Fr. Michael Rodriguez whose column from the El Paso Times we posted earlier, gets rebuked by his Bishop. This is a difficult situation for us at Courageous Priest, because we will not attack our priests. However, we will post when a priest calls out a fellow priest for legitimate doctrinal or theological errors. Read this as you will quickly see our dilemma, where Fr. Rodriguez gets rebuked by his bishop.
- Here is the article we posted. Father Michael Rodriguez: Any Catholic Who Supports Homosexual Acts is Committing a Mortal Sin
- Thankfully Fr. Z did his usual commentary with his emphases and comments.
Bishop Armando X. Ochoa: Catholic Church advocates compassion
By Bishop Armando X. Ochoa Guest columnist
Posted: 08/22/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT
As Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso and chief teacher of our local church,[Which means, rightly, that Fr. R is not…] I would like to share some pastoralreflections [NB “pastoral”] on certain issues that are important for the well-being of all God’s people.
First of all, I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church. [Right. The opinions of Fr. R do not, of necessity, express the belief of the Catholic Church. But, do Fr. R’s view by chance coincide with the Church’s teaching? Let’s review. Abortion is murder of an unborn human being. CHECK. Homosexual actsare objectively sinful. CHECK.]
[But here is new information…] I continue to pray for peace along our region and offer my condolences to the families on both sides of the border who have lost loved ones to the ongoing unrest. [There is a lot of tension in El Paso.] I am also concerned for the families who have had to leave everything behind to escape the violence in Ciudad Juárez. It is my ongoing prayer that our two border cities can work closer to build a more peace-filled community. [So, the bishop is situating Fr. R’s comments in the context of the region’s tension. Fr. R’s comments were addressed to all Catholics, and therefore most of the Latio community. The bishops implication is that Fr. R’s comments have made that tension worse. I don’t know whether that is the case or not, but it is clearly the bishop’s concern.]
The Church has been unmistakable about its consistent defense of the unborn. It continues to call every Catholic and person of good will [Fr. R also addressed all Catholics but he did not speak explicitly about non-Catholics who are people of good will.] to understand the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and other end-of-life issues. Every child has a right to life.
Likewise, the Church is a supporter of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. These teachings come from a tradition that wants to promote the good of society. [Not just “from a tradition”. If I am not mistaken, they come from God, and from God to us through both tradition and reason in light of the natural law. But pay attention…] My concern in writing this reflection is not to change these teachings, [quod Deus avertat]but to offer a more pastoral understanding in dealing with them. [There is that “pastoral” again.]
When we talk about abortion and homosexuality, we are talking about human beings dealing with all kinds of concerns and unresolved challenges. Our Church does not want to simply judge and condemn, but first to offer Christ’s love and compassion. God’s first and primary law is love and how love of others is at the same time our love for God. [Okay. This is so. At the same time, when Jesus saved and then forgave the woman caught in adultery, He admonished her to sin no more. It is also a work of mercy, a dimension of compassion, both to admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant. It may be – and this is just supposition on my part – that many Catholic and non-Catholic alike, have never heard some of the things Fr. R wrote expressed with that sort of stark clarity. Is it possible that stark clarity can also be a tool of the compassion His Excellency affirms?]
As Church we want to journey with everyone as they search for meaning in their lives. [This is the language most people are used to hearing and reading.] We believe that Christ offers this meaning. The use [wait for it…] ofharsh words of condemnation is not the approach Christ invites us to havetoward one another. Intolerance closes the door to learning and deeper understanding of each other. [Let’s pick this fine and correct statement up and turn it about and examine it from all sides. What popped into my mind as I read this were the Lord’s harsh words in Matthew 23. Surely the Lord was not lacking in compassion even as he verbally thrashed the Pharisees with the truth. St. Paul, invoking the meekness of Christ, in 2 Cor 10-13 doesn’t mince words about those who have sinned and have been admonished more than once. Was it a lack of compassion that drove virtually every single Father of the Church to use scathing invective when defending the Regula Fidei and Tradition? Have Popes who issued stern condemnations and anathemas throughout the Church’s entire history been without compassion? Was there a dearth of compassion at the Second Vatican Council when the Council Fathers stated in Lumen gentium 14 that people who reject the Church, knowing that it is the Church Christ founded,cannot be saved, or when they taught in Gaudium et spes 51 that abortion is an unspeakable crime? In every one of these examples, there were high tensions in the community. I am not disagreeing with His Excellency, mind you. I am musing to myself about what constitutes “pastoral” and “compassion”. At the same time I am thanking God that I am not now nor ever will be a bishop, who actually has to make decisions about this dilemma.]
Furthermore, it leads to divisiveness within the body of Christ. [cf. Matthew 10:34.] It is time for us to learn how to work with each other, even when and if we disagree. Too many people have suffered because of a profound lack of compassion and a perceived arrogant intolerance.
Recently, in our scriptural readings, we have seen that when the Israelites entered the Promised Land after the exodus, they encountered the Canaanites, whom they considered to be a sinful race which was to be exterminated. This mind-set persisted until the time of Christ. [But Christ and the Apostles, and the Fathers, and Popes down through history somehow kept using hard language. Did they fail to understand something about being “pastoral”? Pope John XXIII at the time of the Council said that he wanted the Church to shift her style of teaching. Fine. But see my examples of the Council’s teaching, above. There were still moments for blunt language.]
With his arrival, he indicated that this outlook was no longer to be held by his followers. Jesus’ own response to the marginalized was always one of love. He constantly preached that love is not exclusively for those who are dear to us. He proclaimed that we must love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. [To the marginalized, yes! Look how he treated the lepers and the blind and lame and diseased and widows and Samaritans and some public sinners. He was gentleness itself with some public sinners. But not all public sinners. I cite: “”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” ]
Our love for others is to be like his own, all inclusive. Every individual is made in the image and likeness of God and for this reason all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
God is the judge of our lives, and we are called to spread his Gospel of compassion and justice. [Were Fr. R’s comments in his op-ed unjust?] While it is important to offer a teaching on human sexuality which may not be popular in modern society, the Church, nonetheless, upholds that each person be treated with dignity and respect. [QUERY: Does that mean that we never say that a sin is a sin?]
I urge all of our pastoral agents to reach out to individuals with a homosexual orientation and their families with compassion. This can be done without compromising Church teaching in any way because our pastoral care demands no less from us.
The Most Reverend Armando X. Ochoa, D.D., is Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso
- Please only charitable comments about the Bishop and let’s promise to pray for this situation.
- How do you think Fr. Z handled this situation?
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