Father Wayne Dohey is pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in St. John’s. A man, I assume a fellow Catholic, well known to Father Dohey, committed a despicable offense against me on Sunday past. As I explained here and here, I was subjected by this man to a vicious assault:
Today I left in the morning as usual to protest at several parishes in St. John's area with abortion signage.
At St. Patrick's Church I was standing on the sidewalk with my usual signage when a well dressed gentleman strolled towards me and when he was about 15 feet away he yelled out: "Get that sign off our property" and by that time he was at the edge of my sign and then gave it a huge shove. Since I was holding up the sign, I went with it and before I could even think about what was happening he took advantage of me being off balance and gave me a big push out onto the road. Basically I went flying and hit the ground hard, fortunately not on my head. However, more fortunately still, no traffic was coming my way or it could have been lights out.”
I have called upon the Archbishop of St. John’s, Rgt. Rev. Martin Currie, to condemn this attack for the following reason:
Some people have said that the priests, and possibly the Archbishop himself, are quite upset with my protests which take place at the various parishes in and around St. John’s. The aim of these protests is to stir the consciences of Catholics to stand firmly against abortion and the underlying causes of abortion (e.g. contraception, dissent from Church teachings, profanation of the Holy Eucharist, etc.). The clergy are generally highly resistant to such a message and, again, I have been told that many priests might be sympathetic to my attacker who himself, I believe, holds a respected position at St. Patrick’s Church. For this reason I believe it is extremely critical for the Archbishop to make public comment condemning such hostility and violence and also affirming the right of all Catholics—indeed all individuals—to peacefully protest the heinous crime of abortion, at any time and any venue.
I now ask Father Dohey to do the very same thing, i.e. to out this attacker and to denounce his violent actions. Otherwise this priest will fail to provide redress for this crime and his silence will embolden the perpetrator and others of his violent mindset. It is the least Father Dohey can do to maintain not only the pro-life credentials which he claims to have but his reputation as a priest of the Church of Jesus Christ. Remember that this crime was witnessed first-hand by a goodly number of his congregation while I believe the entire assembly in the pews at Mass on that Sunday morning were aware of a police presence and the interrogation of Father Dohey by police. Discussion and speculation as to what happened is rife and everyone touched by the disgraceful conduct of this Catholic parishioner will be awaiting a word of clarification from the priest. Scandal is a very real possibility in this incident.
The other request I would have for Father Dohey is that for the sake of this man’s soul, Father Dohey should encourage him to find a place of repentance and willingly choose to confess his sin in the Sacrament of Confession before the man receives Holy Communion. The Church has always taught that the party who assails another unjustly commits a mortal sin. Regarding the means to address mortal sin, the Catechism is clear:
1457 According to the Church's command, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year." Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.
Canon Law is also clear. Canon 916 states:
A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.
Furthermore, if an individual refuses to acknowledge his/her sin and persists in that sin—or the attitude which leads to such sin—after having been instructed and admonished, Canon 915 requires/obliges the minister of Holy Communion to deny the Eucharist to that individual.
I note that on the parish’s website, classes in Family Catechesis are upcoming in October. The following information appears:
The first year of the program will build your child’s knowledge of the Church as a whole, and how they belong to the Church community. The following years will further develop their faith, while they also prepare to receive the Sacraments of initiation.
Here is an opportunity, Father Dohey, to put the Church’s teachings and Sacraments into practice and, using this sad example of violence to achieve ends, to teach your Church community the ways of peace and pro-life which our Lord Jesus advocated.