for the sake of spectacle, is unbecoming anyone who is consecrated to Our Lord. As for "suggestive", Father Patalinghug crossed that line in the early part of the video.

    3. Regarding Elvis, it was his hip movements that got him censored. When some of his performances were televised, the cameramen were ordered only to focus on the upper part of his body. He was nicknamed "Elvis the Pelvis" if you'll recall. As for going easy on Father, I might have been inclined to do so, had he not been so mocking towards others who voiced concerns similar to mine. That mocking, sneering attitude may be indicative of a worse problem. I pray that the good that he may well be doing doesn't become commpromised by his showman-like behavior. If that happens to him, he won't be the first.

    4. I've linked to the image that I've seen... https://www.instagram.com/p/BXVuIbFDcVO/

      I suppose I just wonder how we determine the line of what is and isn't acceptable. I saw a post on a traditional page earlier of an FSSP seminarian doing missionary work in Mexico giving a young boy a fist bump, something I'm sure some circles would find distasteful.

      I agree that priests or any consecrated person should have a higher standard, just as in any leadership positions there are certain things that they should refrain from.

      I also think we need to be careful of not being overly reactionary just because much of the Church has become emotion laden mush.

  9. On another note, I do agree with the basic thrust of your argument that priests should steer clear of being a celebrity. Unless they are well noted in the way that St. Padre Pio, St. Anthony of Padua or St. John Vianney were.


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