My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at and I have a Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remembering Ted Kennedy

Dear Blog Visitors:

Like many throughout the world, I am mourning the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, who will always be remembered as the ultimate champion of human rights.

While many have labeled Ted Kennedy as an ultra-liberal, we must never forget that he was often successful in his attempts to reach across the aisle, and it was not uncommon for him to compromise with legislators who possessed a more conservative mindset.

In Ted Kennedy's honor, it would be the ultimate tribute if conservatives and liberals in the Senate could reach a compromise on a health care bill. If successful, I would certainly hope the proposed legislation would be called the 'Kennedy Health Plan.'

I have a very special personal memory of Ted Kennedy I would like to share with you. In brief, I was heavily involved in a research project in 1985, which was part of a worldwide effort to determine once and for all if notorious Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele was still alive. My research involved collaboration with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Justice Department. At the end of my research, I issued a rather extensive report of my findings. I was very honored and humbled that Senator Ted Kennedy read my report in full, as did Congressman Jack Kemp and a few other members of Congress.

I want to share the following letter with you. It was written by Ted Kennedy in response to my report. (If you click on the letter, you will be able to view a larger image.)

My deepest sympathies go out to members of the Kennedy family today. I like to think that Ted is now part of the heavenly senate, continuing to work toward the rights of all.

Peace to all,

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Review of Edgar Davie's Book

Dear Blog Visitors:

Edgar Davie kindly sent me a copy of his book, entitled 'Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith.' He asked that I read it and consider writing a review. Upon completion of the pages, I am very pleased to provide the following enthusiastic review that has been circulated to publishing outlets:

Book Review: ‘Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith’ by Edgar Davie

Review by Rev. Ray Grosswirth, M.A., M.Div

Whenever I have an occasion to read a good book or view an exciting movie, I am naturally eager to share the details with friends and acquaintances. However, it is very important that I only tease the appetite, so as not to give too much away. Today is no exception, because I want to tell you about a new book. However, as with the case of a good mystery, I don’t want to provide too many details before you have a chance to delve into the pages of this particular gifted author.

As the title suggests, Edgar Davie has tackled a complex topic – namely, priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church. I have written numerous articles on this subject, in an attempt to urge change in the long-standing policy of mandatory celibacy, which has been in force, for the most part, since 1139. It is important to state, however, that the celibacy policy did not appear out of the blue, minus a historical context. In the engaging and scholarly work, ‘Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith,’ Edgar Davie took great pains to take us on a century-by-century journey – a journey beginning with the pre-Christian era, and ending with an open question: What next?

Coming from a Judeo-Christian background, I truly appreciated Edgar Davie’s exploration of Judaism in the world of Jesus. He correctly makes it very clear that early Christianity cannot be discussed apart from Judaism.

Since the imposition of mandatory celibacy, our church leaders have cultivated their own theological and historical spins on the reasons behind the policy. How often have we heard Vatican officials state that Jesus willed celibacy for priests? The author of this remarkable book correctly places Jesus in the midst of Judaism, whereby marriage was expected of males by the age of 20. It is therefore reasonable to assume, as Edgar Davie suggests, that the Apostles were married, inclusive of Peter, who historians and theologians correctly identify as the person who began two thousand years of papal succession.

I appreciate the courageous and important questions posed by Edgar Davie. How about the question, “Was John the Baptist Married?” Davie addresses this question head-on. What is his conclusion? As stated in my introduction, I don’t want to give too much away, because I want you to read the book for yourselves. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Defenders of mandatory celibacy may be tempted to ridicule this book, labeling it as one in a series of ‘political’ treatises on this topic. However, anyone who picks up this book will soon discover the in-depth approach this author has taken, whereby readers, in effect, become flies-on-the-wall, eavesdropping on church councils, and witnessing the evolution of doctrines and dogmas.

In order to fully understand how the celibacy policy evolved, Edgar Davie provides the perfect backdrop: movements within the church, patristic domination, confusion with Canon Law, etc. Finally, Davie asks us to consider the plight of the priest in today’s society. One of the conclusions he reaches is this: “Since the freedom for all Christians to marry was handed down to us by Jesus and the Apostles, it remains Infallible Dogma.”

In conclusion, ‘Illicit Celibacy and the Deposit of Faith’ by Edgar Davie is a must-read for men and women who desire more inclusivity in the Roman Catholic Church. The book also meets the needs of those who have a desire to learn about the complex history of priestly celibacy. I, for one, feel nourished by the author’s pages and I want to thank him for his excellent writing.

Ray Grosswirth is a married priest who lives in Rochester, New York.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Conservative & Liberal Dialogue in the Catholic Church

Dear Blog Visitors:

If you take the time to survey blogs and videos across cyberspace, it occasionally appears that there is open warfare between liberal and conservative Catholics. My personal hope is that there can be a venue for constructive dialogue between opposing factions.

I have recently made attemps to appeal to both liberals and conservatives, who in many respects, encounter some of the same dilemmas, concerning the future of the Roman Catholic Church. Such dilemmas involve multiple parish closings, a severe clergy shortage and dwindling financial resources.

In this particular video, I have attempted to create a bridge between opposing factions within the Catholic Church. Bridging some of the enormous divisions is indeed a daunting task.

I hope Catholic traditionalists won't view me as enemy, because we share some of the same interests, such as a reverent treatment of the sacraments and music that is tasteful and respectful of tradition. The liberal side of the aisle has also found friendship with me, because I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit is calling us toward more inclusivity in the priesthood, whether it be married priests or women priests.

Let us pray for more respectful dialogue in the church. However, there is always some room for a little humor, whereby I have demonstrated an appreciation for creative videos that have been made by individuals on both sides of the aisle.

Peace to all,

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Father Ray Takes a Plunge

Dear Blog Visitors:

As a diversion from church politics, I thought you might like to see my latest 'entertainment' video, in which I reprise my role as 'the dancing priest.' Although designed as a humorous video, the serious underlying message is that priests need to get more exercise.

Peace to all,

Procession of Seminarians

Dear Blog Visitors:

I came across this old photo today (probably dates to the 1920s). It reflects a long tradition of seminarians processing from the old St. Bernard's Seminary in Rochester to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

You can see from the photo that there were several hundred seminarians in the procession. I recall seeing this annual ritual in my younger years.

Like many seminaries throughout the world, St. Bernard's closed and Rochester now only has a handful of young men preparing for the celibate priesthood.

In the face of closing parishes and a sharp decline in celibate priests, the Vatican remains stubborn amongst the clamor for change. The average age of diocesan priests throughout the country is now 64. (This makes me feel young as a 60-year-old married priest.)

Traditionalists are reluctant to let go of the mandatory celibacy policy that has been in place since 1139. My argument remains that unless the Vatican allows married priests and women priests into diocesan parishes, many more closures will be on the horizon.

Let us continue to pray for more inclusivity in the Roman Catholic Church.

Peace to all,
Ray Grosswirth

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Retreat from Job Burnout

Dear Blog Visitors:

I just returned from a relaxing week at Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was in fact the very first time I have taken an entire week off from my secular job since 1997.

The past week was actually a celebration of three events: 1.) my fifteenth wedding anniversary; 2.) a gathering of my high school graduating class from 1967; 3.) a retreat from my burnout scenario at my secular job.

In this high definition video, I give you a view of the landscape from Niagara-on-the-Lake. In addition, I reflect on my retreat experience and burn-out in general. I also speak about the importance of gathering with my high school classmates the day before I left for Niagara-on-the-Lake.

I look forward to retiring from my government job in around two years, so I can devote the rest of my life to ministry. I find that being the supervisor of a city's accounts payable unit can be very taxing emotionally and physically. As stated in the video, I rarely take a lunch and even making a quick trip to the restroom can be a daunting challenge.

In today's economy, I am thankful to be employed and I continue to pray for those who are without jobs. At the same time, I hope all who have jobs will take precautions to prevent burnout. In my case, I listened to others who expressed concern that I was doing too much, resulting in approximately 3 hours sleep per night and racing against the clock to get work done on a daily basis.

Peace to all of you,

Sunday, August 02, 2009

American Catholic Council Update

Dear Blog Visitors:

In this high definition video, I am pleased to report that a date and itinerary have been set for the American Catholic Council. It is scheduled for June 9-June 11, 2011and will take place in Detroit.

The agenda being set can neither be described as liberal nor conservative in scope. It is rather an attempt to bring a large population of Catholics together for constructive dialogue on a variety of issues that are extremely vital toward the well-being of the church. I look forward to attending and hope as plans continue to materialize, this will prove to be an event of historical proportions.

Peace to all,

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Franklin High's Class of 1967

Dear Blog Visitors:

I find I must thank God this evening for all the wonderful friendships I experienced while a student at Rochester's Franklin High School during the years 1962-1967. These wonderful people were, and continue to be, special parts of my life.

I realized this evening how quickly life passes, and why it is so important to make the best of each day that is granted to us.

Tonight's gathering was to commemorate the collective 60th birthdays of my classmates. I posted photos of the event at my Facebook page, and thought I would simply post a picture of the commemorative cake here.

Obviously, not everyone has pleasant memories of their high school days. I was indeed blessed and fortunate to have established friendships in high school that last to this day.

I found myself thinking of my many classmates who were not able to attend this evening's festivities, and I hope to see them in the near future. I also thought of those who died, and I pray that they have found eternal peace.

Peace to all,