Tuesday, 21 September 2010

For Our Bishops


I am conscious that I am being too critical of our bishops. Something I have tried to avoid in the past. I accept and rejoice in the teaching of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and I ask his intercession especially for all our bishops of England, Wales and Scotland. I pray that they may be strengthened in their faith and be able to lead those in their charge with gentleness yet with firmness in the Faith. I pray for their protection and I ask for them the gifts of courage and wisdom - for the ability to speak out in the name of the Gospel and the full teaching of the Church. To know when to be silent but, following the concerns expressed by Pope St. Gregory the Great, to be careful that silence is never an expression of fear or of mere "human respect". I thank God for their gifts and for the prayers they offer daily for the Church. I thank God for all our bishops and ask His blessings on all of them.

5 comments:

  1. You are right Father. Obedience only occurs when we accept what we would rather not. Unbridled criticism attacks the office of our bishops and that is a shot in our foot and one for the evil one. We are all weak and when the media spotlight shines weaknesses are made stark. How would any of us look under such scrutiny. It is a supernatural grace to stand up for the faith in this society as the destruction hurled in your direction can be unbearable. At least that is my experience.

    ReplyDelete
  2. On the other hand, Father, I think your criticism expresses something of the frustration that many faithful Catholics trying to live out (and occasionally called upon to defend) the Church's teaching feel. They are set over the Church and have to make prudential judgements and for that reason alone deserve our obedience and respect. How are they to deal with the kind of matters, such as contraception, when very powerful voices both within and outside of the Church are assuring them that the battle is lost? How are they to deal with it when "prominent 'Catholic' laymen" like Chris Patten and Tony Blair clearly reject the Church's authority on such issues? I am not sure but perhaps - along with prayer - some tactfully directed criticism might be of service in strengthening their resolve. In other words let them know that we are not all like the Blairs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, as you might imagine, this question has been in my prayers, and I think it is difficult to balance fraternal correction with the kind of respect we are expected to have for our bishops. I was thinking the other night how we need characters like St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Brigid of Sweden who were called by the Lord to advise Popes. I have also been thinking about St. Augustine's sermons on the "Shepherds" following texts from Ezekiel. How far does pride enter in to the questions of criticism, and who am I that I should presume to criticise my betters? Then, of course, there is the question of how much we give way to fear (the wrong kind of fear - pusillanimity)and, as Pope Gregory warned, fail to speak when we should. All these things go around the mind and, it could be argued, may be used to tempt us away from speaking correctively as we should. I think a good dose of humility is need to do it properly, and I am not sure I am the one to do it. For all that, correction must be given where there are failings that need to be dealt with - especially where the souls of others are concerned. We simply must teach the whole faith - as in the Catechism. It seems to me that to fail in this is to place oneself in a dangerous position vis-a-vis the judgement.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Father, when most priests are silent out of fear, it is heartening to hear a parish priest with courage and charity speak out on such matters. There have been several clear-cut examples of our bishops saying things that seriously obscure the Church's position on moral matters and we all have a duty to say something to correct them.

    ReplyDelete