Silenced by the Vatican
An Irish Catholic priest has been effectively silenced by the Vatican. His crime? He argued, in an article in a Catholic religious journal, that homosexuality "is simply a facet of the human condition". Capuchin priest Fr Owen O'Sullivan published his article, titled "On Including Gays", in the March edition of The Furrow, but the priest's thoughts have proven too radical for the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which is headed by american Cardinal William Levada (pictured, right).
As Patsy McGarry reports in today's Irish Times, "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican contacted the Capuchin secretary general in Rome with an instruction Fr O'Sullivan was no longer to write for publication without first having his articles approved by it." Presumably this means that Fr O'Sullivan is "free" to continue publishing articles as long as he maintains the party line on controversial issues. Patsy's article is headed "Priest banned from writing", and pedants will question the literal accuracy of that headline. But the CDF's intervention certainly represents a serious limitation on this priest's freedom to publish his own ideas or to question traditional orthodoxies.
Traditionalists will say this is precisely the point of the CDF: to protect and defend the Church's historic teaching. Obedient speech, rather than free speech, they will tell us, is -- or should be -- the calling of a priest. Others will be both surprised and angry that, in the 21st century, a priest has been effectively silenced in a draconian response by the Vatican.
Still other commentators will ask more fundamental questions about the action of the CDF: how can this body respond so swiftly, and so severely, to a priest who writes a theological commentary piece about human sexuality but take so long, if at all, to respond to priests accused of child sexual abuse? The CDF's treatment of Owen O'Sullivan (pictured, left) will inevitable have some asking if free thought a greater crime in the Vatican than child abuse.
We wait to find out.
Read excerpts from Owen O'Sullivan's article "On Including Gays".
Read "Where are the Priest-Prophets?", a previous Furrow article by Owen O'Sullivan, in which he invites a prophetic re-examination of some of the most controversial issues facing the church and the world today.