Priest unafraid to publicly dissent

Priest unafraid to publicly dissent

A Nashville priest, who is good buddies with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, publicly advocates for the end to priestly celibacy in the Latin rite and is lionized for it in the local papers.

Fr. Joseph Breen was once briefly silenced for his outspoken dissent from Church teaching, but that hasn’t stopped him.

Officially “gagged” once for his outspoken advocacy for married priests, Breen has remained undaunted. He hand-delivered a letter to the Vatican last month asking the pope and top officials to revisit church teachings on married priests, artificial birth control, divorce and women deacons. All are barred by the Roman Catholic Church and have been for centuries. But Breen says he remains driven by his belief that the teachings are out of touch with ordinary Catholics, whom he has seen leave Midstate churches for years.

… In 1993, Breen was asked by former Nashville Bishop Edward Kmiec to sign a pledge refraining from advocating that the church’s celibacy rule be changed to ease a priest shortage. The prohibition came shortly after Breen had mailed a letter to Catholic bishops outlining his views. The year before, 780 members of Breen’s church signed a petition to the pope with the same request. The gag order was quietly lifted two years later, and Breen continued his fight, writing to Catholic newspapers and talking with fellow priests.

I asked this before and I’ll ask it again. Why, oh why do bishops allow such poisonous priests to continue in ministry? What good does it do to have priests who openly dissent from the Church’s teaching continue to lead their congregations astray by preaching falsehood and rebellion?

Don’t tell me that it’s because of a priest shortage. It is not preferable that people be taught error than to have to share a priest and perhaps not have regular access to the sacraments.

Meanwhile the bishops continue to gather in their biannual meetings and discuss why so many people are abandoning their faith. Maybe because the people are being taught the lesson that the faith isn’t worth fighting for, especially when even their priests don’t believe it.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Carrie,
    What you have said is an ancient heresy: that the Church is not the Church, the the Holy Spirit is not present in and guiding the Church, protecting it from error.

    The Church is composed of human beings, all of us are fallible, all of us are sinners. Yet the Church herself is the spotless Bride, the Body of Christ. We cannot be guilty by association because we are members of that Body. Instead we must remain faithful, turn away from sin, proclaim the truth boldly. Christ will not let His Church reach the point you refer to. He is the faithful Bridegroom and has already laid down His life for his Bride.

  • “Lord, you have the words of eternal life. To whom shall we go?”

    You do what you want. I’ll stick by the priests and bishops who do not promote heresy and blasphemy. I think you are allowing despair to creep into your worldview.

  • Jesus was just too hard-line on the indissolubility of marriage.  Really, Fr. Breen ought to take up that issue with Him!

    That letter is ridiculous.

  • Liam: The Church’s teachings on birth control and divorce are dogmatic, not disciplinary. He is dissenting.

    Joe: Carrie has been commenting on my blog for a long time. I think I know where she’s coming from and I’m saying that one must separate the sinfulness of men from the nature of the Church and that one must not separate oneself from the Church because of the sins of men. Yes, it is conceivable that there could be a diocese where there isn’t a single priest or bishop remains faithful to the Church, but I think it extremely unlikely.

  • You’ve accidentally stumbled on a complex question that proves my point. Many priests and some bishops of the Patriotic Church are loyal to Rome and the divisions between the Patriotic Church and the underground Church are not hard and fast. So indeed an orthodox Chinese Catholic may in good conscience remain affiliated with the Patriotic Church under certain circumstances.

  • I think you are overstating how much material cooperation there is if you simply attend your own parish.

    But if it does bother your conscience, then you have a simple solution: Move to another diocese. Yes, you would have to leave your job, your family and friends, but then you have to ask yourself how seriously you’re going to take this.