The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Nashville priest apologizes for statements on birth control, married priests

posted by jmcgee

His interview with a deacon sent out shockwaves a few weeks back, when it went viral and popped up on YouTube.

Now, the priest has apologized — and saved his job:

The Rev. Joseph Breen had a choice.

Retract and apologize for his statements criticizing Roman Catholic teaching on birth control and married priests and claiming that Catholics can ignore the pope.

Or face being forced from his parish.

On Friday the Diocese of Nashville announced that Breen, longtime pastor of St. Edward Catholic Church on Thompson Lane, has withdrawn his statements and apologized. He also announced plans to retire at the end of 2011.

Breen, 75, wrote letters of apology to the pope and to members of his parish. He also agreed not to repeat his claims in public settings or media interviews.

You can read more at the link.



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richard

posted August 21, 2010 at 5:50 pm


Convince a man against his will; he’s of the same oponion still.



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BobRN

posted August 21, 2010 at 10:34 pm


I don’t think the point was to convince Fr. Breen against his will, but to make it clear that his opinions don’t reflect the Church’s teaching. Regardless of his personal opinions, it was irresponsible of him, as a priest and pastor, to make public statements calling into doubt defined Church teachings, especially the respect and obedience we owe to the magisterium. His comments, then, had the potential to cause scandal; that is, convincing others that they can embrace or reject particular Catholic teachings according to their personal preferences.
He certainly owed an apology to his parishioners, and to others who might have been influenced by his remarks. I think Bishop Choby handled this about as well as it could have been. Kudos to Fr. Breen, for that matter, in realizing the deference he owes to his bishop and to the defined teachings of the Church.



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Jerome Cantor

posted August 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm


with regard to freedom of conscience, this differs from the Galileo incident, how?



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BobRN

posted August 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm


Galileo’s claims were made about certain scientific matters, based on his observations and calculations. The Church, being the arbitor of the universities and, thus, the scientific community, made demands on Galileo he could not abide. As such, he was placed under house arrest, though he was allowed to continue his scientific inquiries and did some of his best work at the time. A modern equivalence might be a scientist developing controversial theories about global warming. Today’s arbitors of the scientific community might punish such a one by refusing to publish his work, or firing him from his post at the university. A scientist, then, is free to abide by his conscience, but the scientific community may punish him in some ways if the scientific consensus is opposed to his conclusions.
Fr. Breen is a priest. As such, he is expected, and the Church that ordained him and placed him in his position as pastor has every right to expect of him, fidelity in teaching matters of Catholic faith and morals. As such, Fr. Breen is not free to exploit his position as priest and pastor to advance his own take on Catholicism. Should he choose to do so, his bishop has every right and, indeed, the responsibility, to call him to task and remove him from his position. Fr. Breen, and many others, want to eat their cake and have it, too. He wants to be a priest in good standing as a servant of the Church, while undermining the mission of the Church by preaching his own Gospel instead of that of the Church. Fr. Breen has only two honest options: resign from the priesthood and teach whatever you want, or submit to the authority of the bishop and continue to serve the Gospel of Christ through His Church as a priest in good standing. Happily, Fr. Breen chose the latter.



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jerome cantor

posted August 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm


BobRn: you castigate Father Breen for “preaching his own Gospel instead of that of the Church.”
Where does the “Gospel of Jesus” fit into this? Jesus, after all, spoke directly to none of the matters for which Father Breen is being condemned for speaking his conscience! “The Gospel of Jesus” was certainly different from the “Gospel of the Church” !
What you say, is that Father Breen, first and foremost, must “Follow orders” or else. Wasn’t that the Nuremberg defense of the Nazis on trial?
P.S. the only “controversy” about global warming is made by those for whom ideology supersedes facts.



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BobRN

posted August 23, 2010 at 9:47 pm


Jerome,
First, the example of global warming was only that: an example. No need to make more of it than necessary. Take the words “global warming” out of my post above and insert “overpopulation”, “effect of sun spots on terrestrial weather”, “impact of carp extinction on New England economy” or any other scientific topic and the analogy applies.
Now that that’s over with: You ask where the Gospel of Jesus fits into this, claiming that the Gospel of Jesus was “certainly different” from the Gospel of the Church. It’s not clear to me how you’re so certain of this, since in the NT Jesus identifies Himself with the Church, the Church is identified as the pillar and foundation of truth and the instrument by which the Gospel is revealed to the world. From a Catholic perspective, there is no difference between the Gospel of Jesus and the Gospel of the Church. The two are the same. Christ is the Head, the Church is His body. You can’t have one without the other.
You claim that Jesus didn’t speak to the matters for which Fr. Breen is being condemned. Fr. Breen isn’t being condemned, of course. He’s being disciplined. He will finish his term as pastor and retire in good standing with the Church. It would be difficult for a bishop to administer his responsibilities to teach, govern and sanctify as shepherd of his diocese if he couldn’t discipline an errant priest. As well, Jesus did speak to the authority of Peter when he extended to him the keys of the kingdom, with the authority to bind and lose. That is precisely the authority Fr. Breen recommends Catholics may ignore and still be good Catholics.
It’s true that the obedience a priest owes his bishop is not blind obedience. But, it’s also true that freedom of conscience is not freedom from truth. What the Catholic Church teaches to be true she holds to be true. Those who serve the Church are not free to replace what the Church holds to be true with what they hold to be true. A similar example might be a high school teacher who insists on teaching creationism to his biology class instead of evolution. He’s been hired as a biology teacher, so he’s not free to replace what science holds to be true with what he personally holds to be true, at least if he wants to keep his job. He may hold creationism to be true in his heart, and he may share that with his friends on his own time. But in his official capacity as a biology teacher, he is bound by his position to teach evolution. In the same way, Fr. Breen may hold his opinions to be true in his heart, and he may share them with friends with a cup of coffee. But he may not lend the authority of his Catholic priesthood to teaching doctrines contrary to Catholic faith and morals. Should he choose to do so, Bishop Choby has every right and responsibility to discipline him and even to remove him from his pastorate should he choose to be obstinate in the matter. Again, happily, Fr. Breen realized the proper limits to the freedom of his conscience, met the demands of discipline placed on him by Bishop Choby, and remains a priest in good standing. This is good news.



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BobRN

posted August 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm


Jerome,
The views above are those of the Church, entrusted with guarding the “rich deposit of faith” given her by Jesus.
Christ identifies Himself with the Church in John 15:1-10 and Acts 9:1-9. Paul, of course, gives us the image of the Church as the Body of Christ and Christ as Head of the Body in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. The bottom line is, Christ and the Church are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other, any more than you can have a relationship with someone’s head without having a relationship with his or her body. It’s impossible and gross.
The Church as pillar and foundation of the truth is proclaimed by St. Paul in 1 Timothy 3:15.
The Church as instrument by which the Gospel is made known to the world is found in the great commission at the end of the Gospel of Matthew and the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. It’s also manifest in the NT itself, which didn’t fall into our laps out of the sky, but was given to us through the Church: it was men of the Church who wrote the Bible and it was the Church that discerned and determined which Gospels and Epistles would be included in the NT.
St. Peter has been recognized as chief of the Apostles since the earliest centuries and his successors as bishop of Rome have been recognized as being invested in his authority, based on Matthew 16 and John 20, among others. See St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Augustine of Hippo and the Council of Ephesus, among others.
The Church is an institution, and it is the People of God, as well as the Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit, universal sacrament of salvation, etc… May I recommend “Models of the Church” by Avery Dulles, who reflects on the various roles and missions of the Church.
There is one Gospel, and that is the Gospel of Jesus, given to us through His Church. There is not a Gospel of Jesus and a Gospel of Benedict and a Gospel of Fr. Breen, any more than there is a baptism of Paul, Apollos and Cephus. Jesus entrusted His Church with the mission of proclaiming that Gospel to all the world. If a bishop, as successor of the apostles, is unable to discipline an errant priest, there is no way the Church can effectively communicate the Gospel to others.
If you aren’t Catholic and don’t hold to the Catholic Church’s understanding of herself, as reflected in Scripture and Tradition, that’s understandable from someone who isn’t Catholic. But the case of Fr. Breen is one of a Catholic priest being disciplined by a Catholic bishop on grounds of his publicly teaching doctrines contrary to Catholic faith and morals. The Church’s understanding of herself and her mission are central to the matter.



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BobRN

posted August 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm


Jerome,
The Church discerned a long time ago that all of the Scriptures were equally inspired and of equal value as the Word of God. Your distinction between the Gospel of John, the Epistles of Paul and the Synoptics is one the Church doesn’t recognize. Your dismissing, and in such derisive terms, John and Paul as lacking credibility to speak to the question of Christ’s identifying Himself with the Church makes you sound like a modern day Marcion.
It’s quite obvious that you don’t accept the teaching authority of the Church and of at least some of the Scriptures. Neither do you accept the authority of the Church to interpret Scripture. Rather, you accuse the Church of purposefully distorting “the meaning of the actual text”. Given that, I don’t see on what grounds we could possibly continue this discussion. I certainly have no plans to reject the authority of the Church and Scriptures in favor of the Gospel of Jerome Cantor.
Have a good day.



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RomCath

posted August 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm


Jerome,
Is there a question there? What exactly is your point?
Is is that the Catholic interpretation of the Gospels is all wrong?



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BobRN

posted August 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm


Jerome,
You misunderstand me. It’s not that I can’t or won’t refute your criticisms on their own merit. It’s that I find no merit in your criticisms.
We approach the mission and message of Jesus from different world views. I accept the teaching authority of the Church as Body of Christ, pillar and foundation of truth and instrument by which the Gospel of Christ is made known to the world.
On the other hand, you reject the Church’s authority to teach, interpret Scripture and discipline her priests. You also dismiss with derision the Gospel of John and the Epistles of Paul. Finally, you reject the LXX and the Vulgate. The only authority you offer for these positions, and the only merit to your criticism, is your own personal interpretation of the Scriptures and your own take on whether or not any particular book is authoritative or not.
Here is where I must ask you, are you serious? Are you really expecting me to reject the teaching authority of the Church on no merit other than Jerome Cantor disagrees, interprets differently and has a divergent opinion on the authority of certain Biblical books and ancient versions of Scripture? The Church possesses the great commission of Jesus Christ Himself and twenty centuries of prayer, reflection and discernment over the mission and message of her Savior. As far as I can tell, the only thing you possess is on over-inflated confidence in your ability to interpret the Scriptures.
I’m a registered nurse. I base my practice on the germ theory of illness and infection. If a patient were to come to me and insist that I create a plan of care for him based on the supposition that illness and infection are directly related to the type and shape of clouds in the sky on any given day, I would have to tell him that I have nothing to offer him. This is what I meant when I said there are no grounds on which to continue our conversation.



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RomCath

posted August 27, 2010 at 11:26 am


Dcn Greg
I think Mr Cantor’s anti-Catholic bias has crossed the line.



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BobRN

posted August 27, 2010 at 11:34 am


Jerome,
This is only to let you know that I will be contacting Dcn Kandra to recommend to him that your obscene and gratuitous attacks are way out of line. Your attempts to connect Bp Choby’s reasonable and charitable disciplining of an errant priest with Nazi terror, your accusing me of being anti-Semitic because I question your rejection of the LXX, and your lie that Hitler died as a Catholic in good standing (as if Hitler has anything to do with this matter) all cross the line of the bizarre and have no place, in my mind, on a blog that attempts to encourage intelligent, respectful discussion among those who have an interest in Catholicism.



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