Yet more double standard in Minneapolis

Yet more double standard in Minneapolis

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.

On the other hand, you have priests of the same archdiocese publicly dissenting from the Church’s dogmatic teachings on homosexuality and marriage.

“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.

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  • There are three reasons for his actions in my opinion:

    1. As you stated he knows he will not be listened too and it will show publicly the lack of obedience and authority he has with at least 28 of his priests.

    2. Avoid open schism in the Church figuring it would harm the faithful.

    3. Blackmail

  • No matter which of the three is the actual motivator, what the diocese ends up with is a loud voice of dissent in the absence of strongly voiced orthodoxy.  (No doubt other orthodox priests are taking notes.)

    If the only voice being heard is the voice of heterodoxy, does heterodoxy become the de facto doctrine of the Church given the fact that the pilgrims in the pews mostly don’t know the faith all that well?

    If cowardice or blackmail trumps governance of dissent, what possible motive could have prompted the exercise of governance where orthodoxy is concerned? One would expect loud orthodoxy to be welcomed by an orthodox bishop.

    Given the free-wheeling parish of St. Joan of Arc, the situation out there makes less than zero sense.

    My next thought is what lurks at the College of St. John, the attached women’s college, and the abbey that is associated therewith besides the hushed-up stories about a murder in the abbey?  Someone needs to sprinkle the diocese with holy water in massive quantities!

  • Carrie,

    I won’t presume to guess how the archbishop will handle the dissenting priests, but I do know he will do absolutely nothing about St. John’s Abbey or the Colleges of St. John and St. Benedict, as they are all in the neighboring diocese of St. Cloud.