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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2017-02-12 Part III

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A Final Comment on “Solidarity with Refugees”: In our post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2017-02-05, we made five comments concerning the item “Bishop Burbidge Voices Solidarity with Refugees“. Now, because our Pastor continues to carry this item in the Pastor’s Piece and on the St. Peter’s Website, we would like to add one more comment:

Comment 6: We read The Catholic Thing with regularity and great interest. Authors featured there from the Diocese of Arlignton include our former Pastor, Fr. Jerry Pokorsky, the Bishop’s Delegate for the Clergy, Fr. Paul Scalia, and now retired, Fr. Mark Pilon. A recent article by Fr. Pilon, Conscience and Disagreements on Social Teachings should be read by all in the Diocese to help interpret the recent pronouncement by Bishop Vasquez, USCCB Committee on Migration Chair Strongly Opposes Executive Order Because It Harms Vulnerable Refugee and Immigrant Families. The bottom line up front summary of Fr. Pilon’s article might be:

“To suggest that political positions taken by a bishops’ conference – based upon their reading of practical situations related to economic policies, the environment, immigration policies and such things – are equivalent to doctrinal pronouncements binding on Catholic conscience is quite misleading.”

At the very end, Fr. Pilon provides for me and my wife reason to continue with the skeptical view described in our comments in For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2017-02-05:

“So the “positions” of the loosely defined “Catholic Church,” which really amount to some leaders in the Catholic Church, are not necessarily relevant and are non-binding on the Catholic faithful. Such positions should be considered – as should other positions and a broad range of factors – in forming our consciences. But to suggest that they are in fact binding on Catholics who have come to informed disagreement is not theologically sustainable.”

Yet, I don’t look to just one article to defend our position. Last week, I took the matter up with my Spiritual Director. His advice to me was a strong echo of Fr. Pilon’s article. When I read this last week’s edition of the Arlington Catholic Herald, I noted that several of the faithful in the Diocese had sent in letters questioning the way the Herald had reported on this matter. Thus, the Solidarity with Refugees stance of the USCCB and the Bishop is truly worthy of debate.

In the end, I will have to do what I said I would when I was in high school:

“I’ll read a book, I’ll stop and look, I’ll give it my perusal. I’ll think its thoughts, Then think them twice, Then accept or give them my refusal.”


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