23 July 2016

Another American bishop ...

Fr Zed reveals that another North American Bishop ... another bloke who needs to be sent an elementary booklet on Latin Grammar ... has decided to jump on the Down With The East bandwagon. But this chappy has upped the ante by actually adding the word obedience to the menaces he has employed against his clergy.

When, in 1968, I was ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England, the oath of canonical obedience included the phrase "all things lawful and honest". In other words, the undertaking was circumscribed by the limitation that a bishop must be acting within the law.

This limitation is not explicit in the Ordination rites of the Latin Church. But it is implicit in the canonical understanding of obedience; compare, for example, cum secundum proprias constitutiones praecipiunt (601); and legitime praecipienti vel prohibenti (1371#2). It is also implicit in the favour shown by the recent Magisterium towards the concept of subsidiarity. If a bishop praecepit vel prohibuit contrary to an explicit Responsum ad dubium of a Roman dicastery, this must raise a grave question about whether his actions are binding.

If a bishop's orders are not within his legal competence, and a scrupulous presbyter is in doubt what to do, he will find help in the repetition by Canon 14 of the ancient adage Leges ... in dubio iuris non urgent. Doubtful laws, including doubtful episcopal precepts, do not bind. And, while Cardinal Sarah's words were not legislative, a mere presbyter may surely feel that the publicly expressed opinions of a dicasterial Prefect about what is lawful within his own area of dicasterial competence are prima facie reliable guides.

Let's be human about this. I could understand a bishop pointing out in a kindly way that Facing The Other Way might cause hassle and dissension in a parish; and asking whether it was really worth the trouble. His judgement might very well be correct. He does have a responsibility in his diocese for Liturgy and for peace and harmony. I could understand it if he said "I would very much prefer that you didn't do it without having a chat with me". Or even "I'm the one who will have to pick up the pieces, and I've only got one secretary".

What grates is the lofty, totally unpastoral, lordly issuing of what are made to look like regulations or laws or prohibitions, especially when they grotesquely and misrepresent what the real Law really says. Surely, in this third Christian millennium, we have moved beyond such prelatical and tyrannous understandings of what it means to be a bishop.

I'm pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of Catholic Bishops is pastorally minded and that a couple of tin-pot Hitlers with chips on their shoulders are unrepresentative. And that is not irony.


Jane said...

It always seems strange that liberals are so intolerant.

An apparent contradiction, which in fact must be a `sequitur`.

By adopting as principles what are distortions of the truth, they plant themselves willingly on quicksand, and must, from then on, mount the strongest defence in order to maintain and promote their precarious and fallacious position. Pride grows at the root, perhaps.

Pray for the liberal bishops as they thrash around in growing desperation at the reaction against their `truth`. Their words expose the predicament of their souls. May they come to their senses as soon as possible,and then they will fall to their knees.

B flat said...

Dear Father,
Your last paragraph takes my breath away! God bless you for your continuing trustfulness.

The bishops simply do not understand that the general tenor of their pastoral policies has actually caused the massive exit of laity from Mass attendance, and hence, active participation in the life of the Church, to their peril. Reforming zeal may be fun for those who possess it, but it does nothing but unsettle the Faith of those who have enough battles in their daily life against the World and the Flesh and the devil.

If what was right and laudable in the past, is no longer so, then why should I bother to follow an organisation that changes its mind about what is the right way to live, to pray and to behave? But the pastors will themselves have to give an account for every soul entrusted to them, as St Benedict taught the abbot in his Rule.

The devil is rolling on the floor laughing at the mess being made of the Church by those with the power to do it.
All one can do is to pray that these benighted prelates see the error into which they themselves have been herded, and coming to themselves like the Prodigal, turn again to their True Father, and repair the damage as best they can. On this, the salvation of many souls, including their own, depends.

Sixupman said...

"Obedience" has led to the marked deterioration in Mother Church with which we are faced to-day!

mark wauck said...

It took some rummaging around on Fr. Z's lengthy blog, and following some links, but I found the article re events in Davenport, IA ("flyover country" in American parlance). On that web page there's a nice photo of the bish and a few of his close friends and/or associates presiding at a liturgy. I was struck by the incongruousness--from a traditional standpoint--of the large vase of flowers in front of the mensa. This is supposed to be an altar, but it seems to me that they treat it as if it were simply a large piece of rather awkwardly placed furniture that needs to be discretely made to fit in by the use of flowers. Why in the world would you place a large vase of flowers in front of an altar that is used for sacrifice? I understand that floral displays have traditionally been used in churches and sanctuaries, but ... directly in front of the sacred altar where sacrifice is to be offered? How to understand this? Unless, perhaps, certain traditional understandings of what's going on have changed, been elided, whatever. And so, too, the anger and incomprehension at the very notion of ad orientem worship. It's as if they conceive of the "presider" as the host at a jolly get together, and they think it would be rude for him to "turn his back" to his guests.

Liam Ronan said...

Bravo, Father. I admire the rigour, logic, and factual foundations upon which you present your analysis. You roar like a lion.

"Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard.
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come." Julius Caesar Act II Scene II

Rood Screen said...

I once attended a silly retreat directed by a religious sister, during which she led us out-of-doors to look at the nearby mountains as she recited something vaguely prayerful. No one objected that she had her back turned towards us as we all stood there facing those mountains. It seems to me that our Modern friends easily find God in nature and in certain crowds of people, but turning to face a wall, an altar cross, or a compass point just doesn't "do it" for them. Therefore, I'd suggest that the easiest way to restore ad orientem is to paint a few trees on the apse, or maybe a Sixties-era peace symbol, or perhaps even a photograph of Sister Joan Chittister, OSB. I think our groovier bishops would then be prompt in their support of reorientation.

Prayerful said...

Most of those bishops would shrug their shoulders if advised of their error in understanding or interpreting GIRM 299. They are animated by the 'Spirit of the Vatican II.' The 'Pact of the Catacombs' is their lodestar. Anything which is genuinely Tradition is 'rigid' or 'unpastoral.' Perhaps some of these bishops will change their mind if advised of the error, perhaps. I rather suspect that a young faithful priest who makes a stand on ad orientem, will discover the 'thousand ways' (Fr Z) a bishop can make his life a torment.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Our bishops would perhaps do well to consider also this passage from Cardinal Sarah's London talk, as the fruit of the liturgical revolution:

"My brothers and sisters, where are the faithful of whom the Council Fathers spoke? Many of the faithful are now unfaithful: they do not come to the liturgy at all."

EMJ said...

Hey, Mark Wauck! I take exception to the "flyover country" remark :o/
Go ahead and criticize the bishop's decision but leave Iowa alone :-)

I am in the Davenport Diocese and was extremely disappointed by the decision but not surprised. I have a strong feeling that the bishop is easily influenced by others in our Chancery. It is frustrating.