There has been some attention in the Catholic blogosphere given to a parish in my home diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Fr. Leo Tibesar of St. Francis Cabrini landed smack in the middle of some controversy about homosexual unions.
This controversy compelled a clarification from the Archdiocese.
Here is the Archdiocesan statement with my emphases.
Charges about Father Leo Tibesar & St. Frances Cabrini Parish
Various bloggers and websites have reported that Father Leo Tibesar, of Saint Frances Cabrini Parish in Minneapolis announced his intention to bless same sex marriages. Those reports are not true. Father Tibesar has never blessed a same sex marriage nor does he intend to do so, which would be a violation of his priestly vows and state. He made this very clear in a public clarification issued by Saint Frances Cabrini’s parish council and following a meeting with Archbishop Harry J. Flynn.
During his meeting with Archbishop Flynn and Auxiliary Bishop Richard Pates, Father Tibesar also agreed to remove any language from the St. Frances Cabrini parish website that is in opposition to Roman Catholic Church doctrine and to refrain from statements in any form that are contrary to Church teaching. He confirmed these commitments to Archbishop Flynn in a letter following their meeting. Communications Office, Archdiocese of StP&M
Why am I posting this?
First, the statement above makes reference to "bloggers". Since I am originally from that Archdiocese, and since WDTPRS is one of the most highly frequented of the Catholics blogs, I don’t want anyone to have even the slightest idea that I ever posted an entry about St. Francis Cabrini parish. I am not one of the bloggers who wrote about this issue. I didn’t pay much attention to it.
Second, I am posting about this because I am pleased with content of the statement. It is a very good thing that people know that a Catholic priest, in the midst of controversy, has never done what he was accused of doing. He didn’t in fact do something so scandalously irresponsible as bless a same-sex "marriage". That should make people happy and relieved. Also, steps are being taken to remove improper language from the website. Moreover, Archbishop Flynn has taken the matter in hand. All these are good things.
Third, this is a chance to make yet another clarification. The statement above refers to "same sex marriages". There is no such thing as a same-sex "marriage". "Marriage" of any sort can only be heterosexual, never homosexual. The language of the statement might reflect the quick and sloppy terminology of the media, but we all have to be clear that the terms "same sex" and "marriage" cannot be wedded in any way. That said, the statement still gets the point across.
Fourth, we are seeing more and more how the Catholic blogosphere is having an impact on the life of the Church and on the wider media. When something questionable occurs, and bloggers get hold of it, the information is disseminated with great speed.
Then the meat grinder fires up.
We have to be careful, friends. It is good that the Catholic blogosphere can act as a "watch dog". But that is not enough.
When we find that bad things are taking place, we mustn’t fall into the trap of taking delight in them because now we have something to flog other people with.
We run the risk of sinning when we take delight in the misfortunes of others or when we take up other people’s errors so that we can hurt them.
Dwelling on the negative or on the missteps of others is spiritually risky business.
Furthermore, Catholic bloggers and those who participate in commenting should be promoters of the positive, not just vigilantes.
Some years ago, I heard Cardinal George speak at a meeting of the Catholic Press Association. He told the assembled journalists that it was the role of Catholic writers to report not merely the doings of Church figures, but rather to report on the "life of grace". And the only way the reporters would recognize grace in action amongst God’s people would be if they too were in the state of grace.
This is something for us to keep in mind when stories crop up on the Catholic blogosphere.