Thursday, July 2, 2009

Archbishop Carlson Saved Loome Theological Booksellers in Stillwater (long ago)

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Ex Libris Theologicis: St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson once saved Loome Theological Booksellers [the world's largest used book store dealing in books on religious subjects and theology] from the "out with the old, in with the new" spirit of Vatican II hardliners in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.

Before he was Archbishop of St. Louis, before he was Bishop of Saginaw, before he was Bishop of Sioux Falls, and before he was the Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis, he was the Chancellor for the Archdiocese. Before Loome Theological Booksellers was the largest theological bookstore in the world, it was not. The following story was recounted to me by Dr. Loome just last week (some embellishments of suspense and style were added by me – but most of the story is true).

In those dark days Dr. Loome received a tip from a certain Dr. Briel at the University of St. Thomas that an edict had gone out from the chancery that seminarians were not to patronize Loome Theological Booksellers. St. John Vianney seminary was told that Loome Theological Booksellers was "out of bounds" because it sold "retrograde, conservative" books. It was then that they started coming at night, the seminarians that is. After hours the Loome family (who lived in the bookstore at the time or rather the bookstore was part of their house) would hear furtive knocks on their door and open the door a crack to let in the disobedient seminarians. The seminarians seemed to know that the books in Loome Theological Booksellers were necessary for their education.

Although the furtive visits were exciting for Dr. Loome and his wife Karen they decided that the damage to the store's reputation by this edict needed to be addressed. Dr. Loome soon made the call to the chancery and who happened to answer the phone, but our hero, Chancellor Carlson himself! Dr. Loome asked him why the edict had been issued against his bookstore. Chancellor Carlson paused . . . and said as delicately as he could, "no such edict has been issued". As Dr. Loome struggled to understand his meaning, Carlson further explained that no such edict had been issued by him and therefore no such edict had effect. Later, Dr. Loome learned that the Assistant Chancellor had been the one to issue the edict.

Chancellor Carlson, recognizing the great good of Loome Theological Booksellers, came up with a plan to save the bookstore's reputation. He asked Dr. Loome, "Has your business been blessed yet?" Dr. Loome began to smile and said, "No it has not". Chancellor Carlson then made plans to bless Loome Theological Booksellers and invited the local diocesan newspaper to the event. In no time at all the reputation of Loome Theological Booksellers was rightly corrected and seminarians soon could come in plain clothes during the day. That's how Carlson saved Loome Theological Booksellers and thwarted the schemes of the "out with the old, in with the new" spirit of Vatican II hardliners.

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