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Isn't being a "Catholic Priest" a blast?
If Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, wrote a novel about this open letter, it might read:
We are 19 Liberal Protestant priests who refuse to believe the official teachings of the Catholic Church on sodomy, because it's our favorite contact sport. On the other hand, a Liberal Protestant Pastor's salary sucks, so we prefer to write "Catholic Priest" on our income tax return. This gives us more time and comfort to practice our favorite sport. All we need to do after that, is to re-hash some old baloney on the spirit of Vatican II (while never quoting the official documents of that Council, since they contradict us). Since several of our Bishops are also fans of our favorite sport, they'll leave us alone.
(Don't be insulted; it's only a novel!)
The saddest part of this story is not that 19 Catholic "priests" attack the Church. There have always been, there are, and there will always be people who reject the Pope and the Bishops united to him, i.e. the Magisterium of the Church. [Lc 10:16].
No, the saddest part is that [as of March 2, 2006] ZERO Catholic Priests in Quebec have so far dared to admit they agreed 100% with the teachings of the Church! I've been looking for more than two years now, and I still haven't found a Priest (or a Bishop) in the Province of Quebec who was willing to sign such a declaration of allegiance, and make it public... I found a few who agreed with all the teachings of the Church, but who ran away when I suggested they put that in writing and on the Internet!
In the big hockey game between the Quebec Devils and the Angels of Christ, the Devils are leading 19 to 0... And to think it's sometimes claimed that homosexual persons are cowards! I'm starting to think that they might be more manly than most Quebec Priests who are faithful to the Pope!
(Fortunately for the honor of the Priesthood, one Priest did speak up so far, although not clearly enough in my opinion: Father Denis Saint-Maurice, with a letter called "Preaching Jesus Or The World?".)
Note: The following open letter was published in the La Presse newspaper in Montreal, Sunday February 26, 2006, on page A-11. See The Critical Traffic Light for the explanations of the colors I give to this text. The imperfect translation into English is my fault.
[Green] Two recent ecclesial interventions concerned persons of homosexual orientation: one dealt with the civil marriage of same-sex spouses here in Canada, the other dealt with access to priesthood and came from the Vatican. In the first case, it was a brief of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada (CCBC) to the Legal Committee tasked with Bill C-38; the other document came from the Congregation for Catholic Education, in Rome.
[Yellow] In both cases, the overall attitude demonstrated by the document as well as by the rationale it used, caused - for us like for many others - perplexity and disagreement.
Perplexity and disagreement? I have no doubts. Justified perplexity and disagreement? That's what we're going to see!
[Green] The Vatican II Council highlighted a fundamental idea:
[Yellow] the Church loves the world.
In the Gospels, the expression "the world" sometimes has a positive meaning, as in "For God so loved the world [...]" [Jn 3:16]. In that case, "the world" roughly means "all men", and you're right to say that "the Church loves the world". But the expression "the world" sometimes has a negative connotation, as in "Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." [1Jn 2:15] In such cases, "the world" means something negative, that the Church fights, rather than loves. When Jesus talks about the "Prince of the world" [Jn 12:31], it's not a compliment!
[Green] She welcomes it with its riches and miseries. She shows Herself to be ready to accompany it on its path. She wishes and wants to contribute to the life of societies which compose it, and She also expects to enrich Herself through their contact.
[Green] In the presentation of the brief to the Legal Committee on
[Red] gay marriage,
Pseudogamy. Or at least put the word "marriage" between quotes in such an expression, since homosexual unions are by their very nature sterile, and that marriage is by its very nature oriented toward the procreation and education of children.
[Green] what a difference in attitude! You seem to give a lecture on law and anthropology to our political representatives. You condemn the sad state of marriage in our country, and proclaim an even worse degradation if Bill C-38 was enacted.
[Green] You unfortunately make us think about those "doomsday prophets" mentioned a long time ago by John XXIII at the opening of the Council.
Considering the statistics on the Catholic Church since Vatican II, we have a right to think that those "doomsday prophets" had a point!
[Yellow] How we feel far from the Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the modern world!
Yes! That document wanted to renew the Church, and it's the exact opposite that happened, partly because of people like you!
[Green] We could read in it: "The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age [...] these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts."
[Yellow] As far as the compassion which imbued everything Jesus did on earth, can we find any trace of it there? Not a paragraph, not a sentence of your brief takes into account the historic discrimination toward homosexual persons, and the tragedy of their social or ecclesial exclusion deeply felt by a great many of them.
I don't know. I haven't yet read that brief. It's quite possible that compassion was forgotten. Canadian Bishops are not perfect in their pastoral decisions. Look at the proof: you were all ordained Priests by them!
[Yellow] It's nevertheless in this human suffering that is grounded the whole quest for social recognition of the gay movement in its multiple expressions. Isn't there a reason to be puzzled?
The unjust discrimination toward persons suffering from same-sex attractions (SSA) is certainly a factor. On the other hand, there are other factors involved in the "gay movement", like for example the lustful desire to destroy Christendom.
[Green] It's the same attitude found in the Instruction of the roman Congregation concerning the eligibility of homosexuals to the sacred orders. Nevertheless, Timothy Radcliffe, ex-Master of the Dominicans, asserted recently concerning this document, according to what The Tablet (27 November 2005) quotes: "I have no doubt that God does call homosexuals to the priesthood, and they are among the most dedicated and impressive priests I have met....And we may presume that God will continue to call both homosexuals and heterosexuals to the priesthood because the Church needs the gifts of both."
I have no doubts that dear Timothy is convinced of those things. I don't doubt either the fact that Mr. Radcliffe is in another church than the Catholic Church. About twenty years ago, I tried myself to become a Dominican Priest. But I realized that I had two incurable "defects", two "horrible shortcomings" which would forever block my ordination as a Dominican Priest: heterosexuality, and faithfulness to the Pope!
[Yellow] He concludes: "We should rather be worried about those whom our seminarians could be disposed to hate, rather than those they love. Racism, misogyny and homophobia are so many signs that a person might not be a good model of Christ."
Homophobia, correctly defined, is condemned by the official teachings of the Church, with which I fully agree. See #4 of "A Reading List for Homosexual Persons". On the other hand, lying to persons suffering from homosexual attractions is not charitable. "It is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ" [Humanae Vitae, #29], and sodomy is a sin. Sorry.
[Green] The whole underlying argumentation of these texts doesn't convince us. "Natural Law" is discussed as if it was a fact as immutable as it is obvious.
[Red] On our part, we consider that men have never finished searching and discovering their "true" nature. There is no grasp of the human condition other than through a specific culture which never ceases to evolve over time. Thus, what was "natural" in a civilization and in a past era can seem unacceptable now.
Note that, with such an argument, we could claim gay-bashing might be a good thing after all! If human nature doesn't exist, or if we can never know it with certainty, then we can't assert that gay-bashing is intrinsically wrong!
Seriously, we are dealing here with the Bad Old philosophical error called Ethical Relativism, itself based on Criteriological Skepticism. The complete rebuttal of that error requires professional help, like for example F.-J. Thonnard. In the meantime, we can meditate on the medical and anatomical nature of sodomy. We're not talking here about sticking your finger in a jar of peanut butter. The human body is not made for sodomy, it's something which can be observed medically and scientifically.
[Red] Of course, it's an evolution which happens over a long period of time, and we have to talk in terms of centuries rather than years.
When people want dogmas, sins, and to make a long story short, Faith, to change with the times and the "cultures", it's modernism, what Saint Pius X called "the collecting sewer of all heresies".
[Yellow] Let's take an example: slavery lasted as natural, even in the Church, for centuries, whereas it appears to us today as "against nature".
The expression "natural [...] in the Church" is ambiguous. The Church, in a way, is sinful because composed of sinners (except Jesus and his Mother). In that sense, yes. But the Church is also Holy, since founded and guided by Jesus Christ, who is Almighty and Omniscient God. In that sense, no, and you won't find declarations from the Magisterium stating that some men are intrinsically inferior to others, and therefore "worthy" to be only slaves.
[Red] The responsibility for the quest and definition of Natural Law is everybody's duty
Heresy. See my rebuttal of that same error in my comments on the Winnipeg Statement: "Christ instituted the Church as 'pillar and support of the truth'. With the Holy Spirit's assistance, She continuously keeps and transmits without error the truths of the moral order, and She authentically interprets, not only the divine revealed Law, but also the principles of the moral order flowing from the very nature of man" [Denzinger, #4581].
By the way, from a sociological point of view, it's interesting to see the family relationship between the Bishops' revolt in Winnipeg in 1968, and one of the fruits of that revolt, here in 2006. All these 19 Priests are doing, after all, is agreeing with their own Bishops!
[Green] since it's the common condition of all mankind. The Church can borrow from sources of inspiration of great value, some of which are proper to Her. But She is in solidarity with all of humankind and is part of this world. Could it be that She alone would hold all the keys that open the doors of the authentic human adventure? Does She necessarily have the last word on the mysteries of political, social, family and sexual life?... Does she have "all the truth" on man?
[Red] History and common sense demonstrate the contrary. In these matters, the official teaching of the Church has more than once proven itself to be mistaken.
The bigger the assertion, the bigger the proofs supporting that assertion must be. Here, the authors claim that History and common sense "prove" that Jesus Christ isn't God, or that He didn't found the Catholic Church and that He doesn't protect His Magisterium from error. That's a very big assertion! But that assertion is presented without the slightest proof!
If you want to claim that the Church is mistaken when She says homosexual attractions are intrinsically disordered, you also have to disprove the large body of evidence supporting Her position. Same thing if you want to claim the Church is wrong when She condemns the condom, etc. I'm ready; I've got my references, my studies, my books, my evidence; I'm waiting for yours.
[Green] We hope that in these matters the whole Church will consider itself an integral part of the human adventure. May She be Herself, with Her own riches and limits, without inhibitions
[Red] but with any undue claims about "the" truth.
See my comment here above concerning the infallibility of the Magisterium, even when it interprets Natural Law.
I can imagine perfectly well that these 19 guys reject the idea that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Except we Catholics are not in a Protestant church, so we don't agree with them!
[Green] May She have solidarity and trust! It seems to us that it was in this state of mind and disposition of heart that John XXIII and the Vatican II Council invited the People of God to open itself to the "signs of the times".
[Green] Why do we take this to the public square? First of all, we want to say out loud to all the Christians of this country who refuse the approach and the language of ecclesiastical authorities:
[Green] "This doesn't make you any less Christians!"
Yes, some Protestants are Christians.
[Red] According to us, the essence of the Christian faith is not threatened by this debate. Your dissent doesn't make you excommunicated. May you avoid excluding yourselves!
In a way, this whole open letter by the 19 dissidents is summarized in the first three little words of the preceding paragraph: "According to us". Actually, this whole letter should be called "According to us" and not "Enough Is Enough". These 19 priests have simply decided that they were their own pope and magisterium. That's what all heretics and schismatics do. Personally, I don't mind. My neighbor is a Anglican woman-priest, and we've never had an argument. Canada is a free country. If you don't want to be in the Catholic Church, no problem: The door is there.
[Green] Secondly, we want a Church dialogue on all issues related to homosexuality. This dialogue is not common in our Churches, especially when diverging opinions are sensed. And principally when Rome has already spoken on the topic.
That is because the majority of individuals have a minimum of common sense. They know that the "Worshippers of the Holy Banana must go pray in the banana-shaped church, and that the worshippers of the Holy Pumpkin must go pray in the pumpkin-shaped church". Many Liberal Protestant churches welcome sodomites with open arms. These churches teach exactly what you want to believe. So what's the problem?
[Green] We wish that all Christians would listen to the life's experiences of their homosexual brothers and sisters. Whether it's with local communities or inside broader venues of consultation, with their Bishops. We hope that our Bishops will discuss among themselves about this, and that they'll open the debate in their respective Churches. We also hope that the theologians are included in these exchanges. Formal or informal meetings, publicized or discrete, wide or restricted: it matters little. What is most important, is that a free debate be given rise to, that authentic and open voices be heard.
If you want to have such debates in your Protestant churches, go ahead. It's none of my business.
[Green] For us, we've taken the time to meet with witnesses of the homosexual reality in the Church, and we've decided to publicize this first reaction.
By the way, I congratulate you for your courage. In a way, I prefer an honest dissident who goes public, rather than a Priest who is faithful to the Pope, and who lurks in the dark corners of his church. Especially since these faithful Priests are often the ones who are bogged down the most in heterostupidity.
[Green] The André Naud Forum is already getting bigger and our topics of intervention are getting more numerous.
[Red] We publicly cry out our desire to accomplish the great evangelization project that the Vatican II Council was.
Can I come to your meetings? I'd really like you to explain to me how the official teachings of Vatican II can be reconciled with your Protestant theories. See The Satanic "Spirit" Of Vatican II.
[Green] We especially don't want to come back to the XIXth Century:
Me neither! There were no computers and no Internet in those days! Gross me out!
[Red] ultramontanism is obsolete! Responsible dissent is possible in the Church.
In my opinion, a truly "responsible dissent" would be to stop lying to yourselves and to the world, and to have a "Protestant coming out". The basis of any debate and any dialogue is honesty. Before being ordained Catholic Priests, you freely, publicly and in writing swore to be faithful to the Pope, and to teach everything the Church teaches, and nothing else. Nobody forced you to make such a commitment. Nobody is forcing you to forswear yourselves. Nobody is forcing you to play a "Catholic Game". Nobody is preventing you from joining the Protestant church of your liking.
[Green] We want to use that right, because we love the Church of Christ and we hope in the accomplishment of Her mission in the world of this time.
I too use my right to express myself freely, except I don't pretend to be something I'm not. If I became a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Protestant, I'd stop claiming I want to be a Catholic!
Anyway, if you want to talk about it, I'm always available. I don't bite, and there are surely things we agree on.
God bless you!
Priests from the Diocese of Montréal: André Anctil, José V. Arruda, Jean-Pierre Langlois, Claude Lefebvre, Claude Lussier.
Priests from the Diocese of Joliette: Éric Généreux, Raymond Gravel, Bernard Houle, Pierre-Gervais Majeau, Ghislain Prince, Claude Ritchie.
Priests from the Diocese of St-Jean-Longueuil: Jean-Yves Cédilot, Jocelyn Jobin, Alain Léonard, Lucien Lemieux.
Priests from the Diocese of Gatineau: Benoit Fortin, Michel Lacroix, Claude St-Laurent.
Priest from the Diocese of Gaspé: Jacques Pelletier.
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