22 September 2011

Not Sufficiently "Pastoral"

The Rev. Michael Rodriguez was transferred to a new parish because his stance on morality and the upcoming recall election "raised serious issues regarding whether his participation could be attributed to the Diocese of El Paso" and his parish, El Paso Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa said.
In Fr. Rodriguez's column, "Every Catholic Must Oppose Certain Things", he writes,
I urge all of the Catholic faithful to treat homosexuals with love, understanding, and respect. At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls.
Abortion and homosexual acts are unequivocally intrinsic moral evils. And friends, this objective truth doesn't depend on the opinion of the majority. Frighteningly, if the majority chooses to deny the objective moral order, then we will all suffer the pestiferous consequences.
Bishop Ochoa distanced himself from such statements by responding in a column in the same paper:
I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church. The Church has been unmistakable about its consistent defense of the unborn … Likewise, the Church is a supporter of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. These teachings come from a tradition that wants to promote the good of society. My concern in writing this reflection is not to change these teachings, but to offer a more pastoral understanding in dealing with them. (emphasis added)
Note use of the well-worn term "pastoral" here.

As to Fr. Rodriguez's transfer, Bishop Ochoa raises the objection that Fr. Rodriguez's actions might jeopardize the diocese's non-profit 501(c)3 status by crossing over into political partisanship, but this is simply incorrect--the priest has done no more than clearly state Catholic doctrine in the public square, which he has every constitutional right to do. Priests for Life has been doing this for years, and they have been assured that their tax-exempt status is in no way threatened by doing so.

If you'd like to write the bishop a letter voicing your opinions, you may do so here: officeofthebishop@elpasodiocese.org