Fr. Dresser’s urgent invitation to be excommunicated and expelled from the clerical state
The more modernistic the liberal clerical cohort in Australia tries to become, the older are the heresies that they promote. Lately, one Fr Peter Dresser is promoting his own brand of Arianism, a heresy that basically denied the divinity of Christ, and which was solemnly rejected by the Council of Nicaea (325). “No human being can ever be God,” writes Fr. Dresser in a booklet distributed to the faithful, “and Jesus was a human being. It is as simple as that.”
Okay, here’s my version of simple: “No Catholic priest may deny the divinity of Christ, and Dresser is a Catholic priest. It’s as simple as that.” If Fr. Dresser really denies the divinity of Christ (among several other things!), declare his formal excommunication and expel him from the clerical state. Do it quickly, do it cleanly, and do it without rancor. But do it.
Most everything one needs is in Canon 1364:
1. Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 194.1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in can. 1336.1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.
2. If contumacy of long duration or the gravity of scandal demands it, other penalties can be added, including dismissal from the clerical state.
The gravity of the scandal given by Fr. Dresser’s direct feeding of his heresies to innocent faithful, and the world-wide attention such heretics can command in modern times, dramatically shortens the time table that hitherto was available for Church authorities to think about how to react to these cases. Besides, it’s not as if Dresser has come up with some new, highly nuanced, abstruse theory that takes years to tease out. His heresy is ancient, and worse, his public promotion of it, is an urgent invitation to the Church to do something about it.
I see precious little evidence that the forbearance the Church has shown toward egregious clerical offenders over the last 40 years has either won them back or spared the faithful untold sufferings in the meantime. The “ignore it till it goes away” approach just does not work anymore (my theories on why to be explained elsewhere) and I think the time has come to implement a “no more nonsense” approach when we are faced with blatant betrayals of fundamental Christian truths in the very ranks of the men ordained to preach it.
Talk about simple.
PS: If you are looking for silver lining to Fr. Dresser’s cloud, check out Fr. Anthony Robbie’s summation of Dresser’s tract: “The Council of Nicaea settled the question that Christ was God in 325, so [Dresser] is 1,700 years out of date. The rest [of his tract] is a regurgitation of every discredited 19th century liberal Protestant German cliche in the book.” Well put, that!