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

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.