Thursday, March 09, 2006

True Catholicism and Obedience

In my association with the Romans in the United States I am constantly amazed, shocked and appalled at the disconnect between those who proclaim their orthodoxy and the insolence they manifest in their interactions with others, especially their superiors, and in particular their bishop. I suppose that as a Byzantine I have a different view of things, but I can’t understand how even those who proclaim their orthodoxy most fiercely are among the first to speak condescendingly to their bishop.

I’m not speaking of heretical bishops, or bishops who do not have the care of their flock at heart. I speak of bishops who are faithful followers of Jesus Christ, successors of the Apostles, fully and faithfully in communion with the Holy Father. I have witnessed disobedience thinly disguised as initiative, insults cast off as signs of intellectualism, threats couched as appeals to a superior knowledge of canon law, and crass back-street foul-mouthed outbursts claimed as upright outrage at supposed hierarchical incompetence.

For example, a priest protests that an initiative proposed by the Bishop might somehow infringe on his ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’ as a pastor, when in reality he fears that such an initiative might reveal actions at best questionable on his part. The bishop courteously replies that he has no intentions of impinging on the priest's rights, but that the intiatve must continue.

The Result: Penitence?

Reform of one’s ways?


Instead an ever more shrill series of hollow threats at canonical action (which even priest knows would be unsustainable), culminates in filthy language, charges that the bishop is engaging in infantilism, hysteria that the rights of the priest are being impeded by the diocese, and exclamations that the exercise of episcopal authority proposed would be somehow be beyond the law.

The sad thing to me is that these priests are convinced in their hearts that they alone know the better way. They seem to really think they are being good priests and sons of the Church. They are certain of their orthodoxy. To these men, their loyalty to Catholicism is manifest when the bishop is ignored, circumvented, humiliated (in public, if possible), and castigated for disagreeing with them and their preferences.

No offences to other Christian communities, but these men betray themselves to be protestant in spirit, rather than orthodox in belief.

I say, "protestant" advisedly.

If they truly believed and followed the teachings of the Catholic Church there is simply no way they would dare speak to their bishop in this way. Instead of deriding him they would encourage him; instead of insulting him they would pray for him; instead of showing disobedience behind his back they would be the first to support his holy efforts for the salvation of souls. Instead of sitting through meetings with rolling eyes, and attention divided between the matter at hand and their parish web page, email and personal finances, they would prayerful attend to his every word.

Believe this to be so: No man can proclaim his Catholic orthodoxy if a) he does not support the Holy Father, b) he does not publicly support his bishop, c) he does not offer up daily prayers for the chief shepherd of the diocese in humility and love. These go hand in hand with all the revealed Doctrines of Holy Mother Church.

As the Holy See’s inspection of the US seminaries continues perhaps someone will make reading the Epistles of St Ignatios of Antioch mandatory!

Please God, forgive me this frustration. Help me to see my own sins rather than those of my brothers. Help me to seek peace rather than my own sense of justice.

Dear Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance!

PS, what is the reaction of holy bishops to priests as described above?

He offers prayers for them, engages in ascetic discipline on their behalf, and humbly works around them to proclaim the Holy Gospel.

I am such a sinner! May our Lord ever protect His holy Bishops and grant them many years!