From the Pastor: One-Sided Dialogue
If you have not heard of Father Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap. by the time you read this, you need to get better Catholic information coming into your house. Really. It is that serious. This priest was just fired (sorry, he was forced to resign, not fired) for publicly stating his opinions about the “Hagan Lio!” of Pope Francis’ pontificate. (If you don’t recognize this phrase of the Pope, please look it up.) Pope Francis has encouraged “dialogue” about Church issues on more than one occasion. Yet Pope Francis has then derided and reprimanded and belittled publicly and, on other occasions, completely ignored and snubbed, those who ask for “real dialogue” about Church issues, by which I mean a conversation with people who do more than parrot his own words and ideas back to him. Those who simply ask him to clarify his teachings (and let’s face it, clarifying one’s position is much easier than engaging in dialogue) so as to either affirm constant Catholic theology and morality or to deny it, have been bashed and accused of treason and worse from some of the Pope’s most staunch supporters, with never a word of correction or call for civility from the Pope. Meanwhile, the Pope himself refuses to meet and “dialogue” about the issues which he himself raised and specifically encouraged “dialogue” about! And some of these men asking for clarity are Cardinals of the Church, no less! But more than just name calling, something more sinister is now picking up steam. One after another, those who attempt to “dialogue” about anything dealing with the Pope’s lack of clarity, or who point out the spiritual and moral dangers of a continued lack of clarity, are now being removed from their positions. Fr. Weinandy is not the first (think: Cardinal Burke, Professor Josef Seifert, to name but two), but due to his esteemed position as theologian to the United States Conference of Bishops, his is currently the most noteworthy example in these United States.
One of the things he specifically pointed out in his letter to the Pope was that even bishops are being intimidated into silence. "Many bishops are silent because they desire to be loyal to you, and so they do not express -- at least publicly; privately is another matter -- the concerns that your pontificate raises. Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse." His firing (oops, his forced resignation) proves the point as to what can happen, as a starting point, mind you, that is “worse”. The audacity of Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the current president of the USCCB, to write about his “departure” in a way that falsely accuses him of being uncharitable is despicable. The Cardinal puts on a show (the best way I can think of explaining it in a church bulletin) of desiring dialogue while snuffing it out here and elsewhere, now and in the future. Father Weinandy was fired (errr, resigned) the same day his letter to the Pope (which the Pope has still not answered, though it was sent in July) was made public. How much “dialogue” was there in those few hours? How many of the US Bishops were consulted or engaged in this “dialogue” before the firing? He accuses Fr. Weinandy of making this a “political – conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, pre-Vatican II vs Vatican II” issue, while he did no such thing. Please don’t just take my word on this: read his letter (read also his explanation of why he was finally convinced that Our Lord wanted him to write the letter in the first place. It is an incredible story). There is so much outrageous disingenuousness in Cardinal DiNardo’s explanation of Father’s “departure” that if it wasn’t posted on the USCCB website, I would think that it was a rather poor hoax or Russian Fake News. I hope that this does not go unanswered by any US Bishop who also wants the Pope to clarify his positions. I hope they rally around Fr. Weinandy instead of silently acquiescing to this travesty of justice, for if they are silent now, it is only a matter of time before they are next on the chopping block. They, too, will be increasingly bullied, intimidated and misrepresented to the people the moment they express any misgivings about the chaos that Pope Francis is causing.
Does the Capuchin priest really need this job? No. It is not like he is a layman losing his sole source of income which he needs to support his family. But it is certainly a warning to each and every US Catholic deacon, priest, and bishop to shut the heck up if they think the Pope needs to be more open and honest and clear about what he really believes and teaches. Will this intimidation tactic work or will it backfire? Only time will tell. The majority of Catholic clergy are already either silent or actively interpreting the Pope in non-Catholic ways. Perhaps this will be a clarion call to us: “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka