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…


  1. One of the downsides to the resignation of Benedict is we now have a "feel good" Pontiff who, during his short tenure thus far, has NOT given any evidence that he supports Benedict's position relative to the TLM. As a consequence, Priests and Bishops opposed to the TLM and who dislike those who offer Mass in that form, now believe they are further empowered and have the cover needed to suppress the TLM in their Dioceses. Those who favor the TLM, and Priests who offer it, will continue to be subjected to suppression by the very clerics who, on other subjects, welcome "diversity" with open arms. A logical inconsistency, but, then, when you have an agenda you can say you are "open" all you want but your actions will prove otherwise. A shame, it is wrong, but we will need to live with it until such time as the inevitable happens. The inevitable, IMO, is a clear split within the Church. I know which side of the split I will stand with.

  2. When Bishop Cary was a priest in Eugene he made the TLM Mass available in his Parish. I don't know what would have changed his view. Now that Skylstadt is out of the picture I would think that he would make it available. Has anyone written to him? If so what did he have to say?


  3. Bill, I know that Bishop Cary had made the EF Mass available in his parish, and that he actually has offered it himself. That gave us hope when he was made bishop of our diocese. But sadly, Skylstadt is not out of the picture at all. Bishop Cary has sought Skylstadt's advice and guidance, and it is reported that Skylstadt has made frequent trips to the DoB to visit with Cary.

    Representatives of the Society of St. Gregory the Great, a lay organization that has been seeking to promote dignified and reverent liturgy in both forms, have met with and written to Bishop Cary. He has been unresponsive other than giving some lip service to the idea that we might someday have an EF Mass "if there was a priest available". Well, there is a priest available, and there are several in our diocese who can say the EF Mass. The fact is that the Diocese of Baker is largely protestantized, and the people are very much lacking in Catholic identity. Many probably don't even know there IS an extraordinary form of the Mass, or labor under the assumption that it is "still forbidden". Bishop Cary is doing nothing to remedy those issues.

    I have written to Bishop Cary and attempted to speak with him at some events, but I think he has decided not to respond to me at all. And the office staff of the Cathedral parish explicitly told me that Bishop Cary directed the rector to return unopened any correspondence from me (not that I have written to him much over the last 5 or 6 years; but the last 2 courtesy notes I sent (which were simply copies of letters I had sent to the bishop and to Rome)were returned to me unopened.

  4. Wow. I wonder what happened to change him that much. Skylstadt sure put his brand on him. Maybe with the new Metropolitan Archbishop here in Portland that could change. Skylstadt should not be involved anymore. I sent off my first letter to Archbishop Sample this past week. I'm sure he is buried in his new position now. We need to keep up the fight.


  5. Well, Bill, I've heard it said that when a priest is ordained a bishop, the laying on of hands effectively removes the episcopal spine. ;-) Skylstadt must have some mesmerizing effect; I met and talked to the man and came away...well...shall we just say "unimpressed"?

  6. Like most politicians and far too many "leaders" in our government today too many Bishops are of the let's don't make waves, can't we all just get along, gee I want so much to be popular persuasion that it stunts the growth of whatever spine they potentially had. ABp Sample is surrounded by loosers. If he sticks to his track record those around him will just look worse and worse as time goes on.

  7. Woe is me the sky is falling! Such a sad lot. I am not going back! Loved Latin but it is part of past and belongs there. The church moves on with Pope Francis!

  8. Pat Smith, you forgot to put your name! You sure spend an awful lot of time on my blog for someone who doesn't like what I have to say.


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