Fr. McBrien column deserves more careful reading


Deacon Frank Agnoli, writing a guest column in The Catholic Messenger, refers to a recent column by Father Richard McBrien and accuses him of being disrespectful, of dishonesty and of not serving the life of faith.

Fr. McBrien had criticized the Vatican for linking the sexual abuse of minors and attempted ordination of women as equally grave sins. Deacon Agnoli said “Fr. McBrien omits crucial details, leaving the readers with the impression that the Vatican documents mention only the sexual abuse of minors and the attempted ‘ordination’ of women.”

I suggest that Deacon Agnoli return to the careful reading of Fr. McBrien’s column which includes the following paragraphs:

“Even those who viewed this latest Vatican initiative through the prism of the sexual abuse scandal alone were acutely unhappy that the Vatican still did not hold bishops accountable  for sexual abuse by their own priests, nor did the Vatican require bishops to report such abuse to civil authorities.”


“But many more Catholics, especially (but certainly not only) Catholic women, were both astonished and outraged that the Vatican had included the attempt to ordain women to the priesthood on a list of the ‘more grave delicts,’ or ecclesiastical crimes, to which there is attached a canonical penalty.

“That list included not only pedophilia but also heresy, apostasy and schism.”

I do not accuse Deacon Agnoli of dishonesty in his interpretation of Fr. McBrien’s column. A more careful reading, perhaps?

But suppose we make up a multiple-choice quiz. Which of the following does not belong? A: Clergy abuse of minors; B. desecration of the Eucharist, breaking the seal of confession; C. attempted ordination of women; D. apostasy and schism.

I think many, even those who may oppose the ordination of women, would choose “C.”  I certainly would.

Father John Hynes


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