Sacramento diocese publishes outside speaker guidelines

Avoid confusion or scandal, don't incite disrespect or dissent, use of church, school or diocesan property prohibited to any speaker who promotes views contrary to Church teaching

Bishop Jaime Soto (image from Diocese of Sacramento)

The following is an excerpt from what was published in the April 15, 2019 edition of Weekly Diocesan News from the Office of the Bishop, without explanation:

Diocese of Sacramento Guidelines for Selecting Outside Speakers Parishes, Movements, Apostolic Groups, Catholic Schools

It is the responsibility of the hosting party to present a list of potential speakers. The Diocesan Bishop will make the final decision. In most cases, the bishop has appointed the Director of the Office of Clergy Formation to gather and review all required information and make a final decision.

Required Documentation for Speaker

1. For Priests / Deacons / Religious

a. Letter of good standing from the diocesan Bishop or the Religious Superior. (It must be original and dated within the last six months).

b. Letters of good standing should mention the specific date(s) and location(s) of the speaking event(s) and should include the following language: He is a person of good moral character and reputation. I know nothing which would in any way limit or disqualify him from his ministry. I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children or any person who habitually lacks reason. I am unaware of any incident in which he may been involved which would adversely affect his performance as a priest. To the best of my knowledge, he does not have a current, untreated alcohol or substance abuse problem, nor does he have a current untreated emotional or mental health problem. He is in compliance with our policies and procedures related to the protection of children and young people.

2. For the Laity

a. Letter of good standing from the diocesan Bishop or from the Diocesan Apostolic Movement or group. (It must be original and dated within the last six months).

b. Letters of good standing should mention the specific date(s) and location(s) of the speaking event(s) and should include the following language:  He/She is a Catholic in good standing with the Diocese/Archdiocese of [name]  He/She is a person of good moral character and reputation. He/She has been fingerprinted and otherwise fulfilled our Safe Environment requirements. I know nothing that would in any way limit or disqualify him/her from ministry.

General Rules on Speaker Stipends and Sales

Under no circumstances is the speaker allowed to request a donation or take up a collection (Note: Violations of this rule may result in the suspension of faculties of the speaker in this diocese and the host may lose the authority to create or host future events).

Host Responsibilities

Provide an environment that supports learning (space and materials) As a general rule, the invitation of any speaker or honoree should be an opportunity to evangelize and catechize the faithful. Thus, anything which may cause confusion or scandal or incite to disrespect or dissent is to be avoided. Remember that when a speaker is assessed, Diocesan Statute #81 must be followed: Any speaker who publicly promotes or advocates views which are contrary to Church teaching, may not give a talk, retreat, workshop, course, etc., at Church related events, or on church, school or diocesan property in the Diocese of Sacramento. Likewise, anyone who publicly promotes or advocates views which are contrary to Church teaching may not be given awards, honors, or other marks of public recognition.

Full text at Diocese of Sacramento website.

Comments

  1. Deacon Craig Anderson says

    That seems reasonable and prudent to me. As a deacon, I’m often asked to provide a letter from my bishop before speaking in another diocese. I especially like, “Diocesan Statute #81 must be followed: Any speaker who publicly promotes or advocates views which are contrary to Church teaching, may not give a talk, retreat, workshop, course, etc., at Church related events, or on church, school or diocesan property in the Diocese of Sacramento.” Our Catholic institutions should not be used to promote things contrary to the Faith. And, that should be true in all of our Dioceses.

  2. On that basis it seems Fr. James Martin, S.J. would not be allowed to speak. He causes confusion, scandal and dissent.

    • Elizabeth #2 says

      Exactly, but he must be being protected by someone of importance.

    • Anonymous says

      YES!! Let’s see the Pope write a letter like this, for the whole Church! And no more heretical, immoral, (or potentially-dangerous!) clerics nor laymen– like Fr.James Martin, S.J., or like clerics guilty of criminal child or adult sex molestation, or cover-ups of clerical sex crimes!!

  3. Very encouraging. (But what matters, of course, is how the guidelines will be applied. Let us hope for the best.)

  4. Undoubtedly Jesus Himself would not be permitted to speak or present at a parish in many dioceses now. These “rules” are showing up in many dioceses. Jesus sowed confusion and dissent and paid dearly for it. Just ask the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Chief Priest and the elders. They certainly didn’t want Jesus spreading his message around.

    • Jesus speaks in every parish during Mass. What are you talking about?

    • Jesus would not be permitted to speak at a Parish today? Are you serious. Jesus upheld the “moral law” so therefore he didn’t sow confusion and dissent, just the opposite. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Chief Priests were more concerned about their “cultural laws” (which Jesus did away with) and their own welfare than their fellow man/woman.

    • @FHK: Bishops are charged with the role, which is their main charge, of teacher of the flock in his diocese, the would including guarding the flock from false or heterodox teaching, which is rampant today, and really the main problem in the church today. Your thinking seems to reflect a lack of sound teaching, again too prevalent today.

  5. Thank God for a real Bishop (or is it Archbishop?)
    Leadership, and unambiguous directions…..LOVE IT!!

  6. Is this a new policy? Or just restating standing practice?
    Banning ‘free will’ offerings means the sponsor must cover any speakers’ honoraria and other costs.
    As far as ‘dissent’, what about those who call for the Pope to resign?

    • Anonymous says

      It’s not against faith to call for anyone’s resignation. It is against faith to call sin not a sin.

    • As far as ‘dissent’, what about those who call for the Pope to resign?
      Dissenting from Church teaching is not the same as disagreeing with a Pope who is directly or indirectly causing dissent and confusion and undermining the Church’s teachings.

  7. Mike M: very much appreciate your comments. During my college days many years ago, the priest who taught the theology class all students were required to take taught his students about the Triune God as love, TRUTH, beauty, peace, merciful and infinite, the totally Other and, yet, totally PRESENT. The good Father told the students that the search for the TRUTH is part of the human experience of which we do not need to be afraid…because it will lead to the TRUE God. Nearly 50 years later I remain a practicing Catholic continuing a journey with the Truthful God revealed by Jesus Christ. The Church has nothing to be afraid of, including dissent and debate.

    • Anonymous says

      Harold, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Church “being afraid of debates and dissent!” It has to do with Love and Respect for Christ! The Bishop has a big responsibility for Catholic clerics and laymen, who come to town, to teach and preach in his Diocese! Good Catholic clerics and renowned laymen who teach and peach, are there to uplift, inspire, and help Catholics to grow in their holy Faith!! That is their whole purpose– to give their very lives, for Christ’s holy mission!!

    • “Any speaker who publicly promotes or advocates views which are contrary to Church teaching, may not give a talk, retreat, workshop, course, etc., at Church related events, or on church, school or diocesan property in the Diocese of Sacramento. Likewise, anyone who publicly promotes or advocates views which are contrary to Church teaching may not be given awards, honors, or other marks of public recognition.” On the one had, #81 forbids rather plainly speakers who dissent from Church teaching. On the other hand, Harold glories in dissent. He wouldn’t be happy in Sacramento.

  8. How very refreshing! I’m all for it.

  9. William Robert says

    Harold: absolutely agree with you regarding truth, debate and dissent in the Church. So many fundamentalist Catholics seem to forget there has always been debate and dissent in the Church – one need only to read the Acts of the Apostles to learn about the big conflict between St Peter and St Paul to understand the debate led to the development of doctrine. As St Pope John Paul II often said: “Be not afraid.”

  10. How will this be implemented in Catholic schools? In some dioceses, like San Jose, for example, there are Catholic school principals and teachers who are known to be involved in homosexual relationships. They are not “outside” speakers; they’re teaching daily in their local Catholic schools. I suspect they are likely to teach things contrary to the faith, since they are living contrary to the faith.

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