Here’s the article: Rural Minnesota Catholic parish dismisses musicians over gay marriages. The new pastor, Fr. Drees, fired three male musicians who served at the parish. Two of the men are married to each other. The third man, Bob Bernard, was an employee of the parish, and he just recently married a man. This post is not about whether they should have been fired, but over the different reactions to the firing in the parish.
First, the new pastor, Fr. John Drees, was dismayed that no one told him that two of the men were married to each other. “Drees expressed confusion as to why nobody in the congregation had informed him of the marriages.” In my view, many of the parishioners and some of the “trustees” (a role similar to that of the parish council, I think) do not see the Catholic Church as a body of believers with the same beliefs. Therefore, they saw no reason to mention to the pastor that these men were living in contradiction to Church teaching. Theirs is not a Church of faith, but of…I don’t know what.
One trustee said: “Bob is a remarkable guy, and he’s going to church every Sunday. He’s keeping the faith, and his faith is deep. And it’s remarkable.” Bob Bernard is the musician-employee of the parish who recently married a man. That trustee thinks that a Catholic Christian can have a deep and remarkable faith, without believing what the Church teaches — and what Jesus himself clearly taught. That’s not faith. Maybe she likes him as a person, and he might be a good person. He might be in the state of grace. But he is not a faithful Catholic.
Canon 915 requires that this parish refuse Communion to these three men (or four if Bernard’s husband attends Mass). Persons who are known to be in a same-sex marriage or same-sex cohabitation are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” and so they should not be receiving Communion. Canon 916 also applies, for the internal forum of conscience, so these men should not be presenting themselves for Communion in the first place. And the same applies to anyone who falls under the prohibitions of either Canon (not only gay persons).
It think it is true of most Catholic parishes that the members, a significant percentage if not a majority, do not consider accept and live by the Church’s moral teachings. They don’t murder because it is illegal or because they see it is wrong by their own conscience. They don’t commit adultery because their spouse would be angry or they understand it to be wrong. But they really do not receive any of their moral beliefs from the Church. If they were to leave the Church and become atheists, their moral beliefs would not change at all.
And, shockingly, the same is true, to a remarkable extent, for most persons teaching the Catholic faith: parish teachers of children or of adults in RCIA, teachers in K-12 Catholic schools, even many college teachers of Catholic ethics. They might refer to the Church’s teaching on morality as they teach. But fundamentally, they only believe and teach what they themselves think is true on morality. Any difficult teaching is ignored or radically revised, so as to conform to their own understanding. They don’t accept any moral teaching of the Church on faith alone, if their ability to reason does not agree with the teaching. Not every teacher is like this, but many are.
Most Mass-going Communion-receiving Catholics have already accepted many heresies. They no longer accept the Church as a Teacher, nor any Pope as a Shepherd. They are cultural Catholics, who practice the faith (in some sense), but who do not believe. They do not see Catholicism as a religion, nor Jesus as their Savior. They believe what sinful secular society teaches and what their own weakened sinful mind understands or misunderstands. They have already lost the faith. All that remains is for a new Pope to challenge the faithful to believe what their own Church teaches, and they will flee from the churches.
Make no mistake about it. The pews are already empty. You see all those parishioners sitting in your parish church on Sunday? They are not really Catholics. They are not present in heart and mind, but only in body. How is it that most Catholics do not see the approaching apostasy? Most Catholics already follow a version of Catholicism that is thoroughly heretical. Most Catholic teachers teach heresy as well as many lesser errors.
God sent Pope Francis as the last offering of mercy to sinners, to bring them back to the Church. And when he resigns or dies, the next Pope will have the task from God to demand that Catholics believe what the Church teaches, and that Catholic teachers conform their teaching to magisterial doctrine.
First the conservatives will leave the Church, during the reign of Pope Francis. Then the liberals will leave the Church, under his successor. After they leave the Catholic Church, they will quickly fall away from Christianity altogether. That is the approaching apostasy.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.
Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.
On a similar note, one of the German bishops recently suggested having a “conversation” about blessing same-sex couples. Now this gesture would seem problematic if the same-sex union itself were blessed because in effect it would appear that the Church is condoning such unions whereas it cannot. But I can see some kind of blessing for both gay people and straight single people, a type of blessing in which they are called to chastity and use their talents for the Church, something like that. But the German bishop’s proposal would cause much confusion, I believe. It would be like the Church saying “we know you are not sacramentally married, but we still believe in the arrangement you have chosen.”
That proposal is gravely immoral because it is formal cooperation with grave sexual sins. And formal cooperation is intrinsically evil and therefore always a sin.
One question I meant to ask about this article is on your paragraphs discussing how most Catholics even in Church do not accept the moral teachings of the faith and generally do not have a good grasp of the Catechism. To which I would sincerely ask, whose fault is it? There must be many people in the Church who recognize this problem, but what is or should the Church do about it? Also, the faithful are barraged with confusing or misleading teachings even from ordained clergy, so surely this is a harmful practice that is not being corrected. I read a recent story where a priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee came out as gay during a homily and received a standing ovation from his parish. The response to this problem should start at the parish level with more discussion of and resources provided for the faithful to not only learn but to live the faith.