Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bishop Laun Sticks Up for a Priest’s Conscience

Image result for Bishop Andreas LaunAn Austrian bishop is speaking up for a priest who feels constrained by conflicting signals from the hierarchy to absolve sexually active divorced persons against his conscience.
Bishop Andreas Laun — an auxiliary of Salzburg, Austria — commented February 7 on a letter from a German priest seeking his advice.

The priest's scenario involves an impenitent divorced person demanding absolution in the confessional while using as cover the papal silence and contradictory positions of bishops that claim the papal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, now allows or even demands that he grant absolution.

The bishop acknowledges the inescapable logic of the priest's qualm of conscience and responds, "There is no double truth. When bishops and entire bishops' conferences give opposing answers, some are true and others are certainly false." 

 He added, "The four famous cardinals who have asked the pope their question (dubia) would be pleased with this illustration of the problem on the part of this priest."

The Austrian bishop believes this clash between Church teaching and erroneous interpretations of the papal exhortation are inevitable. "I fear there is no way around it, the conflict must be carried out somehow and without an unfaithful compromise." 

He declared priests must first and foremost be obedient to the Catholic faith and dismissed the idea that one could claim obedience to a pope who was silent on an important matter of faith and morals.

When bishops and entire bishops' conferences give opposing answers, some are true and others are certainly false.
Although a "pope could be a public sinner," he is still infallible noted Bp. Laun. He then describes some limits to papal charism of infallibility:
  • Questions which aren't part of faith or morals (i.e. global warming)
  • Political judgments (i.e. Pius XII's concordat with Hitler)
  • Human science (i.e. psychological causes of homosexual tendencies)
In these areas, a pope can err and Catholics are allowed to disagree with the pope, affirmed Bp. Laun. "No Catholic is bound to give up his mind in the face of such failures." In such instances "One can smile, one can contradict, even resist if the conscience clearly says otherwise."

In such cases, the bishop urges that Catholics always be respectful. "Of course the rules of politeness, which are also valid, apply and it is often correct to spread the mantle of loving silence over the error of a pope."

Bishop Laun, however, declares the issue of admitting impenitent adulterers to the sacraments, is not an issue that calls for silence. 

"But in the present case, it is a matter of a question that can not be ignored. It is about the Church, it is about people and their relationship to God, and it is also about the image of the Catholic Church to those on the outside."

The bishop affirms that we do owe "obedience to the Pope and the authority of the Church" but says there's also "the right and sometimes the duty of unfettered speech."

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