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LifeSiteNews documents reasons why scolding would be hoped for by faithful Catholics
By Steve Jalsevac and Hilary White, LifeSiteNews.com. Reprinted with permission (See below).
TORONTO, August 2, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Toronto Star, Canada's largest circulation daily newspaper, published an Aug. 3 story, "Bishops expect papal scolding", that has been receiving international attention. The article implies that Canada's Catholic bishops are seen by the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI as having been negligent in their duty to evangelize in an increasingly secular Canada.
The Ontario Catholic bishops are expected in Rome for their "ad limina" visit, the meetings with the Pope made every five years by bishops from around the world. The Star's Stuart Laidlaw says the bishops are expecting to be pushed for greater evangelization by Benedict and scolded for the growing secularism within the Church and the nation.
The Star quotes Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB) president Bishop Richard Smith who states he "wouldn't be surprised," if the Pope were to touch upon the secularism theme. Smith, however, takes the usual tack of Canada's Catholic bishops in brushing over any suggestion of serious problems within the Church itself.
"It is something that is part of our reality in Ontario as well," Smith told the Star. "In the church there are many people of faith who love the church and are deeply committed. But it is a society as a whole that is tending toward a secularist outlook."
The Star cited Pope Benedict's admonition to the Atlantic bishops in the spring during their ad limina, about the need to evangelize and the dangers of rampant Canadian secularism, a statement which was taken in the press as a public dressing down.
Despite Bishop Smith's bland assertion that all is well within Canadian Catholicism, however, recent events indicate a very different conclusion. In statements, actions and inactions, the Canadian Catholic institution has shown itself to be among the most secularized in the world. The indifference or even hostility of Catholic officials to Catholic teaching, particularly on life and family issues, is axiomatic among faithful Catholics in Canada.
In January 2006, a letter issued by the Canadian Religious Conference, the organization representing Canada's consecrated nuns and monks, sisters, brothers and priests in 230 religious orders, revealed a deep rejection by the orders of the Church's moral teachings and the male only priesthood. The letter called on the bishops, in preparing for their ad limina visits to Rome, to consider a greater openness [ °77 ] to homosexual attractions, divorce, contraception and even assisted suicide.
Although the letter implied that Canadian Catholics should separate themselves from the Church's central magisterial authority, no members of the Canadian Catholic episcopate publicly reprimanded the organization or strongly refuted the document. "We regret", said the letter, "the unconditional alignment of our Church with directives issued from Rome."
Three months after the letter was issued and three days after it was first made public by LifeSiteNews.com, two Quebec Cardinals, Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal and Marc Ouellet of Quebec City, expressed some disagreement with the letter. They did not strongly rebuke the letter writers or condemn the contents of the openly dissident document. Cardinal Turcotte in fact even assured the CRC, "We will bring to Rome the concerns that our people have". The strongest statement that Cardinal Ouellet could make was that "The majority of the 4000 members of religious orders in my diocese would not approve what is written in the document of the CRC".
Earlier this year, 19 priests in the Archdiocese of Montreal, in an open letter in La Presse newspaper, defied their promises of celibacy, extolled the homosexual lifestyle and called upon the Catholic Church to abandon its teaching on sexual purity. Cardinal Turcotte, who has repeatedly refused to take serious disciplinary action against publicly rebellious clergy merely shrugged off [ °78 ] the letter saying, "We are used to a certain amount of disagreement (in the Church)."
In February 2005, at the height of the struggle to retain marriage in Canadian law, the Ontario bishops, those who will be meeting with the Pope next month, issued a statement praising the bill that facilitated same sex "marriage" in that province. The bishops' praise was for the fact that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty - himself a Catholic - included a provision protecting religious objectors to same-sex "marriage" from prosecution. All other Ontario citizens are not protected by the legislation [ °79 ].
In the same month it was revealed that 70% of London, Ontario parishes carried and endorsed the dissident and Marxist-leaning "social justice" Catholic New Times (CNT) [ °80 ] newspaper based in the Archdiocese of Toronto. CNT has a decades-long history of open and often vicious dissent from Catholic teaching, particularly on matters pertaining to sexual morality [ °81 ]. Despite the flagrant anti-Catholicism exhibited by the paper, it is nonetheless still available in hundreds of Catholic churches and schools across Canada. As far as is known, despite numerous, often passionate appeals by faithful Catholics to their bishops, the paper is prohibited in Catholic institutions only in Bishop Richard Smith's diocese of Pembroke [ °82 ].
The Toronto diocese's Catholic Register is the most influential Catholic paper in Canada. In an on-going attempt to capture the "social justice" readership from the New Times, the Register regularly mixes articles with a solid Catholic perspective together with articles and columnists of a considerable secular "social justice" bent. The paper's associate editor, Michael Swan specializes in "social justice" columns and lauded the homosexual propaganda film, Brokeback Mountain in a movie review column [ °83 ]. Revealing more of the thinking behind his numerous Register articles, Swan also lauded prominent dissident and defrocked priest Gregory Baum in another article [ °84 ]. Baum, who has long been attracted to Marxist concepts, is a militant activist in favour of homosexual "marriage" and other positions against the Church's moral teachings. He is also a co-founder of the Catholic New Times. Baum is every now and then given space in the Register for articles about him or by him. Other dissidents are also regularly given considerable space to subtly promote their ideologies in the Register.
Many Ontario Catholic institutions are filled with staff who oppose Church teachings, especially, again, on moral issues. The large, wealthy and powerful Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association supports many aspects of the gay agenda [ °85 ]. It aggressively supported a homosexual Catholic high school student's legal effort to force his school to allow him to bring his same-sex partner to the school prom [ °86 ]. The union has been allowed to retain its "Catholic" identity by Ontario's bishops despite decades of aggressive actions that have led many teachers and subsequently students to views seriously opposed to Church teaching and authority. Ontario's bishops have rarely publicly challenged the union or taken strong actions to blunt its substantial negative influence. OECTA has above all emphasized a Marxist- leaning or leftist interpretation of the Church's social justice tradition, as have many of Canada's bishops and the various bishops conference's staff.
The fact that all Catholic Canadian Prime Ministers and most Catholic government ministers since Pierre Trudeau have been aggressively secularist and have advanced abortion, homosexual attractions, suppression of religious freedom and many other aspects of secularism, still seems to be lost on Canada's Catholic Church establishment.
Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition has reflected that these political leaders are not nearly as accountable for their actions as are Canada's Catholic Church leaders. They are seen to have allowed or even deliberately created the situation where moral relativism and the primacy of personal conscience are seen as perfectly acceptable for Catholics. Hughes has noted with dismay during his many years of exhaustive pro-life work the admiration and sometimes even comradeship many prominent pro-abortion Catholic politicians have experienced with members of the Canadian Catholic establishment [ °87 ].
Canada's Church establishment has consistently given enthusiastic, if not primary, emphasis to economic issues rather than the spiritual and moral issues which are widely understood to be the primary mandate and competence of religious leaders and organizations. Canada's Catholics have in recent decades followed this lead from their church leaders and institutions with the consequence that anti-life, anti-family agendas have persistently triumphed in Canada.
Papal documents and encyclicals have for years routinely been ignored or given low priority by Canada's bishops and institutions - except for those that address the politically correct "social justice" issues. Vatican directions on moral issues are especially filed away or even actively undermined, such as then Cardinal Ratzinger's 2003 Considerations statement on Homosexuality [ °88 ].
What has been called the "lavender mafia" [ °89 ] or a clique of powerful homosexual priests and bishops in the United States likely also exists to a quieter but still significant degree in Canada given the extensive history of homosexual acts among Canada's Catholic clergy and close networking between U.S. and Canadian dissident clergy (See LifeSiteNews articles [ °90 ]). Many unexplainable situations seem only explainable by the existence of such a clique.
One likely member of such a U.S. clique was former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, called the most liberal bishop in America by National Review magazine, who was disgraced by the revelation that he paid $450,000 in hush money to buy the silence of an apparent former male lover. Weakland was the keynote speaker at the 1994 annual CCCB meeting in Ottawa.
The public is still not aware of the common persecution of outspoken and exceptionally faithful priests by Canadian bishops, chancery bureaucrats or religious order heads. At the same time known homosexual or dissenting clergy usually appear to be left alone unless serious indiscretions are made public. LifeSiteNews has been made aware of many such situations over the years.
LifeSiteNews has concluded from numerous conversations with clergy that in many dioceses fear of the bishop or of Chancery bureaucrats is the order of the day for enthusiastic, faithful priests. The sudden transfer or removal of such a priest from a parish or an announcement that he has gone for "treatment" may not have been for a real illness, or any other similarly valid reason, at all. Then again, some of these enthusiastic priests have been driven to a state requiring treatment because of the poor leadership or total lack of support or even persecution they have received from what many call "head office" and its cold, corporate-management-style bishop and chancery staff.
In the end faithful Catholics aware of the severe distress of Canada's Catholic institutions are hoping that the Pope finally does "scold" Canada's bishops and demand that they do their God-ordained job. Most of these Catholics are not holding their breath that this will actually occur since they have endured many disappointments over the past four decades.
Canada's liberal Church establishment is exceptionally skilled at playing the game with Rome. They know how to lie low and say the right things and make the right public statements to convince the Vatican Curia that things aren't really so bad in Canada. They are also very adept - networking with certain Curial officials of like mind - in pulling the wool over the eyes of Rome and getting their own kind to be appointed new bishops to perpetuate the liberal, dissident hegemony in Canada.
Still, Pope Benedict has given new hope that the Catholic Church in Canada may finally be saved from its self-inflicted death spiral due mostly to the negligence, lack of courage, chronic dissent, or in many cases, serious corruption of its leaders.
Ultimately, the solution to the severe problems in the Catholic Church in Canada may be from the faithful laity. They have so far been far too timid about their Catholic right to insist that abuses be corrected, to appeal to their bishops to do the job for which they have been consecrated, and to withhold donations until needed changes are made. Most wrongly think they are not supposed to do such things. Church history, however, is full of examples where lay Catholics have prayerfully acted and turned wayward bishops back in the right direction.
Some have unfortunately responded to bishops' negligence or complicity with counterproductive, knee-jerk, angry communications which only entrench bad leadership attitudes. Others though, realizing that Rome is limited in what it can do and that their pastors and bishops are often caught in circumstances which require help that can only come from determined, faithful lay persons, are taking constructive actions.
It remains to be seen how accurate the Toronto Star report will turn out to be.
(See other related articles: [ °92 ])
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