On the one hand, you have Father Robert Altier, who has been silenced apparently for publicly disagreeing with his archbishop, Harry Flynn of Minneapolis, over “safe environment sex education” programs. (And I don’t care what you say, this was a silencing. He was forced to remove his homilies from public distribution and to stop speaking on a Catholic radio program.) To his credit, Altier obeyed the order, only speaking about it to the extent to say that he was obeying a lawful order of his superior.
“Anybody who wants to be in a committed relationship and have children — I say God bless them,” said the Rev. Mike Tegeder, head pastor at St. Edward’s. While plenty of other denominations have struggled with gay rights, and clergy of other faith are involved with the postcard campaign, it’s a particularly thorny issue for Catholics.
And it’s not like Tegeder is new at this game: “Tegeder is a longtime thorn in the side of archdiocese officials; he also has spoken out against the prohibition of married Catholic priests. But on the gay marriage issue, he’s not alone.” Yes, there are 28 priests total who have co-signed a letter to Flynn saying in part: “We believe that your aggressive and widespread endeavor in favor of the amendment is a scandal.”
Time to put up or shut up
So, I’m left wondering whether Flynn will be consistent. Altier was silenced for disagreeing with a policy decision, not doctrine and dogma. He certainly wasn’t personally attacking the archbishop. Yet you have these priests attacking Flynn and espousing heterodox views. And they’ll get away with it. Why? Altier was ordered to be quiet because Flynn knew he would obey, being the good orthodox priest he is. If Flynn were to try to order the heterodox priests to be silent, they’d laugh in his face. He’d then be forced to either put up or shut up, and if he were to back down, then his authority would dissipate like smoke in the wind. Better to speak strongly of orthodoxy and ignore the heterodoxy than confront the heterodoxy and let it win is the apparent mindset.