... is reported to have spoken in a very relaxed and civilised way about the blessing of sexually irregular relationships.
Splendid stuff. This is the way ahead. Before genocides, for example, or murders in general, one should always baptise or absolve (perhaps conditionally) those about to be terminated. Thereby, one would be giving them the supreme good of immediate everlasting life. How could such an admirable End fail to justify the Means? And, before the sexual abuse of the young or vulnerable, one should always sprinkle them with Holy Water.
Every paedophile should always carry some with him. It is a very important Sacramental.
All of that was what is called technically 'irony'. I think I was inspired by a particular 'modest' writing of my hero the late Dean Swift. Since he got into trouble because the po-faced took his Proposal seriously, I had better make clear that I am not really offering such advice ... far from it. Such conduct would be abhorrent.
I would add two points. We all of us, in our respective avocations, have our own professional dirty little tricks. Bishops are no exception. And, according to the accounts, the Ecclesiastic concerned has just played the very nastiest such Dirty Little Trick. He has left the decision about blessing such relationships to the parish clergy. He will now be the Mr Nice who has been generous and 'inclusive'. Poor Fr X who adheres to the teaching of the Catholic Church will now be Mr Nasty, attacked on the grounds that he is so much 'less inclusive' than the Nice Ecclesiastic and Fr Alsoverynice in the next parish.
It sounds so reasonable, doesn't it; mumble mumble case by case mumble mumble local pastoral decision mumble mumble. In fact, as well as being an abdication of episcopal responsibilities, it is a viciously nasty method of creating problems and then unloading them onto other people whose position you have already fatally undermined. From the Ecclesiastic's own standpoint, what's not to like?
We experienced that sort of management-style when we were back in the Church of England. The map ahead is already published and it is very clear. The next stage, 'pastorally', is: "My dear boy, I am so very sorry about all this. I wish so much that I could help. But, y'know, this major pastoral breakdown in your parish leaves me with no choice ... I am thinking about your happiness every bit as much as that of your parish ... ".
And, by stealth, step by step, the corruptions of the Evil One are multiplying and spreading. They grow with generous rapidity from being a tiny seed of the exceptional and the unusual and the 'pastoral' to being the norm and the iron rule. Time, as the Evil One is aware, is so very much more important than Space.
Secondly: who does the Ecclesiastic think he is to speak, apparently, on behalf of his national episcopate? I think I may be right ... I'm not sure ... in saying that he is Chairman of his Conference, but, all the same, have they discussed the matter and come to a unanimous conclusion? Apostolos suos, I think, laid down that in doctrinal matters, a unanimous vote was necessary. Surely there must be just one orthodox bishop in that country? Otherwise, this is an uncanonical piece of dictatorial arrogance.
Cardinal Mueller spoke very well about the problem of what, with justifiable sarcasm, he called these 'vice-popes'. He had an extremely sound instinct for what was going on. Perhaps that is why ... er ...
Next time you meet a Great Ecclesiastic who is probably Chairman of his Conference, make sure you keep your wits about you. Keep a sharp eye open for vis sine lege.