Jeff Nihill's Negative Portrait
of Bishop Tod Brown

Jeff Nihill is a parishioner of St. Pius V Church in Buena Park. He has written a biased and inaccurate article about the Catholic Church in Southern California.

The article is entitled "Tod Brown, Bishop of Orange: A Two-Year Perspective." It was published July 20, 2000 in The Wanderer. Here are some of Jeff Nihill's slanted complaints:

"Brown has moved the diocesan administration steadily leftward."

"Norman McFarland, Brown's predecessor, . . . did little to change the far-left makeup of the religious education establishment in the diocese."

"Brown was ordained in the 1960s in an era when many priests were poorly schooled in philosophy, theology, Sacred Scripture, traditional spirituality and the like."

"Msgr. Wilbur Davis . . . is an outspoken ultraliberal . . . frequently using the pulpit to stump for various left-wing causes. Davis spent the 1990s serving with the left-wing Maryknolls in Chile and as pastor of St. Boniface Church in Anaheim before being tapped by Brown to serve as vocations director."

"The leadership of St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, where most Orange diocesan seminarians are formed, has actively discouraged rather than supported vocations."

"Sr. Katherine Gray [the diocesan chancellor is] a sister of St. Joseph of Orange, the diocese's largest religious community which is rife with liberalism . . . (female chancellors are the 'in thing' among liberal bishops)."

"Brown's language is annoyingly 'P.C.' He loves to point out the ethnic 'diversity' of Orange County Catholics."

"His first major public relations embarrassment as bishop of Orange [was] the reaction to his closing of St. Isidore Church."

"St. Isidore's flavor was traditional and . . . typical of the Hispanic community, in contrast to the ultramodern (and Anglo) St. Hedwig's."

"The diocese's Religious Education Department . . . remains ultraliberal and a carbon copy of Cardinal Mahony's religious education staff. Directed by two laywomen, Ruth Bradley and Joan Kulik, . . . its speakers [are] the most liberal priests, religious and lay Catholics of the diocese."

"Fr. Laurence Dolan, O.F.M. . . . promotes the agenda of the dissident Call to Action movement, regularly engages in liturgical abuses [and] supports a Dignity-style homosexual support group."

"As is the case with Mahony in Los Angeles, Brown is unpopular with many of his priests and staff, but wildly popular with a ring of far-left sycophants."

"Cathedral Rector Arthur Holquin . . . has long been an adversary of those on the right."

"[Msgr. John] Urell, like so many at his level, has scant knowledge of the Catholic faith."

"Also poorly schooled in the Catholic faith is Orange's new auxiliary bishop, Jaime Soto."

"Soto . . . has never been a parish pastor, but instead a chancery bureaucrat."

"Considering the alternative appointments that could have been made - such as Fr. Holquin - conservatives can breathe a sigh of relief."

"In yet another indication of his obsequious relationship with Cardinal Mahony, Bishop Brown [is replacing the diocesan Bulletin] with a publication of the Tidings Corporation."

"[The Tidings promotes] a liberal political agenda with ideas contrary to the Catholic faith."

"Its continuing rejection by rank-and-file Catholics has vexed Mahony and The Tidings' abrasive editor, recently appointed the archdiocese's director of communications, Tod Tamberg."

Jeff Nihill's remarks are consistently negative and largely untrue. After receiving his B.A. degree from St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, Bishop Tod Brown continued his studies for the priesthood at the North American College in Rome, where no one is poorly schooled. He closed St. Isidore church (temporarily, we can hope) primarily because it needs to be made earthquake-safe.

Cardinal Timothy Manning selected Father (now Msgr.) Wilbur Davis to study theology at Louvain in Belgium, and Bishop William Johnson appointed him director of continuing education for the clergy. Bishop Johnson also picked Father Arthur Holquin for graduate studies and named him diocesan director of liturgy. Bishop Norman McFarland made him rector of Holy Family cathedral parish.

Bishop Johnson chose Father (now Msgr.) John Urell and Father (now Bishop) Jaime Soto to enroll in universities where they obtained advanced degrees. Bishop McFarland gave them new responsibilities as diocesan chancellor and director of Hispanic ministry, respectively.

Father Laurence Dolan and the other Franciscans at Saints Simon and Jude church in Huntington Beach are a blessing to all of Orange County. The parish community celebrates the liturgy fully and has an unusually broad range of Gospel-centered activities.

Jeff Nihill is completely wrong when he says Bishop Jaime Soto is poorly schooled in the faith and has never been a parish pastor. The new bishop has preached clearly, counseled wisely and given the sacraments reverently to thousands of people, especially during his years of parish ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Santa Ana.

Bishop Tod Brown, Cardinal Roger Mahony, Bishop Jaime Soto, Bishop Norman McFarland, Msgr. Wilbur Davis, the Maryknoll missioners, the members of the faculty at St. John's Seminary, Sister Katherine Gray and the sisters of St. Joseph, Ruth Bradley, Joan Kulik, Father Laurence Dolan, Father Arthur Holquin, Msgr. John Urell, the editors of The Tidings and Tod Tamberg all deserve our support. Their words and actions are no more liberal or left-wing than the life and message of Jesus. They are talented, generous bearers of the positive Good News.

Terrence Halloran
Beaumont, Calif.