Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Priest dismissed because of pro life homily?

Lifesite news recently reported that a priest in the diocese of Rockford, was dismissed because of daring to preach on Natural Family Planning (NFP). That does sound concerning so I researched it a bit.

I couldn't get hold of anyone at the parish but I did read the homily available on the Lifesite website. Even from reading the homily, I got a very different point of view of what happened than was reported by Lifesite news.

First of all, it wasn't a homily, but rather a sermon having little to do with the readings (the homily is supposed to be a clarification of or based on the readings of the day).

Second, it was rather long and he rambled on and on. In places, the sermon could have been called a rant.

Third, he was inflammatory toward doctors, categorizing all of them (he did not qualify his statements to say "some" or even "many") as money greedy and incompetent. I understand his ire toward the medical profession but spinning negative stereotypes during a sermon in church is very inappropriate.

Fourth, he recommended (for some reason) two secular books on NFP which he admitted DID advocate contraception which is against church law - there is a Billings website, there is couples-to-couples league, EWTN and one-small-life and lots of CATHOLIC groups putting out NFP information so why would he recommend two secular books which advocate contraception? Most concerning about that is that NFP is NOT "Catholic contraception" and should NOT be thought of as such. It is making conception a decision between two married people and then, leaving the door open for God to override in case He sees fit. VERY different idea from contraception and important for Catholics to understand the difference.

Fifth, although Fr Tom's sermon mentioned that NFP was God's Plan, the sermon had nothing whatsoever to DO with the season of Advent or getting ready for the coming of Jesus and God has little mention in the sermon or rant.

It is not surprising that several parishioners left the church in frustration especially as this may not have been the first time Fr Tom gave a similar talk.

Can't blame them. As pro life as I am, I think I would rather hear a HOMILY on the readings, during the holy season of Advent (and I heard some excellent ones which helped me get ready for Christmas). Mentioning pro life is very appropriate but doing a teaching on the mechanics of NFP (including how one does it) during Advent when one is supposed to be talking about the readings seems very inappropriate even to some of us who are pro life folks.

My bets are, his dismissal from the parish is NOT because he was talking about NFP from the pulpit but rather has to do with many factors, some of which may be:

  • That there may have been several complaints about his long Off Topic rants
  • The fact that he admitted he was hospitalized recently for an unnamed illness but in a 70 year old, every illness is serious - his health may just not be holding up well under the stress of parish work
  • That he seems to have no qualms about putting inflamatory statements into his sermons - those really don't do any good and can end up turning people away from the church

So now the diocese is likely finding him a position which will be easier on him energy-wise as well as discerning a place for him which will make the best use of his ardent pro life feelings and ability to teach NFP (maybe at this moment they are making a blog for him to write in!). :)

There are unfortunately, several pro life sources which have high visiblity, which do not check their information well and often write with a heavy bias.

Bad information from Catholics and/or pro lifers is as annoying as bad information from the press. In these days of spin we must question --- EVERYTHING....

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