Opinion

Australian friars sanctioned by superior for criticizing depraved sex ed curriculum

The Franciscan superior's response to a sermon and social media comments by the two friars appears to be completely disproportionate.
Thu Oct 29, 2020 - 9:40 pm EST
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Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne / YouTube

October 29, 2020 (Family Life International) — Bishop Long’s sympathies to the LGBTQI+ agenda and his new school curriculum, which promotes many errors including gender ideology, have been the source of a good deal of criticism both within and outside Australia. But rather than being disciplined for his deviations from Church teaching, it appears Bishop Long has the protection of some in his order, the Conventual Franciscans, while two of his confreres who dared to voice their concerns have received canonical sanctions from their Superior.

Rev Dr Paschal Corby OFM Conv and Br Louis Mary Schmid OFM Conv are both based in Melbourne. Fr Paschal is a respected bioethicist who formerly worked at the John Paul II Institute and now lectures in moral theology at the Catholic Theological College. Br Louis is the spiritual assistant of the Militia Immaculata and is especially known for his promotion of Fatima and the rosary. Br Louis’ sanctions stem from his criticism of Bishop Long’s new curriculum via social media, while Fr Paschal is being denounced for a homily he gave in September.

On October 4, a letter from the Franciscan Provincial, Fr Michael Zelkie OFM Conv, was read after every Mass in every parish run by the Conventual Franciscans in Australia: it did not escape the notice of many Catholics that October 4 was the feast-day of the order’s founder, St Francis of Assisi – a particularly painful day for faithful Franciscans to receive such an announcement.

One Mass after which the letter was read was live streamed on social media, making Fr Zelkie’s comments widely available. This video shows the letter being read out by the Delegate of the Provincial of the Franciscans, Fr David Blowey OFM Conv at Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Kellyville, Sydney[1].  Fr David said that it was Fr Michael’s express wish that the matter concerning Fr Paschal and Br Louis be made public, as their opinions were “part of the public record.”

Fr Zelkie first condemned the friars’ decision to go public with their criticism instead of seeking a private dialogue on the matter, then continued:

“ … We cannot commend these friars for their actions.

“Br Louis M Schmid, OFM Conv., and Fr Paschal Corboy, OFM Conv., have not only not presented the truth, but their words have been interpreted as defaming the bishop of the diocese of Parramatta. They have acted as jury and judge by inferring that his views are heretical and one even implying that his views are influenced by the devil.

“With sorrow I must declare, that from this point on, their pastoral involvement with the flock of Christ will change and be restricted. I sincerely apologise for any anxiety they may have caused. Their opinions are not the views of the Conventual Franciscans and we fully support Bishop Vincent and his pastoral initiatives.

“I pray that may all remain open to the movement of the Spirit who inspires the Incarnation of the Word in ever new and renewing contexts. And may St Francis of Asissi intercede for us and truly make us instruments of His peace and love.

“Fr Michael Zelkie.”

At this point, it has not known what form the “change and restriction” to the friars’ pastoral involvement will take. As shown below, according to Br Louis, there had in fact been an attempt to privately approach Bishop Long. Br Louis’ comments appeared on Facebook on September 4th:

“People have contacted me as I am sure they have other friars, to comment on Bishop Vincent Long’s practises as bishop of Parramatta. Maybe I’ll be sent to Siberia, but I like Russian food.

“As a friar of the Conventual Franciscan Order, I can assure you that many friars including myself do not agree with the controversial actions and words, and policies of Bishop Vincent Long. We have made ourselves known to the appropriate authority. As with all faithful Catholics, we pray that our bishops will be faithful shepherds of the Church. May they have courage and clarity, teaching fully the authentic SAVING TRUTHS of Christ’s Gospel, especially the moral precepts and laws of God. BUT He calls us to conversion, to go and sin no more, to recognise our sins as they are, not to compromise in the name of a false, misguided inclusive compassion which is a deception from HQ in Hell.

This has unfortunately influenced clergy of the Hierarchy within the Church. To be inclusive is to offer salvation to all, not to furnish false agendas, which lead to Hell. With St Maximillian Mary Kolbe, a great Conventual Franciscan saint, we implore the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God to crush the serpent’s head, to deliver all those ensnared in compromised and false teachings, and return to the safe refuge of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Lord have Mercy on us all poor sinners.

“Fraternally in St Francis of Assisi, Br Louis Mary Schmid OFM Conv.

“Please feel free to share with all and offer the Rosary and chaplet for all our Bishops, priests and religious, and Pope.

“As St Teresa of Calcutta reminded us, we are called to be faithful, not successful.” [edited for clarity.]

Fr Paschal’s homily, given on Father’s Day and principally a reflection on Fatherhood, was likewise intended to charitably steer his flock on the right path while exhorting his parishioners to pray for all the bishops, and especially for Bishop Long. Fr Paschal’s homily is reproduced here in its entirety, in order to give the context of his comments on Bishop Vincent:

“On this day in which we remember Fathers, we rejoice in the gift of our dads. We pray for them, and thank God for their gift to us of life and love.  It is not only a time to be grateful for our own Fathers, whether living or deceased, but also for reflecting on the gift of Fatherhood in itself, and for acknowledging what is particular or special to fathers.

“The greatness of fathers does not lie simply in generating life – any fool can do that much. No, the greatness of fathers exists in what happens after that moment: in being present, in nurturing and providing for that life.

“The greatness of fathers lies in their solidity, their sureness, their dependability; in their persuasive love and clarity in truth. At least, that’s my experience of fatherhood. That’s what I look to in my dad.

“And these attributes of fatherhood – providence, solidity, truth and love – have their origin in God himself, who in Christ, reveals himself as Father; who is the source of all fatherhood. As the origin of our being, God’s Fatherhood establishes an order for our lives – who’s wisdom rules and guides us – and to which, as His children, we must submit in love.

“God’s fatherly providence guides us to our fulfilment, through the created gift of reason by which we know and love Him, through the revelation of His will for us through Jesus Christ, and by the illumination of our minds through grace and the Holy Spirit. Our lives must be conformed to the truth of our created nature and our dependence on God. Our love must be informed by that truth and respond in kind. To this we are exhorted throughout today’s readings from Sacred Scripture.

“As the readings make clear, we would fail in charity – fail in our duty to care for our brother’s salvation – were we to turn a blind eye to his sin. From the prophet Ezekiel we learn that we have a God-given duty to correct our brother who strays, to encourage him to repent, to renounce sin and return to the Lord. We are to be solicitous, not only for our own salvation, but for the salvation of others. We are to be paternal – father-like – in our love and care for the other.

“Such love, as demanded by the Gospel, does not mean indulging the vices and weakness of our neighbour. Love flows from truth – the truth about God, and the truth about ourselves; the type of love, that as Saint Paul says, ‘cannot hurt our neighbour’ – a love that has his true good at heart.

“We do not love our neighbour by allowing him to remain in ignorance, but by leading him to truth in which he finds his true happiness. We do not love our neighbour by leaving him in his sin, but by showing him the way to reconciliation with God and others. In the gospel that we have heard, our Lord makes this abundantly clear, even giving us a strategy for going about the business of fraternal correction. The God revealed by Jesus is not indifferent to sin. He does not tolerate sin.

“Tolerance, as it is forced down our throats in society today, has no place in the Gospel of Christ, for it denies truth; it leads to moral relativism and denies the need for conversion. The Father does not tolerate sin, but he loves the sinner, and in his love seeks to draw us back to the truth about ourselves and our true happiness in obedience to His will.

“In imaging this Father of truth and mercy we see the dignity of fatherhood. But it extends to all of us in imaging God. In a particular way, it falls upon us clerics – priests and bishops – to be at the forefront as dependable, rock-solid fathers, and loving in truth. To be faithful in passing on the fullness of God’s plan and teaching clearly.

“In this context, and on this Fathers’ Day, I ask you to pray in a particular way for priests and bishops to be faithful to this task, which too many today are failing in – by preaching error, undermining the moral teaching of the Church, causing scandal among the faithful.

“Pray for Pope Francis, that, according to the commission of our Lord to St Peter, he might love and nurture the sheep entrusted to him with the clarity of truth; that he will strengthen his brothers and sisters in the true faith.

“Pray for our bishops, that they will be less intent on accommodating the world and its distortions, and so preach the gospel in its fullness. I ask you to pray in particular for one close to our hearts here in the parish of St. Joseph’s – I mean Bishop Vincent. It is because we love him that I say this.

“Bishop Vincent has come under scrutiny in the media in recent times, both religious and secular, for by his actions and preaching, especially in his confused response to gay marriage and his accommodation of the ideology of gender fluidity, now enshrined in the religious education program of his diocese, he is not leading the people of God to truth, but into error, and scandalising the faithful.

“Pray for him, and pray for all of us, that we might have the courage to take the risk on loving everyone in truth, and to speak the truth in love. For, as the Lord reminds us, if we fail in our charity towards others by not warning them of their error, we will be held responsible for their demise. Not something to be taken lightly. It is quite clear that there is no virtue in accommodating error or sin. We have a God-given duty to speak the truth always, in love.

“Dear friends, as followers of Christ, we do not preach the Gospel merely because it is personally satisfying, but because we are convinced of the truth contained in it. We are therefore faced with this challenge: to go beyond what is comfortable in our faith, and to challenge, (to critique and to correct), our own opinions, the opinions of others, and those of our society, in light of the truth of the Gospel.

“In this way we will be true to the message of today’s Scriptures, making our own way, and leading others, to Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”[2]

The response to Fr Paschal’s sermon and Br Louis’ social media comments by the Franciscan Superior appears to be completely disproportionate, given that both men were merely acting in accordance with their consciences and with their obligation to defend the Faith. Questions must now be raised as to the extent which the Conventual Franciscans have been infected with Modernist gender ideology. As former gay activist James Parker suggested, elements of the Parramatta programme are consistent with “deliberate strategies that are in part furtively rolled out by identity ideologues, which include infiltrating and taking leadership within key areas of society to bring about homosuperiority by completely smashing heteronormativity.” [3]

Where is Fr Zelkie’s condemnation of Bishop Long’s curriculum and of his stance on same-sex “marriage” which has scandalised so many Catholics, Christians and even non-Christians? It can only be concluded that by a failure to condemn Bishop Long’s ideology and by his proposed sanctions against Fr Paschal and Br Louis, that Fr Zelkie perhaps shares the Bishop’s heretical views and refuses to countenance any opposition to them from within his ranks.

[1] https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2868601546703704&id=100006616602289. The letter is read out at the 41 minute mark.
[2] https://www.facebook.com/charlie.bakhos/videos/3422078064522019/
[3] https://www.fli.org.au/parramattas-education-fiasco/

Published with permission from Family Life International.


  australia, child abuse, family life international, sex ed, vincent long van nguyen

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