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Flash: Open Dissent In The Weekly Bulletin

There has been much in the news lately about politicians who claim to be devout and ardent Catholics even though they openly hold positions contrary to clear and consistent Church teaching. Many of us have hoped for some time that our Bishops would stand up for the faith and unequivocally hold these pols accountable.

It is one thing for a politician Catholic politician to oppose the Church's teaching, entirely another when a Catholic priest, a pastor, does the same thing. Meet Father Dan Holland of St. Pius X in Rochester NY. Father writes to his parishioners in the weekly bulletin openly questioning the the Church's teaching on male only ordination. CMR ht to Rochester Catholic. My emphases and [comments]:

I’m a faithful reader of the weekly religious journal, THE LONDON TABLET. [This alone is a big red flag, no?] It offers excellent information and commentary on international news of our world-wide church community. If you are ever interested in subscription information. please ask me. [Please don't] It reports ‘church news” that is rarely reported in the public media - not just troubles about the church, but all the good news happening around the world in the name of Christ, It offers a point of view that is from a British perspective, not American. [and often not Catholic]

While it faithfully reports on Rome, the Vatican curial offices, and the Pope, it also is very ecumenically aware and astute. [More red flags!] I find the journal’s articles challenging to my own life & participation as a baptized member of the Body of Christ - so much larger than our Roman Catholic church.

Recently, it has reported on the every ten year gathering of the worldwide Anglican Communion meeting at Canterbury. Years ago, I had the opportunity to visit and pray at that ancient and holy Christian place. I was stunned at first to read a letter to the editor about the Anglican Communion’s struggle with the question of ordaining women as Bishops of their church. Upon reflection, I thought the letter writer has a point for discussion!

In the July 29th issue, one letter-to-the-editor writer says:
It is time for the Roman Catholic Church to apologize to the Anglican Communion, since it is the absolutist stand of the Roman church on women in ordained ministry which has sown the seeds of schism within Anglicanism. As a Roman Catholic, I have not the slightest problem with the ordination of women as priests and their consecration as bishops.. .There is a failure of leadership in Rome.. .the Pope as leader of the Universal church should make it clear that disciplines such as those on the role of women are open to discussion and change under the authority of the bishops, best expressed through an ecumenical council.
Now that’s an honest expression of one Catholic’s position that can get us talking about an issue that is important in our own church, too. [Imbecilic, but honest] As far back as 1975, the Pontifical Biblical Commission unanimously agreed that the New Testament itself does not settle the issue about the possible ordination of women. The fact that Jesus picked “men only” is not the position of the Church for its current teaching. Our Church’s leaders main argument against ordination of women is that a woman cannot symbolically represent Christ who is male. That is an increasingly difficult reason to convincingly argue the point. And it is not Catholic belief that our Holy Father gets private messages from God to impart to, and with which to bind, the whole church. Maybe now you can to understand “why” I like the stimulating challenge of my weekly reading of the “Tablet.” I hope your summer continues to give you time for what you believe is important for you and your household. [If you think solid catholic formation is important for your household, you are outta luck at St. Pius X]

Father Dan Tholland@dor.org
Father thinks (and writes) that the issue of women's ordination is a "point for discussion" and that the Catholic position is "increasingly difficult to argue." To make matters worse, Fr. Dan makes a mockery of the charism of Papal infallibility likening it to "private messages from God."

Fr. Dan is in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching and in encouraging his parishioners to discuss the "increasingly difficult to argue" teaching on male only ordination. Contrast this with the extremely clear words of Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter, ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS.
Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.
In other words, the debate is over and this must be held by all the Church's faithful. Since Fr. Dan does not hold this teaching and still considers the question open, does it not follow that he is not one of the Church's faithful? Fr. Dan compounds the problem by teaching his error. Further, the Pope does not rely on some secret messages beamed down from the mothership to make his case, but rather "the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium"

In my opinion, the Bishop of Rochester should take immediate action and require Fr. Dan to issue a retraction and an apology. Further, the congregation at St. Pius X should be properly catechized on the Church's teaching on female ordination in order to try to undo the confusion sown by Fr. Dan. Last, but certainly not least, the Bishop should immediately take away all of Fr. Dan's copies of the Tablet. He clearly didn't understand that they are to be read just to understand what the enemy is up to or just for laughs.

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13 comments:

Nod said...

I actually visited that church some 15-20 years ago when my uncle was a parishoner. I don't remember any such loopiness then, but back then I probably wasn't paying much attention.

Somehow hearing such things about places and people you know is always a bit of a shock. "Surely, not in Mudville?"

Anthony said...

This is so outrageous. Someone has to call the Bishop. This priest needs to be stopped.

Snup said...

I don't think this is all you make it out to be. What exactly is wrong with discussing Church teaching? In some educational practices, one learns by discussing or debating (the Socratic Method comes to mind.) I realize that Church teaching on this issue is not open to change and could be compared to the teaching of gravity. It's not open for debate either, but we still discuss it.

I do think Fr. Dan is right that the main argument that some use that Christ was male, therefore priests should be male, is a weak. I think Fr. Dan neglected to mention that there is more to the Church's teaching than the one bullet point is more problematic. I think what Fr. Dan is trying to say, although I will agree he is saying it badly, is there is more to the teaching than Christ being male. I see where he is going but he just never gets there. I'd liken this to bad writing skills.

I must be nuts because I am reading what you have posted and it doesn't say that the Pope gets private messages. It says "And it is not Catholic belief that our Holy Father gets private messages from God" It seems to be saying the opposite of what you say.

IMHO

Lori said...

Snup, when we discuss gravity in the context of education, we do not debate whether or not it exists or its laws actually function according to our understanding of them. We discuss the LAWS of gravity and how they apply...not whether we like them or not, or wish they weren't there.

If we were to "discuss" the issue of women's ordination in the same fashion, it would go something like this: Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter, ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS.
"Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful. "

Oh yeah...we do that.

Anonymous said...

This is not that much of a surprise considering who the bishop is and I sicerely doubt Bp. Matthew Clark will corredt this priest since he (Clark) probably believes this himself Jeff R

Dolby said...

Snup,
Your naivete is either willful or scary. Fr. Dan means exactly what Patrick infers.

Discussing is a euphemism for questioning or debating. This is made very clear by his statements.

You wrote "It says "And it is not Catholic belief that our Holy Father gets private messages from God" It seems to be saying the opposite of what you say."

No, it doesn't. This means that Fr. Dan doesn't give a darn that the Pope has defined the limits of the Church's authority. He doesn't recognize the Pope's charism or authority in this matter.

To think that this is the result of only bad writing skills is the result of bad reading comprehension skills. I sincerely hope your naivete is merely that, and not something worse.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dan writes like an especially clever but sheltered and naive 16-year-old (and I apologize to all other 16-year-olds!) who has been watching too many Michael Moore movies.

-- Mack

Mom of 4 said...

From what I know about the bishop of that diocese, a known dissenter, an appeal to him would be useless. We need to pray for the Diocese of Rochester.

Mom of 4 said...

From what I know about the bishop of that diocese, a known dissenter, an appeal to him would be useless. We need to pray for the Diocese of Rochester.

LCB said...

Appeal directly to the Holy See. You have firm evidence, in writing, signed by the priest.

Anonymous said...

Don't doubt the infallibility of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis because the phrase Ex Cathedra is missing. Instead JPII used the exact same language prescribed in Lumen Gentium section 25 relating to infallibility. It says...

And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith,(166) by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals.(42*) And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment.

... i.e. "confirms the brethren", "by a definitive act"

In Ordinatio...
"in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren", "this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful"

PMG said...

This is what is GREAT about the blogosphere.

There is an old Siberian expression..."God is high above, and the Czar is far away."

Meaning, that there was a time not too long ago, that someone like this could preach dissent and not be questioned, or called out on it. And God help the person who did, as they would not have the gravitas to effect anything.

Now with the blogosphere, and thank God for THIS blog, folks like this can get their hand caught in the cookie jar theologically, and God is no longer high above, and the Czar is not far away.

What is even better is that this guy's boss, when enough light is shone on it (and his assistant's "in" box gets so full that their server crashes) he will be forced to "do" something; no matter how feckless it may be ( I think of the Maryknoll Priest spotted at the latest WomynPriest Coven).

Keep up the GREAT work!

FrZ+ said...

We can find ourselves in trouble with knowledgeable non-Catholics if we attempt to argue against the ordination of women by saying that Our Lord only chose men, despite clearly having a relationship with women at odds with the conventions of His time (as I have heard so often argued).

Jesus Christ also had relationships with Gentiles that violated the Jewish norms of the 1st Century, yet chose only Jews to be His Disciples. If we use the argument against women, the logical follow-up is that only Jewish males should be ordained to the priesthood. That's pretty clearly not what we want to argue.

The only argument against the ordination of women is that it violates the Magisterium and 2000 years of Tradition of the Church. Prior to the East-West split of 1054, women were not ordained anywhere in the Church Catholic. Since that tragic schism, neither the Roman Catholic nor the Eastern Orthodox Churches have ordained women. The Anglican Church, while maintaining the tradition of Holy Orders, has only in the last 30 years or so furthered its separation from the Church Catholic by ordaining women to the priesthood (and, more significantly, as bishops, thus making any future reconciliation yet more problematic).

No one is saying that women are 'lesser' in any way, and many have superb pastoral gifts and skills. However, that does not mean that they are called to the particular sacramental ministries of bishops or priests... nor that the ministeries to which women are called, including chaplaincies, are any less important to the Body of Christ (part of my hospital chaplaincy training was under a superb Irish nun). "Different ministeries" is not the same as "lesser ministeries", something that has been hard for society to deal with since the 1960s or so...

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