When visiting with the presbyterate, the Bishop asked the priests to approach respect life issues as teachers, for that is what they are. Teachers create new openings for learning and reduce obstacles. Their intense passion to share the truth leads them to greater patience and prudence and not frustration with and disdain for students who fail to respond appropriately. Their witness to the faith through teaching becomes all the more powerful when the presbyterate works together in unity and solidarity. …
As for the specific question of the priests’ participation in the 40 Days for Life vigils, the Bishop recognizes that a given priest in good conscience may feel the need to participate in the vigils and he should never be forced to go against a good and informed conscience. The Bishop only asked that all priests prayerfully reflect on what he has told them, commit themselves to making teaching effectively their first priority and keep in mind the irreplaceable power of the witness of their unity with each other.
Forgive me, but this sounds an awful lot like, “If a priest really thinks he *has* to then he can do 40 Days for Life, I suppose. Though I don’t like it and will be taking notice of those who do, since they are causing disunity with those who don’t participate.” It looks just like making an appearance of backing down under public outrage and scrutiny, while still trying to throw a spanner in the works of support for 40 Days for Life and sending a clear message to priests to knuckle under, or else.
John Weingarten of Spokane 40 DFL notices the same thing, and the response he gets back from the diocese is not one that goes down in history as a ringing endorsement of 40 DFL.
“We need a clear statement from [Bishop Cupich] that priests and seminarians are free to pray at abortion facilities at any time without being disobedient and there will be no repercussions,” Weingarten said. “If he told them they are not to be at these places, but then says they may follow their well-formed consciences, they would be scared to pray at Planned Parenthood.”
A clarifying email from the Diocese of Spokane’s director of communications stated that yes, priests in Spokane may in good conscience participate in 40 Days for Life vigils without being considered disobedient to their ordinary.
Wow. If priests support 40 DFL (which is endorsed by the USCCB) they are not “considered disobedient to their ordinary”. Feel the enthusiasm!
Meanwhile, left unaddressed by all these reluctant “clarifications” is this point from a reader in the combox:
In Spokane, there was a group of Seminiarians that led a group of Gonzaga University students parying outside of Planned Parenthood for years. The seminarians are now forbidden from doing this. Notice the clarification does not mention seminarians at all. The priests were told in person at a meeting to not pariticipate “in or out of clerics”. Regardless of what this clarification says we will be able to judge the bishop’s actual communicated attitude towards priests’ participation by what they will now they do. Priests used to pray outside Planned Parenthood. After this I really doubt a single one will.
I remain mystified by Bp. Cupich’s behavior. What is wrong with 40 DFL? I wish to add my name to this petition urging him to rethink this inexplicable attitude toward this fine organization and to *support* (not merely reluctantly and coldly tolerate) priests *and* seminarians as they bear public witness to life. I urge you to do so as well.