Monday, December 19, 2011
Obedience and Our Bishops
Guest Commentary by Jerry Boyd
Absolutely essential to any organization or institution surviving and thriving is obedience to lawful authority. Obedience on the part of leaders is particularly important. Where obedience is lacking, especially on the part of so called leaders, a host of very bad things almost inevitably happens.
Within the Roman Catholic Church the ultimate authority, on matters of Faith and morals, is the Pontiff. Those in positions of lesser authority, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and Priests owe obedience to the Pope on all matters in which the Pope speaks authoritatively. Failure to exercise obedience leads to an inconsistent and confusing application of Church teaching, and quite frankly scandal to those faithful who are neither stupid nor ignorant of what the Pope directs. Believe it or not, there are members of the faithful who actually read documents promulgated by our Holy Father and, knowing what they read and understand, have more than just an elementary grasp of expectations and requirements.
So when we know, for example, what expectations and requirements are in a document like Summorum Pontificum, and we see that they are not followed, but in fact in some instances are overtly undermined by devious and outright deceptive means, we are in fact scandalized. And, some of us believe we have a personal, moral obligation to cry “foul” and take all legitimate steps available to us to “right the wrong”.
A series of postings on this blog has been critical of the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Baker precisely because he has taken a series of verifiable steps to subvert the direction of our Holy Father in terms of making Mass in the Extraordinary Form available to those faithful who have expressed a desire for that Mass. Some have criticized those of us who criticize the Administrator because we have failed to “obey” his direction. Well, folks, obedience starts at the top, and when the Administrator, a retired Bishop, takes a series of actions directly in violation of Canon Law and clearly disobedient to the expressed will of the Pontiff, responsible Catholics must object.
In fairness, Bishop Skylstad is not the only Bishop (or in his case Administrator, because he is not our Bishop) to defy the Holy Father on matters clearly discussed in Summorum Pontificum. There are equally objectionable, disloyal, and disobedient behaviors occurring in Dioceses in Texas, Arkansas, and Idaho to name a few. Actually the list of dissident dioceses here in the United States is likely much more extensive than that.
Unless and until Bishops meet their obligation of conforming their decisions and practices to the will of the Holy Father the newly, focused effort on “Evangelization” is doomed to fail. What conscientious and obedient Catholic can or will support an effort led by the disobedient and devious? I know for a fact that this Catholic won’t.