I read in the blogosphere invitations to the laity to avoid “judging” bad bishops in matters of faith, and feel the need to say one word or two about this.
1. If by “judging” we intend “subject to a trial in front of a tribunal” (as in an article I have read around, citing a father of the Church), I will agree that this is perfectly fine even today. I would, personally, love to see Archbishop Mueller tried for heresy, but I do think that those who judge him should be religious. Preferably sound ones, like for example those of the SSPX.
2. If by “judging” we intend to reserve Bishops to the jurisdiction of canonical tribunals even in matters not of faith, I must disagree. Particularly in these disgraceful times, if a Bishop is, say, tried for child abuse I would be the last one to demand that he be judged by other bishops, rather than by the usual judges and/or juries like everyone of us.
3. If by “judging” we intend (which is to my knowledge not at all what that Father of the Church means) that a layman must shut up whenever a bishop disgraces himself, then I must disagree vehemently. Let us see why:
Even if we lived in normal times, I would see it as being accessory in another person’s sin if I saw blatant heresy or open error and would just decide that my duty is to shut up. My duty would be, on the contrary, to NOT shut up. Particularly if as a blogger I have, say, 20 or 30 readers (or, say, twenty or thirty times that number) who might be interested in reading what I write in order to draw from it some ammunition to use for their own benefit and for the benefit of their friends and relatives.
Adding to this, we do not live in normal times, and the reason why thousands of people like me are here at midnight writing on their keyboard instead of reading a good book or enjoy a good sleep is that the situation is so bad, that they can’t reconcile it with their conscience to simply sit on the couch and think of their novels. I have often said, and will repeat today, that the explosion of lay blogs would not exist in the first place, if the clergy had been able to do their job in a remotely decent way. I for myself would be reading my novel, for sure.
If I were, therefore, to follow this principle of non ingerence in such matters, I would not follow Michael Voris; I would not approve of the blog of the excellent John Smeaton (extremely critical, and publicly so, of Archbishop Vincent “Quisling” Nichols in matters of homosexuality); I would not touch the excellent Messa in Latino, and I would not read the vast majority of the lay blogs worth reading. More to the point, I would never have come to the idea of writing a blog myself.
Of course, and as in all things, caveat emptor. The reader looking for sensible blogs will have to make a decision as to which blogs he considers sound, and which ones are better left aside. In general, he will probably tend – as I do – to constantly visit blogs written by religious, and more power to him. But this does not mean that the layman should simply shut up. He who doesn’t like the blog of the layman, or who thinks the layman should not criticise the clergy, should in my eyes simply avoid clicking it. He who thinks said layman is moved by personal resentments ofrdesire of making himself important instead of by love for the Church should avoid it even more carefully.
In addition, the concept that the layman must be vigilant in presence of bad teaching – or outright heresy – was in fact extolled by… the Second Vatican Council, and whilst obviously not being an infallible teaching of any sort, it makes a lot of sense even if it comes from such a bad place: the increase in literacy and the extremely cheap availability of literature opened to laymen a wealth of knowledge which only 200 or 300 years before would have been within the reach of only the clergy or the wealthy; today, every good intentioned layman can blow the whistle on his bishop or priests. Particularly so, when many bishops or priests don’t know the basics anymore. I have heard with these ears a priest admit he did not know the ten commandments by heart and did not care to learn them, and I have known much worse priests than this one. These are the times we live in, that basic knowledge considered obligatory for a child of seven when I was a child of seven is now not considered obligatory by the parish priest, who has a degree in theology but can’t tell you the commandments. Will we, then, be surprised if many of them don’t believe in the Real Presence? And will we stay silent about it? Who will correct them: the Bishop?!
Five or six hundred years ago a priest could have been openly heretical and most of his lay parishioners wouldn’t even have noticed unless, so to speak, there happened to be some Dominican travelling around. Nowadays, the same priest can’t con his people so easily anymore.
Even more crucially, the principle of the layman criticising the bishop is at the basis of the very renaissance of conservative feelings among young Catholics: feelings spread on the internet by posting, say, videos of cardinal Schoenborn’ laser-masses, and the like. The conservative revolution within the Church was born from laymen more attached to the Church than to wrong concept of blind subservience to their bishops. They reacted, because they had to. They voiced their concerns on the internet, because the clergy wouldn’t listen to them. Without them and without this mentality, we would have clown masses at every corner, certainly no vibrant conservative Catholic world, and most certainly not even “indult” Traditional Masses.
Oportet ut scandala eveniant, and I thank God for the Internet and the many laymen who help to create the conditions in order that this mess, created almost exclusively by the clergy, may be cleansed as soon as we can or, more probably, may allow us to go to our grave with the conscience that we have done what we could.
Having said that, I personally do not ask anyone to read my blog, or to link to it. If you pick a good blog written by a good priest, you can’t go wrong anyway. He will never be angry, I will, and he would never say that the Pope disgraced himself, I would. If you click here, you know you get a layman trying to do what he can, as best he can, with the poor lights given to him.
But I most certainly won’t shut up.
Faithful to the motto oportet ut scandala eveniant, yours truly reports here an entry from Father Z’s blog informing us that the retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has brilliantly discovered that 2000 years of Christian tradition and undisputed Church teaching about Male-only Priesthood are utterly and completely wrong. Caveat: this is not for the faint of heart.
It is also unclear whether Mr. Gumbleton is able to read, because if he were he would have stumbled across an Encyclical Letter called Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (link is provided on the right column under “Church Teaching”). This Encyclical Letter was written for those less fortunate among us (the heretics, the extremely misinformed and the retards) who couldn’t accept the very clear evidence of Church teaching and was basically meant to tell them “just in case you were trying to deceive yourself into believing some sort of feminist nonsense, be informed that 1) you are not allowed to believe such nonsense and 2) you are not even allowed to discuss the matter”.
Bishop Gumbleton is very probably not a retard and being a Bishop one may safely suppose that he has received some sort of instruction. Therefore Bishop Gumbleton is a full-fledged heretic bent to cause maximum damage and confusion among Catholics because he is – albeit luckily already retired – a Bishop of the Only Church.
Besides praying for the conversion of Bishop Gumbleton and the other heretics, a useful thing you can do is to send your complaint to the Congregation for the Clergy at the following email address: email@example.com . You may want to send a copy to the “Osservatore Romano”, firstname.lastname@example.org . If you prefer to write a letter, the address is: Congregazione per il Clero, Piazza Pio XII, 3, 00193 Roma, Italy. If I have got the wrong Congregation don’t worry, they’ll know where to forward.
Bishop Gumbleton should be either laicized or ordered to lock himself in a monastery for the rest of his days to clear his head and to expiate his sins. He needs our prayer but he needs to be severely and publicly punished, too. The times in which Bishops could confuse the minds of the simpler Catholics with their heresies and remain unpunished should now slowly but surely come to an end.
A Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel is surely in order here.