Friday, January 10, 2014

Father John Dear Dismissed from the Jesuits

Father John Dear, who built a reputation for himself as an author and a peace activist, has been dismissed from the Jesuit Order.

He had reportedly run into trouble with the order because of his continued disobedience. The dismissal became effective December 20, 2013. He remains a priest for now - but is not allowed to practice.

I am not surprised. I had no problem with his peace activism - or his arrests. But he had a record of promoting women's ordination and supporting Call to Action, which advocated practices counter to Catholic teachings.

My own encounter with him came back in 2008.

Our local schismatic community, Spiritus Christi, was celebrating the 10th anniversary of its break from the Catholic Church. The church had women priests, performed homosexual so-called marriages, allowed intercommunion with even non-Christians, and so on.

I decided at the time to give him the benefit of the doubt and wrote to him.

I see that you are scheduled to speak November 11 at Spiritus Christi Church as part of its 10th anniversary celebration.

Perhaps you are not aware that that 10th anniversary is of its schismatic break with the Catholic Church. That break damaged the Diocese of Rochester and hurt many in the local Catholic community - damage and hurt that linger to this day. The church continues to maintain that it is "Catholic," even as it has two women priests, and engages in a number of practices that violate Church teachings.

Given Father Bourgeois' recent problems, and the nature of this particular church, you might want to contact the Diocese of Rochester and speak to your superiors before going to Spiritus Christi and risking the potential of causing public scandal to the Church.

I sent the message to a couple of addresses I'd found for him. Because some of those messages bounced back, I sent a second one on October 23.

I have tried to contact you to give you a heads up about Spiritus Christi Church, where you are scheduled to speak Nov. 11.

Perhaps you are not aware that it is a schismatic church, and they are touting your visit as being part of their 10 anniversary celebration - the anniversary of their break from the Catholic Church. That break hurt the Diocese of Rochester and splintered the community.

Please check with your superiors first.

On October 23, that second e-mail got a response.

Thanks so much, God bless you,

That was it. At the time, I wasn’t sure what he was saying. Was he thanking me for warning him and would he consequently refrain from lending some credibility to the schismatic Spiritus Christi by cancelling his talk there? Perhaps.

Or was he politely trying to get rid of me?

I didn't know.

So, being a former reporter and a pesky sort, I e-mailed him back on October 28.

Thank you for getting back to me. Does this mean you will reconsider speaking at that Spiritus Christi now that you are aware it is schismatic? Or do you still plan to speak?

No response. I sent a second one on November 2.

I sent you this response a couple of days ago, but had not heard back. Perhaps you are on the road. People here are awaiting news:

Thank you for getting back to me. Does this mean you will reconsider speaking at that Spiritus Christi now that you are aware it is schismatic? Or do you still plan to speak?

Still no response, so I sent another on November 6.

I see you are still on the Spiritus Christi Calendar for next Tuesday. Did they not yet take you off, or are you still planning to go there?

He did not respond. But in the Spiritus Christi bulletin, I saw the following:

“Here’s something else that is exciting: We have a chance to hear one of our country’s greatest modern-day prophets on Tuesday, November 11. John Dear will speak at our church. John is a good friend of Spiritus Christi, dedicated pastor, and outstanding Jesuit priest. He has been arrested more than seventy-five times and spent more than a year of his life in jail because of his efforts to bring peace, stop war, and dismantle all nuclear weapons. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has nominated him for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. He will be signing his new book, and autobiography, called A Persistent Peace, available to purchase for $20. I just finished reading it and found it extremely inspiring. John is the final speaker in the 2008 series to celebrate Spiritus Christi’s Tenth Anniversary. Please join us in the sanctuary on Tuesday night, November 11, at 7:00 PM. (He will have a private meeting over pizza with our youth group at 5:30.)

I later found out that he did indeed speak.

I wondered at the time if his order would take some action. Five years later, it did.

I will pray for him. Just as I pray regularly that the people of Spiritus Christi will return to the Catholic Church.

Pax et bonum

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