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Turmoil in Bathurst - Fr. Donat Gionet

Up is down and down is up?

Please excuse my confusion, but would somebody kindly explain to me what Fr. Donat Gionet did that his bishop, His Grace Most Rev. Valéry Vienneau, Bishop of Bathurst, has revoked his rights to serve mass across the Diocese of Bathurst.

For those of you unfamiliar with recent events in the Acadian peninsula, Fr. Gionet caused a whirlwind of commotion at the end of August. While sub’ing, he preached standard Church doctrine on homosexuality and abortion, and pointed to the lacunas within his own college of priests. All this got him into trouble with his bishop. Synopses of the proceedings may be found here and here.

My confusion isn’t allayed by examining what the principals had to say for themselves. First, I turn to Fr.Giovet. The following written statement is from the father, translated from the original French and given to a local newspaper:

I said: 'Today, it is we Catholics who are destroying our Catholic Church. We need only look at the number of abortions among Catholics, look at the homosexuals, and ourselves.' (That's when I pointed at my chest - through that action I wanted to say, we the priests) and I continued saying: We are destroying our Church ourselves. And that's when I said that those were the words expressed by Pope John Paul II. At that point, in the St-Léolin church only, I added: 'We can add to that the practice of watching gay parades, we are encouraging this evil' ... What would you think of someone who seeing what was happening on (Sept.) 11, 2001, the crumbling of the towers, had begun clapping? We must not encourage evil, whatever form it takes.

Second, as for the diocese several statements were made by the vicar-general, Fr. Wesley Wade. First, “We have to respect people on their own journey.

Has Fr. Giovet has demonstrated a lack of respect to Catholics, of whom he is a member?

The vicar general added:

It was mainly the pastoral approach that was lacking...” and  “A lack of respect, perhaps, for the people identified, for the groups of people as well, which caused a division in the community.  It was a difficult decision.

"Lack of pastoral approach... lack of respect… caused a division in the community." Pray tell how?

Finally the vicar general concluded with the following: “the first message of Christ was to reveal to us a loving father and a merciful father and that we are all called to be his children and that we are all loved unconditionally by Him.”

Can we presume that he is accusing Fr. Giovet for a lack of fatherly love and mercy as well as a lack of unconditional love?

Is not the Good shepherd to guide his sheep over rocks and around briars? As someone with much pastoral experience - Fr. Giovet is 85 years old, his statement strikes me from one who loves the Church dearly, to point of examining its foibles and suggesting how to redress current ills. Pointing to the dangers of abortion and the support of the homosexual lifestyle, he is shedding light upon the ills of current Catholic behaviour rather than leaving it in obscurity. Is fraternal correction dead?

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