We don’t support them, but they can use our church

We don’t support them, but they can use our church

A parish in Milwaukee was the only Catholic church in the US and Europe to allow a prayer service for the World Day of Prayer for Women’s Ordination. The group of 35 people at St. Matthias church were one of about a dozen sites in the US and Europe to hold services.

The pastor, Fr. David Cooper, said he consulted with staff and parish members about it.

“St. Matthias Parish was only a host for the prayer service,” said Cooper. “The parish has no official or unofficial position on the question of the ordination of women.”

Um, Father, I hate to break it to you, but your parish, as part of the Universal Church, does have an official position—it’s No. You don’t get to decide separately on whether you agree with the Church’s teachings.

“Some worried about fragmentation or causing a division within the parish and some people said I should be worried about my own career,” said Cooper, “but the general consensus seemed to be that a prayer service is a prayer service and as such, there are not bad prayers.”

How about this one, Father? “I pray that this person I hate dies.” Isn’t that a bad prayer? Typical muddled liberal, “I’m OK, you’re OK” pablum. But Father Cooper shows he isn’t fit to be a Catholic pastor by the following:

“I do have a personal opinion. I am grateful to Mr. George Weigel and the clarification he offered in his column on March 20 in the Catholic Herald. He said that the Holy Father’s teaching about the current war with Iraq is not to be considered binding: ‘such statements do not constitute, and cannot constitute, an exercise of the papal magisterium. They are to be carefully and respectfully considered as the prudential judgments of experienced churchmen,’” said Cooper.

“Therefore one can conclude that the United States war with Iraq is moral and justifiable. By that same standard, the question of whether or not women and married men should be allowed into Holy Orders may be handled on the same basis. It has nothing to do with morality. It has nothing to do with our doctrinal faith .... It is a tradition of the Catholic Church. But traditions have and do change.”

If he can’t tell the difference between a matter of prudential judgment and a matter of infallible doctrine, he isn’t fit to be placed in public ministry because he’s shown he’s incapable of providing sure teaching on fundamental matters of the faith. Cooper also showed he also evidently doesn’t understand the teaching on apostolic succession and the authority of the bishop since he acknowledged that, while he consulted his staff before allowing the meeting, he didn’t contact his bishop.

Cooper’s consultation process did not include archdiocesan officials or Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, who according to his spokesman, Jerry Topczewski, did not learn of the service until hours before it occurred when his office received a number of calls after it was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“He was surprised an organization that was in direct opposition to defined teachings of the church would be welcome at one of our parishes,” said Topczewski of Dolan, adding the archbishop was especially disappointed by what he heard occurred. ... As of Monday afternoon, Topczewski said Dolan had not yet spoken directly with Cooper, but “he intends to discuss the matter with those concerned” and he hopes that in the future “if there is a question about a group who is not in agreement with teachings of the church—Planned Parenthood comes to mind—they should call (the archdiocese) to ask for counsel.” He added that such groups “probably should not use parish meeting space.”

I hope it’s more than just a discussion, but includes a change in leadership of that parish. We need to see our bishops take strong action against those who undermine the fundamental teachings of the Church. There’s already enough confusion in the pews about Church teaching, we don’t need pastors who don’t even understand or hold it themselves.

By the way, I’m a little surprised at the tone taken by this article which appears in the Catholic Herald, the newspaper of the archdiocese. I would expect it to take a much harder line with heresy. But then this is the archdiocese that had been under the thumb of Rembert Weakland for two decades. It will take some time for it to recover.