Priests and laity slam US bishops conference for sacking theologian critical of Pope
November 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Bishops have received a scathing response for forcing out a renowned theologian as a consultant to their doctrine committee because the theologian wrote a letter to Pope Francis saying his papacy was marked by “chronic confusion.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) asked Father Thomas Weinandy to resign from his position as consultant to the bishops after his letter was made public Wednesday.
Father Weinandy had written to the pope in July with a number of concerns about Francis’ pontificate, including that the Pope’s “seemingly intentional lack of clarity” fosters within the faithful a “growing unease.” He released the letter after receiving no response for three months and after having confirmed that it had, in fact, reached Francis.
Weinandy wrote in his letter that under the Francis pontificate “many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse.”
The USCCB swiftly sacked Weinandy for voicing his concerns.
Catholic World Report Editor Carl Olson noted that in sacking the theologian, the USCCB “reinforces Fr. Weinandy’s very point about fearfulness and lack of transparency.”
English scholar and blogger Father John Hunwicke minced no words in his reaction.
“This cheap and vulgar ritual humiliation exemplifies the extent to which PF [Pope Francis] is presiding over a bully-boy Church in which midget bishops and minicardinals compete to defeat each other in the sycophancy stakes,” he wrote, adding, “Just as Tom Weinandy has, in effect, just said.”
“The fact that the American Episcopal Conference, within minutes, sacked him from being a Consultor of their Doctrine Committee must indicate that America is awash with brilliant theologians,” Father Hunwicke chided.
Kenneth Wolfe at Rorate Caeli blogged that Weinandy’s removal reveals the real agenda of the USCCB.
“What is clear from the USCCB's removal of Father Weinandy is the leadership of the Church is not concerned with dogma, tradition or natural law. Its main priority is the image and agenda of Jorge Bergoglio,” he said.
“And the few existing prelates who would be of a mind to advocate for orthodoxy ‘are scared to speak for fear of being removed from Vatican offices, stuck in far-off dioceses or never being made a cardinal,’” he added, quoting Weinandy’s letter.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, USCCB president, said the sacking of Father Thomas Weinandy presents an “opportunity to reflect on the nature of dialogue within the Church.”
But DiNardo’s relying on the concept of “dialogue” in his statement did nothing to assuage further reaction to the bishops terminating Weinandy.
“Praying for Fr Thomas Weinandy today who dared to criticise Amoris Laetitia, wrote to Pope + got fired,” tweeted Canadian-born Father Brad Sweet, a blogger and priest serving in Malawi. “The loving + merciful face of USCCB.”
OnePeterFive was likewise critical of the USCCB’s feigning dialogue in its handling of the Weinandy letter.
“The reader is left to wonder how 'dialogue' has become a euphemism for “suppression of any views different than our own,” Editor Steve Skojec wrote.
“How is it that those who speak most forcefully in favor of 'tolerance' are always the last to practice tolerance toward those with ideas they find inconvenient?” he asked.
“How is it that the President of the USCCB lacks the courage to simply state that Fr. Weinandy was asked to resign for speaking an unpopular opinion, regardless of its merit, and without consideration given to the fact that it was voiced respectfully and in the exercise of his conscience on a matter of grave importance — and about which he has the requisite theological competency to comment?”
Skojec said “the reality orthodox Catholics face in the Church of 2017” is that “If you stand up for the truths of the faith, you will suffer the consequences at the hands of those charged with defending those same truths.”
Skojec noted as well, “there is no reason to expect we won’t see this reaction continue to escalate.”
Criticism of the bishops’ move was plentiful on Twitter.
“Accompaniment for the USCCB only applies to heretics, dissenters, and secular progressives - the orthodox will be purged,” tweeted one Weinandy supporter.
“You might want to worry more about the core principles of the Church, and things like, you know, salvation. #Weinandy,” tweeted another.
The USCCB decision also has its supporters.
Homosexualist Jesuit priest James Martin suggested that Fr. Weinandy received just punishment for being a “dissenter.”
“Let's be clear what has happened: the person in charge of attacking several US theologians for being dissenters is now dissenting. Another example of the double standards of many who oppose Francis. Under John Paul II and Benedict: no dissent. Under Francis: dissent away,” he tweeted.
Fr. John Strynkowski, former USCCB consultant for their doctrine committee and Weinandy’s predecessor, criticized the theologian’s discernment that Jesus wanted him to write the letter to Francis.
“‘Amoris Laetitia,’ toward which you express great concern, was the fruit of two synods and broad consultation throughout the church, is widely recognized as an act of ordinary Magisterium, and thus enjoys presumption as having been guided by the Spirit of the Lord,” he wrote in America Magazine.
Weinandy related to Robert Royal how he wrote the letter to the Pope after asking God for a number of predetermined signs that were fulfilled exactly in the manner he had stipulated.