Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Interview with a Priest

On Christmas Day, while some of us were figuring out what to wear to church or what to cook for dinner, I was out seeking a priest I could interview for my journalism assignment. It hadn’t been my plan to conduct an interview on Christmas morning; I only wanted to broach the topic and set up a meeting with an obliging priest.

Luckily for me, though, the priest who had presided over the Mass I attended was gracious enough to grant me an interview on the spot. However, he objected to the use of a voice recorder.

Below is an excerpt from the interview:

Lagos, Nigeria, 25th Dec. 2014 - Father John Cole* of Divine Mercy Catholic Church, Lekki, stated in an interview that even though bishops could not reach a consensus at the synod on the family, he was confident that the Church will not change her stance on marriage.

He said, “It’s very important that the traditional make-up of the family is retained, as a breakdown or redefinition of the family would lead to the destruction of society. There should not and cannot be a disassociation between the ‘procreative and unitive qualities of marriage,’ and it is wrong for Catholics to divorce or use artificial contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.”

Furthermore, Fr. Cole argued, “God created a man and a woman (Adam and Eve) with the command to be fruitful and multiply. In other words, God regarded them as co-creators of the human race, and anything to the contrary is abnormal as it does not serve God’s purpose of procreation.”

When asked if the Church should permit same-sex marriage, he likened it to eating the forbidden fruit, saying: “Adam went out of the boundaries of his freedom by eating the forbidden fruit, and then he created problems.” He added, “This uncontrolled freedom will lead to problems within the traditional family and society at large.” 

However, Fr. Cole struck a conciliatory tone saying, “The Church is motherly; she is responsible to everyone and cannot cast away her children.”

One of the topics that was discussed at the synod this year was the denial of Holy Communion to divorcees and remarried Catholics. Although the Church’s current stance hasn’t stopped Catholics from divorcing or remarrying, Fr. Cole said, “The Church cannot afford to encourage the dissolubility of marriages by allowing them to access communion. If the Church permits divorced and remarried couples to access communion, then how will she instill a sense of obligation and ‘foreverness’ in marriage?” He added, “Matrimony will cease being a sacrament.”

Given that some bishops are displeased with the direction Pope Francis is taking the Church, Fr. Cole said: “I have no objections to the Pope’s opinions, he is entitled to them. But issuing a decree that goes against the grain is a very different ball game.” Then he reiterated, “I’m very certain that the Church will not change its stance on marriage.”

***End of interview.

The last paragraph relates to a question about the Church’s teaching on papal infallibility and Pope Francis’s comments on homosexuality.

Also on the topic of homosexuality, I mentioned that there’s no verse in the bible where Jesus speaks out against it. His reply was, “Even though Jesus didn’t address it directly, on the topic of divorce he mentioned man and wife, not man and husband.”

What do you think about the interview? Do you agree with all of what the priest said, some of it or nothing at all?

*Name has been changed for the sake of privacy.