By John-Henry Westen

CORNWALL, ON, April 21, 2009 ( – In his homily for April 7, Alexandria-Cornwall Bishop Paul-André Durocher expressed his disappointment with the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI.  “We must admit that, for the past few months, the Church has not seemed to be much of a herald of Good News,” said the bishop, as he enumerated recent events which he suggested are cause for concern.

He recounted: “Last December, the media reported that the Pope compared homosexuality to environmental pollution. In January, the lifting of the excommunications of four Lefebvrist bishops caused general consternation when one of them turned out to be deeply anti-Semitic. The nomination of an ultra-autoritarian (sic) bishop in Austria that same month shook many Catholics of that region. In the first days of March, the drama of a little nine-year-old Brazilian girl, a victim of incest, became front-page news when her bishop announced the excommunications of her mother and her medical team. A few weeks ago, the Pope is said to have stated that condoms make the problem of AIDS even worse in Africa, a statement which raised a chorus of protests throughout the world. “

The Bishop continued: “Let me start by admitting that, indeed, mistakes have been made. In retrospect, some decisions should not have been taken, some opinions should not have been voiced. The Pope had to retract the nomination of that Austrian Bishop. The Vatican Press Office had to correct his words about condoms. The presiding bishop of the Pontifical Council for Life criticized that Brazilian bishop’s intervention. And the Pope himself, in a letter recently sent to all the bishops of the world, admitted that research and communication mistakes were made.”

Bishop Durocher also lumped in, although not by name, with the “mistakes” of the Church.  “Here in Canada,” he said, “Development and Peace finds itself in the midst of a controversy with pro-life militants.”

“I’m not telling you anything new when I remind you that the members of the Church, including its leaders, are fragile and imperfect,” he opined.

He also said that “the events of the past month have awakened in some the fear that we are moving towards a style of ecclesial life characterized by doctrinal rigidity, intransigence and authoritarianism, more concerned with principles than with often very painful human realities.

“In other words, some worry that we are losing what was gained during and after the Second Vatican Council: greater openness to the world, greater collaboration in decisions and responsibilities, faith that is more relevant to the concrete life of believers.”

In response, he encouraged those upset with the state of affairs to rely on Jesus, rather than anyone else.  “He (Christ) is ‘the one who loves us, who makes of us a kingdom and a priesthood of God his Father.’ ‘The glory and the power belong to him, not to his Church, nor to any of us individually.”

Durocher added: “The mistakes of an (sic) disciple should not lead us to lose faith in the Master.”

He calls on his listeners to “forgive with generosity” but adds, “Certainly, let us continue to require that our leaders show us the way not only in word but in action; yet let us also accept the fact that they can sometimes slip up.”

“Let us express our disappointment, but with kindness and generosity of heart, remembering that they have accepted the ministry of leadership out of love for God and God’s people, in a spirit of service to the community. Obviously, I’m not only thinking of the Pope and the cardinals, but of those who are close to you: your parish priests, your deacons, the lay leaders of various Church projects and programs …  and me, your bishop.”

To respectfully express concern:

The Most Rev. Paul-André Durocher, Bishop
[email protected]

Congregation for the Bishops
Giovanni Battista Re, Cardinal, Prefect
Francesco Monterisi, Secretary
Palazzo della Congregazioni,
00193 Roma,
Piazza Pio XII, 10

See the full homily online here:

See related coverage:

Catholic Crisis as Austrian Hierarchy Rebels over Pope’s Selection of Conservative Priest as New Bishop

Harvard AIDS Expert Says Pope is Correct on Condom Distribution Making AIDS Worse

Brazilian Diocese Responds to Archbishop Fisichella Article in L’Osservatore Romano

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