In my editorial note to this past Wednesday’s posting of the article “Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy explains his critical letter to Pope Francis,” I wrote:
I spoke for a few minutes this morning with Fr. Weinandy, and he told me that since the letter’s publication, he has received many positive and encouraging notes from theologians, priests, and lay people. However, the USCCB asked him to resign from his current position as consultant to the bishops, and he has submitted his resignation. In making such a request, the USCCB, it would appear, reinforces Fr. Weinandy’s very point about fearfulness and lack of transparency.
I’ve received some questions about the request for Fr. Weinandy’s resignation, including the suggestion that since I didn’t include a quote, it cannot be taken as a viable report. I spoke again this morning with Fr. Weinandy, and he gave me the following remark: “The USCCB strongly encouraged me to resign.”
When I asked about the timeline, he told me that his letter had first been published at 10:00am Eastern time, and that the USCCB contacted him at about 2:30pm. He submitted his resignation an hour later. The two press releases from the USCCB were released in succession around 4:00pm (here and here).
Fr. Weinandy also told me that he has received “hundreds of e-mails and all of them are positive.” Most of them, he added, “are from laity. Many of them expressed their gratitude that I gave voice to their concerns.”
He further noted that prominent critics of his letter include “the National Catholic Reporter and Fr. James Martin, SJ.” This was in reference to Fr. Martin’s article titled “Dissent, Now & Then: Thomas Weinandy and the meaning of Jesuit discernment.” Fr. Martin is joined by Fr. John J. Strynkowski, who also used to be (like Fr. Weinandy) the executive director of Secretariat for Christian Doctrine at the USCCB, in using the term “dissent” in referring to Fr. Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis. I’ll have more to say about those articles a bit later.