Pastor's Corner Oct 22 2017

An influential Canadian man died this week at 94. His name is Gregory Baum. He converted to Catholicism and became an Augustinian priest in the "50"s. He became a world-class intellectual figure in the "60"s, and attended Vatican II as a peritus (expert). He even wrote the 1st draft of one of its documents—Nostra aetate. As a polyglot, he was influential among many bishops worldwide. Unfortunately, he promoted doctrine and morals contrary to perennial Church teaching in sexual ethics and priestly celibacy. He claimed in his autobiography to be the 1st Catholic theologian "who publicly defended the ethical status of homosexual love." **

But, this is probably not his greatest influence in your life. As you know, Pope Paul VI published Humanae Vitae in 1968, which upheld the uninterrupted Catholic condemnation of artificial means of con-traception. The Canadian bishops published a reaction with lightning speed—two summer months—when most national bishop conferences are in recess. This reaction—called the Winnipeg Statement—was the first of its kind world-wide. It says that if a couple has “tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives, they may be safely assured that, whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience."

Expunging the pious language, we are left with this principle: If a couple has really tried to follow the commandment of God, but has failed, they get to disobey the commandment of God—if it "seems right" to them—and they do so "in good conscience". If at first you don't succeed, just go with your feelings.

An expert Canadian commentator, Msgr. Vincent Foy, said that Gregory Baum had a big influence over the Winnipeg Statement. He said, "If it had not been for the black shadow of Baum over Winnipeg, his influence over some Bishops, the Canadian theological establishment and pressure groups, the Winnipeg Statement of the Canadian Bishops on Humanae Vitae would not have refused to endorse the teaching of the encyclical as it did."

Many other national conferences were influenced by the Winnipeg Statement in crafting their own reactions to this controversial and unpopular encyclical. Gregory Baum seems to have had great influence in Canada. In turn, the Canadian statement—as Msgr. Foy has made clear—has influenced other national reactions, including the American. Many bishops world-wide have treated the teaching on contraception with almost complete silence. Why not? They had absolved their flock of strict adherence to the rules from the late "60"s.

Gregory Baum, as a priest and theologian, enjoyed a pristine reputation during Vatican II. During this very time, however, he began to live a secret homosexual lifestyle. He says of himself, "I did not profess my own homosexuality in public because such an act of honesty would have reduced my influence as a critical theologian." He added: "I was eager to be heard as a theologian trusting in God as salvator mundi (Savior of the world) and committed to social justice, liberation theology, and global solidarity." He was definitely heard.

Moral theologians have shown the connection between contraception and homosexual acts. Contra-ception attempts to have a privilege divorced from its corresponding responsibility. If contraception is accepted by society—as we have witnessed—then it's only a matter of time before homosexual activity will be accepted on the same principle. Gregory Baum also saw the link. In this, at least, he was correct. What he missed was that there can be no social justice without personal justice—defined by obedience to Divine Law. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

**(All quotations from LifeSiteNews, article by Pete Baklinski, for Thursday Oct. 19, 2017).

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