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Eminence, the emeritis cardinal archbishop of HGN

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fr. Joe Pat Breen, St. Edward's Nashville, TN  The video interview with Fr. Breen

UPDATE…October 3, 2010

Father Joe Pat Breen came back to the Parish of St. Edward’s after all the recent attention from his video on the state of the church that sort of went viral. He received a warm welcome and ovation from the parishioners.

The bishop went to the hospital for heart surgery. I understand that he is doing well.

Meanwhile, there are not as many people viewing the video that caused such a stir especially with the neocats.

In many ways things are still the same. Father Breen is back in his parish. The bishop preserved some semblance of his authority. However, the many issues that Father Breen addressed remain.

It is likely only a matter of time until there is a new threat to Roman authoritarianism....

Here is a little local Nashville news. The linked video is one that Fr. Breen, a local pastor, put on his parish web site a few weeks ago. The bishop asked him to take it down from the parish web site which Fr. Breen did. In the meantime someone managed to capture the video and put it on YouTube where it is getting a number of views. The person who put it on YouTube also gave it the title “Holy Heretic, Batman.” This person also states that Fr. Breen “audaciously” calls for ordination of married men and the ordination of women.

I just want to say that Fr. Breen has been pastor at St. Edward’s in Nashville for many years now. Fr. Breen has more pastoral experience and sensitivity in his little finger than a whole gaggle of bishops. I watched the video with several priests recently. One just kept shaking his head and murmuring: “The man is speaking the truth.” The bishop, of course, lamented that Fr. Breen had to share his disappointment with the church in such a public way. I have lived in Nashville for a number of years now. I can only say that it is my experience that there are no forums in the diocese where any of these issues can be discussed.

So I return to a frequent question I ask these days. “What happens to a dream deferred?” Lanston Hughes. It seems to me what is happening in the church these days is that the dream is festering like a sore and oozing. One day it may explode.


  1. I'm glad you posted on this wild hair. There is nothing but truth in this statement from Fr. Breen.

    I often wonder if the conspicuous silence from most clergy is meant to let things fester until they do explode, when they will come in as white knights to pick up the pieces. I can't help thinking if that's the case they need to remember the story of Humpty Dumpty.

  2. Colleen, You made me recall the Humpty Dumpty story ending. "All the king's men and all the king's horses could not put Humpty Dumpty back together, again." I agree, this could be the outcome. This would be something of a very biblical ending. It sounds like something the Holy Spirit would plan. Now, I have one question. What kind of museum, do you think, would display the many cappae magnae of this era?

  3. You are so 1970's that I don't know where to begin. You all profess to belong to a church with a magesterium. But you disavow it. Why? What makes you so intellectually special that you can put yourselves above the teaching of the Church? Your days are numbered. The biological solution for Priests of the 1960's. 70's is inevitable. The Episcopal Church would be a much better alternative for those who feel as you do. The Holy Spirit through BXVI and his succesors will prevail......Cappae Magnae rules.....and wild hair....your dream will always be the HOLY is a BAD dream....

  4. Fr Pat may be a good man, but he is in danger of leading an awful lot of people into sin and error. He has to dump his ego, which he seems to favour over the two thousand years of the Magisterium, and honestly teach the doctines and truths of the church he vowed to obey and serve.

    The theology he posits is essentialy the theology of the culture of the here and know, which, like all earthly things, is transient and will have morphed into something different within many of our lifetimes. If that is a theology in which he would prefer to follow his faith then it is available to him in the Episcopal and Lutheran communities, amongst others.

    Our conscience is supreme. Correct, but only when guided and formed by a deep understanding and belief in the truth of the Catholic faith as delivered to us by the Church and through the successor of Peter.

  5. Recusant

    I am confident that the majority of the parishioners at St. Edward's are quite capable of thinking and figuring things out for themselves. I also think these parishioners have a great love of the Catholic Church.

    On some of the other matters that Fr. Breen discusses like the ordination of married men and the ordination of women, I would have this to say. A historic Catholic Church near where I live has a new associate complete with wife and kids. He comes from the Episcopal Church. One Sunday I saw one of my neighbors coming from Mass. He was confused about the family arrangements for the new associate. Now if it was something else, the bishops would say: "We can't confuse the faithful. Well, the Vatican can confuse, too!

    Further, we have been treated to all kinds of documents from the time of JP II condemning the ordination of married men and the ordination of women. We have been told we must give internal assent. Well, it seems the last really authoritative event, Vatican II, was silent on these issues. So it's a big vatican ruse to say that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have spoken definitively on these issues.

  6. Wild Hair

    Remind me. Was Vatican II a dogmatic or a pastoral council? Did Vatican II issue or define any new dogma? Are we therefore not surprised that no 'new' dogmas regarding married clergy or female ordination were created? No. What the Magisterium had previously held was still held by Vatican II.

    I have to confess that I don't know what an 'associate' means, but I would just make two points. Firstly, the creation of confusion in one parish is not a reason to create confusion in all parishes. Secondly, relying on anecdata, rather than universal truths is no way to run any organisation.

    When any one individual, in effect, makes himself a new pope, with greater authority than the actual Pope, the road to schism, disunity and the triumph of evil is already well travelled. Why is it so hard for some to realise and accept that being Catholic means being in unity with and, ultimately, under the authority of the Pope, the successor to Peter?

  7. wild,
    Bringing up Fr. Breen, you certainly have bought out the right wing sycophants of the pope and vatican.

    There is a 73 year old pastor near here who has preached and publicly stated the things Fr. Breen said (BTW, I saw the video on YouTube. LOL). We have a very, very conservative bishop, but he begged this priest to come out of retirement to meet the demand of the parishioners for a "Vatican II priest." Because he is retired and is the most respected priest in the diocese, he has told the people he will not leave until he finds another younger Vatican II priest to become pastor.

  8. Many, if not most, of those who give such exalted position to the pope and his every utterance (also to Vatican Congregations), are what Bishop Robinson identifies as "proclaimers of certainty," rather than "seekers after truth." I believe that "progressive Catholics" have no problem with a bishop-People of God (including priests and religious) hierarchy as long as all have collegial input in selecting the bishop and some real participation in decision making.

    There is a social-psychological instrument called "The Need for Certainty" scale and one called the "Dogmatism Scale." I would love to see the scores of these ultra conservative (reactionary) Catholics.

    Theologically I believe most of them are Ultamontanists. This "heresy" has risen again and again in the Church since the Middle Ages. Labeling it today, many theologians and a few bishops call it, "Creeping infallibility."

    A young man with whom I have just severed conversation, actually does believe that every word the pope (JPII and Ben XVI)utters must be accepted as true and accurate; the will of Jesus, period. On his own blog he rants, showing rage, using hateful language, and presenting a very condescending attitude. He tells many people they are wrong and sinful. He has called me a "heretic," "not really Catholic," "a pretender to Catholicism," and other names. He is doing much more harm to the Church than progressive Vatican II people like us.Thank God the Spirit is with us

  9. You're a bad priest.

  10. Fr. Breen, I will pray for you. As a priest, though not a very good one, you must be familiar with the scripture in Matthew 18: 6. Your misplaced compassion is causing many of the "little ones", your parishioners, to be led astray. I have an answer for every criticism you have leveled at the hierarchy and the Pope, but I won't attempt here to refute you point by point. However, I do have a question for you. If you are so terribly unhappy with the Roman Catholic Church that you feel you must try to destroy it as it presently stands, why do you continue as a priest or to be Catholic at all for that matter? However, in the end what the world thinks does not matter. Only God's opinion of your words and actions matter.


  11. I am a member of the congregation at St. Edwards Parish. The people who write about Fr. Breen being wrong and confusing and not a good priest do not know this Godly and MASSIVELY intelligent man. Father has improved a big piece of South Nashville through is life and ministry.

    Where were Fr. Breen's brother priests during the time of his "trial?" How many RC priests do NOT believe that Fr. Breen is telling the truth? I'd wager not many Why did they not stand behind him and make it possible and necessary for Bishop Choby to listen to Fr. Breen and perhaps send some information up the chain that could possibly stir some change?

    The Pope spoke a week or two ago in England about following your conscience. Which is what Father has been doing. Fr. Breen is NOT a heretic! I am convinced that his conscience has been truly and rightly formed and we do well to listen to his points with an open mind. Just because something sounds different, it doesn't mean that it will destroy the whole system.

    A couple of months have gone by now. Fr. Breen has been silenced, and will retire at the end of 2011. Yet his points carry on being right! Things have gone back to normal in the Diocese and people aren't debating these issues openly at this time. WHY NOT?

    What will Fr. Breen do when he retires? What will all of the south part of Nashville do without him?

    Yes, the Episcopal church stands ready and willing to accept us. But I love my Church and I love being Roman Catholic. I do not want to change to any other "brand" and I do not want to change my beloved Church to something that wouldn't be recognizable as Roman Catholic.

    But I'm very disappointed that Fr. Breen was silenced. I'm very disappointed that the other priests of the diocese and the country!!! didn't stand up with Fr. Breen. I'm very disappointed that we're all being quiet and letting this die down again. Until it becomes a crisis and there are no priests in the US that weren't sent here as missionaries, I guess we'll just carry on as before.


  12. Dennie,

    As Martha would say: "I have been busy about many things lately. I really appreciate your comment. I do not think that Fr. Breen is silenced. What he speaks is the truth. I showed this video to some priests at a recent meeting, and one priest kept murmmering, "He's speaking the truth."

    Things do change. I hope that Fr. Breen can have a long tenure at St. Edwards. I agree with you that he is one of the most pastoral priests I know. He has great stories to illustrate all his points. Whether people like it or not, what Fr. Breen speaks, silenced or not, is true and will endure!

    I was with him recently. He really is concerned about the church and not himself. I kept wanting to ask him: "What kind of a bubble is the bishop living in?" I did not ask my question. I think I know the answer. Anyhow, the evening was Fr. Breen's, and I did not want to take any time away from what he was explaining.

  13. I am an American and I want (need) to hear a Priest share "The Word of God" in a language I can understand. I had one of the best Priests in America in Father Bernard, until he retired.

    The Bishop replaced him with a Priest that no one can understand. The Bishop "forced" me (and many others)to go to another Church to find a Priest they could undertand. Some left the Catholic Church.

    I found Father Breen who is another one of the best Priests in America, but where will I go when he retires and a Bishop insensitive to my need to understand my Priest replaces him with another Priest from another land who does not care enough about his flock to learn proper diction, or a Bishop who will accept nothing less.

    We need to return to the first thousand years of the Catholic Church when Priests (and even Popes) were allowed to marry. The Catholic Church started with Peter and grew to become the Largest Church on earth from this foundation, and I believe it is necessary for the survival for the Church to return to allowing Priests to marry.

    I will not hide my feelings behind an anonymous name. My name is Bob Ries, and I will preach this message to anyone who will listen.

  14. Bob, thank you for commenting. I've known Father Bernard and know of his good work.

    I appreciate your difficulty in understanding the proclaimed Word of God not only from someone who speaks your language, but understands your culture.

    I also agree that there is a large number of suitable candidates for the priesthood in the ranks of married men and women. It just seems to me that the catholic church is limiting the spirit and the growth of faith by only ordaing celibate men.

    I wish you well in finding a parish where your faith and religion will be nourished.

  15. This might interest you.

  16. Sounds to me like a bunch of halfway Catholics that want to change the doctrine of the church. Be it from guilty consciences or maybe you are just bored. But I think God frowns on those that think they are greater than his will. I am not Catholic but have been following this story. And from reading these comments I have to say...Good luck on judgement day, you are going to need it. Oh, was that judgemental? Well, I figured I would just change scripture to make that okay too. God bless!

  17. The Pope seemingly is open to discussing whether priests may marry. Fr. Breen has helped many, many persons over many, many years.

    Please tell Pope Francis that one must not quibble with the established order in things like the Vatican Bank, the abuse of children, the status quo in Christian(Catholic Christian)-Jewish relations, or the long, long line of European residents, previously, who were selected as Pope.

    After all, anything outside the narrow minds of those who define Roman Catholicism as greater than merely "good" or "bad," must be feared; and the source of the comment must be burned at the stake, or beheaded, or sent to the Western Hemisphere to get it away from those poor, simpletons who cannot allow dissent---those who cannot allow it, because they think The Lord is such a wimp that his Church is only for those who stick their right hands in the air, while standing at attention, and shout, "Heil, Jesus."

    The Church does not need to act like the Nazi party. It must allow love to allow different ideas to be discussed, and prevent fear from stifling them.