More than 240 priests from 36 countries around the world have signed an appeal asking the world’s bishops to use the full authority of their apostolic office to “reaffirm Christ’s teaching” and to correct a “mistaken approach to the Christian moral life” that is prevalent in the Church today.
Initially started by just fifteen American and European clergy, including Fr. Gerald Murray, a frequent guest on EWTN’s The World Over program, the appeal has since snowballed, with hundreds of priests worldwide around the world signing their names to the formal appeal. The organisers invite priests to add their name to the appeal by entering their details on the appeal’s website: www.curapastoralis.org. The priests who sign the appeal are also encouraged to send a copy of their signed appeal to their local bishop.
The organisers of the appeal highlight a resurgence of “gravely harmful moral errors” regarding the feasibility of living Jesus’ teachings, the nature of conscience, and the role of the Church. They cite the dangers surrounding “the serious pastoral problem and damage caused by the resurgence of a harmful and long-rejected approach to the Christian moral life” that is being propagated by high-ranking members of the Catholic clergy around the world.
The organisers also lament the“the inadequacy of past and current ecclesial efforts to bring an end to this false approach.” As such, they say that there is now a need of a “formal correction of these errors” and a firm “reaffirmation of the Gospel expressed with the full authority of the apostolic office” of the world’s bishops.
Bishops called to formally correct errors
The organisers of the appeal ask the world’s bishops to formally intervene and use their apostolic office to correct the errors prevalent in the Church:
As priests ordained to assist in the pastoral care of God’s people, we write to request your help in dealing with a mistaken approach to the Christian moral life that we frequently encounter and that grievously harms those misled by it. We believe much of the damage could be healed or mitigated if you were to reaffirm Christ’s teachings and to correct those errors with the full authority of your apostolic office.
Doing so would “benefit those entrusted to your care,” they continue, and would “contribute greatly to the unity and well-being of the universal Church.” The priests warn that “without such assistance, this detrimental situation will worsen significantly.”
Confusing from the highest levels of the Church
The priests’ appeal, signed on April 22, Good Shepherd Sunday, comes after frequent statements and actions from some of the hierarchy, theologians and even Pope Francis himself which many of the faithful believe question or even openly contradict the Church’s established teaching and pastoral practice.
Without referencing the Holy Father or any particular document, priest, bishop or theologian, the priests highlight a general “mistaken approach” which asserts that those who “commit objectively evil acts, and judge themselves subjectively free of culpability, must be allowed to receive Holy Communion.”
They argue that this can lead to the mistaken belief that, although certain behaviors are always evil, “in some circumstances those behaviors are the most realistic good that can be achieved or, indeed, are simply good.” Taken even further, they argue that this could lead to believing that such sinful “behaviors can be approved or proposed by God.”
“Christ’s life and moral teachings are thus presented as abstract ideals that must be adjusted to fit our circumstances, rather than as realities already attuned to free us from sin and evil in every situation,” the priests explain.
Such thinking is not a “new and legitimate development,” they add, and the Church has always vigorously opposed these theories as “contrary to the Gospel,” especially in the 50 years that have passed since Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae.