Saturday, December 24, 2005

Heretical or hysterical?

News that the diocese of San Bernardino, California is trying a priest for heresy raises either hackles or cackles in my book. The priest in question, Ned Reidy, left Roman Catholic ministry five years ago to found a parish community that eventually affiliated with the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, which, as one would imagine, celebrates Roman-style liturgy while rejecting Roman positions on such things as celibacy, male-only clergy, homosexuality, to name a few, according to the L.A. Times.

Most quotable is Reidy himself, on why he refused to attend: "I just think the discourtesy level is appalling. I have moved way beyond all that and the brutality of the Roman Catholic Church, and for me to go would give a certain legitimacy to this witch hunt."

Fr. Howard Lincoln, speaking for the diocese, puts our minds at ease: "What this is not is a Galileo trial of 1633. This is based on revised canon law of 1983. No one's going to be burned at the stake." What a relief. Glad to see the Inquisition has been updated.

Of course the real question is why do such a thing at all. At best it's an unnecessary proclamation that Reidy is no longer Roman Catholic, a fact that he acknowledges. At worst it's just vindictive, and it makes the diocese look petty and mean.

1 Comments:

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous UKnowBoudreau said...

Actually, Gerry Barnes, the bishop of San Bernardino, is dumb like a fox. You see, Ned Reidy was a long-time and very popular priest at the parish where he served. Then he quit his order, rather than be reassigned, and set up his own church just down the street from the diocesan facility. Naturally, his followers followed, especially since his new operation offered the same Catholic look and feel--same furniture, same hardware, same words, same ceremonies, and same guy dressed in the same duds. But of course it wasn't the same; it wasn't Catholic. But Reidy didn't tell people that, no more than any priest would inform his congregation of his bona fides. People just assume. So Barnes had to do something to warn the people that the sacraments they were celebrating were not going to make the church book. Announcements from local pulpits and church bulletins didn't work because the people Barnes was trying to reach weren't there. Then he hit upon the idea of a heresy trial with a good, old-fashion excommunication. It worked! Now, everybody in the country knows that Reidy's operation is ersatz Catholic and they can make an informed choice.

 

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