Foster, a priest for 18 years, and a conservative Catholic activist, has been in a growing series of confrontations with Adamec since the early 1990s.They disagreed on issues involving the church’s position on abortion, homosexual priests and liturgical reforms.
Adamec was in St. Louis yesterday for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual meeting and unavailable for comment.Foster, who remains a priest but is not permitted to celebrate Mass while on leave, stressed that his decision was not prompted by the threatening letters he received, or by any doubts about his faith.
“This is not a negative comment about the Catholic faith or the priesthood,” he said.“This diocese is dysfunctional for me personally, and it’s necessary for me to take a leave of absence now so that my faith survives,” he said.“I’ve had years of constant consternation over issues of major concern that I’ve expressed to the bishop. It’s always over a matter of orthodoxy. This diocese is in chaos,” he said.
Foster ticked off a list of controversies that have embroiled priests within the diocese since 1990, when priests protested The Catholic Register’s publication of ads for pro-abortion candidates.Along with others, including his brother and lay Catholic leader George Foster, James Foster protested the 1998 appearance of then-Gov. Tom Ridge, whose stance is pro-abortion, as the guest speaker at a diocese fund-raiser.
In 1999, he publicly criticized Penn State University for pro-homosexual seminars and criticized a State College psychiatrist who screened priests as violating Catholic doctrine.In 2000, he and other dissidents attacked Adamec’s stance on homosexual priests, saying it contradicted Vatican teachings. “There have been years and years of contradictory signals that have been given to the faithful and to priests. It’s very difficult to operate in an environment that’s the opposite of what you’ve been taught in seminary,” he said.