Bishop Gracida: Sensus Fidelium
“OVER ON THE “PRIESTS’ SECRETARY BLOG,
some of what I had written about the scandal of the Ted Kennedy funeral was reproduced and posted on that Blog.
One person, Drew Black, sent in a comment to that Blog:
Thank-you, Excellency for the courage to speak out, to put the truth into print. May I ask why it is the laity’s duty to formally criticize the Cardinal of Boston? It would seem that the most efficacious means of correction would come from the top. Authority in the church lies with its leaders. You must stand up publicly to one another. Please. We pray for you in this year of the priest.?Mary help you.
Thinking that others might be asking themselves the similar question “why did Bishop Gracida consider it the laity’s duty to formally criticize the Cardinal of Boston?” I decided to send an answer to Drew Black on that same Blog. Here was my answer:
September 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm
You ask “why is it the laity’s duty to formally criticize the Cardinal of Boston?”?In response I would refer you to the Historical Tracts written by the Servant of God, John Henry Cardinal Newman, in which he describes the situation in the Fourth Century when, he says, practically all of the Church’s bishops were tainted either with Arianism or Semi-Arianism, all except for the Pope and Saint Athanasius. The “sensus fidelium” of the laity saved the Church because they would not follow the lead of their bishops. The Pope and Saint Athanasius, relying on that “sensus fidelium” were able to carry the day at the Council of Nicea. Sometimes, history does repeat itself.
My point in referring to what Cardinal Newman wrote was that there are times in the life of the Church when the laity needs to make known to the Church’s hierarchy exactly what the sensus fidelium is with regard to whatever burning issue is affecting the unity of the Church at that moment.”
Bravo Bishop! It is all too easy for we laity to sit back and leave protecting the teaching of the Church to the clergy. Rubbish! The teachings of Christ apply to the laity and the clergy both, and the laity cannot shirk the duty to point out when events are taking place within the Church that are in flat contradiction to that teaching. The Church, the Bride of Christ, is no less precious to the laity, and when the clergy neglect their duty, that is no excuse for faithful members of the laity to forget theirs.