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Prominent Bishop Quits After Lambasting Pope Francis

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

A bishop who lambasted Pope Francis for his approach to doctrine Wednesday was forced to resign that evening by the U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a statement Wednesday announcing the resignation of Father Thomas Weinandy from the position of consultant to the Committee on Doctrine, following harsh criticism that Weinandy levied against Francis. Weinandy accused Francis of cultivating “chronic confusion” within the church, “demeaning” the importance of doctrine, creating a welcoming atmosphere for “harmful theological and pastoral views,” and giving the impression that those who criticize him will be alienated “or worse,” according to Crux Now.

Weinandy, whose comments conflicted with the Committee on Doctrine’s vision of working “in support of, and in affective collegiality with, the Holy Father and the Church in the United States,” resigned immediately after he spoke with the General Secretary of the Conference. Weinandy expressed his criticism in a letter addressed to Francis which he wrote in July but published openly when he felt that Francis did not adequately address the concerns he raised.

“I don’t think anyone can, or should, associate my letter with the USCCB or the American bishops,” Weinandy told Crux. “Neither was involved in my writing the letter, and its publication will be news to them.”

Weinandy said he wrote and published the letter only after he felt that God had fulfilled his request for a sign as to whether or not he should do so. He specifically prayed that, if God wanted him to write and publish the letter, at a particular interval in his day Weinandy “must meet someone that I know but have not seen in a very long time and would never expect to see in Rome at this time. That person cannot be from the United States, Canada or Great Britain.  Moreover, that person has to say to me in the course of our conversation, ‘Keep up the good writing’.”

Weinandy claimed he had such an encounter the next day with an unnamed archbishop, who told him to “keep up the good writing” verbatim. The encounter, according to Weinandy, was Christ’s sign to him that he should air his grievances against Francis.

Weinandy, a former Capuchin Franciscan priest, once served as the chief of staff for the Committee on Doctrine and served as Executive Director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices for the USCCB from 2005-2013. Francis also awarded Weinandy the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” medal in 2013 and named him to the International Theological Commission, which advises the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 2014.

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