Saturday, August 23, 2008


For more years than I can count I have been witnessing to a dear old Catholic friend who, it would seem, has slowly been co-opted by liberal Catholic thinking. While she still calls herself Catholic and attends Mass many Sundays, she now has difficulty accepting many Catholic teachings, and believes the Church is in a state of change. She is insistent that if enough continuous pressure is brought to bear, there will be a change in Church teaching on the matter of women priests, contraception, the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, and more. She feels this is due in a large part to the many "heroic" pilgrim liberal Catholics - most of them women - who have "sacrificed" much to remain in the Church and effect that change.

My pal and I have debated these contentious issues over the years in a charitable fashion, quite often in emails through which we can attach current news items, articles and essays from all over the world. Most recently the debate has increased on the matter of women priests, especially in light of the "ordinations" of women in Lexington, Kentucky.

On August 21, she triumphantly emailed me a link to the pages of the US National Catholic Reporter where a homily by Bp. Thomas Gumbleton had been published Bp. Gumbleton had delivered this homily defending women's ordination on August 17, 2008 at the National Shrine of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.

Well, it goes without saying I got into quite a fuss over this - a regular Category 8 Tizzy. Years of witness and impassioned arguments to the matter of a priesthood being reserved to the male, and it was effectively eviscerated by a published homily by a Catholic bishop in what is purported to be a "Catholic" newspaper. Aieeeee!

How can I answer this? What am I to say? The homily commenced from a flawed premise that in the fullness of His humanity Jesus "converted" and changed his mind. It then went on to make many of the arguments my friend has made over the years regarding the ordination of women. And this from a retired bishop who, according to the Detroit archdiocesan website, was still in good standing: "Bp. Gumbleton will still function as a priest and bishop, celebrating the sacraments, including Confirmation, throughout parishes".

Oh sure, I can email my pal church documents and current pronouncements made by other Catholic officials countering Bp. Gumbleton’s homily (and I will), but she will respond that the change is surely imminent, otherwise the official Catholic hierarchy in the US would have long ago censored and sidelined the NCR and Bp. Gumbleton.

In an ecclesiastical game of chess I've been checked - but I am heartened by knowing Big-T Truth is never checkmated. However all this is largely beyond the laity's power to address. She will be right. How is it that Bp. Gumbleton continues to preach and publish in an official capacity these issues contrary to Church teaching, and how is it that the NCR still bears the title, "Catholic"?

I was so fussed, I sent letters of angst (yes, they were gritted-teeth polite) with copies of the homily to Abp Pietro Sambini, the US Apostolic Nuncio; and Cdl Adam Maida of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Please God they will do the right thing. Hey, it's hard enough out here on the playing field without having your own team scoring one (or two, or three) against you.

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