Thursday, March 09, 2006

Canadian religious orders criticize Church

Sometimes it is shocking to see a real world example of just how much disagreement there are in some parts of the world -- mostly the western world -- with what the Church rightly considered settled doctrine, such as the teaching handed down from Jesus himself that divorce and remarriage is wrong in all cases but those involving invalidity.

Catholic News Service posted a story yesterday that was one of those real world examples -- a letter on behalf of more than 200 religious orders in Canada was sent to the Canadian bishops to criticize the Church's teaching on sexual morality (what else?), the role of women, the rigidity of the bishops' teaching authority and their adherence to policies orinating from the Vatican.

Franciscan Sister Louise Stafford, a Canadian Religious Conference spokeswoman, did say that the letter was intended to be part of private dialogue and that it was leaked to the media. On that point, I at least admire her a bit -- there is quite a difference between a private dialogue with the Church and a public challenge, which this unfortunately has become.

Still, one wonders how far religious orders in Canada have strayed from the truth of the Church's teachings to challenging them on so many fronts.

Bishop Gilles Cazabon of Saint-Jerome, Quebec, president of the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops, had this to say about the whole affair:

"We welcome any views they would like to express," he said. "Sometimes, though, in reading their message, I had an impression that they speak to the church ... as if they are not in the church.

"We are not antagonistic bodies. We are, together, the church. So I'm afraid what comes out of their document is that they don't come across as being very self-critical," the bishop said.

In response to the criticism that the bishops are aligned with the Vatican, Bishop Cazabon said: "When it comes to the basic doctrinal content, of course, we are all one. When it comes to more disciplinary aspects, we are one on the main things. On the other hand, we as bishops, we are members of the college of bishops, and the head of this college is the pope. So we always try to accomplish our ministry with our brother bishops and with the pope.

. . .

Bishop Cazabon said he hoped the pope's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love"), would help dispel the image of the church as legalistic, another criticism in the letter.

Read the whole story

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