The Winnipeg Statement was a relatively short document, but what it contained shook the Church. The Statement placed the CCB’s stamp of approval on dissent, and in an indirect but not so subtle way challenged Papal authority. It placed pastoral theology firmly ahead of moral theology and replaced an objective truth with a more palatable subjective one.
Here are paragraphs 25, 26, and 34 from the Winnipeg Statement:
25. In the situation we described earlier in this statement (par. 17) the confessor or counsellor must show sympathetic understanding and reverence for the sincere good faith of those who fall in their effort to accept some point of the encyclical.
26. Counsellors may meet others who, accepting the teaching of the Holy Father, find that because of particular circumstances they are involved in what seems to them a clear conflict of duties, e.g., the reconciling of conjugal love and responsible parenthood with the education of children already born or with the health of the mother. I accord with the accepted principles of moral theology, if these persons have 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.
34. We conclude by asking all to pray fervently that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide his Church through all darkness and suffering. We, the People of God, cannot escape this hour of crisis but there is no reason to believe that it will create division and despair. The unity of the Church does not consist in a bland conformity in all ideas, but rather in a union of faith and heart, in submission to God's will and a humble but honest and ongoing search for the truth. That unity of love and faith is founded in Christ and as long as we are true to Him nothing can separate us. We stand in union with the Bishop of Rome the successor of Peter, the sign and contributing cause of our unity with Christ and with one another. But this very union postulates such a love of the Church that we can do no less than to place all of our love and all of our intelligence at its service. If this sometimes means that in our desire to make the Church more intelligible and more beautiful we must, as pilgrims do, falter in the way or differ as to the way, no one should conclude that our common faith is lost or our loving purpose blunted. The great Cardinal Newman once wrote: "Lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom We believe that the Kindly Light will lead us to a greater understanding of the ways of God and the love of man.
Cowards! So can someone tell me what the line, “… if these persons have 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…”, does not permit? It seems to open the door to homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, and just about any other sin one can think of. As long, of course, as we “have tried sincerely but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives.”
This was an era filled with a new “Catholic” intellectual class of theologians who seemed to think of dissent as not only an intellectual right, but a virtue. This group was present as “advisors” to the Bishops during the writing of the Statement, and played a huge and influential role in its exploitation. As Msgr. Vincent Foy has said, “In the main, faithful Catholics remained silent. They did not believe their shepherds would turn into sheep and scatter before the theological and "intellectual" wolves.”
But scatter they did, allowing people like Father Walter Principe to give media interviews, spreading statements like, “I hope that they (the Canadian Bishops) will make clear to all that one who dissents with a well-informed and well-formed conscience is still a loyal Catholic in good standing.” Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Saint Blasé, all Bishops willing to give up their lives and be martyred for the truth, yet these Bishops didn’t see the truth worth their personal reputation.
So, if you’ve been following Fr. Z’s coverage of various reactions to the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, you will have noticed that there are more than a few Bishops who are, shall we say, less than happy.
So with that in mind I ask, are the winds of Winnipeg picking up and starting to blow again?