Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tricia Wittmann-Todd believes she knows what's best for "her" Catholic Parish

As this article notes, even though Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has asked parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington to circulate petitions in support of Referendum 74, the ballot measure to roll back Washington's recently passed same-sex "marriage" law, several parishes have refused to do so.  One of these parishes, St. Mary's Parish in the Central Area, issued a statement through its "pastoral life coordinator" Tricia Wittmann-Todd.

In her "weekly message," Ms. Wittmann-Todd writes:

"Dear People of St Mary's,

I am writing to share with you my decision regarding collection of signatures at St Mary's for Referendum 74, to repeal the redefinition of marriage. This is a very sensitive issue, impacting people at the very core of our lives. Archbishop Sartain has sent a letter to all Catholics. I have attached the letter. He has given permission to parishes to collect signatures for the Referendum and encouraged us to do so. He has also expressed that each parish leader must decide how best to proceed, given the pastoral considerations within the parish. After much prayer and reflection, I have decided we will not collect signatures at the parish. I am certain you will find ample opportunity elsewhere to sign whatever petitions you choose.

This decision is based on two primary considerations. St Mary's mission is "House of God, Home for Everyone". One of our highest values is inclusion and welcome. I fear that the collection of signatures would be hurtful and divisive to our parish. I am particularly concerned about our youth who may be questioning their own sexual identity and need our support at this time in their lives.

The second consideration is that as Catholics, each of us is asked to form our conscience and decide how to vote on this and other issues, ie tax policies, services to the poor, environmental laws, capital punishment, etc. We form our conscience through studying the Word of God in the Bible, listening carefully to the teachings of the church from our Tradition and the discernment of the Spirit within our own experience. Many of our parishioners have not had sufficient opportunity to form their consciences and those who have represent a wide variety of beliefs. Some believe the church should marry all committed couples, others that the state should marry all but not the church, others that the term "marriage" should be preserved for a man and a woman, while other relationships are "domestic partnerships", and there are those who believe only heterosexuals should have partners. Our Archbishop is trying to help us in the process of conscience formation by articulating the reasons he believes we should support Referendum 74. I ask you to prayerfully read his letter, hearing all that is being said. In addition, read the Bible, particularly those passages cited by the church on marriage. (you can find these documents at the USCCB website.) Finally, pray and reflect on your own experience of marriage and listen to what God is telling you. Sometimes I think when God is speaking to us, we respond-"call the Bishop, I don't have time to listen. " But as Archbishop Sartain writes "The church calls everyone to holiness."

I hope to have a gathering soon where we can learn more about how to form one's conscience in general and particularly on the question of marriage. In this, as in all things, I pray we will treat one another with love and respect, building up our community of faith.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions with me.

Blessings on this Easter Season,


Well, you asked us to share our thoughts Tricia.   Here are mine.  Vatican II, which you obviously have little or no respect for, teaches quite clearly that, "In forming their consciences, the Christian faithful ought to give heed to the sacred and certain doctrine doctrine of the Church.  For the Catholic Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth.  It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ, and also to declare and confirm by her authority principles of the moral order flowing from human nature itself." (Dignitatis Humanae, No. 14).

The faithful have a responsibility, a duty, to assent to the Church's teachings and to obey the Church's pastoral leaders just as the Lord Jesus obeyed the Father.  The duty of the faithful to obey the Holy Father and one's own Bishop is analogous to the responsibility which the faithful have to give religious assent to their teachings which call for such assent.  Canon Law makes this clear: "The Christian faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound by Christian obedience to follow what the sacred pastors, as representatives of Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or determine as leaders of the Church." (Can. 212).

In your arrogance, you have decided that St. Mary's Parish will not collect signatures in an effort to oppose homosexual unions even though your Archbishop has asked the faithful under his care to do so.  As a result, you are not only being disobedient to your Archbishop but you have set yourself against the teaching of the Church.  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its document entitled "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," makes it clear that the homosexual movement takes advantage of legal tolerance to promote its idoelogy and to place people at risk, particularly youth.  The very youth you claim you are concerned about.  And this authoritative document warns that "the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil." (No. 5).  And even where homosexual unions have been legalized, "clear and emphatic opposition is a duty." (No. 5). 

What do the words "clear and emphatic opposition is a duty" mean to you Tricia?  Jesus is Our Lord.  And the Church's Pastors govern in His name. And yet you have chosen to reject the clear and unambiguous teaching of the Church's Pastors. Reflect on these words of Pope John Paul II Tricia: "Being of sacramental origin, this authority is exclusively of divine origin, and remains such; it has no need, therefore, of ratification by anyone else." (Address to the Bishops of Brazil, February 26, 1990).

You have succumbed to pride Tricia.  You are opposing the Church's Pastors.  This means you are opposing the will of Christ.

I am praying for you.


Michael Cole said...

Maybe Wittmann-Todd believes it's her role to "correct" the Church's Pastors? Maybe she believes her authority trumps that of the CDF and her Archbishop?

No ego trip there.....naaaaaaah!

Jonathan said...

By what authority does Wittmann-Todd make such a decision?

Canon 515 §1, of the Code of Canon Law states that: "A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop."

Notice that caveat: "under the authority of the diocesan bishop." A parish is entrusted to the leadership of a priest who serves as pastor and who must obey his bishop.

Canon 519: The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law."

Lay people may assist the pastor "according to the norm of law." And Canon Law does not grant lay people - any more than it does parish priests - any right to contradict the Bishop or oppose his authority.

The pastor of St. Mary's, whoever he is, has apparently ceded leadership of the parish to a woman layperson. Both he and the dissenting "pastoral life coordinator" should be removed immediately.

Wendy said...

I agree Jonathan. This is just bizarre. SHE decided? Who made HER pastor?

This woman is on a power-trip. She should be fired - ASAP!

jac said...

Did Mrs Wittmann-Todd ever questioned democratically the faithfuls of her parish about the opportunity to collect signatures on that issue?
It is highly probable that she decided not to collect by its own autoproclamed authority. Isn't the parish priest the person who has authority in that matter?
What an arrogance!

Robert said...

I used to think that the "gay" movement was simply looking for equality. Now, after reading your posts, I understand that the movement is fanatical and will stop at nothing to impose their ideology on others, even insisting that the Church change its teaching to suit them.

I have truly come to believe that the "gay" movement is a hate movement which is utterly totalitarian in nature.

Samantha said...

Wittmann-Todd should be denied Holy Eucharist for her disobedience to the Archbishop and her refusal to accept Catholic moral teaching.

andres said...

this is my favorite part of her message,"I hope to have a gathering soon where we can learn more about how to form one's conscience in general and particularly on the question of marriage. "who does she think she is? a pastor at a lutheran church?

jac said...

A scenario that will never happen: Ms Wittmann-Todd must be convoked by her bishop (since the local parish priest looks as non existent) and taught what is wrong in her stance. If she refuses to acknowledge this, the bishop MUST excommunicate her.

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