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Nashville bishop rebukes priest who criticized Pope, Catholic teaching

Catholic World News - August 23, 2010

A Tennessee priest who called upon the Pope to apologize for Catholic teaching on contraception has retracted his comments and written a letter of apology to his parish and to the Pope.

“Bishop [David] Choby offered Father [Joseph Patrick] Breen the choice of retracting and apologizing for his statements or face the process set forth for the removal of a pastor under canon law when a ministry becomes harmful or ineffective,” according to a statement from the Diocese of Nashville.

“The role of pastor is particularly important as the leader and teacher of a parish,” Bishop Choby said.

The office is a direct link to the authority of the Church as instituted by Christ in the apostles and handed down through the popes and bishops. A pastor holds a public office charged with administering, teaching, and sanctifying the local community of the faithful. The Church expects him to work in unity with its authentic teaching as handed down through the pope and the bishops. It is simply wrong to state, as Father Breen has repeatedly, that one’s conscience frees an individual from the truth revealed and instilled in Church teaching. A deep understanding of Church teaching is, in fact essential to a fully formed conscience, and helps guide an individual in making the distinction between one’s opinions and a decision based soundly on the foundation of a rightly formed conscience. One who chooses to act contrary to Church teaching acts outside of the revealed truth of God’s will.
“In recognition of his many years of good work among the people of his parish, I want to give Father Breen every opportunity to correct the errors in his teaching, and gracefully enter retirement,” Bishop Choby added, “but in any case, his recent public remarks could not stand.”

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Aug. 24, 2010 8:42 AM ET USA

    This is a just and instructive model for other Bishops to follow. God bless this Bishop for his wisdom and courage.

  • Posted by: kmbold - Aug. 23, 2010 7:43 PM ET USA

    I sent Bishop Choby an email when I read of Fr. Breen's apostasy on this website, and referenced in general the milquetoast response of most bishops to similar plights. I expressed hope that he would use the grace and fortitude of his office to do justice. He actually sent a reply! Very decent of him. I was all astonishment. He sounded like a true leader, humble and prayerful. Now I pray that Fr. Breen has caught some of that humility and spirit of obedience. Sounds like a repeat offender...

  • Posted by: JR - Aug. 23, 2010 6:16 PM ET USA

    How refreshing. Thank You, Bishop!

  • Posted by: umpynelson3459 - Aug. 23, 2010 5:49 PM ET USA

    Ah, a Bishop that knows how to do his job in the Church and compassionately as well. It's quite a relief

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