Sunday, April 21, 2013
Mean-Spirited Bullying Bishops Redux
Below you will find one of the first posts I wrote for this blog – back in November of 2011. It resulted from my consternation and agony over the state of the Mass in the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. At that time, we’d had an Apostolic Administrator for some months, and the extraordinary form of the Mass had been effectively squelched.
Now, here we are, a year and a half later, with a new bishop who’s had almost a year to find his sea legs, and absolutely nothing has changed. In part that is because said former Apostolic Administrator still has his meddling hand in our diocese…why that is so is beyond my understanding, for a number of reasons.
At any rate, rather than write what I really feel, which would be uncharitable and vitriolic and full of hyperbole, I will just give you a glimpse of my frustration by reproducing the earlier post.
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A bishop’s general authority over his diocese is very evident in even a cursory reading of Lumen Gentium (Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church):
· Bishops preside “in God’s stead over the flock of which they are the shepherds…” (LG, §21).
· They are “teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people assigned to them, the faith which is destined to inform their thinking and direct their conduct” (LG, §25).
· They “have the obligation of fostering and safeguarding the unity of the faith and of upholding the discipline which is common to the whole Church…” (LG, §23).
The faithful are also reminded of their duty toward their bishops. Notice, though, the qualifier at the beginning of the paragraph (emphasis added):
Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops’ decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. (LG, §25)
And what if they don’t teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff? What if the bishop is a mean-spirited bully with an ax to grind? What if the bishop takes advantage of his authority through actions that are detrimental to one targeted segment of the population?
I’m thinking of…hmm…just for instance…uh…say, the faithful who have expressed their legitimate desire to have access to the extraordinary form of the Mass. What do you do with a “shepherd” who takes steps to ensure that the EF Mass which has been available monthly to the faithful becomes suddenly unavailable? What if a mere lay person is aware of all the sneaky things said bishop can do (and does) to make it all look legit? You know, some of these bishops these days are pretty adept at not leaving a paper trail, of relying on the good-ol’-boy network, and of generally making mischief with impunity. It’s true. Sad, but true.
What do you do with these petulant prelates?
Personally, I’m thinking along the lines of tar-and-feathers, and re-institution of the papal prison for wayward bishops.
Not that I know of a situation like this or anything…