Please comment on this letter


#1

I feel compelled to write a letter to a religious who is the Parish Life coordinator at a parish which has no priest assigned to it. After the service described in the letter I had a nice chat with the priest who presided at mass; he said that, although the bulletin lists him as Sacramental Minister, he is not assigned to the parish and disavowed any responsibility for or control over the announcements (although he was sympathetic to the one in question). This is the first time I've written such a letter, and would appreciate feedback before I send it.

Dear Sister XXX,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I was privileged to attend mass at St. XXX last Sunday morning, and appreciate the warm greeting you gave me after the service. I did enjoy my time in YYY.

I am, however, disturbed at the first announcement at the end of mass, which promoted Roy Bourgeois's talk in (a nearby city) that afternoon, characterized advocacy of a female priesthood as a matter of gender equality, and implicitly criticized the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for exercising its legitimate authority in removing him from the clerical state.

That the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women is a teaching of the ordinary universal Magesterium, and that teaching was made definitive by Blessed Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Catholics are obligated to adhere to this teaching by the obedience of faith, and are not free to either teach against it or to advocate the contrary position. To promote Mr. Bourgeois's appearance gives scandal.

In the announcement you said that we are not permitted to even speak about the ordination of women. I have never head this before; could you please provide me a reference to any official document from either the Bishop of your Diocese, or some other authoritative agent of the Church, which says that? No merely that we can't advocate it (as we can't advocate, for example, murder), but that we can't even speak of it (as we can speak of murder). I've spent some time trying to find such a document, without success.

I assure you of my prayers for you, thank you for whatever consideration you can give to my questions, and remain

Yours in Christ,

Thanks in advance for any suggestions. I suspect that I'll end up forwarding it to the Bishop, along with any response.


#2

Add a "t" after No in the fourth paragraph. I assume you mean "Not merely".

"In the announcement you said that we are not permitted to even speak about the ordination of women. I have never head this before"

personally, I think that would be a fine paragraph on its own. Short and declarative.

Do you really want sources or this this to goad her? Just wondering - do everything with the spirit of love and mercy to build up not destroy. Especially those we disagree with.

PS I would be distrubed by similar announcements.

Good letter.


#3

[quote="hilde_the_dog, post:2, topic:315697"]
Add a "t" after No in the fourth paragraph. I assume you mean "Not merely".

"In the announcement you said that we are not permitted to even speak about the ordination of women. I have never head this before"

personally, I think that would be a fine paragraph on its own. Short and declarative.

Do you really want sources or this this to goad her? Just wondering - do everything with the spirit of love and mercy to build up not destroy. Especially those we disagree with.

PS I would be distrubed by similar announcements.

Good letter.

[/quote]

Thanks. I'm not trying to goad her, just trying to get most of the elements in, in a way that can resonably expect a reply. She also talked about Bourgeois speaking out as a matter of conscience; I'd like to get in a mention of the obligation to properly form one's conscience but I think I've got enough already.


#4

Please accept this response as one that found your letter to be quite charitable and well formed but not the way to handle things. First, have you ever read anything on this forum that disturbed you or you found not very charitable then when the person who made the statement is challenged they immediately apologize and restate their position? It is the nature of communicating by writing as opposed to in person that misunderstandings can happen. The tone of voice, body language, etc. are lost when we choose to write rather than talk. My first choice, always, is to do the person I have an issue with the courtesy of meeting them face to face. Then my intent in the conversation can be clarified immediately if misunderstood. And, just FYI, it seemed to me also that you may be trying to goad her, which as you explained in your reply that you were not. Why not just take a moment to talk with her, even on the phone is better than writing.


#5

It seems a measured response... but I'm not sure about the penultimate paragraph about her use of hyperbole saying she can't even speak about that issue.

As it is not permissible for a person to teach against the churches teaching on this matter, If she does strongly disagree, then she should indeed consider herself to be prohibited from speaking on the matter anywhere that her opinions expressed or implied could be considered to be authoritative to representative of a valid interpretation of church teaching on the matter.

I spent about 10 years being careful to avoid the topic of Marian Devotion, the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption as I was unable to understand these and had been polluted with protestant heresies. I was led to accept the importance of the infallibility of the Magisterium and the Pope, so avoided discussing these issues with anyone who was not likely to be able to help me come to terms with, understand and accept them.
Between a discussion with a Nun at a Youth 2000 conference (in 2001), who convinced me of the importance of infallibility, and therefore the necessity to accept the teachings even if I couldn't understand them, and attending a talk by Steve Ray at New Dawn in 2011 I tried to come to an understanding about the issue.
Steve Ray (at speaking New Dawn) was the person who was finaly able to explain these theologies in a way I was able to understand, accept and see the total necessity of.

I suspect this nun is trying to pay lip service to this self-censorship, but is seriously breaching the spirit of it and the requirements of cannon law by promoting from within the church, a talk by a person who is directly attacking the teachings of the Church.

The temption to start quoting cannon law and the catechism would be very strong if I was in your shoes, but I think you've written a much better letter. You may, however, want to tone down that penultimate paragraph.


#6

Thanks for the continued feedback. How about this instead:?:
Also, I’m curious about your statements that we’re not allowed to even speak about the issue of women’s ordination, and that is was necessary for Mr. Bourgeois to speak out in good conscience. I was under the impression that we’re free to speak of both the existence of the position favoring it and the reasons given, in the same way that we’re free to speak of, e.g., the existence of the Protestant rebellion and the reasons given for it. And it’s also been my understanding that we are responsible for ensuring that our consciences are properly formed in the light of the teaching of Christ’s Church, and that if there exists a teaching that we don’t understand or that displeases us we are called to work by grace to conform ourselves to it. Could you please clarify?


#7

As far as not being permitted to speak about it, I remember one of my theology professors in the '90’s told us the same thing. There was a monitum (I think that is what it was called) which prohibited any discussion of the matter that questioned the teaching, as it was considered a “case closed” issue. The monitum was issued by the CDF.


#8

[quote="opus101, post:7, topic:315697"]
As far as not being permitted to speak about it, I remember one of my theology professors in the '90's told us the same thing. There was a monitum (I think that is what it was called) which prohibited any discussion of the matter that questioned the teaching, as it was considered a "case closed" issue. The monitum was issued by the CDF.

[/quote]

That's my point: there's a difference between speaking about an idea and advocating it. We can do the former, but not the latter.


#9

I would take out the last part of the letter - here is how I would edit it, below.

Also, it is seems that Bl. JPII implicitly said that Catholics are not to advocate for it anymore - that is is a closed issue (see the Apostolic Letter you mentioned in your own letter:
vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_22051994_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html)

I would tell your bishop, also. Perhaps copy this to him. To advocate for something like this from the pulpit is a pretty serious matter, and suggests that the person running your parish knows full well what they are up to, and should probably be removed from the position.

Dear Sister XXX,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I was privileged to attend mass at St. XXX last Sunday morning.

I am, however, disturbed at the first announcement at the end of mass, which promoted Roy Bourgeois’s talk in (a nearby city) that afternoon, characterized advocacy of a female priesthood as a matter of gender equality, and implicitly criticized the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for exercising its legitimate authority in removing him from the clerical state.

That the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women is a teaching of the ordinary universal Magisterium, and that teaching was made definitive by Blessed Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Catholics are obligated to adhere to this teaching by the obedience of faith, and are not free to either teach against it or to advocate the contrary position. To promote Mr. Bourgeois’s appearance gives scandal.

I appreciate in advance your response.

Yours in Christ,


#10

Hmmm. Yes - does that paragraph actually help the letter? I suppose not.

This parish is in a different diocese. I considered copying the Bishop but decided to contact her privately first. On the other hand, is there a reply she can give that would convince me that she’ll refrain from this kind of thing in the future? I suppose not - it’s certain that she already knows that she shouldn’t be doing it, because she said as much in the announcement.


#11

Neophyte, I think it is a wonderful letter and you have my admiration in being able to write a letter like that. I would have put her on the defensive from the get-go. I am not very diplomatic and my choice of words often does more harm than good.

I would send it as is. Maybe she will respond. Somehow I doubt it though.


#12

[quote="Lormar, post:11, topic:315697"]
Neophyte, I think it is a wonderful letter and you have my admiration in being able to write a letter like that. I would have put her on the defensive from the get-go. I am not very diplomatic and my choice of words often does more harm than good.

[/quote]

Thank you, but I don't deserve much cred. I assure you that the first version wasn't very charitable, and I've spent the last five days in prayer rewriting it.

[quote="Lormar, post:11, topic:315697"]
Maybe she will respond. Somehow I doubt it though.

[/quote]

Me too.


#13

A very well-formed and charitable letter, in my opinion. A lot more charitable than I would be. I tend more toward St. Jerome's style when it comes to calling people who claim to be Catholic - much less a professed religious - out on heresy. :D


#14

[quote="Monkey1976, post:13, topic:315697"]
A very well-formed and charitable letter, in my opinion. A lot more charitable than I would be. I tend more toward St. Jerome's style when it comes to calling people who claim to be Catholic - much less a professed religious - out on heresy. :D

[/quote]

Personally I take after St. Nicholas, my name-sake(Saint?) :thumbsup:


#15

You do know that St Nicholas actually once punched Arius? I certainly hope you don’t take after him in that respect :eek:


#16

As providence would have it, toward the end of my holy hour this morning, shortly after asking for guidance, Father came in to repose the Blessed Sacrament on account of the weather. His counsel was to not bother talking with her because she clearly knows that she's not supposed to be doing what she's doing, and to just write the Bishop. Here's what I said:
Most Reverend ---

Bishop of ---

Your Excellency,

On February 17, 2013, I attended mass at St. ---'s Church in ---, and was deeply disturbed by an announcement that was made from the pulpit at the end of the service. I want to make sure that you know of the scandal happening among your flock.

Apparently Mr. Roy Bourgeois (a former Catholic priest who was canonically dismissed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for his participation in the attempted ordination of a woman, and for his obstinate refusal to recant his positions in favor of the ordination of women) was giving a talk at --- Church in --- that afternoon. According to newspaper articles, the topic was "A Priest Speaks His Conscience: The Struggle for Justice and Gender Equality in the Catholic Church."

In the announcement at St. ---'s, Sr. X promoted his appearance, implicitly supported the ordination of women, and implicitly criticized the CDF for exercising its legitimate authority in removing him from the clerical state. She specifically characterized the ordination of women as a matter of "gender equality", and said that "we are not allowed to even speak of the ordination of women, but as a matter of conscience Roy Bourgeois had to speak out. And for that, he was laicized." Her tone of voice made it clear that she thought that this was an outrage, and someone in the congregation gasped in agreement with her.

After the conclusion of mass I spoke with the presiding minister, Fr. Y, who said that he isn't assigned to that parish and has no control over the announcements, and that I needed to speak with Sr. X. By that time the place appeared empty, and I needed to leave.

Under other circumstances I'd write to Sr. X before contacting you, but she has already made it clear that she knows that what she's doing is an impermissible advocacy of a position which is contrary to the teachings of the Church.

I look forward to your reply, assure you of my prayers for you, and remain

Yours in Christ.
Hopefully something will be done to correct this.


#17

If she is religious, the Bishop might not be the best person to go to, as he will have no means discipline her. If you do write a letter, her superior would be the way to go.

In this case, it'd be like if you wanted to lodge a complaint against customer service, but you wrote a letter and sent it to the head of technical support.


#18

[quote="Melchior, post:17, topic:315697"]
If she is religious, the Bishop might not be the best person to go to, as he will have no means discipline her. If you do write a letter, her superior would be the way to go.

In this case, it'd be like if you wanted to lodge a complaint against customer service, but you wrote a letter and sent it to the head of technical support.

[/quote]

The bishop can remove her from her position in his parish as "administrator".

I would certainly send a copy or write a separate letter to her superior.


#19

Capitalize "Mass."


#20

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