Portrait of a Canadian Dissident
by Joseph K. Woodard
from Alberta Report, July 8, 1996
Suddenly, on October 20, 1993, Andre Guindon, age 60, priest Oblate of Mary Immaculate, theologian and professor of ethics, suffered a heart attack. His body was found seated in a chair, his cold hand gripping a book. And as he went to meet his maker, his more traditionalist critics suspected that he would have some explaining to do.
Like the American priest-theologian Charles Curran, the Swiss Hans Kung, and the American Gregory Baum, Father Guindon spent his life teaching young Catholic seminarians to spurn his Church’s moral teachings, particularly its “hang-ups” on human sexuality. He remained on the Church’s payroll, protected and even promoted by his superiors (like Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais). Like his fellow liberals, Fr. Guindon eventually attracted the attention of the Vatican. But unlike them, he was saved the embarrassment of being stripped of the title of “Catholic” theologian.
Ten months prior to Fr. Guindon’s death, Rome’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a “note” on his 1986 book, The Sexual Creators, criticizing his positions on premarital sex, homosexuality and contraception. Among other things, the Vatican requested that he clarify his assertion that “the moral journey in the sexual lives of spouses, parents, sons and daughters, lesbians and gays, does not differ substantially from one lifestyle to another.” He then defended himself by saying that he had not been discussing homosexual acts, and that the Church must update its moral teachings. At the time of his death, he was awaiting a Vatican response.
“Traditional Catholics are fixated on sex,” said Father Guindon in a 1986 interview with the Ottawa Citizen. “You could kill your neighbour, and that was a sin, but as soon as someone touched his wee-wee, God Almighty would fall right down.”
Andre Guindon was born in Hull in 1933. He joined the Oblates at 20, and studied in Rome and Toulouse. He was ordained at 27, and a year later, in 1961, he was appointed moral theologian at Ottawa’s St. Paul University (which includes the diocesan seminary). Between 1978 and 1984, he served as dean of theology. With the 1986 publication of The Sexual Creators, lay traditionalists, annoyed by his incongruous assertion that homosexual love is superior to natural love, began agitating for his removal. But until his death, his superiors in the national hierarchy protected him.
“A woman does not make love to another woman, or a man to another man, because that is what is expected from everyone; or because that is what must be done to get a provider or a homemaker, or because that is how babies are made,” the teacher wrote in “Sexual Creators.” “Healthy gay persons are sexually active because they wish to express their affection to someone to whom they are attracted.”
Colleague Richard Hardy, a professor of spirituality at St. Paul University, is uncertain of Father Guindon’s legacy. “The Bishops were fairly quiet on [Bill C-33], but I don’t know if Andre had any lasting influence on them,” he says. “Still, he had a tremendous effect on our school. He was ahead of his time, and he was very disappointed that the Vatican never understood his work.” Whatever Fr. Guindon’s influence, however, the seminary’s declining enrolment is now forcing it to close its doors.
Port Colbourne, Ont., parish priest Paul McDonald, a professor of ethics at Niagara University, finds Fr. Guindon’s “sexual liberation” somewhat self-contradictory. “Is it the Church that’s been obsessed with sex, or is it fallen man?” he asks. “The sexual revolution has been obsessed with everything self-centred in sex. Father Guindon was right to say that the Church must adjust its teaching to the times; but she must always stress just those things that the times don’t want to hear. Today, we don’t want to hear that the purposes of sex are found in children and marriage.”
Link to Vatican archives (Link added by this blogger)