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The charges of schism being thrown around are getting a bit ridiculous. Let’s chat, shall we?
First, what ISN’T schism.
Schism isn’t a dislike for the Holy Father’s leadership style. Schism is not questioning things put forth in a “working document.” Schism is not asking people to pray and fast that the crud put forth in a working document never sees the light of day in any final document proposed by the Church. Schism isn’t asking the Holy Father to make clear the teaching put forth in a document (i.e., the dubia). Schism isn’t wishing the Holy Father would never speak again to reporters on a plane. Schism is not EWTN reporting on Catholic news. Schism is not Archbishop Vigano putting out his testimony. Schism isn’t even asking the Holy Father to resign. Schism isn’t a critique of how the Vatican or Holy Father is handling the abuse scandal. Schism isn’t supporting Archbishop Vigano’s request for an investigation into the whole McCarrick debacle.
I’ve seen some ridiculous half-wit “theologians” suggesting that pretty much anyone who disagrees with THEM is schismatic. They seem to think that if they bandy the word around enough, the “uneducated masses” will be whipped into submission by the mere thought of it. They even put forth the question to the Holy Father on a plane (who, by the way, said there was no schism at this time) and got him to say the word which, somehow, is supposed to give their charges validation. “A-ha! The pope said the word so you are in schism!” WRONG!
Let me give you a little list of all the people who have been charged with schism by the liberal Catholic elite. Let’s see, Archbishop Vigano, for sure; Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, Bishop Strickland of Tyler, and Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, because they were three of MANY bishops who said the charges made by Archbishop Vigano should be investigated; Cardinals Burke and Brandmueller, because they dared to ask the Holy Father for clarification in their dubia; Archbishop Schneider, because he and Cardinal Burke asked people to pray and fast before the synod, because of the pretty awful stuff is being discussed. (Prayer and fasting – the horrors! How dare they?!) I guess all of EWTN can be counted, too, because Raymond Arroyo dared to defend himself when a book about how EWTN was trying to overthrow the Holy Father was glorified on a flight. Oh, and EWTN, again, for broadcasting a Mass where the priest giving the homily said that the faithful was being asked to pray and fast before the upcoming “Amazon Synod.” I’d love to know what they are scared of. You want to fast and pray for me? Please do. And, of course, there’re all those mean Catholic bloggers, radio hosts, commentators, etc., who are scratching their heads about some things the pope says. Yep, all are in schism, it seems, except those who want to change any Church teaching that doesn’t jive with their ideologies.
So, who are all the people declaring or suggesting schism? Thomas Reese, SJ, Massimo Faggioli, Dawn Eden Goldstein, Michael Sean Winters, and all of their ilk. And don’t forget, the “Well, I didn’t say they were in schism. I’m just retweeting something I thought was interesting!” crowd. (Yes, Fr. Martin, I mean you.)
The actual definition of schism found in Canon 751 goes like this:
Schism is the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him.
Ironically, none of the accusers are canon lawyers, but they accuse a good canon lawyers to be in schism. Let’s see, who knows Canon Law better?
The other thing I find totally ridiculous, especially after this week, is that not one of these accusers has pointed toward Germany. In fact, I failed to locate one story at National catholic Reporter on this as of this writing. If it exists, their search engines don’t work. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/marx-says-german-synod-will-proceed-despite-vatican-objections-82211 Why is this? This is a hell of a lot closer to schism (if not actually in schism) than anything else to which the NcR, America Magazine, or Commonweal types point. I mean, the German bishops were told by the Magisterium that their “binding synodal path” was “not ecclesiologically valid.” Their response? We’re doing it anyway. Who’s removing “submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him” again? Apparently, Cardinal Marx.!
Does anyone see the difference in asking the Holy Father to exercise his authority (a la the Dubia 4, Archbishop Vigano, etc.) and rejecting an instruction from the Magisterium as the Germans are doing? The faithful Catholics are appealing to the very authority they should, while the Germans are usurping authority they don’t have. American schism, my foot! The liberals pushing for a declaration of schism are the biggest hypocrites around. Not one of the faithful listed above and accused by the liberals has ever rejected the authority of Pope Francis. In fact, they’ve made request upon request to the Pope to clarify. To top it off, not even Pope Francis has declared them such. So, not only are the liberal accusers actually willing to reject authority when it suits them, they are also willing to usurp authority where they have none. They need to give it a rest, but sadly, they won’t.
Well, that was a fun week in Catholicism. I’ve been very quietly sitting in my corner (or as quietly as I can) taking in all the commentary on the “heresy letter.” Dun…dun…dun!
First, let me say this. If you are a “Live Catholic or Die!” type of Catholic, you probably find Pope Francis, how should I say, problematic on most days. I’m sure “Ugh!” has gone through our minds on several occasions when hearing those lovely in-flight interviews, when a new document drops, or when we hear about “the Great Accuser.” It doesn’t mean that we are “alt-right” Catholics. (By the way, “alt-right” has now become synonymous with “Move along, people! Nothing to see here!”) In short, many have serious concerns. Generally, the people who are thinking “Oh, no!” on a regular basis are people of good will, whether or not you declare the pope a heretic.
So now this letter drops. Most of the people who just want to be Catholic without conflict at every turn are wondering what the heck they’re supposed to do with it. Do you ignore? Do you beg to sign it, too? Do you condemn the authors? Etc., etc., etc. Honestly, there are not simply two sides to this one, there are as many as the stars. It’s really complex and yet amazingly simple. For us, we need to educate ourselves as much as possible and follow our conscience. Form it and follow it.
To start, I would like to deal with some of the ridiculous opinions on this that I’ve seen. I suppose everyone wants to be on a team and have that team win and then they become super–fan-like. As a mom, it would just be nice to send them all to their rooms and tell them not to come out until they can get along.
“These are just a bunch of cranky Catholics who don’t like the Pope.” Really? Can it really be that simple? I’m pretty sure they are Catholics worried it might take years to undo the mess of ambiguity. Many are likely people with children and grandchildren and they worry about their suffering from the debacle the clergy, particularly the German bishops and many Jesuits, are making right now. Again, we might want to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are Catholics of good will. The things the authors point out may or may not amount to heresy, but they are super concerning at the least. I’ve had interactions with and like some of them. Sounds like everyone likes Fr. Aidan Nichols. The ones I’m familiar with aren’t those to simply be written off as fanatics who were bored.
“Those canon lawyers and theologians who say that the Pope’s actions don’t canonically constitute heresy are just being legalistic.” Uh, Canon Law is kind of important, people. You’d probably be the type that usually throws out a canon or two in defense of your position, anyway, so you’ve lost me with this argument. If it “technically” doesn’t amount to heresy, then it “technically” is not. Sigh. If you are championing a letter declaring heresy, defend it without whining, please. Also of note, most of the aforementioned canon lawyers and theologians are not cheerleading for Pope Francis. They still have great concerns. They’re just calling it as their Canon 212 duty tells them.
Following on that… ”The bishops who don’t back this letter are just worried about their jobs!” Again, really? Or could it be that they simply don’t believe it canonically meets the standards for heresy? Seems like just another hyperbolic argument. I’ve seen many bishops speak up for the dubia, the Vigano letters, the Weinandy letter, etc., yet they didn’t sign the “Easter Letter” and all of those previously held as heroes have been notably absent on backing the letter, too. Are we to assume they’re just worried about their jobs, as well? Or might they have the same take many others have?
“You’re going to hell if you’re wrong about this.” I’m so glad you know the mind of God here. Sigh. Would somebody care to tell St. Vincent that? He literally picked the wrong pope to follow. Yes, it’s a serious position to take and I’m glad I don’t feel compelled to take it but, geez! You might, at least, wait until somebody’s excommunicated for something before you go there.
“Those who argue against this letter are trying to hide behind ignorance.” That’s my favorite. Yeah, all those people who argue against it are soooooo undereducated. Just deserves one more “Really?!” I wish I could think of something more clever but that’s usually my go to when people are just debating poorly.
Now what is my position on the actual letter instead of the hype around it? Again, I think the authors of the letter had the best of intentions. They probably thought long and hard about it and they firmly believe it to be in accordance with the teachings of the Church. They did what their conscience dictated. Others have done the same and come to a different conclusion. Quite frankly, and this might run counter to others’ thoughts, but right or wrong, I think that the letter will only have a positive impact on the overall Church.
After reading and watching MANY commentaries on it, I feel that the canon lawyers who say it’s not heresy are probably right. This and this are probably the closest to my thoughts, although imperfect representations of them.
Why do I feel this way? Because I’ve read Pastor Aeternus (excerpt below, but please read it in its entirety) and Canon 212 many times.
“And since, by the Divine right of Apostolic primacy, the Roman Pontiff is placed over the Universal Church, We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful,  and that in all causes, the decision of which belongs to the Church, recourse may be had to his tribunal,  and that none may re-open the judgment of the Apostolic See, for none has greater authority, nor can anyone lawfully review its judgment.  Therefore, they stray from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as if to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.
Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.
2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
Nobody in this current debate ever seems to mention Pastor Aeternus. I feel Raymond Arroyo took the position of that document when he said the next pope is the one who will judge Pope Francis, which is exactly how it’s always been done in times of papal turmoil. That’s why I’m not going to get my knickers in a bunch over this or feel like I have to get entrenched on a “side.” Yes, we could get to a point of Fr. Fessio’s “What if…?” but let’s really hope it doesn’t come to that. It’s bad enough now.
Regardless of who is right or wrong (and even some saints have been wrong for parts of their lives), as Fr. Fessio pointed out, this letter is important because it shows the seriousness of the situation in our Church. It’s chaos. NOBODY can deny it. And as many have said, it should not be ignored, although I fear it will be, just as all the letters, corrections, dubias and testimonies so far. The old sticking fingers in ears and saying “lalalalalalalala!” seems to be their way.
So what am I going to do? I’m going to keep expressing my concerns in light of Canon 212 and my knowledge, competence and prestige (not that I have any of that). I’m also going to keep up my prayer of “May God open their eyes or close them.” I hope you will join me in this!
I’m going to kick off this little blog post with an apology to my friends around the world. On the eve of the “Meeting on the Protection of Minors” AKA “Denial-palooza,” I’d like to ask that you don’t hold us responsible for Cardinal Cupich. If you want to find blame, go with the Jesuits. They’re the ones that lobbied hard for him. The fact is, most of us don’t like him. In fact, we like very few of our American cardinals. We’ve been shafted as almost the entire slate of American cardinals has changed in the last 10 years. We’ve at least got Cardinal Burke somewhere in the world doing what he can, and I’ll be nice and say MAYBE the completely defeated Cardinal DiNardo. That’s about it, so I’m sorry you’re saddled with the guy who said climate change and migration were so much more important than protecting people from immoral abusing priests.
If you are one of the people around the world (or at the Vatican) who think we love and adore Cardinal Cupich, the dissenting Catholic media has succeeded in their propaganda. Let’s look at the reality of the lack of adoration for Cardinal Cupich. He sent out this tweet this morning. https://twitter.com/CardinalBCupich/status/1097935698290724864
At this writing, we’re out about five hours now from this tweet dropping. There are forty-some-odd replies (they’re rolling in by the second), and all but one (somebody tagging their friend) were critical of him so far. (Please don’t email me with the great “A-ha!” after you post a glowing tribute to him.) I’m sure his Jesuit buddies will eventually ride in to rescue him, but just look at the first five hours. There were definitely no “Thank you for all your great work!” posts. “Resign!”, “Fraud!”, and “Repent!” were the consistent message.
Let me be clear, we American faithful don’t like Cardinal Cupich. We don’t trust him. We don’t want him to represent us. We don’t think he cares about the abused. Bottom line, he was the absolute wrong choice to lead any conference on immorality and abuse of priests. Why?For so many reasons but remember, just a few short months ago, Cardinal Cupich actually said that the Holy Father had more to worry about than the abuse crisis. Then he ordered his priests to read a letter saying that the news report was edited to make him look bad (apparently, he doesn’t realize raw footage is a thing) and then gathered all his priests and gagged them. We’re all guessing great penalties came attached to breaking that silence. He’s just a narcissistic, hideous man who will stop at nothing to protect his image. I’m not really sure why he still thinks he has one, outside of the usual morally liberal strongholds, but he does.
So, we American Catholics are suffering right along with you. Hopefully, somebody can find a clever way to break the Vatican cone of silence and then, maybe, we’ll get somebody decent running the next “Meeting on Whatever.”
Let me say this, I am a mom of a multitude of kids and have spent their lives trying to ensure their safety and well-being. I have THE biggest stake with what’s been going on in the Church for decades. Fr. James Martin totally and utterly ignores my kids as well as yours in his quest to legitimize his pet proclivities. It’s sickening and he needs to stop. I hope the mothers of the world will let him have it!
The witch hunt for gay priests
James Martin, S.J.
August 30, 2018
I object to the title in so many ways. First of all, I don’t want to hear about “gay priests.” I don’t want to hear about “straight priests.” I don’t want to hear about any priests who spend time focusing on their “sexual identity.” I want priests who focus on serving God and who focus on leading his people to Heaven. Anyone doing less than that shouldn’t be a priest. So, if your focus is on you and your sexual inclinations, please leave.
I’ve probably told this story before, but under our old regime with one of Cardinal Mahony’s buddies, we once had a priest luncheon in our diocese to “support gay priests.” A few faithful priests, befuddled, went just to see what it was all about. One of them courageously stood up and asked, “Why in the world would you want to be known as a ‘gay priest?’ I just want to be known as a Catholic priest.” Amen, Father! Amen! I have no idea if this priest would be attracted to men or attracted to women, because his focus was on God as it should be.
This is the biggest problem with any priest who wants to be considered a “gay priest.” The focus is on them. The focus is on normalizing “gay.” The focus is on undermining Church teaching to normalize “gay.” This is why they are so hostile to the catechism’s use of “disordered.” Rather than helping people to deal with this particular disorder like they would any other – drug use, alcoholism, etc. – they want to simply call it something else.
I was just talking to a priest friend the other day about this. I’m quite sure there are some priests, who if they sat around and focused on it, could conclude they were same-sex attracted. But they don’t. They focus on Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Holy Eucharist. That’s their whole-hearted attraction. They’re focus is quite vertical. I have ZERO problem with them, because their world is about getting to Heaven and about getting others to Heaven. They are in love and attracted to God. Who could have a problem with that? These priests are usually infectious and help us overcome all of our disordered tendencies no matter what they are: SSA, infidelity, drug/alcohol use, etc., etc., etc. They’re not same-sex attracted because their attraction is, again, completely vertical. This is what I want in a priest.
So, any priest who has slapped one of the “identity” titles on themselves has already failed their ordained mission.
The next thing I’d like to point out is purely practical. We don’t house our priests with our sisters. My gosh. For this same reason, people who identify as same-sex attracted should not be in the priesthood for their own good as well as ours. Talk about putting yourself in a near occasion of sin! The sin with that lies not in acting on the attraction but in putting yourself in an occasion to act on it. Again, why would I want a priest who is willing to put his hand on the hot stove??? Duh. If they are doing it, how can they possibly tell their flock not to? Do they tell the alcoholic to go hang out in a bar? Do they tell the guy prone to watching porn to go play pool in a strip club? I’m sure some these days too because they’re hardly ones to talk! How is it that Fr. Martin is going to keep promoting the idea that this should be done??? It’s got to be one of the most uncharitable things I’ve seen.
It is not surprising that Catholics are furious about the latest sex abuse crisis, which began, most recently, with accusations of abuse and harassment against the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick; deepened with the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing 70 years of abuse in the Commonwealth; and intensified with the former Vatican nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s 11-page “testimony” accusing many high-ranking clerics, including Pope Francis, with covering up the crimes.
Catholics have a right to be angry at abusive clergy, at bishops who covered up their crimes and at the sclerotic clerical system that allowed the crimes and cover-ups to go unpunished for decades.
Oh, gag, Father Martin. Thank you SO MUCH for giving us your permission to be angry at abusive clergymen. It also seems like you realized the “shoot the messenger” tactic was a bust. How about you now give us permission to be angry at the circumstances that got them there?
But the intensity of hate and level of anger directed at gay priests are unprecedented in my memory.
What I mean by “gay priests” is ordained priests with a homosexual orientation who are living their promises of celibacy (and in religious orders, their vows of chastity). That it is necessary even to define the term “gay priest” points out the widespread misinformation about what has become perhaps the most incendiary topic in the current discussion. A few commentators have even declared that the term “gay” implies that a priest must be sexually active. As I use the term, a “gay priest” simply means an ordained priest who has a homosexual orientation.
This is about occasions of sin, Father. I’m sure you’re aware that there are proximate and remote occasions of sin, even though, as you like to put it, you are not a theologian. This is Catholic 101.
Theologians distinguish between the proximate and the remote occasion. They are not altogether at one as to the precise value to be attributed to the terms. De Lugo defines proximate occasion (De poenit. disp. 14, n. 149) as one in which men of like calibre for the most part fall into mortal sin, or one in which experience points to the same result from the special weakness of a particular person. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11196a.htm
Certainly a same-sex attracted man willfully putting himself in a living situation with other men is a proximate occasion of sin. And, in many of our seminaries today, they’re also very willfully putting themselves in living situations with other people with same-sex attractions. Sounds like a grand plan for a chaste life! I’d think you’d be appalled at male and female religious being housed together. Why are you so obstinate that anyone who has an attraction to men shouldn’t be housed with them? Can you say double-standard? This is one big duh! Do you use any form of the Act of Contrition, Father? Geez.
The long-simmering rage against gay priests and the supposed “homosexual subculture” or “Lavender Mafia” has been fanned into a fire that threatens to engulf not only faithful gay priests but also, more broadly, L.G.B.T. people.
OK, let’s talk about a homosexual subculture. Does McCarrick ring a bell?!?! You want to call it clericalism and some want to call it a homosexual problem. I think I have the balanced name for it. This shall henceforth be known as “Clericalism of priests trying to normalize the same-sex attraction.” These guys cannot admit their sacred cow is not so sacred and so they try to keep it under wraps. They’re willing to protect their agendas more than the victims. As you admit later with the “hundreds of gay priests you know” comment, that subculture is there. I know priests who have been run out of their seminaries because they weren’t willing to condone the sexual depravity going on around them. I mean, before it was reformed recently, everyone knew that you couldn’t go to our local seminary if you were a faithful Catholic. You’d never make through without being thrown or driven out. Almost all those who bought into all the teachings of the Church, especially in the area of homosexuality, had to attend seminary out-of-state. Thankfully our seminary has been fast-tracked for rehabilitation.
While the contempt directed at gay clergy is coming from just a handful of cardinals, bishops and priests, as well as a subset of Catholic commentators, it is as intense as it is dangerous. “It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord,” wrote Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis. A Swiss bishop, Marian Eleganti, declared that the “networks” of gay priests in the church must be investigated before the “great purification” can begin. A bishop in Kazakhstan, Athanasius Schneider, listing remedies for clergy abuse, began with this: “cleanse uncompromisingly the Roman Curia and the episcopate from homosexual cliques and networks.” Cardinal Raymond Burke, the influential former archbishop of St. Louis, said, “There is a homosexual culture, not only among the clergy but even within the hierarchy, which needs to be purified at the root.”
This isn’t contempt. It’s a reality. It’s compassionate to the priests who consider themselves”gay” as well as to those who might be victims from abusing priests and many of those are people who simply couldn’t handle the proximate occasion of sin! Homosexual abusers are 80% of the problem. Stop burying your head in the sand.
Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, takes this to its inevitable conclusion, telling the Associated Press that what is needed is “a complete and thoroughgoing removal of all homosexual clergymen in the church.”
I dare anyone to read the first 300-pages of the Pennsylvania grand jury report and tell me that it’s the best start we could make, but surely more needs to be done, because there are some heterosexual abusers, too. That said, this first step would eliminate 80% of the problem as quickly as possible.
In the last few days I have seen more homophobic comments on my social media accounts than ever before. The rise in vitriol is not surprising, especially after such comments from church leaders and Catholic commentators or after headlines like these: “Pope Blames Sex Abuse on Clericalism, Leaves Out Homosexuality”; “Sex Abuse Crisis in Church is about Homosexuality Not Pedophilia”; “Homosexual Predators, not Pedophile Priests, Are Church’s Deadly Cancer.
What’s vitriolic about any of these? Pedophilia is an outlier in the grand scheme of numbers. Homosexuality isn’t. I’m wondering if you would say that a someone suffering from pedophilia should be allowed to continue on or enter into the priesthood as long as they remain celibate? After all, a pedophile is one who’s attracted to children (pre-pubescent). It doesn’t necessarily mean acting on it. I dare you to say that’s just peachy. If you can’t, then you are a hypocrite. Either way, you lose.
Archbishop Viganò’s “testimony” was also rife with this same kind of language: “These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church.” (Full disclosure: both Archbishop Viganò in his “testimony” and Cardinal Burke in a recent interview have mentioned me by name.)
And there it is. It’s all about you. They mentioned you by name because, well, you are kind of a jerk. You put aside all reality for your pet proclivities. You lead souls astray and you encourage people to “be themselves” (i.e., to act on their proclivities). You try to normalize the disordered. Etc., etc., etc. You’re nothing new. You are just another in a long list (and the most notable today) and look where it’s gotten us?
It is important to say that the majority (but not all) of the clerical abuse crimes were cases of priests preying on male adolescents and boys. Also, the majority (but not all) of the sexual harassment cases were men harassing other men or young men. Prescinding from the complex psychological questions of how much a person’s sexuality has to do with abuse, how much differentials in power do and how much proximity does, we should state clearly: Many priests abusers had a homosexual orientation. That is undeniable.
Funny you should mention proximity. Sorry, Father, but putting oneself in a proximate occasion of sin goes against everything the Church teaches. You remember Christ’s words in Matthew 18:8?
And if thy hand, or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. 9And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Strange. I don’t remember Christ saying “But if you’re homosexual, you get a pass on this. Go right ahead and move in with that near occasion of sin!”
But the next step is where the conversation can take a dangerous turn. That many abusers were gay priests does not mean that all or even most gay priests are abusers. It is a dangerous and unjust stereotype. Simply because a certain percentage of a group acts in a certain way does not mean the entire group or even most of the group acts in the same way.
Really? You’re going to go with “The other guy did it too!” Doesn’t fly with my kids and it doesn’t fly with you. TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT! If you were a victim of a homosexual predator, would you take comfort in knowing that some abusers weren’t homosexual??? You are completely deaf, Father Martin. Yeah, let’s ignore 80% of the victims because 20% were victimized by a mix of heterosexual predators and pedophiles?
Then why does it seem like so many gay priests are abusive?
Uh, because they’ve repeatedly put themselves in a proximate occasion of sin, perhaps?!
One reason is that there are no public examples of the healthy, celibate gay priests to counteract these stereotypes. Why not? Because gay priests are not willing to be as public about their identity as straight priests are. For example, in a community suffering from a spate of L.G.B.T. violence, there can be no references in a Sunday homily to knowing what it is like to be bullied for being gay. The presider cannot say, “As a boy, I was bullied, too, for being gay.”
As I’ve said before, Fr. Martin, you first. After that – no, no, no, and no!
My friends suffering from same-sex attraction and striving to live celibate lifestyles all say about the same thing. They say their relationships with strong, heterosexual, chaste, God-oriented men are what help them to live a chaste lifestyle.
“Why do gay priests feel that they cannot be public? For several reasons. First, the fear of coming out in this increasingly poisonous environment. (Ask yourself if you would come out when even bishops are calling for a “cleansing” of men like you.) Second, bishops and religious order superiors fear that their men (again, celibate and chaste priests) could be targeted by the media or homophobic websites. Third, an underlying shame about their sexuality. Fourth, an innate desire for privacy about a personal aspect of one’s life. Fifth, the fear that in the absence of other “out” priests one might become the “poster boy” for the group.”
Or, here’s another few reasons. They have a conscience that won’t let them do it. Or, maybe, just maybe, some of them are not obsessed with defining their sexuality and only want to be known as Catholic priests? I mean, this is ridiculous. Nobody is complaining about the priests with vertical thinking here. They are complaining about priests who obsess about their sexual identity. The good ones sit around thinking about God and his Church, and that’s how they live every day. They care about being fathers to all of us, homosexual or heterosexual (and anything else you want to throw in there). They believe in living a life of self-mastery in their devotion to God, not out of some martyrdom complex. They admit they have struggles in life but they don’t have to wear their sins like a badge and they simply invite people to struggle along with them.
Such reasons mean that the example of the many hardworking, healthy and celibate gay priests (and chaste members of religious orders) is almost entirely absent from both the church’s consciousness and the public eye. There are exceptions, like the Rev. Gregory Greiten of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Rev. Fred Daley of the Diocese of Syracuse, priests who have come out publicly as gay. But Fathers Greiten and Daley are two of only a handful of clergy like this. And until bishops and religious superiors support gay priests in their desires to be more public about who they are, and gay priests are willing to pay the price of honesty, the situation is unlikely to change.
You have failed to you why “I’m out and proud” is necessary to accomplish this. Shouldn’t they simply be known as hardworking and healthy priests? Or, how about devout priests instead of agenda driven? Why is it that any priest who keeps his vows and helps everyone toward Heaven isn’t good enough for you, Father Martin?
Consequently, the stereotype of the “gay priest abuser” now predominates. To use another example, imagine if the only stories aired about members of an ethnic, social or religious group were of those who had committed crimes. Further, imagine that no positive stories about their law-abiding members were made public. Eventually, the negative stereotype would dominate: “All members of this group are criminals.” (Sadly, this is not a hard scenario to imagine: Many ethnic groups face the same kinds of stereotypes.)
Because, Father Martin, “priestly abusers who are ‘gay’” cause over 80% of the problem!!! You’re repeatedly asking us to close our eyes to this fact. I’m sorry it happened to anyone at all, but unlike you, I’m not gleeful to hear that abusers are one class or another. I mean, I’m sure you breathe a sigh of relief every time a heterosexual deviant is found. Me on the other hand? I’m just disgusted all the way around. Why? Because I have children who are around many in the priesthood all of the time. Yes, I think it totally right to first remove the group that’s in a proximate occasion of sin and then try to figure out who the other 20% are. I’m reasonably sure that many of the 80% of victims wished the Church had followed her rule, too. How could they not?
This fear leads to a cycle of secrecy: Fewer celibate gay priests in the public eye means more stereotyping. More stereotyping leads to more fear. More fear leads to more secrecy.
I fail to understand why a priest following and embracing the teachings of the Church fosters secrecy. It would seem to foster authentic Catholicism. I’m a married female and the celibate priest is always going to be an example to me. In your line of thinking, though, if I’m attracted to men and they’re attracted to men, they’re somehow a better example of how to follow the Church teaching for me? Please. I don’t need to know the sexual attraction of a priest for them to be an example to me. In fact, there’s nobody in the priesthood like me and I’m all the better for it. Who really is the one stereotyping here?
Other malign stereotypes are also being peddled, for example, the idea that homosexuality inevitably leads to abuse. This is contradicted by almost every study, including the John Jay Report, an exhaustive study of sex abuse in the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2010. Most abuse happens in families. And no one, as far as I know, suggests that heterosexuality promotes abuse.
Red-herring. We’re not talking about the rest of the world. We’re talking about our priesthood. That said, not following the teachings and disciplines of the Church is where the entire world gets into trouble. That should start with the priesthood. If we don’t expect it in our priesthood, not really sure how we’d expect more from society.
Beyond these reasons is a perhaps more important explanation: the intense homophobia that still exists in some quarters of the church. And this must be named for what it is: hate. A few days ago, a gay priest texted me this astute observation: “We are so used to gay people being mistreated in the church that we can internalize the homophobic bigotry that we are now seeing, and that Viganò expressed in his testimony, and fail to call it out. It’s deeply hateful. And if he were making similar attacks against another ethnic or religious group, there would be a far different reaction—probably even from within the church. But because gay priests have been so conditioned to play the scapegoat we are too ashamed to speak out.
Or maybe it’s totally hateful of you to put your pet proclivities ahead of the mountain of victims and future victims!!! And, by the way, I totally and utterly resent you telling me I hate anyone. Just like you, I have many friends, relatives, and countrymen who suffer from same-sex attraction. No, it’s not just your little circle of friends. You’re insinuating that if we speak the truth about the abuse scandal, about active homosexual lifestyles, etc., that we are somehow hateful. You can call me hateful all you like, but I even love you. Don’t agree with you, like you, or respect you, get angry with you, but I love you. Your constant insinuation that we have to agree with every action or thought or to accept either from a person to love them is totally and utterly ridiculous. There are alcoholics, cohabiters, active homosexuals, etc., etc., etc., in my little world of family and friends, just like almost everyone else, and to say that I hate any of them is you playing politics. Stop.
Is there a “gay subculture” in the church? I have never worked in the Vatican, so I cannot comment on that workplace. But in my 30 years as a Jesuit, I have seen that gay priests in U.S. dioceses, as well as in religious orders, work well with their straight counterparts—as well as with straight lay people: pastoral associates, parish council members, parishioners, as well as principals, administrators and teachers. In religious life, they live peaceably with their straight brothers.
Goodie for you. Yeah, you’re apparently the only person on the planet who can do that, because you are the only one who truly loves their fellow-man. (Insert super sarcastic roley eyes here.) Pompous much? I think you’ve been in the ivory tower a little too long. I guarantee my world is far more real than yours.
More to the point, I know hundreds of gay priests, and I can say with honesty that all of them strive to keep their promises of celibacy and vows of chastity, none of them conspire with other gay priests, and yet many of them are demoralized by this increasingly hate-fueled witch hunt.
Do they conspire to thwart any of the teachings and disciplines of the Church? Hmmmmmm? Gotcha there. I’m sure that many enter not thinking about whether they are gay or straight, but did any of them enter knowing the Church’s rule on homosexuality and the priesthood and knowing their inclination??? What you’re saying is they didn’t like the rule but they did it anyway? That alone is a poor example. It’s definitely “the Church needs to get with my proclivities” instead of the other way around. Like it or not, that has been the rule and you are openly defying it.
“Where does this extreme hatred of gay priests come from? It comes from fear. Fear of the “other.” Fear of the person who is different. Sometimes fear of one’s own complicated sexuality. In frightening times, it can also feel empowering to blame and scapegoat the “other.” As the philosopher René Girard consistently points out, scapegoating unites us around a common enemy and encourages us to believe, falsely, that we have solved the problem.”
“Oh, the humanity!!!” Seriously, dude. Stop the rhetoric. I don’t fear homosexuals. I fear sin. I fear putting oneself repeatedly in a close proximity to temptation. I fear satan winning souls. I don’t fear you. I don’t fear my homosexual friends, priests, and neighbors. I fear FOR them in the same way I fear for anyone who puts their inclinations and attractions ahead of the Church.
This hatred currently being whipped up by a few influential church leaders and commentators will, if unchecked, lead us to a place of great darkness, characterized by an increased hatred for innocent individuals, the condemnation of an entire group of people and a distraction from the real issues underlying this crisis of sexual abuse.
The only person whipping up hatred is you. The rest of us are whipping up the truth about the situation because we don’t fear the truth. It’s only a problem for you.
There are many things that need to be addressed when it comes to clergy sex abuse: the improper screening of candidates; the prevalence of clerical culture that privileges the word of priests over lay people (and parents); the poor seminary and religious formation, especially in areas of sexuality; the need for regulations that punish bishops who have covered up abuse and many other factors.
What is not needed is the demonization of gay priests. What is not needed is more hate.
There’s more of your usual “bridge building.” What we need is a little more of the faithful being obedient and a little less of you trying to undermine the teachings and disciplines of the Church at most turns.
And the fun never stops…
Dear Father Weinandy,
You may remember me as your predecessor as executive director of the Secretariat for Christian Doctrine at the U.S.C.C.B. You replaced me in January 2005.
Do I detect a note of snark?
I am writing this open letter to you in response to your open letter to Pope Francis in which you address what you describe as a “chronic confusion” that seems to mark his pontificate.
According to Sandro Magister’s introduction to your letter, you had asked Jesus for a sign as to whether you should write your letter, you received that sign and thus “no longer had any doubt that Jesus wanted me to write….” I cannot enter into the subjective conditions that inspired you to write, but I need to note that “Amoris Laetitia,” toward which you express great concern, was the fruit of two synods and broad consultation throughout the church, is widely recognized as an act of ordinary Magisterium, and thus enjoys presumption as having been guided by the Spirit of the Lord.
Stop right here. I have to wonder if you also prayed for a sign before writing this, or if you simply wrote out of anger, Monsignor? By the way, Father, if you’ll note, the dubia and Fr. Weinandy’s letter are simply seeking clarity. Do you really have a problem with this? Can you deny that there are divergent interpretations of the infamous chapter 8 footnotes? Still, you are framing this as something it’s not. Fr. Weinandy isn’t rejecting ordinary Magisterium anymore than the four cardinals were when they put forth the dubia. I also think that you might be tugging at the heartstrings of the people in the pews by saying that Fr. Weinandy is rejecting something by seeming to suggest “ordinary Magisterium” a little more, well, ordinary than it actually is. Not quite that simple.
But, that said, most of “what’s in” Amoris, or at least most of the controversial passages of Amoris, are not ‘magisterial’ because most of those of Amoris, and most of ‘those passages’, seem to address (if sometimes ambiguously) pastoral practices (not propositional points), or they indicate how the pope perceives (accurately or otherwise) pastors coming across to people in irregular unions (and so at most are empirical surmises), or they urge a given demeanor with persons as Christ would relate to them, and so on. In other words, while Amoris is quite capable of contributing to the ordinary papal magisterium based on its authorship, audience, and circumstances, and while it does contribute to that magisterium in some respects, most of Amoris is, in fact, not ‘magisterial’ in content. Just as most utterances that popes and bishops use to contribute to the ordinary magisterium are mixed in with many non-magisterial comments having no teaching value, so Amoris mixes several, rather minor, uncontroversial ‘magisterial’ comments on Scripture and marriage with a few controversial, but not magisterial (because they are not propositional, and are instead exhortatory) comments on pastoral approaches. And, no, I do not think that this is to read Amoris the way I would prefer to read it; I think it is to read Amoris the way the Church reads her teaching documents.
So, it sounds a little like you’re trying to get people to think that every last letter of Amoris Laetitia is an exercise of ordinary Magisterium. Is that correct?
Your first concern is centered on Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia.” You maintain that the Holy Father’s “guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous.” I believe that the vast majority of bishops and theologians do not agree.
I might actually agree with you when it comes to the word “intentionally”, as I stated in my last post. There’s little to no way of knowing what the intention was. Regardless, it was ambiguous. How do we know this? Duh. There are two very distinct interpretations of it. If it was clear, this would not be the case. And, while I can’t say “intentionally”, I also don’t really believe you can say “vast majority of bishops and theologians.” If wishes were ponies…
The pope does indeed open the door to the possibility that some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can be admitted to the sacraments after careful discernment. Rocco Buttiglione, one of the foremost interpreters of the teaching of St. John Paul II, sees no contradiction, but rather continuity between “Familiaris Consortio”and “Amoris Laetitia.” And most recently Cardinal Gerhard Müller stated that there are conditions which open the way for those in second marriages to receive sacraments.
First, does anyone remember the Holy Father saying, “Being integrated into the Church does not mean ‘taking Communion.’”? Anyone?
Next, Cardinal Muller can’t seem to make up his mind on much of anything in the past year. (Anyone else think that?) He might be having the same problem as many of us. He’s just another reason clarification is needed, because he’s also said this:
There have been different claims that Amoris Laetitia has rescinded this (previous) discipline, because it allows, at least in certain cases, the reception of the Eucharist by remarried divorcees without requiring that they change their way of life in accord with Familiaris Consortio 84 (namely, by giving up their new bond or by living as brothers and sisters).
The following has to be said in this regard: If Amoris Laetitia had intended to rescind such a deeply rooted and such a weighty discipline, it would have expressed itself in a clear manner and it would have given the reasons for it. However, such a statement with such a meaning is not to be found in it [Amoris Laetitia]. Nowhere does the pope put into question the arguments of his predecessors. They [the arguments] are not based upon the subjective guilt of these our brothers and sisters, but, rather, upon the visible, objective way of life which is in opposition to the words of Christ.
Let’s actually look at Familiaris Consortio https://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2famil.htm, because I’m betting Msgr. Strynkowski’s banking on you not.
4. Daily experience unfortunately shows that people who have obtained a divorce usually intend to enter into a new union, obviously not with a Catholic religious ceremony. Since this is an evil that like the others is affecting more and more Catholics as well, the problem must be faced with resolution and without delay. The synod fathers studied it expressly. The church, which was set up to lead to salvation all people and especially the baptized, cannot abandon to their own devices those who have been previously bound by sacramental marriage and who have attempted a second marriage. The church will therefore make untiring efforts to put at their disposal her means of salvation.
Pastors must know that for the sake of truth they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is, in fact, a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned and those who, through their own grave fault, have destroyed a canonically valid marriage.
Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.
Together with the synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the church, for as baptized persons they can and indeed must share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. Let the church pray for them, encourage them and show herself a merciful mother and thus sustain them in faith and hope.
However, the church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon sacred scripture, of not admitting to eucharistic communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the church which is signified and effected by the eucharist. Besides this there is another special pastoral reason: If these people were admitted to the eucharist the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
Reconciliation in the sacrament of penance, which would open the way to the eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the convenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage.
This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons such as, for example, the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”
Similarly, the respect due to the sacrament of matrimony, to the couples themselves and their families, and also to the community of the faithful forbids any pastor for whatever reason or pretext, even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry. Such ceremonies would give the impression of the celebration of a new, sacramentally valid marriage and would thus lead people into error concerning the indissolubility of a validly contracted marriage.
By acting in this way the church professes her own fidelity to Christ and to his truth. At the same time she shows motherly concern for these children of hers, especially those who, through no fault of their own, have been abandoned by their legitimate partner.
With firm confidence she believes that those who have rejected the Lord’s command and are still living in this state will be able to obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, provided that they have persevered in prayer, penance and charity.”
So, do two footnotes in Amoris Laetitia negate what’s very clearly stated in Familiaris Consortio AND what some bishops around the world are holding their flock to? This is why the dubia is so important. We have two opposing sides (or none at all) when it comes to admitting divorced and civilly remarried couples to Communion. Again:
Reconciliation in the sacrament of penance, which would open the way to the eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the convenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage.
This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons such as, for example, the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”
Like Fr. James Martin, SJ, says, I am not a theologian. All I can do is give you my view from the pew and say that clarification is needed big time, since we should never be forced to judge moral decisions based on footnotes. That would certainly be lacking in charity. I think all of the “theologians” sometimes miss the fact that the vast majority of members of the Church are people like me. They need to come down from their ivory towers and understand that if we’re saying that we need clarification, we need it. I’m thankful to those members of the clergy who are willing to represent us in these affairs, because, clearly, they are sticking their necks out.
Back to the “open rant”:
Your second concern is that the pope’s manner “seems to demean the importance of Church doctrine.” I would note, first of all, that the Holy Father’s homilies, based on the Gospel, call us to a discipleship that is rigorous and uncompromising. Second, I interpret his criticism of those who make doctrine an ideology as a challenge for us to never isolate doctrine from its source in the mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ.”
So, it’s your interpretation that, because Fr. Weinandy feels that it’s important not to demean Church doctrine, he isolates doctrine from mercy? Your proof for that is?????
Your third concern is the Holy Father’s “choice of some bishops, men who seem not merely open to those who hold views counter to Christian belief but who support and even defend them.” Unless you are willing to name these bishops and the views counter to Christian belief that supposedly they tolerate, this remains a gratuitous assertion and damages the unity of the church.
Oh! Me! Me! Me! I’ll name them. Elevating Cardinal Cupich, Cardinal Farrell, Cardinal Joseph Tobin (not, not, not Bishop Thomas Tobin), and appointing Bishop McElroy were all nightmares. Then there’s the Fr. James Martin, SJ, appointment. And that’s just in the U.S.
And now you want me to name the views counter to the Church? OK. When Bishop Paprocki told priests that gays and lesbians in same-sex marriages should not receive Communion or be given Catholic, Cardinal Cupich said that wasn’t his policy. Martin just admitted he can’t say what he really thinks because he’s a priest. Bishop Joseph Tobin – how about we just look at what New Ways thinks of him:
But Cardinal Tobin’s welcome to Mass on May 21 has been the most significant of such recent gestures, because of the symbolism of a cardinal welcoming a group of gay Catholics, some of whom were married to same-sex spouses, to participate in the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the center of a cathedral, no questions asked.
Pretty much sounds like he didn’t give ANY instruction on the reception of the Eucharist.
Bishop McElroy has adopted the same stance as Cupich in regard to the Paprocki order. Ross Douthat does a good job here of dissecting his recent “synod” in San Diego. Besides this, McElroy also has a super deformed idea of “internal dialogue” and “primacy of conscience”
Bishop Farrell? Well he and Archbishop Chaput directly contradicted each other on Communion for those in irregular circumstances. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/popes-new-point-man-on-family-rips-abp.-chaputs-amoris-guidelines-on-commun
Your fourth concern is the pope’s encouragement of a “‘synodality’ that allows and promotes various doctrinal and moral options within the Church.” Here, again in an open letter to the pope, it would have been more responsible to specify what these various options have been. To do anything less is to foster suspicion of bishops and theologians by some circles in the church.
Let’s look at what synodality is: https://www.catholic.com/qa/what-is-synodality
Synodality is related to collegiality. Collegiality refers to the individual authority of each bishop as a successor of the apostles. Each bishop is essentially autonomous and equal (with the exception of the Bishop of Rome). On matters of local governance, one bishop cannot tell another bishop how to run his diocese.
Synodality refers to groupings of bishops. An example would be the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. According to canon law, national episcopal conferences can set certain laws and practices for their regions above and beyond what an individual bishop can do. However, because these groupings of bishops have no authority outside of each individual bishop’s authority, the group needs to have its authority specifically declared by Church law. Otherwise it carries no weight other than encouragement.
Both methods of Church governance have practical pros and cons.
That said, we can’t have doctrine subject to synodality.
I also have to laugh at your proposal that a lack of specifics can cause suspicions. Sounds a little like “Pot meet kettle.” It seems like you keep asking for specifics but then don’t even come close to doing so yourself. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.
Your fifth concern is that bishops feel that the pope is not open to criticism and indeed resents it. What is your source for this? Indeed, there has been much criticism of the pope, but he has remained silent. I am not aware of anything that he has said in public to indicate that he resents criticism.
Really?! The “change of jobs” for Muller, Burke, Father Samir Khalil Samir, etc., by the Holy Father himself, not to mention a myriad of replacements by the liberal fan club is kind of telling. And then there are all of those labeled as Pharisaical, rigid, etc. for their worries. My gosh! There is a whole website full of them papal insults. Fine, it’s his prerogative. I’d probably expect some resentment. Quite frankly, I enjoy some of them because they’re sometimes funny and creative, kind of like Shakespeare’s. That said, you can’t say they’re not happening.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, urged that dissent from ordinary Magisterium should be disclosed privately to church authority—see “Donum Veritatis” (No. 30). In a world and even an ecclesial environment of sound bites and facile partisanship, that becomes even wiser advice.
Fraternally yours in Christ,
Msgr. John Strynkowski
As you say, specifics would be nice. Maybe you could tell us who is dissenting from what? You asked Fr. Weinandy for specifics, now I’m asking you for some. Fair’s fair! Is style now considered “ordinary Magisterium?” Fr. Weinandy’s letter talked of ambiguity and flame throwing. It didn’t talk of doctrine other than to say “There’s so much ambiguity nobody can discern what we’re talking about when it comes to the indissolubility of marriage and the liberals are running away with it.”
This isn’t the first time Catholics have had a problem with “papal style.” Anyone remember St. Catherine of Siena? She chastised not one but two popes about everything from where they lived to controlling their tempers. Are we going to say she was a dissenter???
For those who haven’t bothered to read the dubia yet, please at least read this excerpt:
Most Holy Father,
Following the publication of your apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, theologians and scholars have proposed interpretations that are not only divergent, but also conflicting, above all in regard to Chapter VIII. Moreover, the media have emphasized this dispute, thereby provoking uncertainty, confusion and disorientation among many of the faithful.
Because of this, we the undersigned, but also many bishops and priests, have received numerous requests from the faithful of various social strata on the correct interpretation to give to Chapter VIII of the exhortation.
Now, compelled in conscience by our pastoral responsibility and desiring to implement ever more that `synodality to which Your Holiness urges us, with profound respect, we permit ourselves to ask you, Holy Father, as supreme teacher of the faith, called by the Risen One to confirm his brothers in the faith, to resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity, benevolently giving a response to the dubia that we attach the present letter.
May Your Holiness wish to bless us, as we promise constantly to remember you in prayer.
Cardinal Walter Brandmüller
Cardinal Raymond L. Burke
Cardinal Carlo Caffarra
Cardinal Joachim Meisner
Despite the spin, clarification, not rejection is the name of the game for the dubia authors and Fr. Weinandy. They are not dissenting. If they were, why would they appeal to the Holy Father for clarification at all?
I kind of knew this was coming, but it took me a couple days to get around to reading it. Now that I have, I have to say it was far more entertaining than I thought it would be.
Two prominent and sometimes controversial cardinals, both seen as conservatives, recently have drawn stinging criticism in one case and a stirring defense in another, and both have come from extremely high-ranking sources.
American Cardinal Raymond Burke was recently dismissed as a “disappointed man” upset over the loss of his power by fellow Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, coordinator of Pope Francis’s “C9” council of cardinal advisers.”
OK, this made me chuckle. If Cardinal Burke is such a sad, disappointed, pretty much retired guy – basically a has-been in the Catholic world (all Maradiaga’s insinuation, not mine) – why is Maradiaga talking about him every five seconds? I mean, look at the people I write about. Do I do so because they are inconsequential? Some are but some are very influential, and that is a big problem. I’ve got to give Cardinal Maradiaga points for attempting to verbally pat Cardinal Burke on the head, but I think he picked the wrong guy. Cardinal Burke is the mouthpiece for millions of Catholics around the world, especially the ones who actually attend Mass regularly. Maradiaga, Cupich, Marx, etc.? They’re the ones who represent the Catholics who follow the Church’s teachings only when it’s comfortable to do so.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, head of the Vatican’s liturgy department, was praised by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI as someone with whom the liturgy is in “good hands.”
Do you think Maradiaga’s going to try getting away with patting Cardinal Sarah on the head, too?
<snip because we all know about the dubia by now>
In the new interview, Maradiaga comes out swinging.
“That cardinal who sustains this,” Maradiaga said, referring to the criticism of Amoris, “is a disappointed man, in that he wanted power and lost it. He thought he was the maximum authority in the United States.”
Seriously?! Cardinal Burke is from Wisconsin. I realize that readers outside of the country might not have a clue about Wisconsin, but it’s not really known for power-hungry, maniacal people. It’s WISCONSIN, for goodness sake! I know a lot of people who know him personally, and he sounds like he’s exactly what you’d expect from Wisconsin. He’s a kind and compassionate man who will take time to talk to anyone and everyone he can. People always seemed to be amazed that he remembers them from brief encounters, and they’ll all swear he’s a deeply caring man who cares about the Church, the faithful, and people in general. He’s truly a fatherly type of guy.
“He’s not the magisterium,” Maradiaga said, referring to the authority to issue official teaching. “The Holy Father is the magisterium, and he’s the one who teaches the whole Church. This other [person] speaks only his own thoughts, which don’t merit further comment.
“They are the words,” Maradiaga said, “of a poor man.”
Maradiaga also criticized conservative schools of thought in Catholicism, of which Burke is often seen as a symbol.
“These currents of the Catholic right are persons who seek power and not the truth, and the truth is one,” he said. “If they claim to find some ‘heresy’ in the words of Francis, they’re making a big mistake, because they’re thinking only like men and not as the Lord wants.”
Irk. Let’s just stop right here, Cardinal Maradiaga. I’m reasonably sure you know quite well, despite your innuendos, that Cardinal Burke has never declared Pope Francis a heretic. Let’s just look at this to put an end to the silliness:
CWR: Some critics say you are implicitly accusing the Pope of heresy.
Cardinal Burke: No, that’s not what we have implied at all. We have simply asked him, as the Supreme Pastor of the Church, to clarify these five points that are confused; these five, very serious and fundamental points. We’re not accusing him of heresy, but just asking him to answer these questions for us as the Supreme Pastor of the Church.
<snip rest of lengthy q&a>
CWR: Just to clarify again, are you saying that Pope Francis is in heresy or is close to it?
Cardinal Burke: No, I am not saying that Pope Francis is in heresy. I have never said that. Neither have I stated that he is close to being in heresy.
What the what? But Cardinal Maradiaga said…
Now, let’s just juxtapose these two gentlemen, shall we?
First, you’ve got Cardinal Maradiaga, who seems rather fond of making fun of people who are in the “Catholic right.” He makes his fellow Catholics and fellow Cardinals to be rather pathetic. He’s a huge fan of talking about all these people who are always so mean (even though he probably can’t back it up with fact). I’m glad he knows so much about what the Lord wants for those of us in the Catholic right. I mean, thank you, Cardinal Maradiaga, because I really thought it was to follow and defend the faith of the Catholic Church. Silly us.
Last time I checked (as shown just a smidge above), Cardinal Burke said he finds no heresy in the Pope and the Pope says he doesn’t see Cardinal Burke as an enemy, yet Cardinal Maradiaga stands right in the middle intent on stirring the pot of uninformed Catholics spreading rumors and falsehoods.
Then you’ve got Cardinal Burke, who could likely spew volumes on the likes of Cardinal Maradiaga but does not (clearly a better person than I). He has not made one personal attack on him, the Holy Father, or any of his other critics. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Cardinal Burke utter Cardinal Maradiaga’s name. He goes straight to the issues every time, and nobody anywhere can point to something that would lead us to believe that he is not well within his right and duty to present a dubia to the Holy Father.
“What sense does it have to publish writings against the pope, which don’t damage him but ordinary people? What does a right-wing closed on certain points accomplish? Nothing!”
Writings against the Pope? When did “Holy Father, we ask you to clarify a teaching” become a hit piece??? Oh, the horrors. And really, again, if these people are just has-beens why are they on your lips every other sentence? I mean, shouldn’t you just let them wander off into oblivion? The answer is, they’re not. They are very important to the faithful and I think what they do is to stymie the liberal spin on Catholic teaching.
One would have to wonder what Cardinal Maradiaga thinks of St. Paul. If he’s having this much trouble with four bishops asking questions for the pope to clarify then he really must have a problem with Saint “I Withstood Him to the Face!” Paul.
But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. (Galatians 2:11 for people who are unfamiliar.)
“Ordinary people are with the pope, this is completely clear,” Maradiaga said. “I see that everywhere.”
Uh, define “with the pope.” Define ordinary people. I am quite ordinary and I consider myself “with the pope,” but I still would like the clarifications made to save the likes of people like me who might be led astray by people like you who twist ambiguities into pretzels and feed them to the hungry. This doesn’t have anything to do with trying to take down a papacy. It has everything to do with my kids understanding clearly what is being taught.
“Those who are proud, arrogant, who believe they have a superior intellect … poor people! Pride is also a form of poverty,” he said.
I find it sooooo ironic that he’s saying this about Cardinal Burke and the “Catholic right.” Sometimes looking into a mirror might be helpful.
“The greatest problem, however, is the disorientation that’s created among people when they read affirmations of bishops and cardinals against the Holy Father,” he said.
Oh my gosh! Maradiaga is “Cardinal Disorientor of the Faithful,” not Cardinal Burke! I mean, that’s his standard method of operation! Why do you think he’s got trouble with someone askng for clarification on Amoris Laetitia?
Maradiaga called his fellow cardinals to loyalty.
“I think that one of the qualities we cardinals [should have] is loyalty,” he said. “Even if we don’t all think the same way, we still have to be loyal to Peter.”
The accusations are rampant!
Whoever doesn’t offer that loyalty, he said, “is just seeking attention.”
Again, where’s the disloyalty? And, really, just who is seeking attention?
While such public clashes between cardinals are rare, they’re not unprecedented.
During the Benedict years, for instance, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna publicly suggested that Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who served as Secretary of State under St. John Paul II, had blocked an investigation of sex abuse charges against Schönborn’s predecessor, Cardinal Hans Hermann Gröer.
In that instance, Benedict called in both cardinals for a fence-mending session, among other things reminding them that “when accusations are made against a cardinal, competency falls exclusively to the pope.”
So, let me get this straight. When Cardinals are chastising other cardinals (please make a note, Cardinal Maradiaga!), the pope is the only competent judge??? And what did the pope already say again? Oh yeah, that he did not consider Cardinal Burke an enemy, so maybe, just maybe, it is you, Cardinal Maradiaga, who usurps a little too much authority.
Maradiaga also appeared to suggest that Burke may have been disappointed in the outcome of the conclave of March 2013 that elected Francis.
“The papal candidates others wanted remained in place, while the one the Lord wanted is the one who was elected,” he said, “so the dissent is logical and understandable, [because] we can’t all think the same way.
“However,” Maradiaga said, “it’s Peter who leads the Church, and therefore, if we have faith, we must respect the choices and the style of the pope who came from the end of the earth.”
Some days don’t you feel you’re seeing the high school rumor monger? How sad is this coming from a cardinal?
This is not the first time Maradiaga has attacked a fellow cardinal seen as being a conservative.
In 2014, he called on the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, to “be a bit more flexible” during an interview with Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, a German newspaper.
Maradiaga said Müller “see things in black-and-white terms,” adding that “the world isn’t like that, my brother.” Maradiaga also accused the German cardinal of only listening to his group of advisors, not hearing “other voices.”
Well, in your world it might not be like that, but in the real world, the Truth is found in the teachings of the Church, not in your world of moral relativism.
Sarah, meanwhile, who was appointed by Francis as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in November 2014, has drawn fire in more progressive quarters for his fairly traditional views on the Church’s worship.
In April, for instance, Sarah gave a talk on the 10th anniversary of Benedict’s document Summorum Pontificum, authorizing regular celebration of the older Latin Mass, in which Sarah spoke of a “serious, profound crisis” in the Church caused in part by liturgical changes after the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s.
“Even today, a significant number of Church leaders underestimate the serious crisis that the Church is going through,” Sarah said, including “relativism in doctrinal, moral and disciplinary teaching, grave abuses, the desacralization and trivialization of the Sacred Liturgy, [and] a merely social and horizontal view of the Church’s mission.”
One liberal commentator derided Sarah for nostalgia for a bypassed “golden age.”
One person’s “nostalgia” is another’s reality of the Tradition of the Church.
“Yet in a new afterword to a book by Sarah, Benedict XVI says the liturgy is in “good hands” with the Guinean cardinal, and praises Sarah for his prayer life.
Sarah, Benedict writes, speaks “out of the depths of silence with the Lord, out of his interior union with him, and thus really has something to say to each one of us.
“We should be grateful to Pope Francis for appointing such a spiritual teacher as head of the congregation that is responsible for the celebration of the liturgy in the Church,” Benedict writes.
The afterword’s last line is, “With Cardinal Sarah, a master of silence and of interior prayer, the liturgy is in good hands.”
The book is The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, published by Ignatius Press.
Benedict’s vote of confidence is all the more striking given that when he resigned the papacy in February 2013, Benedict vowed to remain “hidden from the world,” and has rarely broken his silence since. The fact that he chose to do so now, many observers believe, reflects both his passion for the liturgy and also his support for Sarah.
Despite this, I’m reasonably sure Cardinal Maradiaga will get around to publicly lambasting Cardinal Sarah at some point. Don’t think he’s likely gotten over Cardinal Sarah’s take on Caritas International: