Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland, Oregon, met with about 125 parishioners from St. Clare Parish earlier this week for a 90-minute question-and-answer evening on some of the Church’s moral teachings.
The archbishop had accepted an invitation to speak at the parish, which more than 100 parishioners had extended in a September letter. The letter requested a meeting to clarify questions that had been raised by two columns the archbishop wrote in the Catholic Sentinel, the archdiocesan newspaper.
In the first letter, published May 7, Archbishop Vlazny said he would not refuse Communion to Catholics who publicly disagree with Church teaching. Instead, he asked Catholics to refrain if they found themselves at serious odds with the Church, such as voting for a pro-abortion candidate and endorsing same-sex marriage.
The questions from parishioners included a range of topics, including homosexuality, Communion, the clergy-sex abuse crisis, the role of conscience, what it means to be in public disagreement with the Church, reported The Oregonian.
The archbishop explained to parishioners that for Catholics to be in Communion means they are in agreement on major Church teachings. He said that Catholics who refrain from Communion could still come to Church and pray with the community.
According to the report, one parishioner said he believes the Church will eventually change its teaching on homosexuality and asked if he could, in good conscience, disagree with the Church as long as it’s not public.
The archbishop answered the question by explaining that the Church teaching on chastity applied to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Both groups violate it when they have sex outside of marriage, a relationship that the church sees as existing between a man and a woman and open to the procreation of a child, he explained.
“Our prayer will not be that it will change," he reportedly said of whatever teaching a dissenting Catholic might object to. "But we will pray that you will change."