Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Who Cares About Canon Law?
Once upon a time, I had great faith in the judicial system of our country. I watched Perry Mason when I was a kid, after all, and he was always able to prove the bad guys wrong in court. The underdog always won, and justice prevailed.
I actually had that naïve faith well into my adult years. Then I became involved in defending the rights of a very mildly retarded woman to raise her own children. Because this woman had no money to speak of, and because I didn’t have much more, we had to find an attorney to take the case pro bono…which we did. Well, sort of. I paid a small sum of money up front, and then became the assistant to the attorney in everything from serving subpoenas to collecting evidence to writing letters to composing questions to ask during the hearings.
Except that the truth probably is that it’s not about Canon Law at all. It’s about saving face, or squelching orthodox Catholic teaching, or maybe punishing a guy who probably ticks off bishops on at least a weekly basis. In other words, Canon Law is not being used for honest ends. It’s being used to make Voris and RCTV look bad.
All of the above is my
humble opinion, of course.
I have other reasons for starting to turn a little sour in my view of Canon Law. There’s the ongoing battle in my diocese (Diocese of Baker) over the right of the faithful to have the extraordinary form of the Mass celebrated in the manner to which we were becoming accustomed, prior to the reign of Apostolic Administrator Bishop William S. Skylstad. I have written personal letters to the powers-that-be, and the Society of St. Gregory the Great (the sponsor of a monthly EF Mass in Bend, OR) has written letters to the same offices. And the best response we’ve been able to get is this:
“Since the Diocese is still vacant, the right course of action is to wait patiently for the appointment of a new Bishop.”
This is directly from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Frankly, it’s not acceptable. It’s a wimpy response; it’s a “pass the buck” response – or perhaps more accurately, a “drop the ball” response.
And so, I’m about at the same point with Canon Law and the Church’s judicial system as I am with the civil judicial system. It’s all well and good on paper. But in practice, the best of human intellect’s attempt to regulate the worst of human nature falls flat on its face. Score one for fallen human nature…for the moment.