A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO DEALING WITH DISSIDENT OR ERRONEOUS PRIESTS
**It is very easy for someone to misinterpret their priest, or in some other way not understand what the priest did or said.
Thus, unless the situation is one of sexual abuse or some other matter like that where a person needs to go directly to the bishops, the first step is to confront the priest.
One needs to be prepared with documentation and with a loving heart. It is important to give the benefit of the doubt to the priest at the beginning. Ask him, for example, *“Father, last Sunday in your homily I thought you said something to the effect of ____________. Did I hear you correctly?”
Then when the Priest answers and confirms that you heard correctly, ask, “Father, thank you for confirming that. I guess my question then is how does your statement fit into Church teaching?” The Catechism says ____________.
*Do not get emotional; stay business-like. Do not be accusatory rather act more like a journalists interviewing someone. If the priest did do or say what one thinks they did or say, then the goal is to gather as much evidence from the priest’s own mouth to support the fact that the priest is doing something contrary to Church teaching.
Thus this first encounter is to confirm whether or not the Priest really did say and mean, or do, something improper. If he didn’t do or say anything improper, then this step clears up the misunderstanding. Otherwise, this step is a gathering of information; not a session of accusation.
**Now with solid evidence in hand – the priest own words; and the documentation from the Church – one can go the next step if the priest will not correct his mistake.
Write a letter to the bishop marked CONFIDENTIAL. Explain what you witnessed in business-like and journalistic-like language and tone. Describe the meeting with the Priest and report as accurately as possible what the priest said. Suggest to the bishop that something is wrong since what the priest has done or said does not seem to jive with Church teaching, AS YOU UNDERSTAND the catechism, or whatever document.
At this point, your duty has been met for the most part.
**If the situation is one of grave concern, such as an issue of heresy, schism, major scandal, or otherwise something that could gravely harm the Faithful or the Church, then you may consider writing a letter to the Vatican, to the appropriate dicastery that handles situations of the type in question.
Throughout this process one should be in prayer for the priest and the bishop.
Depending on the situation, once you go to the bishop or the Holy See, then your duty is done. It is up to the competent authority to handle the situation or not as they see fit.
For us, however, we should continue to practice our Faith the way it should be practiced, with no bitterness, but with prayer for the situation in question.
by Bro. Ignatius Mary, posted with permission[/left]