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San Diego (ChurchMilitant.com) - San Diego's Cdl. Robert McElroy is doubling down on his position that unrepentant sodomites and the divorced-and-remarried should not be barred from Holy Communion.
McElroy published another article on Thursday in pro-gay America Magazine titled "Cardinal McElroy responds to his critics on sexual sin, the Eucharist, and LGBT and divorced/remarried Catholics." In it, he argues that conscience and pastoral approaches in moral matters can be superior to Church doctrine. It is a follow-up to a January article that received significant backlash from both the laity and clergy.
The heterodox prelate claims, "For every member of the church, it is conscience to which we have the ultimate responsibility and by which we will be judged. For that reason, while Catholic teaching has an essential role in moral decision-making, it is conscience that has the privileged place."
"Those who oppose elements of the pastoral mission of Pope Francis," he continues, "frequently argue that doctrine cannot be superseded by the pastoral. It is equally important to recognize that the pastoral cannot be eclipsed by doctrine."
McElroy attempts to argue that an undue emphasis was given to different sexual sins by the Church in the 17th century, which is incompatible with the lived experience of the Church.
"The moral tradition that all sexual sins are grave matter springs from an abstract, deductivist and truncated notion of the Christian moral life that yields a definition of sin jarringly inconsistent with the larger universe of Catholic moral teaching," McElroy posits.
The article is likely a response to a piece written by Illinois' Bp. Thomas Paprocki, who lays out the case for a heretical cardinal without naming McElroy specifically.
Paprocki declares, "Unfortunately, it is not uncommon today to hear Catholic leaders affirm unorthodox views that, not too long ago, would have been espoused only by heretics."
He goes on to correct McElroy regarding Holy Communion:
The truth about eucharistic coherence that must be believed by divine and Catholic faith was articulated by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians: "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord ... For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."
Paprocki's piece led to Tyler, Texas' Bp. Joseph Strickland tweeting, "Thank you Bishop Paprocki for your clear and important article. It needed to be said and needs to be addressed for the good of the Church."
Thank you Bishop Paprocki for your clear and important article. It needed to be said and needs to be addressed for the good of the Church. https://t.co/WfRyUrtULV— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) February 28, 2023
Other American prelates slammed McElroy's statements.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of Kansas City, Kansas, responded:
Cardinal McElroy appears to believe that the church for 2,000 years has exaggerated the importance of her sexual moral teaching, and that radical inclusion supersedes doctrinal fidelity, especially in the area of the church's moral teaching regarding human sexuality. In my opinion, this is a most serious and dangerous error. Our understanding of sexual morals significantly impacts marriage and family life. The importance of marriage and family to society, culture, the nation and the church cannot be overestimated.
The retired archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, answered in an interview, "Cardinal McElroy clearly and courageously wrote about his convictions. Unfortunately many of his convictions are wrong and contrary to the faith of the Church. I'm surprised — and what's worse, many good people are confused and scandalized — that he hasn't been publicly corrected by the Holy See."
Lincoln, Nebraska's Bp. James Conley, in another column, explains:
There is, nonetheless, often the notion that somehow doctrinal fidelity is in tension or even at odds with pastoral concerns. The truths of the faith, so the thinking goes, are not as important as the unqualified welcoming of all. It is as if the purpose of the Church is to create a safe space. This is both wrong and dangerous. The Church should never be satisfied to leave a person in his or her sin. This is a false idea of love and a disservice to the sinner. We are called to love the sinner so that he or she may live within the light of truth, a reality that is both liberating and one that saves.
Denver's archbishop, Samuel Aquila, remarked in his commentary:
Cardinal McElroy's reflection paints the Church as an institution that harms due to its incapacity to welcome everyone into full participation in the life of the Church. According to His Eminence, the Church categorically discriminates, but did not Jesus himself put demands on his disciples which distinguished them from those who did not respond to the radical and costly call of the Gospel?
Yet to all of these claims, McElroy doubles down, "First, the Lord embraces the person, then he heals them. Then he calls the person to reform."
McElroy seemingly goes on to suggest God's grace is not sufficient, relating, "Every disciple encounters certain enormously complex circumstances that consistently prevent him or her from living out the teaching of the church in its fullness. Those who are divorced and remarried or sexually active members of the L.G.B.T. communities are among them."
Meeting people with mercy and compassion is not something orthodox prelates are at odds with, but calling the sinner to conversion is something consistently lacking in the heterodox camp.
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