There is an ongoing attempt around Saint Blogs to get critics of Pope Francis to shut up. Frank Walker of Pewsitter will have none of it:
Catholic World Report has an unfortunate piece which tries to make Faithful sensible Catholics feel guilty for honest direct criticism of bishops. Right out of the box we’re all disgruntled, full of pride and ‘cheap chatter.’ Oh, and if we knew anything of Church teaching, we’d be very careful with our ‘murmuring.’
While disgruntled criticisms of Catholic bishops are nothing new, there seems to be an increase of late, especially since the start of Pope Francis’s pontificate. There is clearly no denying that there are problems within the Church, but Catholic moral teaching makes it clear that murmuring against our bishops shouldn’t be taken lightly. Cheap chatter, intellectual pride, and unchecked emotions can often make it difficult to discern who is in the right and make such murmurs justifiable.
Don’t be sold. If you love your Church, you put the blame where it belongs. Try running a destructive problem in your parish upstairs and see how far you get. There’s no democracy in the Church, and to the Pope’s delight, no free market.
Next CWR’s Carrie Gress tells us how we’re putting cracks in the windshield of the bishops’ authority, how we’re just like Protestants, and how we need to be charitable, merciful, not gossip or vent – in short, sheepish before our shepherds. She aims for her conservative targets with an appeal to ‘subsidiarity’ meaning, “Don’t get over your head.”
Subsidiarity is the Church’s fundamental tenet that assigns responsibility for an issue or problem to the lowest appropriate authority; likewise, it restrains higher authorities from usurping the tasks of the lower. Embracing such decentralization liberates all of us back-seat drivers to let go and let the driver do his job. So too with our faith. If it is your job to voice criticisms of a bishop because you are in close proximity to him as an employee or trusted friend, then yes, using fraternal correction, you may have an obligation to do so. But for the rest of us, not so much, unless you are like St. Catherine of Siena, tasked with the project because of your personal sanctity (and not just in your own mind).
If in fact our bishops weren’t actively working against the Church and for its enemies, if most of them showed any substantial evidence of being Catholic, or if they didn’t generally have long records of collapse in their dioceses, then possibly this quietism might be in order.
Our bishops are not politicians. They have been ordained to shepherd us. Are some corrupt? Yes. Are there some who are weak? Yes. Are there some who are sinners? Yes (we all are). But perhaps if we offered them more space to do their job and increased prayer to support them, they might do the right thing. And even if they don’t, at least we know we have.
A nice reminder of all the positives in the Catholic priesthood- why we need our priests, and why we can’t throw them under the bus when they fail our expectations. (hattip Domenico Bettinelli of BettNet blog).
I had a thought a while back- what if a large percentage of priests went over to the nearest abortion clinic, and just camped out there, praying a silent protest? If Catholics wanted Mass they would have to go to where the priests were; and if the authorities told the priests to move on, and the priests refused, then they would all go to jail, and so the laity would not have Eucharist. Forget about denying Communion to this or that politician- why shouldn’t the priests deny all of us Communion- except for those in prison- until we got serious about stopping abortion. The priest is not ordinarily a zealot, but when a genocide of the unwanted, unborn children gets so little notice by a very distracted society- well it would seem time for Jesus’ priests to overturn some spiritual tables outside the temples worshipping the cult of consumer choice for the life or death of innocent children.
The priest is perfectly suited for such a protest- he isn’t a businessman, he doesn’t have a wife and children depending on his securing money for the day. Yet, he is needed by every Catholic who knows his/her duty to participate in a weekly Mass- what if the priests said – “hold on a minute- you, the laity, need to fulfill some minimal requirements yourselves- you have a primary responsibility to set the temporal order straight- you can’t keep up this killing of our children on America’s Main Street- get hold of yourselves, and take care of these women and children- for God’s sake as well as your own.” The priests and bishops have had their problems- but the laity have a greater scandal to deal with- our lack of seriousness in seeing to it that all children are able to live and thrive- inside the Superpower and in all the world.