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CANADIAN RELIGIOUS CONFERENCE REDISCOVERS THE PROPHETIC MOMENT

ted schmidt

by Ted Schmidt

Courage is nowhere
Prudence is everywhere
and we shall all die of wisdom

Cardinal Leo Suenens

Corporately we are totally co-opted, part of the system, enjoying the benefits too much to critique either church or society.
Richard Rohr OFM

One of the many side effects of the last pontificate has been the disappearance of what the apostolic Church called parrhesia or free speech, the type of plain talk which characterized Paul’s challenge to Peter at the Council of Jerusalem. The word went out very early in John Paul ll’s tenure that even in non-infallible areas of Church teaching, no dissent would be brooked. Over one hundred theologians were muzzled and a veritable chill descended on the Church. Fear seemed to stalk the ecclesial landscape, the irony being that the mantra of the last pontificate was "Be not afraid."

     This fear seeped all the way down to local levels and any diocesan priest brave enough to proffer a different opinion was disciplined or reprimanded. In Cobourg, Ontario (an hour east of Toronto) parishioners were outraged at the treatment of Fr. Ed Cachia in the fall of 2005. The much-loved pastor was quoted in the local paper as saying that he welcomed the women priests who had been "illicitly" ordained last July on the St. Lawrence River. Furthermore he said the Catholic Church needed to open up the priesthood to women. That Cachia was echoing the sentiments of a broad majority of his flock was irrelevant, that this "idea" might be the sensus fidelium of God’s people at this moment in history seemed inconceivable to Cachia’s bishop and the blind loyalists around him. And now the inevitable has happened: An alternative Catholic community has been set up in the Peterborough Diocese with Cachia as the pastor. But I digress.

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