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Texas bishop rebukes priest who wrote against homosexuality, abortion

Catholic World News - August 23, 2010

Bishop Armando Ochoa of El Paso has rebuked a diocesan priest who wrote that “every single Catholic, out of fidelity to charity and truth, has the absolute duty to oppose (1) the murder of unborn babies, and (2) any and all government attempts to legalize homosexual unions.”

“I urge all of the Catholic faithful to treat homosexuals with love, understanding, and respect,” Father Michael Rodriguez had added in his August 2 El Paso Timescolumn. “At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls.”

“I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church,” Bishop Ochoa responded in an August 22 El Paso Timescolumn. “The Church has been unmistakable about its consistent defense of the unborn … Likewise, the Church is a supporter of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. These teachings come from a tradition that wants to promote the good of society. My concern in writing this reflection is not to change these teachings, but to offer a more pastoral understanding in dealing with them.”

“When we talk about abortion and homosexuality, we are talking about human beings dealing with all kinds of concerns and unresolved challenges,” he continued. “Our Church does not want to simply judge and condemn, but first to offer Christ's love and compassion. God's first and primary law is love and how love of others is at the same time our love for God.”

“As Church we want to journey with everyone as they search for meaning in their lives. We believe that Christ offers this meaning,” the bishop continued. “The use of harsh words of condemnation is not the approach Christ invites us to have toward one another. Intolerance closes the door to learning and deeper understanding of each other.”

“Furthermore, it leads to divisiveness within the body of Christ. It is time for us to learn how to work with each other, even when and if we disagree. Too many people have suffered because of a profound lack of compassion and a perceived arrogant intolerance.”

“While it is important to offer a teaching on human sexuality which may not be popular in modern society, the Church, nonetheless, upholds that each person be treated with dignity and respect,” Bishop Ochoa concluded. “I urge all of our pastoral agents to reach out to individuals with a homosexual orientation and their families with compassion. This can be done without compromising Church teaching in any way because our pastoral care demands no less from us.”

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Show 13 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: TheAntiModernist - Aug. 24, 2010 8:20 AM ET USA

    I don't understant what Fr. Rodriguez had to be rebuked about. Quite honestly, he has done nothing other than speak the truth, and while we must consider the dignity of the person, we mustn't neglect the fundamental truth of sinful behavior, especially that which deals with mortal sins. It is quite orthodox to state what is obvious. If a person participates in homosexual activity it is mortal sin, and in truth, mortal sins can lead someone to perdition. Let's not sugar coat things to be p/c.

  • Posted by: dancingcrane - Aug. 23, 2010 11:26 PM ET USA

    Father Rodriguez was doing exactly what BIshop Ochoa said he wanted done. Why did this bishop not support his faithful and obedient priest? I grieve for the shepherds who scatter their flocks in confusion.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Aug. 23, 2010 7:54 PM ET USA

    Please understand that although part of the Texas Catholic Conference, El Paso is so far west that its bishops often act as if they were part of New Mexico. Or LA.

  • Posted by: JR - Aug. 23, 2010 6:31 PM ET USA

    When does a priest stand taller than a bishop? When he stands upon truth, clarity, and charity. ...not false "compassion".

  • Posted by: jrlambert@sbcglobal.net - Aug. 23, 2010 5:52 PM ET USA

    I continually see the loss of who and how Jesus really behaved and is replaced with some fantasy 'GENTLE" person who never judged. What gospel depicts this fantasy figure that is constantly invoked against TRUE Love. ...genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. This is true love. Not much else matters, as far as compassion goes, when you have lost it all in Hell. This kind of tolerance pretty much discourages the necessary and real ability for conversion.

  • Posted by: michaelwilmes - Aug. 23, 2010 1:42 PM ET USA

    A quick check with catholic-hierarchy.org: 1986 consecration as auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles, CA by Cdl Roger Mahoney (i.e. a Jean Jadot appointee) Why am I not surprised?

  • Posted by: Bellarminite1 - Aug. 23, 2010 12:26 PM ET USA

    Speaking of '67, the "flower child" generation of clergy strikes again!

  • Posted by: RC - Aug. 23, 2010 11:46 AM ET USA

    There have been so many documents from the Vatican in recent years; perhaps Bp. Ochoa doesn't know that CDF has settled this question: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html

  • Posted by: singer - Aug. 23, 2010 11:21 AM ET USA

    Unfortunately, Bishop Ochoa is only 67, but there will be cause for celebration in 2018.

  • Posted by: michaelwilmes - Aug. 23, 2010 9:59 AM ET USA

    Do you suppose the good bishop would consider words like "brood of vipers" or "whitewash sepulchers filled with dead man's bones" intolerant? Better yet.....what about a man who'd drive people out of a place of worship with a whip? Intolerant? Sounds to me like the bishop himself is intolerant of a faithful priest. God Bless Father Rodriguez.

  • Posted by: Defender - Aug. 23, 2010 8:59 AM ET USA

    Who should be the bishop here?

  • Posted by: James Matthew Wilson - Aug. 23, 2010 8:50 AM ET USA

    “I urge all of our pastoral agents to reach out to individuals with a homosexual orientation and their families with compassion. This can be done without compromising Church teaching in any way because our pastoral care demands no less from us.” . . . which is what Fr. Rodriguez did, so why was he rebuked?

  • Posted by: patriot6908 - Aug. 23, 2010 7:55 AM ET USA

    I am sorry to say that His Excellency's sentimental fuzziness in these matters is precisely why we are so flagrantly afflicted with them now. Shall we endure 40-50 million more abortions and a further marked degeneration of sexual morality in our society under the ambiguity of what passes as contemporary compassion?

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