Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fr. Robert Pierson, OSB - defender of the cause...

For the canonization of LGBTQ Catholicism.

Fr. Bob has been in the news a couple of times this past year.  Recall the LGBTQ retreat he scheduled at his abbey in Collegeville, MN, St. John's.  After very public objections, Fr. Bob cancelled the retreat, as I noted here:
The Guestmaster at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, Fr. Bob Pierson O.S.B. sent a letter announcing that a very strange LGBT retreat, sponsored by the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministries had been cancelled:
Dear Mr. X: Thank you for your message. After reviewing the content of the retreat, it is clear that the program is not consistent with the purpose and mission of the Abbey Guesthouse. Therefore, the retreat has been cancelled.
Oddly enough, the Guestmaster happens to be the treasurer for the board of directors of CALGM, yet from the sound of the letter cited here, Fr. Pierson gives the impression he did not know the 'content' of the retreat program. His letter sounds to me as if he only learned about the program after people complained that it was not Catholic. That strikes me as unlikely. - This is weird...
Most recently, Fr. Bob made the news for speaking in support of same sex marriage and the Catholics right to vote against a marriage amendment scheduled for the ballot in the upcoming elections this fall.  He stated:
“My faith suggests that I cannot in good conscience remain silent,” said Father Pierson. “I am speaking up now to say that I believe this amendment violates an important principle of Catholic teaching, and that as Catholics, we can vote no. As a Catholic priest, I am not here to criticize our Church’s teaching, but rather to lift up an aspect of the Church’s teaching that seems to have been forgotten by some who are supporting the amendment. The issue I am talking about is “Freedom of Conscience.” - Progressive Catholic Voice
Admittedly, he makes a compelling argument - for the uninformed, or badly formed conscience, that is.  His observations here:
A young theologian by the name of Joseph Ratzinger, whom many of you know now as Pope Benedict XVI, put it this way in 1967:
Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one's own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.

My conscience tells me to vote NO on the amendment because I have yet to hear a convincing reason why we need such an amendment to our state constitution. In fact, I believe that the church does not have the right to force its moral teaching on others outside our fold. When the religious beliefs of any particular religious group become the law of the land, we run the risk of violating everyone’s freedom to believe and their freedom of conscience. Allow me to mention three examples of where I see the church “fudging” the facts.

We have heard it said that civil marriage for committed, same-sex couples “will destroy the sanctity of the Sacrament of Matrimony.” But the truth is, until now the church has not concerned itself with civil marriage. The church does not recognize the civil marriage of its members. If a Catholic is married in a civil ceremony, they are said to be married “outside of the Church” and the marriage is not recognized as a sacrament due to “lack of canonical form.” Civil marriage for committed, same-sex couples is not the Sacrament of Matrimony, and the government cannot tell churches who they may or may not marry. - Fr. Pierson, Sensus Fidelium
Adding to the confusion is a post by Fr. James Martin, SJ, my favorite Jesuit, BTW.   (He seems to me to be like a gateway drug - in a good way - for those who want to be Catholic, but just can't accept everything the Church teaches at this point in their journey.  He strikes me as a priest who ministers in the midst of them.)  If you recall, at the LA education conference, Fr. Martin expressed hope that gay Catholic priests would make their presence known to faithful Catholics.  Personally, I have always been helped the most by straight Catholic priests... think 'disinterested' friendship... which, for the narcissist should also be interpreted as 'without/devoid of self interest' ... without neediness, without indulging in vain rejoicing in natural goods, etc..  But I digress. 

Thus it would seem (to me) Fr. Martin points to Fr. Pierson as a model 'gay priest'.  That is too bad.  Especially since Fr. Pierson speaks in opposition to the local ordinary's directive, asking priests not to speak publicly against the marriage amendment, as Fr. Martin notes:
Needless to say, his comments on same-sex marriage are in direct opposition to the U.S. Catholic bishops, including Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who has vigorously supported the amendment (that is, opposing same-sex marriage) and asked parishioners in his archdiocese to recite a "A Prayer for Marriage"* as part of the Prayers of the Faithful (petitionary prayers) at Masses. The bishops could not be clearer in their opposition, which rests primarily on the Christian tradition of marriage as between a man and a woman (as well as on the church's opposition to homosexual activity).
 I'm not judging his soul, but I get the impression Fr. Pierson has perhaps been a tad duplicitous in his ministry - and I base that mostly on his note regarding the cancellation of a retreat he would have had to have known all about.  Add this to the ever growing list of reasons why Fr. Pierson's finds himself unable to "honestly represent, explain and defend the church's teaching on homosexuality" Fr. Pierson just might  end up leaving the Catholic Church all together.

*The prayer is not said at any of the parishes I attend.


  1. "Admittedly, he makes a compelling argument - for the uninformed, or badly formed conscience, that is."

    You took the words right out of my mouth. Many people seem to forget that they have to listen to what the Church says and consider why She teaches what She teaches, in order to better understand and allow one's conscience to be formed by Truth vs. just going with what you *think* is right by your own lights. It implies a certain level of humility (or at least honesty), which seems totally absent in the 'just follow your conscience' folks.

    1. I'm glad you caught that.

  2. "Fr. Pierson just might end up leaving the Catholic Church all together"

    I doubt he will. Apostates are only useful as long as they pretend to be in the Church.

    1. Which points out the irony of his claim, "In all honesty... "

  3. He has a nice hairdo..

    1. Haha! Always the nice girl aren't you. ;)

  4. Fron "The Passion
    from Within" by Adrienne Von Speyr

    "The image of the Church will always show everything side by side: the Lord with His grace, those who acept grace, others who somehow oppose it, others who momentarily reject the acceptance, and finally those
    who fall away completely. Apostacy belongs to the Church as much as do the Saints. She is constanly shaken about as in a basket, until in the end she has to do with everything that lies between these extremes, the perfectly good and the irredeemably evil, and all the differnet shades in between. the Passion everything is present and hs its place. The Lord integrates in Himself the Church as she is. He carries the Church eye
    to eye with her apostacy: where she ceases to be Church, refuses to be Church. In the confrontation with Judas, he carries everything
    including the excommunkication. And of course also Peter's denial to come. He carries everyhing Heaven will have to carry later. Hell
    therefore is never more itself than at this moment of confrontation: for Hell is what the suffering Lord cannot take upon Himself. The sin of Judas--and of all apostates--is carried on the Cross ."

    1. Thanks Maria - that's amazing. I've never been able to read Von Speyr - I had all I could do just to get through some of Van Bathasaar's stuff.

  5. The more time goes on, the more I think Fr. Martin is a wolf.

    1. I'm afraid you may be right Patrick. I just don't understand it.


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