The Case of the Heretical Priest from Nashville is closing, we hope. Fr. Joeseph Breen posted a video on his website and committed multiple counts of video heresy. CMR picked up the video and the story went national.
Fr. Breen was given a choice by Bishop Choby of Nashville. Retract your terrible statements made in the video and abide by your promises not to do it again or you are gone. Father Breen chose to retract his statements.
Here is the official statement by the Diocese of Nashville.
Father Breen retracts statements, apologizes
In letters to Pope Benedict XVI and to St. Edward Parish, Father Joe Pat Breen has retracted and apologized for statements made in an internet video and subsequent media interviews that Catholics are not obligated to follow teachings of the Catholic Church as defined by the pope and bishops. In addition, he has agreed to no longer voice his private concerns publically or in the media as required by a document presented to him by Bishop Edward Kmiec in 1993.
The letter to the parish also indicated that he expects to continue as pastor of St. Edward Parish until Dec. 31, 2011.
Father Breen has shared the content of those letters with Bishop David Choby and the letter to the parish will be distributed in the next few days.
Bishop Choby offered Father Breen the choice of retracting and apologizing for his statements or face the process set forth for the removal of a pastor under canon law when a ministry becomes harmful or ineffective.
The offer came during a meeting on Aug. 19, a little more than two weeks after a video interview with Father Breen posted on the St. Edward Parish website received worldwide attention. It was the bishop’s second meeting with Father Breen about his statements contradicting Church teaching. Bishop Choby asked Father Breen to remove the video from the parish site on Aug. 6. The video was removed but copies remain available on the internet and have been viewed more than 14,000 times.
In the letter to the parish, Father Breen said “the meeting was cordial and fruitful.”
The terms of the 1993 ban put in place by Bishop Edward Kmiec prohibit him from making statements that disagree with the authentic magisterium of the Church.
Although the process to remove a pastor has not been used in recent memory in the Diocese of Nashville, it is used with some regularity in the worldwide Church.
“The role of pastor is particularly important as the leader and teacher of a parish,” Bishop Choby said. “The office is a direct link to the authority of the Church as instituted by Christ in the apostles and handed down through the popes and bishops. A pastor holds a public office charged with administering, teaching, and sanctifying the local community of the faithful. The Church expects him to work in unity with its authentic teaching as handed down through the pope and the bishops. It is simply wrong to state, as Father Breen has repeatedly, that one’s conscience frees an individual from the truth revealed and instilled in Church teaching. A deep understanding of Church teaching is, in fact essential to a fully formed conscience, and helps guide an individual in making the distinction between one’s opinions and a decision based soundly on the foundation of a rightly formed conscience. One who chooses to act contrary to Church teaching acts outside of the revealed truth of God’s will.”
“In recognition of his many years of good work among the people of his parish, I want to give Father Breen every opportunity to correct the errors in his teaching, and gracefully enter retirement,” Bishop Choby said, “but in any case, his recent public remarks could not stand.”
While I did call for Fr. Breen’s ouster, I totally respect the Bishop’s judgment in this case. Father Breen will be retiring in a year and the Bishop clearly wanted to give him an exit strategy that allowed him a graceful exit. If Father Breen abides his promises this time, I think the Bishop did the right thing.
May God Bless Bishop Choby and I pray that Father Breen really understands what he did wrong. What do you think?