PARRAMATTA, Australia (ChurchMilitant.com) - Two Franciscan friars, including a distinguished bioethicist and moral theologian, have been censured for criticizing a pro-LGBTQ+ school curriculum imposed by Bp. Vincent Long Van Nguyen on Catholic schools in the diocese of Parramatta.
The canonical sanctions were read after every Mass in all parishes run by the Conventual Franciscans in Australia on the feast of the order's founder St. Francis of Assisi — the day Pope Francis published Fratelli Tutti (Brothers All).
While the letter of censure against Rev. Dr. Paschal Corby and Br. Louis Mary Schmid was signed by provincial Fr. Michael Zielke, "the witch hunt was most certainly triggered off by Bp. Long, who is also a member of the order of Conventual Franciscans," multiple sources from Parramatta diocese told Church Militant.
"We cannot commend these friars for their actions," since they "have not only not presented the truth, but their words have been interpreted as defaming the bishop of the diocese of Parramatta," the provincial's letter stated.
Zielke rebuked the friars for acting "as jury and judge" and inferring that Bp. Long's views "are heretical" and "one even implying that his views are influenced by the Devil."
"Their opinions are not the views of the Conventual Franciscans, and we fully support Bp. Vincent and his pastoral initiatives," the provincial emphasized, ordering, "that from this point on, their pastoral involvement with the flock of Christ will change and be restricted."
Australian Catholics are outraged at the friars' humiliation, especially as Corby — a winner of the 2017 Sub Auspiciis Award for the publication of outstanding dissertations — is renowned for his scholarship in the field of bioethics and moral theology.
The bioethicist has a doctorate from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome and teaches at the Catholic Theological College, Melbourne.
In a Fathers' Day sermon on Sept. 6, Fr. Corby asked the faithful to pray "for priests and bishops to be faithful in passing on the fullness of God's plan and teaching clearly," which "too many today are failing in — by preaching error, undermining the moral teaching of the Church [and] causing scandal among the faithful."
Corby urged the congregation to pray for Pope Francis and "for our bishops, that they will be less intent on accommodating the world and its distortions and so preach the gospel in its fullness." He named "one close to our hearts here in the parish of St. Joseph's — I mean Bp. Vincent. It is because we love him that I say this."
Bishop Vincent has come under scrutiny in the media in recent times, both religious and secular, for by his actions and preaching, especially in his confused response to gay marriage and his accommodation of the ideology of gender fluidity, now enshrined in the religious education program of his diocese, he is not leading the people of God to truth, but into error, and scandalizing the faithful.
"Tolerance, as it is forced down our throats in society today," Corby said, "has no place in the gospel of Christ, for it denies truth; it leads to moral relativism and denies the need for conversion."
Brother Schmid provoked the wrath of Bp. Long for disclosing on Facebook how "many friars do not agree with the [bishop's] controversial actions and words," sources told Church Militant.
Although the provincial accuses the friars of publicly criticizing Bp. Long instead of seeking a private dialogue on the matter, Schmid writes in his Sept. 4 post: "We have made ourselves known to the appropriate authority. As with all faithful Catholics, we pray that our bishops will be faithful shepherds of the Church."
God "calls us to conversion, to go and sin no more, to recognize our sins as they are, not to compromise in the name of a false, misguided inclusive compassion, which is a deception from headquarters in Hell," Schmid added, noting that compromise "has unfortunately influenced clergy of the hierarchy within the Church."
A source told Church Militant how parishioners were shocked after Fr. David Blowey, delegate of the Franciscans' provincial, read out the letter of censure after Mass at the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary at Kellyville in Sydney.
Faithful Catholics wrote dozens of comments supporting Fr. Corby and Br. Schmid. One Catholic parent said he and his family would no longer be attending the parish.
Fr. Blowey said neither parish staff, friars, nor diocese would be answering questions from the public.
Church Militant wrote to Bp. Long's office. The diocesan communications office responded, asking us to direct our query to the provincial of the Franciscans "as this is a matter internal to them."
Last month, Church Militant reported on the diocese facing meltdown with the cathedral's dean, Fr. Robert Bossini, resigning, traditionalist priest Fr. John Rizzo silenced, and faithful clerics warned not to talk to the media.
Thousands of Catholics signed two petitions demanding Long's removal for imposing a radical sex education program on Catholic schools in the diocese.
According to Sydney's The Daily Telegraph, "Instead of being taught to know God in their religion classes, or even how to pray or live their faith, Parramatta's Catholic students will be taught 'to recognize sexuality as an exploration in forming personal identity.'"
This week, Pope Francis summoned apostolic nuncio Abp. Adolfo Tito Yllana to Rome in order to learn more about the transfer of 700,000 euros ($1 million Australian) by disgraced cardinal Angelo Becciu to Australia to allegedly bribe false witnesses in the 2018 trial of Cdl. George Pell.
Sources in Parramatta told Church Militant that the papal envoy has ignored hundreds of complaints against Bp. Long.
In June, Fr. Zielke cosigned a Franciscan manifesto "in solidarity with all people of good will in grieving the death of George Floyd." The letter disingenuously claimed that St. Francis "dialogued with the Sultan of Egypt during the divisive animosity of the crusades," rather than seeking to evangelize the Sultan — a narrative pushed by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti.