As you may know, CMR’s coverage last week of the comments of Fr. Joseph Patrick Breen of St. Edwards Church in Nashville has become a national story having been picked up by many news agencies.
In addition to the print media, the local Nashville news has pick up on the story and aired this segment.
Fr. Breen’s comments speak for themselves. While Fr. Breen in certainly entitled to his opinions in certain areas, as a Catholic priest he is not entitled to them in matters of faith. While much of the media has focused on Fr. Breen’s comments about the Pope, I think other areas are of much greater concern. Specifically he contradicts Church teaching in areas of faith (female ordination) and morals (contraception, divorce).
Fr. Breen is not entitled, as a priest, to teach other than what the Church teaches. That is the bottom line. His other comments about seminarians and priests with accents do not contradict the Church, they are just silly.
Since Fr. Breen has done the same thing several times in the past, has already been reprimanded in the past, and has seemingly violated his own signed pledge not to do it again, I believe I am perfectly justified in my opinion that he should be removed from his parish. Ultimately it is up to Bishop Choby to decide what to do in this case and I defer to his judgment.
John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter in commenting elsewhere on this story had this to say…
“There are certain third-rail issues in the church that if a priest or anyone publicly challenges them, the bishop is going to have to be obligated to act,” Allen said. “Publicly questioning the authority of the pope is one of those third-rail issues. It’s going to paint a bishop into a corner.”
Allen said bishops usually prefer to work out conflicts with priests privately. But the Internet has made that difficult.
“In the Catholic Church, just as there are in secular politics, there are activists on both left and right who do nothing else other than spend their days looking for things to get mad about.“
Again, I don’t think that Fr. Breen’s personal disrespect of the Pope is the most serious issue here, the faith is. Emphasizing that aspect seems to me to be missing the point, perhaps deliberately.
Also, Allen’s suggestion that we here at CMR are angry activists of the right “who do nothing else other than spend their days looking for things to get mad about” is about as wrong and rude as can be. We have fun and are generally pretty flexible. But we are Catholic, not angry left or angry right. Just Catholic. I am disappointed in his comments.
All we did was give Fr. Breen’s comments the sunshine they deserved. The rest is up to Fr. Breen and his Bishop. Fr. Breen made and posted the video. He is responsible for what happens, not CMR.