Expert Answer Forum

God as She QUESTION from Susan Szoke March 1, 1999 Dear John-Paul Ignatius,
Our parish parochial administrator is highly educated and a past Catholic university theology instuctor as well as a diocesan priest. His views are sometimes controversial and we all know it, including him. For the most part his teaching abilities are a blessing. He seems to recognize the Pope's authoritative role in teaching doctrinal matters.
What is frustrating is when he states at the youth (Life Teen) Mass that God might be a she (we don't really know for sure) or that all that matters for eternal salvation is that when we die, God will ask us one question, 'Do you love Me'? and if we answer 'yes' then we'll spend eternity with Him.
These and many other statements have caused some confusion for one of my own teenagers, myself, and other people as well. I suspect that when the priest says these things, he is getting carried away (he's a compulsive talker) and proposing philosophical ideas as if for debate, forgetting momentarily that sermons and statements made throughout the Mass do not allow for debate.
My research and understanding of God as Father, Jesus as our brother, the reasons for priests as men only, and our walk with God throughout our lives do not square with the statements I quoted above from this priest. At best, I find them misleading or incomplete.
I tried to meet with him and my 15 yr. old after my son took the when you die...all you have to say is 'yes' a little too literally, but the priest didn't return my call. I am in the process of writing to him. My felt the priest was giving the okay to live life however you choose as long as you stand ready to say yes to God after you die...and I understand my child's confusion!
I like this priest, but could use any helpful ideas in writing to him to express my concern.
Thank you, Sue Szoke
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on March 5, 1999 Dear Sue:
I will be bold in my opening statement. I hope that your interpretation of what this priest is saying is inaccurate. If your reporting of his words are accurate, then this priest is teaching error, serious error, and he is jeopardizing the souls of his parishioners with such utter nonsense.
And I would suggest that contrary to your generous characterization of him he is NOT respectful of the Pope's authority on doctrinal matters. If he were he would not be calling God, she, and certainly and absolutely not be saying that all we have to do is say yes to God in the end and it does matter what we do in our lives. I have to believe he did not mean that, but......
The precepts of the Church matters. The Church teaches that we MUST believe certain thing. If we don’t believe those things we can find ourselves in a heretical state with our soul at risk.
In addition the Church and the Scripture is ABSOLUTELY clear that how we live our life MATTERS. We cannot just wait until the end and think we will be guaranteed a place in heaven.
The Bible is filled by stories of such fools who think this – like the ten maidens who did not prepare and was locked out of the marriage banquet, for example.
I am also reminded of two verses that prove this priest advice is dangerously wrong:
’And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample good laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you… -- Like 12:19-20
We cannot stand around thinking we will have a chance to repent at the last minute. We may die without notice without that final chance and may find ourselves forever separated from God.
The second verse is:
Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. -- Matthew 7:21
What is doing God’s will? It is not doing as one pleases throughout one’s live! It is living the Christ-life which means that we must believe as the Church believes and do as the Church instructs, do good works, participate in the Sacraments, etc. etc.
This is such a serious thing that I would discuss this with the priest and if he does not conform to sound doctrine I would go to the bishop. Canon law says you have a right to expect sound teaching from the pastors of the Church; and you have a right to redress grievances to the bishop when sound teaching is not happening. Be sure of your facts though. Have written or audio documentation of the erroneous teaching.
For the real scoop in outline form to use to instruct yourself and your children, refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
We will be praying for your situation, and for this priest.
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