Within hours after the publication of his letter to Pope Francis, Fr. Thomas Weinandy was immediately asked to resign from his post as doctrinal consultant to the United States Bishops Conference.
This swift move seemingly proves the validity of one Fr. Weinandy’s complaints regarding Pope Francis’ pontificate: that many of the clergy live in a climate of fear and do not speak their mind for fear of being marginalized. Fr. Weinandy wrote to Pope Francis:
What many have learned from your pontificate is not that you are open to criticism, but that you resent it. Many bishops are silent because they desire to be loyal to you, and so they do not express – at least publicly; privately is another matter – the concerns that your pontificate raises. Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse.
Fellow Clergy Show Online Support for Fr. Weinandy
Fr. Weinandy’s resignation has prompted a huge backlash on social media, with many high-profile Catholic personalities and priests active on social media publicly supporting his cause. Lifesite News even ran an online petition campaign to support Fr. Weinandy – in just a few days, the petition campaign has gathered 3,418 signatures (as of this writing).
The renowned Oxford scholar, Fr. John Hunwicke has this to say on Fr. Weinandy’s dismissal:
This cheap and vulgar ritual humiliation exemplifies the extent to which PF [Pope Francis] is presiding over a bully-boy Church in which midget bishops and minicardinals compete to defeat each other in the sycophancy stakes. Just as Tom Weinandy has, in effect, just said.
Fr. Thomas Berg, moral theologian, Vice Rector & Director of Admissions-St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie), said on Twitter: “I’ve collaborated on several occasions w/ Fr. Tom Weinandy. An exceedingly prudent theologian who loves the Church.”
Fr. Pius Pietryzyk, OP, a Dominican Friar and Canon Lawyer, said: “I had Fr. Weinandy as a theology professor. One of the kindest, most level-headed people I know. This is quite something coming from him.”
Fr. Thomas Petri, OP, a moral theologian with a doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.), agreed with one of Fr. Weinandy’s key points, saying on Twitter: “Anyone who expresses concern is lambasted as rigid.” Fr. Brad Sweet, said: “Praying for Fr Thomas Weinandy today who dared to criticise Amoris Laetitia, wrote to Pope + got fired. The loving + merciful face of USCCB.”
Damian Thompson, editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald, said: “All over the world, bishops and priests are reading the Weinandy letter and thinking: I wish I didn’t agree with this, but I do.”
Many are contrasting the U.S. Bishops’ heavy-handed handling of Fr. Weinandy with how they have handled an individual who is still employed by the Bishops of the U.S., despite the fact that she openly proclaimed her allegiance on social media with the notorious abortion group Planned Parenthood.
Last August, the Lepanto Institute reported that Jessica Garrels, program quality coordinator for Catholic Relief Services, had strongly supported and promoted Planned Parenthood on her Facebook page. On November 28, 2015, Garrels posted a “#StandwithPP” overlay over one of her pictures, indicating that she supports Planned Parenthood and endorses continued government funding of the big-box retail chain of abortion stores.
On January 22, 2016, Garrels posted an article by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, which complained that the Wisconsin Senate voted to cut funding to the abortion giant. On January 9, Garrels wrote, “Well said!” cheering on the statement of US Representative Gwen S. Moore in her defense of maintaining funding to Planned Parenthood.
Shortly after the article on Garrels was published and sent to the bishops of the United States, Garrels’ Facebook page was locked up tight to hide her posts from public view. As it turns out, Garrels is still employed at Catholic Relief Services over a year later.∎
Mark Jacobs, Veritas Vincit