Daily Archives: August 6, 2014
I am a very traditionally minded person – not only in religious matters – and to me authority has always had not only the right, but the duty to show itself. It is, therefore, rather natural to me that, say, the President of the Italian Republic would live in possibly the most stunning of all stunning Italian palaces; a dwelling once considered, ahem, fit for a Pope (before the Age Of The Bus, that is).
The same reasoning I apply, naturally as it seems to me, to a bishop. A successor of the Apostles and with the same formal rank as a Pope, a Bishop should live in a place – and, in certain matters, in a way – fitting his rank, and immediately conveying the importance of the position he holds.
A Bishop should, if you ask me, be immediately recognisable as a personage of absolute preeminence, and unquestionable rank. Even by heathens, atheist, and children. Let him live in a splendid palace, then, whenever the condition of the diocese affords (in the West, it generally does unless the money is squandered in stupid committees), and let us ask wealthy Catholics to give a sound contribution to a visible presence of the Bishop in the middle of his sheep.
This requires, though, a couple of distinctions and reflections:
1. There should be, in principle, only one bishop for every diocese. Diocese with multiple bishops, of whom de facto only one runs the diocese, diminish the importance of the role and confuse the faithful about what a bishop is. I do not know when this fashion of the multiple bishops began, but it seems wrong to me.
2. A bishop should be a man who accepts what comes with his role. If he'd rather be a country curate, let him be a country curate by all means, whilst another is the bishop; or let him be the bishop, and suffer in silence the loss of his little cottage. A bishop should have, if you ask me, as little right to play “one of us” than a Pope. A bishop living in a three bedroom flat, or even in a suburban house, is sending exactly the wrong message, because he is cheapening the office. People understand power and influence at an instinctive, not rational level. If the King lives in a cottage, he has no place being a King.
3. Such a bishop will have a far greater attention on him than the modern eunuchs in black. He will be located square in the middle of the community, with his persona as well as with his palace. With all eyes on him, the pressure will grow to behave like a leader of men should. Exactly as simplicity deprives of influence, Pomp has this beautiful side effect, that it reminds everyone that one person, that one and no other, is in charge.
4. The luxury of a bishop should be luxury that defies the centuries, not the result of his particular taste. A bishop building a splendid palace with an imposing stone facade has put Christ square in the middle of the community; a bishop spending vast amounts of money on his caprices (say: senseless modern art, or architectonical extravagances) is justly chastised. But again, a man of God will always have a clear perception of whether he is erecting a monument to the greatness of the Church, or to his own vanity. Similarly, the preeminence of the bishop should make clear to everyone the power of the Church, and Her demand to count, and to lead the lives of men. This palace, and this presence, must be as public as the Bishop is, as central as Christ has the right to be. The splendid palace near the Cathedral is one thing, the big villa in the leafy suburbs for the private enjoyment of the bishop quite another.
Well, these are my personal reflections on the matter. I am sick and tired of all these example of humble prelates living in humble dwellings, and of this proto-Socialist thinking according to which the humbler, the better. In most cases, the office will be damaged as his holder gets exalted for devaluing his role. It can't be right.
A bishop has a public role and the duty to carry it out in a fitting way, just like a king.
Let him be a king in his diocese, then; smack dab in the middle of the community, but knowing that the entire community watches him.
Methinks we would have not only splendid palaces but better bishops, too.
The news has been widely publicised that Archbishop Martin of Dublin has criticised those young Irish priests who, uncaring of the new Age Of Catholic Protestantism, insist with such an obnoxious and uncharitable nuisance as Catholic teaching.
The way the Archbishop criticises the young orthodox priests is very telling: they would be, we are informed, “conformist”, and “closed”.
Well I never…
Last time I looked, the first duty of a priest was to espouse conformism; to be, in fact, the very epitome of it. Or since when has anti conformism become a positive trait in a priest? Who is a good priest for Archbishop Martin? One who teaches his sheep that it is not necessary to convert anyone to Catholicism?
The same goes, of course, with the “closed” thing; a word which means nothing (the bishop himself is “closed” to pedophilia, surely?) but clearly conveys a clear message that orthodoxy itself must now be seen as narrow-minded. Which explains what “closed” means in this context: Catholic.
One seems to understand how Father Martin made a career, does one not?
Still: it is a consolation to know that in this vast lake of mud, Catholic nymphaeas in the form of orthodox priests are still growing here and there; so much so, that the Bishop must intervene, lest one day Ireland should become Catholic again.
You see: certainly, Francis is a huge problem, because before him the Popes were at least presentable. But the other and vaster problem is the very many little Francis running countless dioceses; they have been left, in essentials, unpunished and even undisturbed by those very same presentable Popes now so fondly remembered, and they were allowed to slowly infiltrate the ranks of the Cardinals. The accident of the election of one like Francis to the Papacy was therefore, given time, unavoidable given the mentality with which the former Popes have made their appointments.
No, I do not think the Cardinals – most of them anyway – really knew what they were doing. But when you have so many rotten apples in the Sistine Chapel, it is unavoidable that at some point one be given a Mozzetta. Which he will then, rather coherently with his rotten thinking, refuse to wear.
My prayers are with the young orthodox priests in Ireland, whose Catholicism so much alarms the Archbishop; and with all young and less young priests who take their vocation seriously, and believe they will have to give an account for it one day.
Frankly, I very much doubt Archbishop Martin has the same belief as them.
A clear sign of the degradation of Catholic thinking was given recently by a Father Blogger, who thought he would make the smart observation that many of those those who criticised the dissenters and the enemies of Benedict now are very ready to criticise the Pope themselves. As if, in all this, there were some contradiction, or hypocrisy.
Of course there isn’t. If Catholicism is to make sense the metre of right and wrong must be given by orthodoxy, not rank. When dissenters go against the teaching of the Church they will be criticised because of that; and the same will happen, must happen, to bishops, cardinals, and Popes. This Pope being openly and shamelessly heretical – albeit in that typical “off-the-cuff”, “who cares what Catholics think” way of his – it is only natural, coherent, and very orthodox that he be criticised himself.
The writing and faulty thinking of the blogger priest shows an alarming degree of Papolatry, in that it equates dissenting from the Pope and dissenting from the Truth; as if the Pope were the bearer, qua Pope, of an authority that can be compared with Truth. Truly alarming, but not so unusual among former Protestant converts who, at times, give one the impression they have converted not to the Truth, but to a Pope. Albeit in this case I suspect the desire not to alienate a mediocre and ill-instructed readership must play a role.
The mediocre priest blogger goes on to criticise what he perceives as personal animosity against Francis. Again, one wonders. I am rather sure not many bloggers and commenters have met Francis personally, and – unless perhaps they sit on a wheelchair, or are Protestants – their probability to do so is exceedingly small. The reason why they despise Francis can, therefore, mostly be traced back to this: that as Popes (or priests) go, Francis is utterly despicable, and it becomes very difficult to be appreciative of the very occasional bout of humour of a Pope who walks over Catholicism every day that God sends on earth. This, If you love Truth, and the Church Francis so continuously attacks. If you don’t care, well of course you can relax…
Life is a simple thing, and it works according to simple rules: if you sabotage the Truth, those who love it will not like you very much. Because they love Truth, you see.
But again, at times there are blog posts that truly show one to what level of functional illiteracy most readers have sunk: utter non-arguments are given to them as if they made sense, and they uncritically accept whatever rubbish they are dished simply because Father (holy, or not) said it.
We are, truly, surrounded by rubbish.