The Scandals at St. Gertrude the Great

West Chester, Ohio

The Full Documented Story


November 13, 2009

Letter of Response from
a Parishioner to Bishop Sanborn
explaining his reasons for leaving SGG

In response to correspondence from a parishioner of St. Gertrude the Great advising him that he had left the parish because of the recent crisis, Bishop Donald Sanborn ( Rector of Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Brooksville, Florida) replied at length to this parishioner questioning the advisability of his actions.  This letter has now been sent out to the parishioners of St. Gertrude's in defense of their position.  On this page, we reprint the parishioner's letter of reply to Bishop Sanborn.

Your Excellency,

Thank you very much for your response. I do not know how privy you are to the situation at St. Gertrude, specifically as regards the school, but things are extremely serious. Your response to me seems to indicate that you are not familiar with just how terrible and intolerable things really are. Believe me, so many people are not leaving over a minor dispute. We all have faults and we can all tolerate the fact that not everything is always handled the way we would like to see it handled, but there comes a point at which things become so grave and so serious as to demand an equally grave and serious response.

 My decision to leave St. Gertrude is not based upon advancing the sedevacantist cause but upon (1) not being able, in good conscience, to be associated with clergy whose behavior is morally reprehensible, (2) not being able, in good conscience, to entrust my soul and the souls of (potentially) my wife and children to clergy who calumniate other priests, lie from the pulpit, and defend, excuse, and employ as principal of a supposedly Catholic school a man who physically abuses children and scandalizes them so that their bodies and souls are in danger. How could I ever trust clergy who do such things? How could I possibly turn a blind eye to it and act as though nothing were wrong? I cannot.

 Many people have left their homes to move to Cincinnati to attend St. Gertrude, with the idea in mind that they would be able to send their children to a good Catholic school, where they would get a traditional Catholic education, where their souls would be nourished, and where they would be safe. Such is manifestly not the case, and many souls have been scandalized because of how the school is run and what happens there. This has gone on for years, and the complaints are not based upon one or two incidents, blown out of proportion by a few whiny parents, but there is here in reality a long pattern of inexcusable and truly scandalous behavior.

 If it should happen that the sedevacantist cause suffer as a result of the imploding of St. Gertrude, we should look for the true cause not in the actions of the individuals who rightly saw that they cannot support such an institution, but in the clergy and laity who are actually at the root of the problems. The fact that people are leaving St. Gertrude is only a symptom of the disease - it is the disease itself that must be eradicated, and to be eradicated, it must first of all be acknowledged to exist (the symptoms will go away automatically as soon as the disease is gone). Yet, what happens instead is that, again and again, the focus is shifted away from the real problem to the people who are upset about the problem. We are not simply speaking here about some minor disagreement about how a school is to be run, as though we were simply "disgruntled about a teacher in the school." This is a huge problem and very serious in nature.

 You speak of raising millions to build and run a seminary and a church, but if there are no Catholics left tomorrow, then not only will those institutions not be able to continue operating, but we would not even have new seminarians/vocations to begin with. People have been so generous in giving so much only on the supposition that they are giving to a worthy cause, to a school in which the principal does not beat the living daylights out of the children, a school in which wrongs are corrected, not covered up, and a church in which the pulpit is not misused to lie about another priest. That is the reason why so much money has been raised, and the faithful at SGG who are standing up now in protest merely want to ensure that what so many good people have supported for so long is truly a worthy cause to support. That is why we are in uproar.

 The faithful at St. Gertrude are greatly distressed about all this. We are the last ones who want to see the parish die! The faithful, collectively, have (financially) made all of this possible, so why would we want to see its destruction? If, however, it becomes apparent that scoundrels have taken over who have no care for souls, then it is high time that such a situation be changed, and the only way we can change it is by refusing to support it. WE are not the ones tearing things down; we are only refusing to support those who are actually tearing things down.

 But if truly the sedevacantist cause is on the line because of this, one must wonder even more so: Why are Fr. Cekada and Bp. Dolan allowing this to happen? Why are they willing to endanger the entire cause? Why do they risk losing everything - for one man? Any reasonable person realizes that there must be an even more serious underlying cause here, because this kind of behavior that allows such grave wrongs to go unpunished for years, all the while both clergy and laity - incl. children - are being scandalized, can only be explained by positing a proportionate cause.

 Nobody wants to see traditional Catholic priests have to make their own living. Yet, was Bp. Dolan worried about taking away Fr. Ramolla's livelihood? Was he worried about seeing Fr. Ramolla stocking shelves at Kroger? Once again, the fingers are being pointed at the wrong people. The questions you posed to me, Your Excellency, are questions that should be posed to Bp. Dolan and Fr. Cekada: "When all the faithful at SGG have left, and no one will want to support SGG or the seminary, will you then be happy? Having to sell the property to Protestants, is that what you want? Will Fr. Ramolla raise enough funds to build churches, schools, and a seminary? Why are you so intent upon destroying the parish and the school?" These are questions for those who are truly to blame, not for the faithful who are merely trying to defend themselves and what their donations have helped bring about. 

 God will bless the sedevacantist cause only if there is holiness, not if there is cover-up of scandal and children are at risk. God will always bless righteousness and punish evil. He is the One directing the future restoration of the Church, and it won't be brought about by maintaining the illusion of a good Catholic school and a good Catholic parish when the truth is so terribly different, which people only find out after they have already gone through the trouble of moving here and having their children attend the school.

 So, if, in the end, the birds are nesting at St. Gertrude's, the bishop is stocking shelves at Kroger, the property is about to be bought up by Protestants, and 35 years of work are on the verge of being undone, it won't be due to people with a poison pen and a poison tongue, it will be due to the actions and inactions of the leadership at St. Gertrude, who have preferred to allow the entire parish and school to go under because they refused to do a relatively simple thing: do what needs to be done to clean up the school. The faithful will merely have done what any reasonable person under the circumstances would do: withdraw their support. Whatever bad follows from this will have to be filed under "principle of double effect." Why should anyone give money to a group of clergy who lie, scandalize people, and allow the abuse of children? Why should we support this? Why should we turn a blind eye to it and act as though nothing were wrong? Why would I want someone to be my spiritual director who calumniates a good priest from the pulpit? Why? For "the cause"? For sedevacantism? To defeat modernism? For a big seminary and nice Church property? Shall the Church be restored at the expense of children's souls? Shall we win back souls for Christ through mortal sin?

 Certainly, some faults and wrongs can and should be tolerated for the greater good, and we do this all the time. But what's going on here is extremely sinister and very disturbing (especially realizing that Fr. Cekada and Bp. Dolan appear willing to allow everything to go down the tubes rather than fire Mark Lotarski), and the faithful would be doing a great disservice to God and His Church by remaining silent about it. The CMRI's history with Bp. Schuckhart was very sinister, and yet the CMRI is flourishing today, not because of cover-ups, but because these works of darkness were exposed and things were made right. St. Paul tells us: "[H]ave no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11). This I wish to do.

 I remain respectfully yours in Christ Jesus our Lord,