In the midst of detecting and reporting many discouraging events, we at OnePeterFive are always grateful to report encouraging developments. One such good development comes to us now from Colombia, Southern America. As we have reported, Rigoberto Corredor Bermúdez, the Bishop of Pereira, on 16 January 2017, had suspended of his priests — Father Luis Carlos Uribe Medina — for having had “expressed publicly and privately his rejection of the doctrinal and pastoral teachings of the Holy Father Francis, mainly regarding Marriage and the Eucharist [in the bishop’s words].”
Then, however, on 1 February, we were able to publish a decree which shows that Father Uribe was surprisingly reinstated as a priest, after signing a document in which he says: “I wish to remain under the obedience and in respect toward the Holy Father Francis and to my diocesan bishop, within the the Doctrine and Apostolic Tradition of the Church.” At the time, Steve Skojec reported the following so as to give the background of this surprising development:
The Spanish-language website Secretum Meum Mihi (SMM) also reports that Radio Rosa Mistica Colombia, a Catholic broadcaster, has aired a story stating that Uribe’s bishop, Rigoberto Bermúdez, has not only corrected this situation, but “now seems to have rejected Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s interpretation of Amoris Laetitia in favor of the orthodox view on Marriage and the Eucharist.” SMM says that this information, inasmuch as it is based on the interpretation of an anonymous witness, is not verifiable.
SMM includes an update to their story based on correspondence with Radio Rosa Mistica, in which the broadcaster has stated that the information “is true.” Further:
“We receive it from a source who is part of the group in which Father Luis Carlos spoke after the meeting with the bishop of Pereira. Although there is still no document on the orthodox position of the bishop, Father Luis Carlos informed these people in private that the prelate recognized his mistake, accepted the arguments of the priest whom he reinstitutes into his priestly magisterium and announced that he forbids in his diocese to give communion to the divorced and remarried in civil or free unions. Also the bishop said to be obedient, first of all, to the Sacred Catholic Doctrine…” [my emphasis]
We have now received from Father Uribe himself that official document (links to PDF original in Spanish) which, at the time, was still missing, in order to confirm the various reports from these different sources according to which the Bishop of Pereira himself has shown a change of heart. Father Uribe has now kindly sent to us the Pastoral Letter for Lent 2017, as it was published by Bishop Bermúdez, which shows that he now intends to preserve the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage. Dated 1 March 2017, the 11-page-long document deals with fundamental questions of the Catholic life in our world today. Bishop Bermúdez now conveys the importance of protecting human life and of carefully considering that God has given to us human beings a responsible free will. The Colombian bishop shows how men abuse this free will at times, and thus conduct themselves in a way which “distances us from God,” such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, homocide and suicide, as well as “abortion which removes the innocent little children who have a right to live from their mother’s wombs.” The prelate regrets — also in the face of so much corruption — that many faithful today “are ignorant and negligent of all that which Christ offers us though His Church so that we may grow in our greater imitation of Christ.” Bermúdez also describes how all too many Catholics do not attend Sunday Masses any more after they received their First Holy Communion.
It is here, on page 10 of his Pastoral Letter, that the Bishop of Pereira invites all Catholics to return to the practice of the Catholic Faith and to return to the Sacraments, to the life of the Church, her prayers and works of charity and apostolic works. It is here that he makes it clear that not everybody may have access to the Holy Eucharist:
Although the impediments of certain states in life (adultery, cohabitation and civil union), do not allow the reception of the sacramental communion, this does not therefore say that these people can not still participate in other acts of the ecclesial life that we have pointed out. The Lord will give grace to return to full communion, through conversion. [my emphasis]
In the current context of indifferentism, materialism, and the “dictatorship of egoistical individualism (self-adoration),” Bishop Bermúdez also reminds his readers of Our Lord’s words “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) He calls upon the faithful contritely to approach Jesus Christ and to seek His forgiveness. The Colombian prelate ends his instruction with a beautiful reference to Our Lady: “The Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, awaits us on Golgotha, to help us heal the wounds of sin.”
Thus we have here the example of a bishop who — perhaps in humbly listening to one of his own candidly loyal priests — was able to change his former position and to distance himself from some of the troubling and confusing changes in the Church’s moral teaching that have come to us during the pontificate of Pope Francis.