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The Bishop Perceiver Interview

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 21, 2023

Looking through the rearview mirror of memories is one of the advantages of growing old. Disturbing events that were out of focus years ago take shape to explain current events. It is wise for priests and bishops to revisit the occurrences of several decades ago, when it was so fashionable to question all Church teaching. The pop-theological denial of the bodily Resurrection of Jesus is a prime example.

In the years following Vatican II, everything—from contraception to women’s ordination—was up for grabs. The bodily Resurrection of Jesus was in the mix. Liberal conventional wisdom held that faith in the bodily Resurrection of Jesus was not necessary for us to appreciate His teachings (cf. Protestant theologian Rudolph Bultmann). We were encouraged to focus on the inspiring words that “the early Church placed on the lips of Jesus.”

In the 1980s, the “Priest Perceiver Interview” (PPI) was a popular screening instrument for seminaries. Vocations directors—highly trained in an afternoon PPI workshop—asked questions that included trite, touchy-feely psychology, and garden variety dissent. But the combination of two questions was especially malignant: “Do you believe in the Resurrection?” “What would you say if archeologists discovered the bones of Jesus?”

Young seminarians knew the preferred response: “Yes, I believe the early Church inserted the Resurrection event into the Gospels, but the bodily Resurrection isn’t essential to our faith. The spirit of the teachings of Jesus is the important thing.” More astute (and daring) seminarians would quote St. Paul: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:17) It is disturbing to consider how the vocations apparatchiks induced many seminarians to deny the Catholic faith. How many of those young men are bishops today?

The bodily Resurrection validates the teachings and ministry of Jesus. Without the Resurrection, Jesus was, at best, a wise man. At worst, He was a lunatic whose claim to be God merited execution, or at least a straight-jacket. The bodily Resurrection affirms the “body-soul” integrity of Jesus, the Word made flesh. Like the resurrected body of Jesus, our body is integrally connected to our soul and anticipates our restoration to the fullness of human integrity in the Resurrection of the Dead at the end of time.

The denial of the bodily Resurrection rejects the central tenet of our faith and subverts the institutional Church. Combined with the doctrinaire incantation that the teachings of Christ were ideas that the early Church “put on the lips of Jesus,” Church teaching becomes ideological propaganda adrift from the compatibility of God and man, body and soul, and faith and reason. Seminary authorities often identified opposition to conventional wisdom as an anti-intellectual “formation issue.” Most seminarians parroted the unorthodoxies or remained silent. Today, we see the ideological fruits of the denial of the Resurrection in the highest levels of the Church.

Bishop John P. Dolan, the newly installed bishop of Phoenix, has penned a welcome to “LGBTQ Catholics.” He writes, “To Catholics within the LGBTQ community, I wish to reaffirm your sacred identity. You are Christian—not just in name, but in fact.” The bishop acknowledges the right to self-identify as we wish without the interference of others:

I wonder how many within the LGBTQ community find such hope within the life of our church. If you feel re-branded [emphasis added] by those who stand against you, are you able to find within yourself the benchmark of hope that begins with God, who has great hope for you?

According to Bishop Dolan, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, and Queer”—as “communities”—have a right to their respective “brands.” Hence, two women have the right to mutual masturbation, as do two men. Men and women also have a right to engage in serial mutual masturbation and sodomy, regardless of their partner(s). Genital mutilation and hormone therapy to change one’s sex provide “the benchmark of hope that begins with God.”

The logic of the bishop’s words is not ambiguous: A person is not a metaphysical composite of body and soul. Our bodies are dispensable playthings, just as the body of Jesus wasn’t necessary for Him. Bishop Dolan’s promotion of the “LGBTQ Community” logically denies the bodily Resurrection of Jesus and the Resurrection of the Dead. His view of the Catholic faith is an ideology embedded in a religious bureaucracy.

In private conversation, many faithful priests and bishops today recognize the understandable naivete that marked their seminary years. Many actively homosexual seminarians counted on the reluctance of formators to reach conclusions about them which, in retrospect, should have been obvious. Indeed—as subsequent arrest records revealed—some of the formators were themselves “gay.” The bad actors have perfected their techniques by abusing language, such as referring to the rights of the “LGBTQ Community.”

Today, most faithful Catholics continue to give the Church’s bureaucracy the benefit of the doubt. We quickly dismiss the thought that high-ranking Church officials would use their offices to enable sexual predators. Our naïve silence enables them to embed their ideology in the processes of the bureaucracy and troll the youth. An “LGBTQ community”—or any other “community” clustered around the capital sins—is a mirage. The ideology erases individuality and—like Adam and Eve in the Garden who hid in shame after their sin—seek anonymity in “community.”

God created us in His image and likeness. We are fallen, inclined to sin. The Cross and Resurrection redeem us and call us to conversion through the Church. The Sacraments heal us, and we haltingly grow in virtue. Sin threatens our salvation, so we must inveigh against the evils of violating the Ten Commandments and compassionately direct sinners to the confessional for forgiveness: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Mt. 18:22)

“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” As individuals, we are of inestimable worth and need the truth in a confused culture. Jesus suffered and died for each of us. The resurrected Jesus offers us everlasting life in union with Him. Those who pander to the “LGBTQ community” provoke them—and all of us—to die in our sins.

Perhaps we should replace the PPI with a BPI—“Bishop Perceiver Interview”—leading to a renewal of Baptismal promises that includes the renunciation of the Devil and a profession of faith in the bodily Resurrection of Jesus.

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: rfr46 - Aug. 23, 2023 9:10 AM ET USA

    Excellent analysis, Father Pokorsky. Thank you.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Aug. 22, 2023 11:31 PM ET USA

    "...the early Church 'put on the lips of Jesus'". This is the most insidious, the most treacherous denial of the faith since the invention of "Q". But what should we expect from departments of "religious studies", populated by atheists inimical to "confessional" religion. It seems that virtually all secular and "Catholic" departments of "religious studies" and their equivalent to this day continue to buy into the myth that the NT was written by committees much later than the death of St. John.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Aug. 22, 2023 8:22 PM ET USA

    Conttrary to Bishop Dolan of Phoenix there is no such thing as an LGBT Catholic. This is an oxymoron because LGBTQ etc is a political ideology directly contrary to Catholic teaching. So the new Bishop is welcoming this? He’s contradicted the promises made at ordination to uphold Catholic teaching. What God wills is that people carry out His will by seeking to live according to His teachings. Sexuality and the order of sexuality is not up for grabs.