Ottawa. The Vatican has warned an Ottawa priest to bring his teaching views of moral theology into harmony with Church teaching.
On Jan. 29, 1922, Father André Guindon, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, professor of Moral Theology at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, was presented by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)
The CDF is entrusted with the responsibility of “promoting and safeguarding the doctrine of faith and moral in the whole Catholic world.”
The ‘Note’ concerns Fr. Guindon’s 1986 book, The Sexual Creators.
It was published in the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Feb. 5, 1992, English edition and in Origins, Feb. 13, 1992.
It was presented in Ottawa to Fr. Guidon by Archbishop Carlo Curis, Apostolic Pro-nuncio to Canada, representing the Holy See. Also in attendance were Ottawa Archbishhop Marcel Gervais, Grand Chancellor of St. Paul’s and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Rev. Benoit Garceau, Provincial Superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), the religious order to which Fr. Guindon belongs.
Father Guindon was asked by Church authorities to make public a statement within a reasonable period of time in which he would bring his positions on sexual morality into harmony with Church teaching.
The Vatican specifically criticizes the Ottawa priest’s positions on pre-marital sex, homosexual relationships and contraception.
Sexual Creators gives homosexuality the same moral standing as normal marital relations. Guindon also refers to homosexual activity as a “sensuous celebration” and describes the Bible’s David and Jonathan as homosexual lovers.
Dispute goes deeper
However, Fr. Guindon’s dissent from Catholic teaching on the above-mentioned issues rests on a much broader substructure. This is best explained by quoting Section 1 of the Note, “Observations on the Book,” Introduction:
“The book seeks to be more than a study of sexology. The author intends to offer the church a personal contribution toward the development of a new doctrine regarding what he calls ‘sexual fecundity,’ proposed as ‘a contribution towards the construction of an alternative to the unsatisfactory fecundity-fertility view’ (p.ix). We are not just dealing then with a rethinking of the moral norms concerning human sexuality, but with the proposal of a new anthropology and an agenda for the forthcoming revolution of the sexual creators (p.236).
“The volume is not lacking in a number of praiseworthy goals and positive aspects; for example, its desire to overcome a legalism which is merely exterior and negative (p.9ff), its avowed opposition to a contraceptive or hedonistic mentality which considers sexual pleasure as an end in itself (pp. 36, 74, 94), its efforts to attain a unified vision of the human being (pp.22ff), its resolve to be attentive to persons beyond their moral faults (p.164) and its investigation of the Christian meaning of the human affectivity (pp.100, 105).
“A careful examination of the text, however, has shown that it also contains a number of serious and fundamental disagreements, not only with more recent teachings of the magisterium, but also with the traditional doctrine of the Church. These disagreements regard the general understanding of sexuality, the understanding of the human person in his relationships with others and with God the creator, as well as the moral judgment of particular forms of sexual behavior. These disagreements are ultimately rooted in an inadequate and at times erroneous approach on the level of theological method.”
News of the Vatican appeared on the front page of The Ottawa Citizen (Jan. 31, 1992) and in major newspapers across the country.
McGill University-based theologian Gregory Baum and Toronto theologian Walter Principe, past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, expressed opposition to Fr. Guindon’s censure. Both men are long-time opponents of Vatican moral positions, being very vocal in their opposition to Humanae Vitae, the 1968 Vatican encyclical that condemned artificial birth control.
Quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, Baum stated that today “moral theologians are more concerned about whether sexuality ‘serves love, generosity and fidelity’ or ‘is just a power game, an attempt to dominate, a selfish seeking of pleasure.”
Quoted in the Toronto Star (Feb. 1), Fr. Principe of St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology, declared that it would be more to the point if the Vatican and many bishops “would be frank enough to acknowledge…that the Church’s official teaching, at least on contraception, needs further investigation by competent theologians.”
Fr. Principe is an advisor to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in Ottawa. Only six months ago – at the annual CCCB meeting in August 1991 – Victoria, B.C. Bishop Remi DeRoo defended Principe as “an outstanding theologian.”
But ‘the outstanding theologian’ has opposed Church teaching since the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae which he rejects (Editor: see related story below.)
Despite the falsity of Guindon’s moral positions, he may resume teaching next year at St. Paul’s Catholic Seminary. Rev. Hubert Doucette, Dean of Theology at the university, stated that Guindon will be back after his sabbatical ends in May of this year.
The whole reason for the Vatican going public is that after five years of ‘dialoguing’ by means of letters back and forth via Oblate Superiors which began in 1987, Cardinal Ratzinger’s CDF is not satisfied with the results.
Complaints against Guindon’s teaching date from the early seventies. His 1976 book Sexual Language ridiculed “Roman” moral theology and even then defended homosexual activity against the strictures of the Church.