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Jesuit Fr. Greg Boyle

GARDEN GROVE, California, October 2, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of California Catholics has questioned their diocese’s plan to host a dissident priest to keynote a lay ministry event.

Tell Bishop Vann to uphold Church teaching and disinvite Fr. Boyle from speaking! SIGN THE PETITION​

Jesuit Father Greg Boyle is scheduled for a presentation on October 14 at the Diocese of Orange Institute for Pastoral Ministry Diocesan Ministries Celebration.

A priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Father Boyle has publicly dissented from and mocked Church teaching on homosexual “marriage,” women “priests” and worthiness to receive Holy Communion.

The Diocese of Orange expects 1,500 people to attend the daylong “Encounter, Connect, Evangelize” event at which Father Boyle will appear. It is sponsored by the diocese’s Institute for Pastoral Ministry, which trains lay ministers.

Some Catholics decided to draft a petition after expressing their concerns to the diocese and getting insufficient response. Their hope is that Bishop Kevin Vann will reconsider inviting Father Boyle to its event for catechists. Vann has served as bishop since 2012, having been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.

The local concerned Catholics have been told by various diocesan representatives that the issue was being dealt with, that Father Boyle’s appearance had been scheduled last year, and that his topic would not be gay “marriage” or women’s ordination.

LifeSiteNews inquired with the diocese regarding Father Boyle’s appearance and received the same statement issued to the concerned local Catholics.

In the statement, the diocese admitted that Father Boyle’s comments were “indeed disturbing,” but downplayed his remarks. It said in part:

We understand that there is concern about video footage in which he appears to contradict Church teaching on women’s ordination and same-sex marriage. While this is indeed disturbing, Rev. Boyle will not be speaking on these topics. In fact, he has frequently participated in events in Orange County to promote the good work of his ministry and to inspire others in their ministries.

Rev. Gregory Boyle, S.J. is a priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and is in good standing. He has dedicated his life to advancing the mission of Christ in our troubled world.

Father Boyle is renowned for his work with incarcerated and gang-involved individuals. 

LifeSiteNews also contacted the Los Angeles archdiocese to confirm that Father Boyle is a priest in good standing and to inquire whether it had a response to his troubling comments on gay “marriage” and women's ordination but did not hear back.

In a 2010 interview during the debate on California’s Proposition 8 referendum banning same-sex “marriage” he criticized the U.S. Bishops’ opposition to homosexual “marriage.” He also described opposition to gay “marriage” as “demonizing people.” Father Boyle said that what the Church teaches on same-sex attraction and gay “marriage” was the opposite of what God says.

The priest stated in the interview that the Church’s teaching on women’s ordination was “shameful, “nonsense” and not “honest.” Father Boyle said those opposed to women’s ordination were “frightened that women will be ordained.”

He also mocked Church teaching on reception of the Eucharist for individuals married outside the Church in the television interview.

One of the concerned local Catholics speaking anonymously with LifeSiteNews expressed dismay that Father Boyle’s dissent from Church teaching didn’t seem to bother the diocese.

“Why do we continue to bestow these honors, awards and these high-profile platforms to folks that ridicule Church teaching?” he asked. “Why do we give them more influence and followers?”

“Innocent Catholics go in thinking these priests are going to act like priests,” he continued. “They don’t know what they actually stand for.”

Another concerned local Catholic said that even if the diocese had to scramble to secure another speaker, “it’s better than the conflict of having this guy come in and speak.”

“It’s bringing scandal to the diocese,” Ernie Alonzo told LifeSiteNews.

Alonzo questioned why a priest would make the statements he has about Church teaching on homosexuality and women’s ordination. He also questioned the rationalization that Father Boyle’s ministry work excuses his public dissent from Church teaching.

“Is he telling them (in his ministry) it’s OK to be in same-sex relationships?” Alonzo asked. “If he’s minimizing this, he’s doing grave harm. But are you going to put that (his work with gangs) above the souls?”

“There are so many good speakers,” Elsa Salcedo queried. “Why him?”

Salcedo has been a catechist for several years and used to attend the Diocese of Orange’s Diocesan Ministries Celebration. From her perspective, it’s very concerning that Father Boyle will be presenting to the large assembly of diocesan catechists.

“When you have a keynote speaker, and especially a priest, you take for granted that the priest believes in the teaching of the Catholic Church,” she told LifeSiteNews.

“That this Father Boyle doesn’t believe the Church’s teaching (on marriage and ordination) just blows me away,” Salcedo added. “You think of the idea of a faithful priest; it’s an oxymoron. I didn’t think that was even possible.”

It also begs the question of whether he is influencing those he ministers to in gangs this way, she said.

“The charity work itself can’t lead your soul to peril, but what is he teaching them?” asked Salcedo.

There is a real danger that Father Boyle’s dissent could lead unsuspecting Catholics at the catechetical event astray, she said.

“What if I start following him or buy his book?” Salcedo asked. “What if I do that, and I either know someone who’s same-sex attracted or maybe I am myself? What if I trust what he says? What if it's someone who’s not strong in their faith?”

“I rely on a priest who’s had Holy Orders,” she stated further. “I’m sure he’s had to say that somewhere, that you believe in the Church’s teaching. That’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

The anonymous Catholic gentleman from the group said respectfully speaking up in a situation such as this is a duty for Catholics.

He recalled that Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said it’s the laity’s mission to help priests be priests, bishops be bishops and religious be religious, and cited Canon Law 212, which says the faithful not only have the right but the duty to show concern in these matters.

“Sharing these concerns,” he told LifeSiteNews, “we’re doing this out of love for the Church and out of love for our bishop.”