NewsFri Aug 4, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST
Ontario Catholic Bishops to be Scolded by Pope? Some hope so.
In Depth Report
By Steve Jalsevac and Hilary White
All is Not Ok With Canadian Church
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 dramatically 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.
Dissident Priests, Religious Openly Support Homosexuality
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 to homosexuality, divorce, contraception and even assisted suicide. (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/mar/06030801.html)
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”. Ouellet, however, is considered one of Canada’s few faithful bishops and is attempting to renew the faith in a mostly fallen away Quebec since his installation as archbishop of Quebec City in January 2003.
Earlier this year, 19 priests in the Archdiocese of Montreal, in an open letter in LaPresse 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 the letter saying, “We are used to a certain amount of disagreement (in the Church).” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/feb/06022706.html)
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. (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/feb/05022307.html)
Catholic Newspapers Part of Problem
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) newspaper based in the Archdiocese of Toronto. (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/feb/05022201.html) CNT has a decades-long history of open and often vicious dissent from Catholic teaching, particularly on matters pertaining to sexual morality. (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/mar/05031503.html). 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 and in Bishop Nicola De Angelis’ diocese of Peterborough. (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/apr/05041107.html ).
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. (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/feb/06021508.html).
In an article, Church caught up in condom conundrum, (http://aids.catholicregister.org/church_condom_conundrum.html) in the Register’s Aug. 2006 special AIDS conference section, Swan muddied the Church’s teaching on the use of condoms and AIDs prevention. Pro-life physician, Dr. John Shea, in a letter to the Register, responded thatÂ“the moral and medical advice” in the article, “is incorrect and dangerous”. Revealing more of the thinking behind his numerous Register articles, Swan also lauded prominent dissident and defrocked priest Gregory Baum in another article (http://www.catholicregister.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=PagEd&file=index&topic_id=5&page_id=848). 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.
Anti-Catholic “Catholic” Educators and Politicians Get off Scot-Free
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 (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2004/feb/04021904.html). 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 (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2002/may/02050606.html). 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.Â 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 conferences’ 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, homosexuality, suppression of religious freedom and many other aspects of secularism, still seems to be lost on Canada’s Catholic Church establishment or of little concern to them.
Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition has reflected that these political leaders are not nearly as accountable for their actions as are most of 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 and promoting immoral public policy 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 (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2001/oct/011005b.html ).
Social-Justice/Economics Trump Faith/Morality
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 and not promoted or even actively undermined, such as then Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2003 Considerations statement on Homosexuality (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2003/aug/03080101.html)..
The Canadian Conference of Bishops organization is known for publishing many questionable texts. They are often characterized by liberal or seriously incomplete theology, a strong emphasis on left leaning “social justice” themes and rewriting of scriptural quotes, hymns, liturgical texts and other worship and study documents to accommodate feminist language. Religious education textbooks and programs have reflected this emphasis with the result that generations of Canadian parents have lamented the loss of faith and moral corruption experienced by their children in Catholic schools.
Gay clergy and laymen have been especially prominent in the Canadian liturgical establishment. The author, for instance, of the current CCCB published Workbook for lectors and gospel readers is an openly gay activist Minnesota priest. The often gender neutral Lectionary still used in parishes across the country since 1993 has constantly beenÂ opposed and never approved by Rome because of its use of an unapproved scriptural text.
Possible Connections With “Lavender Mafia”
What has been called the “lavender mafia” or a clique of powerful homosexual priests and bishops in the United States (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/sep/05091903.html) likely also exists to a quieter but still significant degree in Canada given the extensive history of homosexuality among Canada’s Catholic clergy and close networking between U.S. and Canadian dissident and homosexual clergy (https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2002/aug/020812a.html and https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/dec/05120601.html). 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 Chicago diocese’s now deceased “bishop-maker”, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, is seen by U.S. author Randy Engel and many others as having been the most influential of the U.S. Catholic Church’s “Homosexual Collective” of homosexual and homosexual supportive clergy. The Toronto diocese’s also now deceased Gerald Emmet Cardinal Carter, Canada’s most influential “bishop-maker” for many years, had a high regard for Bernardin. Carter is rumoured to have influenced Philadelphia’s Cardinal John Krol to have Bernardin appointed to the important Chicago diocese.
Cardinal Bernardin has been revered as almost a saint by the liberal social justice establishement within the Catholic Church in the U.S. and Canada. His “Seamless Garment” theology is said by Engel to have advanced the agenda of the Collective. Engel writes in a just published book, The Rite of Sodomy, that “The Seamless Garment strategy set out by Bernardin in the 1980s sought to broaden the pro-life tent by expanding the movement’s opposition to abortion, euthanasia, population control and school sex instruction to include other ‘social justice’ issues such as war and peace, opposition to the death penalty, welfare reform and civil liberties.” Engel goes on to note that “One of the immediate effects of the Seamless Garment ethic was the increase of power and financial resources of Social Justice offices at the diocesan level where the Homosexual Collective has always been strongly represented.”
The Canadian situation reflected that very same approach with the various social justice organizations within the Church being especially supportive of “social justice” for homosexuals and indifferent or even hostile to pro-life efforts and Church moral teachings.
Faithful Priests Persecuted by Bishops and Bureaucrats
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. Many such priests have even had their priestly faculties removed (forbidden to act as a priest) while it seems known sexual abusers, homosexuals and outspoken dissenters have been allowed to retain their faculties 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.
Even faithful bishops are often ostracized, intimidated or threatened by the more numerous liberal, dissenting Canadian bishops to tow the liberal line. Bishop Fred Henry has received extremely little support from his brother bishops for his outspoken comments in recent years on marriage and the duties of Catholic politicians that have resulted in human rights charges against him.
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 and do 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 or to more senior dioceses 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.
Faithful Laity the Hope of Canada’s Church
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 and saved the Church.
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.
Lone Canadian Bishop Responds to Priests’ Dissent: “Forget About it”
Canadian National Pro-Life Leader Says “lack of spiritual leadership” Has Been Major Obstacle to Achieving Success in Life And Family Issue Battles
Canadian Tolerance of Gay Agenda Traced to Failure of Canadian Catholic Hierarchy
Catholic School Board ‘Gay Speak’ Seminar
Ontario Catholic Teachers Run Far Left Conference Promoting Gay Activism
Public School Board Rejects Prime Minister’s Campaign Stop While Catholic Board Permits It
Pro-Abortion, Pro-Gay “Marriage” Prime Minister Does Campaign Stop at Catholic High School
Dissent on Vatican document in Canada
Canadian Bishops’ Twelfth-Grade Moral Textbook “Fails Dismally” to Present Moral Teaching
Why won’t the Catholic bishops solve the ‘gay priest problem?’
(Lavender Mafia explained)
See LifeSiteNews.com’s Church Abuse Crisis page
“Remembering” Joseph Cardinal Bernardin
See the original Toronto Star article