Friday, July 3, 2009

UK's Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue: Disobedience is harming the Church

Note: Post corrected. I had mistakenly wrote the bishop was from Ireland. Thanks for the corrections sent to me!
From Anna Arco of the UK Catholic Herald (emphases in bold are mine; comments bracketed in red):

Bishops who have deep theological differences with the Pope are undermining the unity of the Catholic Church, a prominent English bishop has claimed.

Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue [recently retired bishop of Lancaster] said that such differences prompted parish priests to ignore the authority of their bishops. [It takes some real chutzpah for a bishop in disobedience to the Pope to then cry foul over priests and laity who "disobey" them.]

He said: "The idea that there could be theological differences between a bishop and the Pope is just an incredible thing to admit but it is the truth [contraception, and liberation theology are two areas that come to mind, not to mention distortions about what is ok and not ok for Catholics with regards to politics and voting]. I suppose if priests see bishops showing disloyalty to the Pope, it is hardly surprising that they in turn should show disloyalty to their bishop. We all know what Jesus said about a divided house." [Exactly, and where does it end?]

He added: "It is not uncommon for cliques to grow up among priests against the current bishop that ignore with disdain directives and advice from their bishop. Sometimes it seems that the parish priest and parish declare UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) from the bishop and the diocese. There is also a danger of this developing in a group of bishops' attitude to the reigning Pope." [and in some countries, that may include an entire bishop's conference, or the majority of it's members which is really scandalous].

The bishop said this disunity created a "conspiracy of silence" in the Church.

He said: "This cocktail of dissent, disobedience and disloyalty [great description] has resulted in what I call 'a conspiracy of silence' amongst groups in the Church. There is no real dialogue or willingness to talk openly and honestly about our differences.

"For example, I don't know why my Fit for Mission? documents hit a wall of silence among the bishops in this country. All I did was reiterate the teaching of the Church, but this has been treated as unacceptable and unspeakable. Why?"

Bishop O'Donoghue offered his analysis at a retreat for priests of the Diocese of Northampton in Ars, the parish of St John Vianney in France in May. He called attention to the fact that "countless individual priests, and laity, even bishops, believe they are free to decide what it means to be Catholic for themselves" [this is what I refer to as the desire to build a "designer religion" out of Catholicism. That is, each individual designing Catholicism to be what he or she wants it to be]. He suggested that accepting the Church's teaching on sexual morality was a "litmus test" for Catholics. [Let's face it, people aren't debating the Trinity]

"For example, we have witnessed a wholesale rejection of the Church's perennial teaching against contraception. This is the litmus test of the acceptance of the obedience in the Church. How many priests support Gaudium et Spes's crystal-clear rejection of contraception, upheld by successive popes - Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI? [Gaudium et Spes is one of many documents of Vatican II. How often have you heard the expression "spirit of the Vatican II" used to pervert the truth of what the council actually taught? I just had another person I know, who teaches CCD in her parish, tell me that Vatican II did away with purgatory! I suggested very charitably that she read the documents of Vatican II in their entirety and that not only did it not do away with purgatory, it never got rid of confession and the punishment due to sin, especially grave sin.] If we reject their teaching on this matter we are saying as priests that we know better than the successor of Peter! Is this tenable in a priest?" [He says it like it is, in very plain language. Christ did not intend for people to have a PhD in order to discern whether or not they should obey the Pope. They did not receive the keys, Peter and his successors did. Rather, Christ reminded us to be like children. Accept the message in simplicity. The minute someone starts to muddy the waters with complexity, just run the other way]

Bishop O'Donoghue not only criticised liberal dissent but also had sharp words for traditionalists who he said were in danger of falling into "liturgism".

He said: "By this I mean the tendency among clergy and some laity to solely focus on the liturgy and sacramental life, ignoring our mission to go out of the church building into the world where suffering humanity lives. For a century the Church has been saying that social justice should be a concern of Catholics equal to attending Mass on Sunday. How many believe this? How many priests encourage this?" [there is some truth to this, but I also know from experience that some do not count pro-life work as a "justice" issue. Further, I know many people in traditional communities whose charity truly starts at home, with those closest to them. They may not be working at a homeless shelter, but even Mother Teresa said that we need to work with the poor among us. Still others work in ministries for years without anyone knowing about it. There are those who do prison ministry and who work in crisis pregnancy centers, for example. Would you know it by visiting the parish? Not necessarily because it's not advertised in the bulletin and is not a community effort. I think many do get involved in "works", but I believe it is more individualized apostolate work. And, I'll add that for many people I know, that apostolate work is rooted first in a deep prayer life that often includes daily Mass, adoration, and frequent confession (in other words they sanctify themselves and this brings graces to their work). But, going back to Bishop O'Donoghue's point, we must always examine our conscience that we are living our faith, not just taking from it what we like in the beautiful liturgies]

Bishop O'Donoghue also discussed the life of St John Vianney, whose 150th anniversary is being celebrated this year and who is the patron of the Year for Priests, drawing parallels between the challenges faced by the saintly parish priest and the priests today.

He argued that St John Vianney had a "keen sense of the need for salvation" which he expressed in his "whole being as a priest" [It's not just a's a way of life]. Bishop O'Donoghue urged the priests who were taking part to reflect on a number of questions about their roles and identity as priests in the modern world. This included questions about attitudes to consumerism, alcohol, confronting evil and true repentance.

He also asked them: "Is it possible to talk to young people about salvation today? And is it necessary to go to confession regularly? What do you think the Curé d'Ars would say?" Fr Paul Hardy, a priest who took part in the retreat, said: "He was very good. He talked about the challenges facing us - do we duck them or do we face up to them."
I can't say enough about the Holy Father's choice of St. John Vianney. The job of a priest is not to comfort people and make them happy, but to teach people to cooperate with God's graces and His will for each of us. Ultimately, it's about saving souls, not saving self-esteem.

Source article - Bishop: Disobedience is harming the Church

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!