Retired Bishop Wants to Retire Doctrine, Discipline

News: Crisis in the Church
by Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  September 21, 2015   

He wants optional celibacy, women priests and Communion for divorced adulterers

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NEW YORK, September 21, 2015 ( - The Church should make celibacy for priests optional, allow women to become priests and let divorced and "remarried" adulterers receive Communion.

That's what Bishop Emeritus Francis A. Quinn, a retired Catholic prelate from Sacramento, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times this past weekend.

He begins his disagreement with the Church by distinguishing between doctrine and discipline and then — as is becoming more common heading into this fall's Synod on the Family — effectively pitting them against each other. "Basic doctrines will not change," he realizes. "But the church may change policies and practices after doing serious study."

Pope Francis has recently condemned the splitting of doctrine and discipline.

Next, he comes to the heart of his problems with the Church, which break into three main points of dissent: priestly celibacy; female ordination; and the "Kasper proposal," i.e., Communion for Catholics who have divorced and remarried without their first marriage ever having been declared null. In Bp. Quinn's opinion, these are the "three internal church conflicts" dividing American Catholics.

Regarding the first, he insists, "The church should start relieving the desperate shortage of clergy members by also accepting for ordination men of mature age, of proven character and in stable marriages."

Bishop Quinn believes that being married "enables better understanding of the lives of parishioners" and is thus, apparently, now a sufficient reason to overhaul the thousands of years of tradition in which that wasn't a problem.

With priestly celibacy out of the way, Bp. Quinn moves onto outright rejection of infallible teaching and questions the Church's lack of authority to ordain women. "Recent popes have said publicly that priesthood for women cannot be considered," he acknowledges, though attributing the decision simply to the fact that "the gospel and other documents state that Christ ordained men only."

"Yet women have shown great qualities of leadership: strength, intelligence, prayerfulness, wisdom, practicality, sensitivity and knowledge of theology and sacred Scripture," he argues. "Might the teaching church one day, taking account of changing circumstances, be inspired by the Holy Spirit to study and reinterpret this biblical tradition?"

Pope St. John Paul II's answer to that question was, quite simply: No, He won't. And the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in order to clarify the Church's infallibility on the matter, declared it part of the deposit of faith that the Church has never and will never have authority to ordain women.

The retired bishop finally moves onto the question that will in all likelihood light up the synod next month, namely the Kasper proposal to distort the Church's doctrine on the permanency of marriage.

"Valid marriages remain indissoluble," he admits. "However, in confession a priest, after reviewing the circumstances with a remarried penitent, already can assist that person to develop a clear conscience with God and resume receiving the Eucharist."

Hence, Bp. Quinn concludes, it's time for a third Vatican Council, because the first two didn't bestow the changes he desires. "Pope Francis prefers the simple title 'bishop of Rome.' So I ask my brother bishop: Should we not convene a third Vatican Council just as ethical and paradigm-shifting as Vatican Council II of the 1960s?"

Prominent liberal Catholics, like the Jesuit-run America magazine and celebrity priest Fr. James Martin, promptly promoted the Bp. Quinn's dissident piece on social media.


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