Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Tasting the Fruit of the USCCB

November 3rd, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Priests and laity slam US bishops conference for sacking theologian critical of Pope

The full text of Father Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis (just released)




July 31, 2017
Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Your Holiness,

I write this letter with love for the Church and sincere respect for your office.  You are the Vicar of Christ on earth, the shepherd of his flock, the successor to St. Peter and so the rock upon which Christ will build his Church.  All Catholics, clergy and laity alike, are to look to you with filial loyalty and obedience grounded in truth.  The Church turns to you in a spirit of faith, with the hope that you will guide her in love.

Yet, Your Holiness, a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate.  The light of faith, hope, and love is not absent, but too often it is obscured by the ambiguity of your words and actions.  This fosters within the faithful a growing unease.  It compromises their capacity for love, joy and peace.  Allow me to offer a few brief examples.

First there is the disputed Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.  I need not share my own concerns about its content.  Others, not only theologians, but also cardinals and bishops, have already done that.  The main source of concern is the manner of your teaching.  In Amoris Laetitia, your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching.  As you wisely note, pastors should accompany and encourage persons in irregular marriages; but ambiguity persists about what that “accompaniment” actually means.  To teach with such a seemingly intentional lack of clarity inevitably risks sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.  The Holy Spirit is given to the Church, and particularly to yourself, to dispel error, not to foster it.  Moreover, only where there is truth can there be authentic love, for truth is the light that sets women and men free from the blindness of sin, a darkness that kills the life of the soul.  Yet you seem to censor and even mock those who interpret Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia in accord with Church tradition as Pharisaic stone-throwers who embody a merciless rigorism.   This kind of calumny is alien to the nature of the Petrine ministry.  Some of your advisors regrettably seem to engage in similar actions.  Such behavior gives the impression that your views cannot survive theological scrutiny, and so must be sustained by ad hominemarguments.

Second, too often your manner seems to demean the importance of Church doctrine.  Again and again you portray doctrine as dead and bookish, and far from the pastoral concerns of everyday life.  Your critics have been accused, in your own words, of making doctrine an ideology.  But it is precisely Christian doctrine – including the fine distinctions made with regard to central beliefs like the Trinitarian nature of God; the nature and purpose of the Church; the Incarnation; the Redemption; and the sacraments – that frees people from worldly ideologies and assures that they are actually preaching and teaching the authentic, life-giving Gospel.  Those who devalue the doctrines of the Church separate themselves from Jesus, the author of truth.  What they then possess, and can only possess, is an ideology – one that conforms to the world of sin and death.

Third, faithful Catholics can only be disconcerted by your choice of some bishops, men who seem not merely open to those who hold views counter to Christian belief but who support and even defend them.  What scandalizes believers, and even some fellow bishops, is not only your having appointed such men to be shepherds of the Church, but that you also seem silent in the face of their teaching and pastoral practice.  This weakens the zeal of the many women and men who have championed authentic Catholic teaching over long periods of time, often at the risk of their own reputations and well-being.  As a result, many of the faithful, who embody the sensus fidelium, are losing confidence in their supreme shepherd.

Fourth, the Church is one body, the Mystical Body of Christ, and you are commissioned by the Lord himself to promote and strengthen her unity.  But your actions and words too often seem intent on doing the opposite.  Encouraging a form of “synodality” that allows and promotes various doctrinal and moral options within the Church can only lead to more theological and pastoral confusion.  Such synodality is unwise and, in practice, works against collegial unity among bishops.

Holy Father, this brings me to my final concern.  You have often spoken about the need for transparency within the Church.  You have frequently encouraged, particularly during the two past synods, all persons, especially bishops, to speak their mind and not be fearful of what the pope may think.  But have you noticed that the majority of bishops throughout the world are remarkably silent?  Why is this?  Bishops are quick learners, and what many have learned from your pontificate is not that you are open to criticism, but that you resent it.  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.

I have often asked myself: “Why has Jesus let all of this happen?”   The only answer that comes to mind is that Jesus wants to manifest just how weak is the faith of many within the Church, even among too many of her bishops.  Ironically, your pontificate has given those who hold harmful theological and pastoral views the license and confidence to come into the light and expose their previously hidden darkness.  In recognizing this darkness, the Church will humbly need to renew herself, and so continue to grow in holiness.

Holy Father, I pray for you constantly and will continue to do so.  May the Holy Spirit lead you to the light of truth and the life of love so that you can dispel the darkness that now hides the beauty of Jesus’ Church.

Sincerely in Christ,

Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.


14 Responses to “Tasting the Fruit of the USCCB”

  1. avatar BigE says:

    I’m not a fan of what Fr. Weinandy wrote. And I love Pope Francis. But I hate it whenever someone (from either side of the conservative or liberal aisle) stifles conversation and dialogue. There was certainly an injustice done here.

  2. avatar Eliza10 says:

    I am so glad to read this. Father Weingandy writes exactly and succinctly the very things that so concern me. Yes, Francis is the Pope of Confusion. I don’t know what to do with these concerns, real concerns, while I do know Jesus did not make a mistake allowing him to be Pope, in spite of the very concerning questions. So I pray everyday for Pope Francis, out of obedience. Sometimes when I say, “…and for all of his intentions”, I add a little “as long as they are what you want, Lord”. But most of the time I just swallow hard, and think, “You know what I mean, Lord.”

    But I search my mind for why. I think when you are a holy person and obedient to your holy orders, God grants wisdom, and it seems Fr. Weingrandy, a goo man, also wondered, “God, why would you allow this?”

    I love Father Weinandy’s answer, above, and here:

    “I have often asked myself: “Why has Jesus let all of this happen?” The only answer that comes to mind is that Jesus wants to manifest just how weak is the faith of many within the Church, even among too many of her bishops. Ironically, your pontificate has given those who hold harmful theological and pastoral views the license and confidence to come into the light and expose their previously hidden darkness. In recognizing this darkness, the Church will humbly need to renew herself, and so continue to grow in holiness.”

    I think Father Weinandy’s thoughts must be it. There are so many priests and bishops who we can see do not walk in the light. Now they are being given the freedom not to hide that, and not to leave any room for doubt what are their true allegiances. I think it’s important to acknowledge the reality that that is where many priests and bishops stand, and then not pay them any more heed than is necessary, but instead turn our eyes to the light, and stay in prayer and in God’s will in our day. I also think that those who are lukewarm do not the want to see doctrinal truth, and the best we can do is pray for them while we stay in the light (and be prepared to stand up for truth, with the help of God).

  3. avatar annonymouse says:

    Anything specific in his letter that you’d disagree with, E, or do you simply disagree with his decision to write the letter?

    He is convinced that it was not his decision to write the letter – that he left it in the Lord’s hands and got the clear signal he was seeking.

  4. avatar BigE says:

    I thought I was pretty clear: I fully support both Fr.Weinandy’s right and his desire to write the letter in the name of on going dialogue.
    As to what I’d disagree with (to sum it up succinctly): his opinion that Pope Francis has not been good for the Church.

  5. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    As I read this I thought, “I’d really like to hear legitimate objections to the content of this letter. How can anyone really object to the issues being raised?” Even Mueller and Buttiglione’s firm responses that AL should be considered completely orthodox doesn’t answer the issues raised by this letter.

  6. avatar annonymouse says:

    So, E, you think that Francis’ pontificate has been good for the Church, yet you won’t take issue with anything specific in Father Weinandy’s letter. Do you disagree that those matters that so concern Father Weinandy (and, if you believe the circumstances that led him to write and publish his letter, so concern the Lord Himself), if true (and they most certainly all are!), are very BAD for the Church?

  7. avatar BigE says:

    Yes, I think Pope Francis pontificate has been good for the Church.
    And yes, I take issue with many of the good Fathers points. Why hash it out here when many of those points are just opinion?…ie he doesn’t like some of the Bishops appointed…he thinks the unity of the Church has been hurt…all just opinion.
    And AL has been hashed out by both sides ad nauseum. I’ve already stated my case on this site on that too. Don’t need to waste my time doing it again.
    I only supported the Father’s right to write the letter without punishment. The right to voice his “opinion”.

  8. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    If in fact Father Weinandy’s observations are accurate, there are no legitimate objections to the content of the letter to His Holiness, Pope Francis. It is heartbreaking that such a letter was deemed necessary to be written in the first place.

    CF readers might find it interesting that Edward Pentin publicly addressed the issue of fear in the Vatican and unwillingness to criticize Father Weinandy made his letter public and was fired.

  9. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Oops, my previous post is unclear.
    The last line should finish: “…..unwillingness to criticize before Father Weinandy made his letter public and was fired.”

    I believe The conference at which Edward Pentin spoke took place the weekend before Father Weinandy’s firing.

    The Video of Pentin’s talk can be accessed here:

  10. avatar christian says:

    I stand with Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.

    I agree with the content of his letter to Pope Francis.

    I disagree with the US bishops conference for firing him over his succinct, accurate, and well-written letter.

    Pope Francis appeared to appeal to the masses when he voiced his concern for the poor and publicly observed a standard of humility by taking a bus or small compact ordinary car for transportation, as well as continuing to wear the black shoes of a priest or bishop, rather than the red shoes of a pope.

    But in my own opinion, the crux of humility comes with the willingness of being open to others criticism and input, giving it sincere contemplation, being willing to admit if you’ve missed the mark, and taking actions to rectify your mistakes.

    An atmosphere of fear and the reprisal of termination are not the fruits of goodness and humility in my estimation.

  11. avatar christian says:

    One thing that occurred to me, (which might be incidental to some), is the dated reference of Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy’s letter to the Pope, “July 31, 2017, Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola.” The USCCB could have contended that this Franciscan-based priest displayed hubris in addressing the Pope and taking him to task on the Feast Day of the Pope’s religious order (Jesuit’s founder-St. Ignatius Loyola).

    Words from the Gospel reading of the Solemnity of the Feast of All Saints come to me, regarding the sacking of Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.:

    “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
    -Matthew Chap.5,10-12

    It may be a time of rejection, misfortune, and sadness for Fr. Weinandy currently. But Fr. Weinandy will go down in history as one who loved God and his Church so much, that he was willing to put himself and his future on the line in bringing attention to concerns he had with the Pope’s teaching, with of fraternal love.

  12. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Having had a little exposure to canonical communications to and from Rome I would just like to clarify that the practice of dating communications with the feast date is fairly common, and that it is not a singular practice for this instance. Therefore, it would not seem likely to be for insult. I think the implied tone would be more of an honor to St. Ignatius, rather than an insult, but of course we can’t read each other’s motives anyway. Perhaps Pope Francis did take it a “hubris.”

  13. avatar christian says:

    I know it is a typical to state the feast day along with the date of a letter in canonical communications, but I was questioning whether the timing and dating of the letter, having falling on the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, was seen as an affront to Pope Francis and the USCCB. You are correct. We may not know others’ motives or how they will be read by those for who they were intended.

    Interestingly, I just came across an article where Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, makes reference to St. Ignatius Loyola with regard to Fr. Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis.

  14. avatar raymondfrice says:

    I received a communication from the archdioceses of New York last Wednesday and it had on its heading “The Feast of All Saints”. It is my understanding that churches use the Catholic feast as a reminder that there are two calendars: the secular and the Church.

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