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Heretics Frolic, While Vatican Zeroes In On Father Gruner

by Christopher A. Ferrara

After a brief delay of only eleven years, the courageous American bishops are finally "implementing" the Vatican’s requirement that Catholic theology professors actually profess the Catholic faith. The bishops will require a "mandatum" for Catholic theology professors — a written statement that they will adhere to Catholic doctrine. But this "requirement" has absolutely no penalties attached, making it utterly worthless.

The professional heretics in Catholic academia are thumbing their noses at even this minimal intrusion on their "academic freedom." For example, as Associated Press notes (in a report by Rachel Zoll on July 24, 2001) Daniel Maguire, "a Roman Catholic theologian at a Jesuit university," who has "spent the last thirty years defying the Church," has publicly declared his refusal to apply for a mandatum. The AP reports that, among other outrages, Maguire "has argued that Catholic thinking through the centuries has allowed birth control and abortion" and that "No one from the Church or his school, Marquette University in Milwaukee, ever tried to curb him" until the "mandatum" scheme was devised by the bishops.

AP reports that "Maguire is one of the few among hundreds of theology professors publicly resisting the bishops: He will speak Wednesday at a meeting of Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C., to promote a new book." Maguire knows who his friends are.

One of those other theology professors openly opposing the bishops and the Vatican is the infamous Father Richard McBrien, a "Catholic" theology professor at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. According to AP, McBrien too "has refused to seek certification."

What will the Vatican do about "Catholic" theology professors who refuse to certify that they will adhere to Catholic doctrine? What will it do about these false teachers, many of them priests and nuns, who spread errors against the Faith and endanger the welfare of souls, helping to produce a situation in which most Catholics — like these "Catholic" theologians — simply no longer "agree" with the teaching of the Church on abortion, contraception, the ordination of women and homosexuality? No doubt the Vatican will do what it has done for the past forty years: nothing, beyond an occasional "notification" or mild rebuke far short of suspension or excommunication. Exhibit A: Father Hans Kung, who remains a priest in good standing, and whom the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Sodano, praised in 1998 as "the German theologian" who has "written some beautiful pages on the Christian mysteries." Yet in 1980 the Vatican declared that Kung could no longer be considered a Catholic theologian. Not even the Vatican Secretary of State takes the Vatican’s "penalties" seriously.

But when it comes to one lone priest from Canada, Father Nicholas Gruner, the Vatican — led by none other than Sodano’s apparatus — is quite willing to play hardball. Father Gruner now stands threatened with either excommunication or reduction to the lay state if he does not abandon his Fatima apostolate. Father Gruner is, it would seem, the only priest in the entire Catholic Church being threatened by the Vatican with ultimate canonical penalties when he has committed no offense against faith and morals.

Why does the Vatican do nothing about notorious public heretics, while coming down like a ton of bricks on "the Fatima Priest"? It cannot be the case that Father Gruner’s public criticism of the Vatican’s approach to Fatima has justly earned him the Vatican’s special attention. Priests like McBrien and Kung have made veritable careers out of public criticism of the Vatican — and not just in matters of Vatican policy, but in matters of faith and morals. Further, the McBriens and Kungs of the post-conciliar Church have launched their criticisms of the Vatican in forums much larger than those available to Father Gruner, including national television, best-selling books and virtually the whole of Catholic academia.

No, the real answer to the question seems obvious enough: the Message of Fatima causes more alarm in the Vatican apparatus than the profusion of heresy throughout the Church. No wonder the Church is in the midst of the worst crisis in her entire history.