23Oct Australian bishops’ statement in Rome

Our letter to Bishop Brian Finnigan in May said that, during the Ad Limina visit in October, we would have discussions concerning the events which led to the departure of Bishop William Morris from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Toowoomba.  That has been done.

We had individual meetings with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Subsequently we had a joint meeting with Cardinal Ouellet and Cardinal Levada.  As well, we ourselves met several times.

We were very appreciative of the time given to us by the Cardinals and the personal and pastoral concern which they expressed. Our discussions with them were substantial, serious and candid.

These meetings have given us a more adequate understanding of what was done by the Holy See in an attempt to resolve the difficulties with Bishop Morris, which concerned not only matters of Church discipline but also of Church doctrine definitively taught, such as on the ministerial priesthood.  What the Holy See did was fraternal and pastoral rather than juridical in character.  Although efforts continued over many years, a critical point came when Bishop Morris failed to clarify his position to the satisfaction of the Holy See and then found himself unable to resign as Bishop of the Diocese when the Holy Father made the request.

What was at stake was the Church’s unity in faith and the ecclesial communion between the Pope and the other Bishops in the College of Bishops. Eventually Bishop Morris was unable to agree to what this communion requires and at that point the Pope acted as the Successor of Peter, who has the task of deciding what constitutes unity and communion in the Church.

We express our acceptance of the Holy Father’s exercise of his Petrine ministry, and we reaffirm our communion with and under Peter. We return to Australia determined to do whatever we can to heal any wounds of division, to extend our fraternal care to Bishop Morris, and to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia.

 

45 Responses

  1. Fr S

    Shame on the Australian Bishops. You will return home to a well deserved barrage of criticism from ordinary catholics and a church which YOU have ruptured.

  2. Association of Catholic Priests

    The tragic disintegration of the Australian Catholic Church will only be hastened by this statement.
    Frankly I find the statement appalling!
    Please read what the statement says and more importantly what it does not say. These supposed leaders of the Australian Church are treating their people as morons and giving them the “mushroom treatment” – that is the bishops are keeping their people in the dark and feeding them you know what!
    The bishops make the most grave and weighty accusations against a validly ordained bishop of the Church who has not been laicized or defrocked. They say, “ … the difficulties with Bishop Morris, which concerned not only matters of Church discipline but also of Church doctrine definitively taught, such as on the ministerial priesthood.” Nowhere do they have the honesty to tell their people exactly what Bishop Morris ever said or wrote that constituted these “difficulties”.
    It is the Australian bishops who should be disciplined by the Pope. They have betrayed both their duty to be true pastors in faithfulness to the teachings the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “Lumen Gentium”. ]
    Further the bishops allege, “What was at stake was the Church’s unity in faith and the ecclesial communion between the Pope and the other Bishops in the College of Bishops.” Again this is a most grave allegation. Were it true, it is incredible that Bishop Morris is allowed to continue as a Catholic Bishop in good standing.
    Finally I quote the bishops’ final words, “We return to Australia determined to do whatever we can to heal any wounds of division, to extend our fraternal care to Bishop Morris, and to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia.” May I suggest that Bishop Morris displayed such exemplary charity and integrity so beautifully in the face of extreme provocation and insults from fringe groups of Catholic in Australia that I doubt he needs the bishops’ “fraternal care”. As for healing “any wounds of division” the bishops have made matters considerably worse by the high handed way in which they fail to take their people into their confidence and give a full and open explanation of all aspects of the dismissal of Bishop Morris. If the bishops want “to strengthen the bonds of charity in the Church in Australia”, may they could well begin by taking a page of out of the loving ministry of Bishop Morris who has proved himself such a fine pastor.

    EUGENE AHERN

    7 PALM COURT

    TEMPLESTOWE LOWER VIC 3107

    AUSTRALIA

  3. Mary Burke

    What an example of sickening sycophancy!
    According to Richard McBrien, many Catholics believe, and so apparently does Benedict XVI, that the Bishop of Rome is free, by the will of Christ, not only to appoint all bishops in the Roman Catholic church, but to dismiss them as well. And according to McBrien, this is an incorrect assumption. See below for a fuller account.

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/essays-theology/bishops-and-pope

  4. Martin

    Bishop Morris had ten years to get his act together. The Church deserves good, holy bishops who love and respect Christ and His Church, and who love the people of God enough to ensure that they deliver to the people authentic Catholic doctrine and worship, not their own opinions and ideas. The people of God have rights too and it is good that this bishop was removed by the Pope to protect the flock from his own apostasy (better late than never I guess). I welcome this encouraging statement from the Australian bishops.

  5. Fr S

    Sean (Derry) and Martin.

    I have some questions I would like you to answer regarding the Petrine Office.
    Pope Alexander VI (and his children) Are we to follow him? Are we to have ‘banquets of chestnuts’ too? Would you have looked down your noses at Catholics from that era who saw the corruption of the Papacy and refused to prop it up by offering their blind assent to his every whim?

    I am genuinely trying to understand your point of view so could you shed some light on these matters?

    Don’t you think the continuing presence of Cardinal Law (still a voting Cardinal) in Rome is scandalous and is making the Office of Pope look ridiculous every day he is allowed to stay there?
    What about Cardinal Levada, who so benevolently lowered himself to deign to meet with the Australian Bishops? Do you think it is right that a man who sacked one of his own priests (Fr Conely) for reporting another priest to the police for abusing a boy, then costing his diocese millions in a settlement, should be head of the CDF? Or perhaps you think that, he is exactly the type of person who should be in that position?
    And what about Bertone and Sodano who oversaw the rise to power of the evil Marcel Maciel? Two men who protected him at every turn when he should have been serving time in jail. These two men are Benedict’s closest friends in the Vatican. Don’t you want to ask questions about Sodano’s friendship with mass murderer General Pinochet? Doesn’t it worry you that Sodano wouldn’t ordain any of his students unless they took an oath of allegiance to Pinochet?
    When Maciel’s victims went to the then Cardinal Ratzinger to seek justice, he told them his hands were tied because there was a statute of limitations regarding Maciel’s abuse. When the victims returned a few years later, this time citing the fact that Maciel had used the confessional box to swear his victims to secrecy – a crime which doesn’t have a statute of limitations and is punishable by excommunication – Ratzinger’s response was to….. introduce and impose a statute of limitations on that crime too. Do you think this is the behaviour of a man deeply immersed in the love of Jesus Christ?
    Could you give an explanation as to why – without any discussion with anyone – Benedict decided that church teaching regarding married priests could be set aside to allow ultra-right wing married Anglican clergy to be priests in our Church (even allowing them to say their own Mass), but is still enforced regarding our own clergy?
    Or maybe why holocaust denier Bishops Williamson and his zealots are welcomed back into the fold? Or why over three dozen Bishops who were found to have been involved in the abuse of children have had no action taken against them by the Vatican, while four Bishops have been accused of dissent and summarily sacked without any recourse to Canon Law (as Benedict pointedly told Bishop Morris in his letter of dismissal)?
    Don’t you have any questions regarding the meteoric rise of Opus Dei just after the Vatican Bank scandal? Or why their founder, Escriva, is fast tracked into sainthood ? (While men of courage and honour, like John XXIII and Oscar Romero are ignored)
    Don’t you have any sneaking suspicions about the ‘death’ of John Paul I, their refusal to hold a post-mortem and the fact that an Irish Bishop lied about what happened that night?
    Doesn’t the award of a Papal Knighthood to Rupert Murdoch make the Petrine Office look tainted, at the very least, utterly corrupt and contemptible at most?
    Doesn’t it worry you that a South American Cardinal – who cant even speak English – can wipe out ICEL and all its work and impose an alien language on the English speaking world? Have you no questions about the underhanded way this has been done or why it is being done? Have you nothing to say about Benedict’s blatant spin regarding ‘secularism’ when he is the one who is behaving in the most secularist of ways? Have you no problem with the demolishing of collegiality and the principle of subsidiarity or the rewriting of Vatican II Council? Do you think that the present climate of fear in our Church – as exemplified by not one of our Bishops being willing to ask a serious question of the Vatican – a deafening silence – is of God?
    Do you think that the Vatican should retain a position of sovereignty given that it is using it to avoid answering some very serious questions regarding its behaviour?
    I think it is morally wrong to sit back and do nothing as these people drag our Church through the gutter. But it is even worse to attempt to justify their behaviour by quoting one sentence from the gospel and a few texts from church teaching which were written by – THEM! You should be on your knees thanking the Association of Priests not arrogantly slagging them off.

  6. Mary Burke

    You know little or nothing about Bishop Morris and yet you have no difficulty calling him an apostate. And I suppose you consider yourself a Christian.

  7. Fr S

    Interesting related point being discussed on other Catholic websites. Pope Benedict’s personal sacking of Bishop Morris has opened the door for his own prosecution.

    The Vatican have already argued that Bishops are not the Pope’s employees. Looks like Benedict’s sacking of Bishop Morris proves that they are his employees.
    (In his letter to Morris, Benedict gives even more clout to that argument by informing Morris that he has no recourse to Canon Law as Bishops are appointed by him therefore can be sacked by him.)

  8. FATHER john michael George

    A] THE AUSSIE STATEMENT IS FABULOUS!
    B] BISHOP MORRIS WAS GIVEN YEARS OF DIALOGUE WITH ROME- HE WAS IN NO DOUBT RE THE CAUSES OF HIS CENSURE (IF HE DOESN’T KNOW THE REASON ASK THE REST OF AUSTRALIA)
    C] HE ARGUED “IF THE CHURCH ALLOWED HE WOULD ORDAIN WOMEN – SUCH NAMBY PAMBY ARGUNENTATION IS HARDLY AN UNRESERVED COMMITMENT TO PRESENT DEFINITIVE TEACHING ON PRIESTESSES REQUIRED OF CATHOLICS IN GENERAL AND A FORTIORI BISHOPS
    IT’S LIKE SAYING IF CHURCH ALLOWS CONFESSION TO HARI KRISHNAS, I WILL DO IT.
    D] THE HEDGING AROUND WITH “IFS” ON PRIESTESSES BE-SPEAKS A BISHOP ILL AT EASE WITH CHURCH DEFINITIVE TEACHING.
    E] HE SHOULD BE READY TO DIE FOR SUCH TEACHING, NOT CREATING DOUBTS RE ITS DEFINITIVE NATURE AND HIS COMMITMENT TO SAME
    F] ROME DIDNT HANDLE MORRIS WITH KID GLOVES RATHER PRE-NATAL MITTENS – ASK GAILLOT, LEFEBVRE, CURRAN, KUNG, BASILARIYA, GRAMMICK,

  9. Martin

    Fr S, you almost lost me there when you referred to Anglican clerics as ‘right-wing’. So many questions you ask. This is a comments form, not an essay exchange. I’ll answer just one of your questions. I do not have the time to research each of your claims. Re: Pope Alexander: we should not follow the example of any person who sins. The Lord said to follow their teaching, not there actions. Did Pope Alexander teach heresy as doctrine? If not, then I am not concerned about him. Meanwhile, let me ask you one question: Why is the ACP campaigning to have the Church doctrine on same-sex activity changed? Can you answer me that? Besides it being a ridiculous, far-out idea, I am interested in hearing the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of this suggestion. ‘Why’ would you want the doctrine changed (even if it WERE possible) and how on earth could this be accomplished, given 2000+ years of constant teaching and belief, not to mention the Holy Scipture and constant Sacred Tradition against same-sex activity? Please, enlighten me, because right now, sitting in my chair, I can only question the formation ACP members received if they think this is possible.

  10. FATHER john michael George

    SO FR S:
    CARDINAL LAW IS WORST THAN ALEXANDER VI?

    NCR wrote:
    “In Springfield, he made a name for himself as an energetic bishop. He established Hope House, the area’s first shelter for battered women, a soup kitchen that served some 250 people a day called The Kitchen, and started a program in which parishioners could turn to their parish for help with health care. Among his other notable accomplishments:

    In 1975, he adopted a Vietnamese men’s religious order, the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, whose members had come to the United States as refugees following the Vietnam War. He turned over to them a seminary complex in Carthage, Mo., which would later become the shrine of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, and is today regularly visited by Vietnamese-American Catholics. He sponsored a women’s order of Vietnamese refugees as well, the Congregation of Mary Queen.
    In 1981, Law drew up guidelines at the behest of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for married Episcopalian ministers who wanted to join the Catholic church after their church’s decision to allow women to be ordained.
    A 1984 NCR report noted that while in Springfield, Law made a practice of spending each weekend with one of the diocese’s 100 parishes. “The stories told [in the diocese] of Law are of acts of charity,” the report said. For example, “the bishop took into his home, for four years, a local seminarian’s brother who was paralyzed from the neck down from a bullet wound.”

  11. FATHER john michael George

    A] Fr S has made a mistake! Pope Benedict DID NOT “INTRODUCE” lifting celibacy rule for non-Catholic ministers. It was that super radical anarchist Pope Pius XII who lifted celibacy law in particular for married Lutheran ministers YONKS AGO;
    GET WITH IT FR S
    [PS I AM A TOTAL FAN OF PIUS XII; DONT BE SCANDALISED BY APPEARANCES]
    ————————————————————–
    B] RE SOUTH AMERICAN CARDINAL WHO ‘NO SPIKA DA INGLIS’ YET HAS POWER TO TOPPLE ICEL
    i] USA presidents spoke no Arabic but made decisions re middle east.
    Arabic nations with advice of those who did speak Arabic in army intelligence etc
    ii] Ever heard of managerial delegation/subsidiarity (including decisions by numerous world leaders through advice from polyglot ambassadors on global sites- welcome to 21st century global diplomacy — Not always successful but it’s a goer)?
    Said cardinal listened to advice from english speaking advisers.

    C]”Fear in our church”????????? Have a scotch on the rocks Father S!! Dood for church nerves;

    i] I SHARE YOUR FEARS as YOU LIBERAL CLERICS EVER-SO-TOLERANT once SUBJECTED ME TO CHARACTER ASSASSINATION; OSTRACISING; RE-EDUCATION IN A LIBERAL UNI, THUS WASTING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON A RECALCITRANT PAPIST;
    ii] REFUSED PUBLIC MINISTRY, I COULD SAY MASS ALONE ONLY IN MY ROOM – NEVER IN CHURCH;
    iii] NOT TILL SECULAR PRESS WROTE THIS UP DID LIB HIERARCHY BACK DOWN AND REINSTATE ME AS CHAPLAIN TO RETIRED BROTHERS [though I had previously extensive parish ministry, retreats, parish missions]- WHERE I CONTINUED THE SCANDAL OF TEACHING ORTHODOX CATHOLIC DOCTRINE
    iv] EVEN SOME paedophile PRIESTS GOT BETTER TREATMENT THAN I DID, YET NO SUCH SCANDAL RE MYSELF WAS EVER SUGGESTED!! (REASONS FOR SUCH lib AGGRO WERE NEVER SPELT OUT by tolerant liberals BUT PERHAPS READ BETWEEN THE LINES OF MY POSTS FOR THAT.)

    ——————————————————————–
    D] Re Murdoch knighthood
    “Rupert Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of St. Gregory in 1998. Although not a Catholic, he had apparently been recommended for the honor by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles after giving money to a Church education fund. A year later he also donated $10 million to help build Los Angeles’ new Catholic cathedral.”
    No doubt browned off Fr S would suggest a “hockey badge!
    ———————————————————
    E] Regarding Bishop Williamson – he apologised to the pope re his holocaust remarks

  12. FATHER john michael George

    Fr S:
    Re JP I conspiracy junk – truly it is ‘cold mouldy curry’.
    Try an update:
    http://subcreators.com/blog/investigation-of-the-death-of-pope-john-paul-i/

  13. Mary Burke

    Father J.M.G. there’s no need to shout. Is your argument so weak that you feel the need to capitalise? Try reason!

  14. FATHER john michael George

    FR S RAISES ISSUE OF POPE AS EMPLOYER OF MORRIS?
    ————————————————————
    NCR JOHN ALLEN NOTES:

    “Based on common law, MR Lena [VATICAN USA ATTORNEY] lists fourteen such criteria, including:
    •Who pays the individual’s salary;
    •Who provides benefits;
    •Tax treatment;
    •Who provides the worker’s tools and “instrumentalities”;
    •Where the work is located;
    •How much discretion the individual has over when and how long to work;
    •Whether the work is usually done without supervision;
    •Whether the parties believe they have an employment relationship.

    By none of those tests, Lena contends, can a bishop be considered a Vatican employee. The Vatican doesn’t pay his salary, it doesn’t provide health insurance or other benefits, it’s not responsible for withholding taxes, it doesn’t provide an office or any tools, the work’s not done in Rome, the Vatican exercises virtually no day-to-day oversight, and there’s no employment contract. Legally speaking, dioceses are separate corporations with the bishop as the CEO.

    To support that point in the specific case of Louisville, Lena includes a declaration from Brian Reynolds, the chancellor of the archdiocese, who states: “I do not believe the Archbishop is an employee of the Holy See. In addition, the Archbishop has never communicated to me, in any way, that he believes himself to be an employee of the Holy See.”

    Lena acknowledges that the Vatican and local bishops “cooperate” in the service of the worldwide Catholic church, but argues that “mere cooperation or coordination does not render a person an employee.” In citing case law in support of that point, Lena offers the examples of independent contractors and franchisees to suggest that neither is an employee whose daily work is directly controlled by an employer.

    In the same memo, Lena also insists that bishops are not Vatican officials. Among other things, he points to the Regolamento Generale della Curia Romana, essentially the Vatican’s employee handbook, which contains a full list of Vatican officials — and conspicuously, diocesan bishops are nowhere to be found.

    Again, there are a couple of nuggets worth excavating.

    First, Lena concedes there are numerous texts from ecumenical councils, papal documents, and Vatican instructions laying out policies bishops are supposed to follow. (Though he doesn’t make the point, the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops actually holds an annual training session in Rome for newly appointed prelates from around the world.) Under civil law, Lena argues, the existence of such policies is usually considered evidence against an employment relationship — since if an employer has the power to supervise a worker’s daily activity, such detailed policies presumably wouldn’t be necessary.

    Second, Lena notes that bishops are appointed for life. (Official Catholic theology is once a bishop, always a bishop, which is why rogue bishops always raise the fear of schism.) That too, Lena says, supports the notion that bishops aren’t employees, since their irrevocable status implies independence.”

    “MORRIS” (ADDS FR JG) “IS A BISHOP FOR LIFE WITH A TITULAR DIOCESE INDEPENDENT OF TOOWOOMBA SO HIS EPISCOPACY IS UNSACKABLE BY ROME – INDELIBLE SACRAMENT”
    PRIME MINISTERS HAVE JURISDICTION OVER CITIZENS BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE THEM EMPLOYEES- SAME WITH POPE’S JURISDICTION OVER CHURCH [POPE IS NOT EMPLOYEE OF THE WHOLE CHURCH DESPITE JURISDICTION].
    WHEN JOHN XXII WAS ASKED HOW MANY EMPLOYEES WORK IN VATICAN, HE QUIPPED:”ONLY HALF”

    * * *

  15. Eddie Finnegan

    Once upon a time (like about thirteen months ago) we had in the newly formed ACP a welcome opening for a Voice for Priests to rectify the vacuum and absence of such a voice over recent decades in the Irish Church. While I am willing to believe (from some reports of the recent inspiring AGM, for instance) that that is still the main focus and reality of the ACP, the Association’s online showcase on this website hardly bears this out, partly I suspect because of (a) the uneven spread of its membership across the dioceses of Ireland, (b) the obvious lack of response or participation by more than a tiny minority of the ‘ordinary parish priests’ of Ireland’s dioceses – or even of the 560-strong membership – and (c) the tendency (as in much anonymous and therefore unaccountable comment on most discussions on most internet websites) to scare off those who might have something worth saying and worth hearing pertinent to the local parochial, diocesan or national church scene, but who have better things to do than entangle themselves in the frequently repetitive slagging matches which insist on ‘solving’ the world Church’s universal problems, OFTEN IN SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS.

    As a mere layman, geographically detached, I’d like to see an Association of Catholic Priests which, true to its Irish provenance and objectives, is appealing and embracing enough to those ‘ordinary parish priests’ of the 26 dioceses to tempt a few of them to share an occasional opinion, comment, disagreement, epiphany or spiritual insight with those who visit this website.

    My unscientific yardstick for the ACP’s visible relevance as a Voice for Priests would be to find even one memorable contribution, however brief, from even one of the approximately 200 still serving priests whom I knew reasonably well at Maynooth in the vibrant ‘Vat II’ years of 1961-65. Not all of them, I am certain, would regard the ACP as “a bunch of soreheads”. Something seems to be missing!

  16. Martin

    Good work, Father John. And Fr S, I am still waiting for a reply to my question.

  17. Fr S

    Martin
    Why the reminder? Some patience, lad, you’ll get your chance to rip me to shreds on the gay issue shortly.

    The reason I set out those questions was to find out how well read you are on the issues currently facing our Church, given that your posts are full of absolute certainty. I have my answer.

    On the gay issue, its not for me to tell you what ACP’s view is. I don’t know.
    However, at the weekend in Glasgow, a young man was battered senseless, sexually assaulted, tied to a lamppost, set on fire and burned alive, then was left to die in agony. He was gay. He had a name. It was Stuart.
    I’ll let you guess what I’ll think about ACP’s stance, when I read it.

  18. Sean (Derry)

    Fr S, If this site was a forum for discussion I may well engage in responding to your many questions (probably one at a time). However as it currently only allows comments on particular articles submitted by approved ACP writers I’ll try not to stray of course but explain my position.
    I will tell you that never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine a situation where I would ever have to consider the need to challenge a priest with regards to orthodox Church teaching or the approved and licit order of mass and the sacraments. For a long time I listened to sermons that seemed contary to all I had been taught and noticed changes introduced during the mass which left me confused. I received absolution at confession without having to confess any sins, I’ve seen ‘self-service’ of the precious blood from the chalice, Irish dancing around the altar, appeals for women priests as sermons, too name just a few. For a long time I assumed that what was happening was ‘approved’ and that it was just me not adapting to change. Only during the past 2 years did I actually actively question what was taking place within the Catholic Church. Much to my relief I discovered that all the novelty and ‘Disneyization’ that I noticed and concerned me had never been approved. The only blessing from this was that by actively seeking answers I rediscovered and appreciated what had been lost. I no longer seek to be ‘entertained’ at mass but seek only to participate in the Most Holy Sacrifice. I don’t think I ask too much that a priest properly celebrates the mass as it should be and not according how he thinks it shold be. I do not seek to have a priest who is ‘perfect’ in his personal life but only one who is true to the faith when preaching church doctrine and celebrating the mass. Surely that is a reasonable request.

  19. Mary Burke

    Martin, I remarked on another thread that it would be helpful if you gave your full name. It’s just that the content of your comments makes it difficult for any educated person to take them seriously. For example, your diatribe above on relations between people of the same sex. What are your credentials? If you disclosed your name instead of hiding behind an anonymous tag it might enable some readers to come to a judgement more quickly about what you write and not to waste as much of their time on your self-indulgent posts.
    Come out of the closet and stand over your benighted views!

  20. Joseph O'Leary

    Martin, if the ACP have the view you claim, they probably think it has been sufficiently argued elsewhere. John McNeill, Mark Jordan, Gareth Moore, James Alison, Gerard Loughlin, are among the many Catholic theologians who argue for change; for the wider background of proposals for change in church moral teaching see the various works authored and edited by Charles Curran. I think you could study their arguments instead of asking the ACP to reinvent the wheel. See also: http://www.cairn.info/resume.php?ID_ARTICLE=CITE_044_0027

  21. Martin

    Oh dear: Charles Curran. Pass me the bucket. If that is the best you can come up with, I won’t waste my breath, no offense! Curran has a problem with practically every aspect of Church teaching on sexual matters: divorce, contraception, masturbation, pre-marital sex and homosexual acts. Did I leave anything out? He cannot be taken seriously.

    Now as regards to the man attacked in Scotland. What has that got to do with the price of fresh fishes? The Church says that people with SSA must be respected and must not be mistreated. But the truth is the truth: same-sex acts are immoral; they do not glorify God and they do not serve the pursuit of holiness, nor do they lead to happiness, only misery and destruction. The best friend to the person with homosexual attractions is Jesus. He does not condone their sin, nor does He condemn them, but He does call them out of their sin into freedom and holiness, into new life with Him. THAT is the Gospel, and THAT is what ACP and all good and holy priests should be preaching and teaching their people: repentance of sin and salvation in Christ. If the priests taught their people to love one another for the sake of God, then nobody would be beaten up and left for dead.

  22. FATHER john michael George

    After you with the bucket
    John McNeill: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opened an inquiry in 1974 into the former Jesuit priest’s view about homosexuality. In 1977, church authorities in Rome officially silenced him. He was no longer allowed to speak about or minister to homosexuals. He disobeyed that order in 1986 and the Society of Jesus began formal procedures to expel McNeill. The expulsion became official in January 1987 and McNeill became a psychotherapist.

  23. Fr S

    Sean (Derry)
    Your recollection of events/liturgical abuses is somewhat different from mine. As a young priest, in any parish I was in, there was always a small group of people who set themselves against any changes. They caused a lot of damage to Catholic communities.
    I always had to be really careful with them. If I ever did anything new, they accused me of unorthodoxy. If I forgot my words or missed something out at Mass they accused me of not following the licit order of Mass.
    In my sermons I tried to treat my parishioners like educated, thinking people. I didn’t hide from controversial issues, like the ordination of women. That group accused me of calling for the ordination of women and slaughtered me to anyone who would listen.
    In confession, I kept the seal. They obviously didn’t think it applied to them and they would openly talk about and criticise what I had said to them.
    When we introduced Eucharistic ministers, they were watching. Any mistake, anything which could be deemed lacking in reverence, was pounced upon by them.
    They told everyone how shocking it was.
    When I got some teenagers who weren’t going to Mass to do a beautiful dance they accused me of turning the church into a disco. They couldn’t see that these kids were now becoming involved in the church and that it was such a huge courageous step for them. They demolished it.
    They always used very sarcastic language to make it look as if the church had been cheapened. They called it Disneyland or Butlins. They exaggerated small things and were not averse to actually telling lies to discredit any priest they didn’t like.
    More than any liturgical abuse or unorthodox practice, these people did more to poison our beautiful parishes and all that they could have become. And every single one of those people considered themselves to be the most faithful of Catholics.
    As I said, Sean, your recollection is very different from mine.

  24. Joseph O'Leary

    You asked for arguments but you dismiss them sight unseen. If you only read theologians who have the ecclesiastical mandatum, perhaps James Hanigan or Luke Timothy Johnson (if he has it) would suit your taste. These are respected conservatives who argue for change, in light of the signs of the times.

  25. MM

    Australian Bishops
    What do you think?
    Pick two of the following:
    (1) Men.
    (2) Mice.
    (3) Hand shakers.
    (4) Ring kissers.

  26. FATHER john michael George

    re Luke Timothy Johnson[conservative?]
    Bishop Braxton offered this simple and clear statement about why he won’t allow Johnson to give a talk in a parish in his diocese:

    “I do not wish Catholic institutions or organizations to invite speakers into the diocese who have written articles or given lectures that oppose, deny, reject, undermine or call into question the authentic teachings of the magisterium of the Catholic Church.”

  27. Martin

    Fr. Joe: Luke Timothy Johnson is hardly a conservative. Let’s look at some of his words:

    ”I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality – namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order.”

    So there you have it. He rejects the plain meaning of Scripture and 2000+ years of Tradition. Does he not really reject God? He wants to have his cake and eat it. And what does he base that on? His and others experience. Well, that experience is not confirming that homosexuality leads to happiness. Happiness being what God wants for us, together with holiness and purity. Homosexual relationships, psychiatrists tell us, are not mature relationships; they are not authentically loving; they are based on affective immaturity; and they are based in self-love and narcissism. They are not life-giving relationships. They are sterile. They do not respect the design and intentions of the Creator. It is bogus science that would claim that these relationships are healthy and loving. The Church teaching, being that of Christ’s Himself, is correct, and modern, enlightened psychiatry and psychological insight, is ever more and more confirming the Church’s doctrine, which is infallible and unchangeable since it is the eternal truth. You can follow off after fairy lights if you like, but for any priest to do that and lead other innocent people with him, is malicious. If you are a Catholic priest, you must proclaim Catholic doctrine, not your own ideas. That’s just a matter of personal integrity. If you don’t walk the walk, there are plenty of other alternatives to Catholicism. If you think the Church can change this doctrine, which is as clear as day from Scripture (Luke admits as much), Tradition, science, and plain reason and common sense, then you are living in fantasy land.

    ”For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” – 2 Timothy 4:3

  28. Sean (Derry)

    Fr S, I think your recollections do in fact actually illustrate very well the points I was making rather than contradict them.
    You say, “If I ever did anything new ..”, …. Why would you want to do anything ‘new’ with the Mass or the sacraments?
    You say that in your sermons, “I didn’t hide from controversial issues, like the ordination of women”. Why would you wish to preach on the possibility of women priests when you know that this has absolutely no chance of happening as it is clearly against Catholic doctrine. Why not just tell parishioners this FACT rather than nuturing and feeding a false belief.
    You also say, “When I got some teenagers who weren’t going to Mass to do a beautiful dance ..” Please, please, please tell where do you get permission or authority to introduce dance into the liturgy of the mass?
    If you then get Catholic lay people accusing you of “unorthodoxy” then maybe what you are doing is unorthodox, otherwise it would be very easy to refute and disprove this with a simple reference to the appropiate Church teaching.

  29. Gerard Flynn

    Bishop Braxton is not very well accepted in his own territory. He was the subject of a “rare clerical revolt” of the priests of his diocese

    “Because of the bishop’s lack of cooperation, consultation, accountability and transparency, it is the judgment of a great number of the presbyterate that he has lost his moral authority to lead and govern our diocese,” 46 priests — representing about 60 percent of those regularly assigned to parish work in the diocese — said in a statement issued on March 12. He should resign, they added, “for his own good, for the good of the diocese and for the good of the presbyterate.”

    http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/03/19/rare-clerical-revolt-hits-us-catholic-diocese/

  30. Joseph O'Leary

    Funny, Luke T Johnson was adored by conservatives for his rather conservative biblical scholarship; when it turned out that he was not a fundamentalist on 3 or 4 benighted obiter dicta on homosexuality in the Bible they seem to have turned against him. A sad comment on the state of the conservative catholic mind.

    Martin, you produce a string of statements that you ascribe to “psychiatrists” but that are actually from conservative religious propaganda; when pressed for names of the “psychiatrists” the propagandists come us with very questionable authorities — Bieber, Berger, Socarides, Anatrella or the archons of NARTH and Exodus (who very often turn out to be involved in homosexual scandals personally!).

    But I don’t think the AIP website needs to be a bulletin board for the stale obsessions of the US culture wars.

  31. Fr S

    Sean (Derry)

    We were asked to “do something new” by Vatican II Council. We were asked to have a new understanding of our faith in many, many different ways, not just in liturgical and sacramental life. We were asked to reform.

    One group of people decided that they would not listen to the Pope(s), the Cardinals, the Bishops, the theologians of Vatican II. (The same group who now wear their ‘loyalty’ like a badge.)

    The AUTHORITY came from Vatican II Council and the AUTHORITY is still there from Vatican II Council.

    If you didnt “hear” what I was saying in my previous post, there’s no point in me explaining further.

  32. MM

    “Homosexual relationships, psychiatrists tell us, are not mature relationships; they are not authentically loving; they are based on affective immaturity; and they are based in self-love and narcissism.”

    Wow! Thats a whole bunch of people written off.
    How can getting into an intimate loving relationship with another human being be anything but the opposite of self-love. And as anyone who has made such a commitment knows, it is the journey away from self-centredness and narcissism, to other-centredness and compassion.

  33. Mary Burke

    Martin, it’s difficult to understand your antipathy to two people supporting each other in a committed relationship because they are both of the same sex. What is it you object to? If that is not your inclination, why would you oppose it? Why would it bother you since it doesn’t involve you? Would you not want to support mature adult relationships wherever you see them? Is it that you fear straight people would thereby be persuaded to become gay by imitation?
    I ask this question in honesty and look forward to hearing you.

    MB

  34. Sean (Derry)

    Fr S, actually I feel there is good reason for you to explain further. I (as a non-theologically trained lay person) can easily and quickly find the official Church teaching on the matters that you mentioned.
    With regard to ‘liturgical dancing’, this was addressed by the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship in 1975 in a document titled, “The Religious Dance – an Expression of Spiritual Joy”, in The Canon Law Digest, Vol. VIII, pp.78-82. (described as a “qualified and authoritative sketch”). It stated that dance never was and should not be a part of official worship of the Latin Church and is therefore not appropriate in western countries.
    Even in cultures, such as in the case of Ethiopians, where the priest may preform a religious ritualized dance, this is done in the open air in front of the church before beginning a cermony.
    In the Newsletter of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy in April/May 1982. The BCL also published directives that dancing, (ballet, children’s gesture as dancing, the clown liturgy) is not permitted to be “introduced into liturgical celebrations of any kind whatever”.
    In Instruction on the Roman Liturgy and Inculturation (1994), a document that is universally binding in the Church, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments did not contradict the 1975 statement.

    I know that this might all seem like spoiling the fun for you to make changes to the mass, but the fact is that dancing has never been a part of our liturgy. (unless of course you know differently).

    With regards to ordaination of women priests, I think this matter is simply and clearly summed up in Pope Benedict’s lettter to Bishop William Morris, in which he states, “.. the late Pope John Paul II has decided infallibly and irrevocably that the Church has not the right to ordain women to the priesthood:’ In fact the Vatican has gone as far as stating, the ordination of women is “a crime against sacraments,” (unless of course you know differently).

    So when referring me to your previous post(s) I can only conclude that you have little time for obedience to Bishops, Cardinals nor Pope(s), unless they are prepared to change Catholic tradition, Church teachings and liturgical law to suit your interpretation of the same. That is unless of course you can direct me to the ‘specific’ AUTHORITY from Vatican II Council that you seem to be aware of but that Bishops, Cardinals, Pope(s) and the theologians have somehow missed.
    I’ve provided my references, can you?

  35. Fr S

    Sean (Derry)
    You’ll find my references in every page of the Gospels. You should put down Canon Law for five minutes and have a read – start with this Sundays. It drives a double decker bus through your posts.

  36. Sean (Derry)

    Fr S.
    Good idea, lets start with the first reading from Malachi:
    “And now, priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my name, says the Lord of hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse your very blessing. Indeed I have already cursed it, since there is not a single one of you who takes this to heart. But you, you have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have destroyed the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts. And so I in my turn have made you contemptible and vile in the eyes of the whole people in repayment for the way you have not kept to my paths but have shown partiality in your administration.

    And in the Gospel, another clear warning from Our Lord of what is expected, even when you are unhappy with the ‘leadership’.
    “YOU MUST THEREFORE DO WHAT THEY TELL YOU AND LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY”.

    Certainly nowhere does it recommend, doing your own thing, even if you think you know best. Maybe you should pick up the Canon Law for five minutes.
    By the way, still no specific references supporting your beautiful dance routine or women priests. So much for driving a double decker bus through my posts.

  37. Fr S

    Sean
    I’m smiling. In my sermon at the vigil Mass this evening I stated that our modern day Pharisees would use the sentence you kindly highlight, to justify themselves – while ignoring the rest of the Gospel.

  38. Fr S

    Didnt our hearts burn within us as he explained Canon Law to us?

  39. Sean (Derry)

    Fr S,
    I’m smiling also at you dismissal of the the important piece of advice from Our Lord regarding obedience to your superiors (no surprise there then) and no doubt you were well able to dodge the warning contained in the reading from Malachi.

  40. Fr S

    Sean

    “Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even the official church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism”.
    Joseph Ratzinger, 1967
    (in: Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II )

    I absolutely agree with him, what about you?

  41. Martin

    It’s funny how Cardinal Ratzinger is invoked when one agrees with him, yet his other pronouncements are ignored. Selective obedience me thinks.

  42. Sean (Derry)

    Fr S,
    Yes we must always follow are conscience, for even non-Christians and non-believers are guided by their conscience because, “In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man”. (Gaudium et Spes).
    However as Catholics we know ‘conscience’ to mean an “informed conscience” and not to be confused with “informed choice” which can lead to excuses for just about anything and often used when promoting abortion etc.
    As a Catholic and therefore belonging to the One True Church our informed conscience must be based upon the known and revealed truth of the Catholic Church, .. “In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church … For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth.” [Dignitatis Humanae #14]”
    So it’s not just as simple as you or I rejecting anything that doesn’t suit us, as in the case of the ordination of women priests, as the Church has has already made a definite and dogmatic ruling on this and our conscience must now be ‘informed’ by this fact. We therefore can not plead invincible ignorance as an excuse, even though some non- catholics may be able to do so, but then again, why would it matter to non-Cathoilcs if we had women priests .
    The Catholic then is obliged to inform himself of the teachings of the Catholic Church to which he belongs, and not only that, but to accept it as a matter of obedience/discipline/faith. I would suspect this would be even more binding in the case of a Catholic priest who should have better knowledge than the average lay person.
    So sorry again Fr S, even though you choose to quote from Joseph Ratzinger, 1967, I’m afraid you’ll have to keep the quote in the context in which he intended it, least you lead anyone astray.

  43. Fr S

    Sean

    A fourth time you bring up the subject of women priests. Please read my original post on the subject so that you dont have to waste any more time copying and pasting from Church Law.

  44. Mary Burke

    Actually no. The obligation to follow one’s conscience includes reviewing the current position of the church on each and every issue.That’s one of the ways in which the sensus fidelium emerges.

  45. Father John George

    Fr S: in your endorsement of earlier ratzinger, context is required
    1. he linked up with the radical young turks till 1968 when reality of liberal anarchism hit him in student street riots rampant in era of lunatic 60s revolutions-
    2.’He grew up’ while rahner remained fixated at the ’60s.
    3.Academics can mature later than those who don’t exist in ivory tower smoking rooms
    4.THERE IS A VAST LEGITIMATE Distinction BETWEEN THE youthful PRIVATE VIEWS OF A THEOLOGIAN AND PUBLIC PRONOUNCEMENTS OF A POPE!!!
    5.Even as a young seminarian i was disedified by the rahner/ratzinger academic ruminations on THE petrine office in ‘quaestiones disputatae’ series in early sixties


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