From The Catholic Herald, the best weekly in the UK, comes this from the keyboard of the charming and persistent Anna Arco with my emphases and comments.
Bishop: disobedience is harming the Church
By Anna Arco
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 said that such differences prompted parish priests to ignore the authority of their bishops. [In other words, those bishops commit the sin of scandal?]
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. 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."
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. [Very true. I have seen that especially in one particular place.] 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."
The bishop said this disunity created a "conspiracy of silence" in the Church. [Silence? I wonder. It seems to me they become outspoken, in a braying sort of way.]
He said: "This cocktail of dissent, disobedience and disloyalty 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. [Ah… okay… I think I am getting his drift.]
"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?" [Because like good Rawlsians they don’t want to permit a different voice to be heard.]
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". He suggested that accepting the Church’s teaching on sexual morality was a "litmus test" for Catholics. [Probably pretty close to the mark. I would also look at their Marian and Eucharistic devotion.]
"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? 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?" [NB: He didn’t mention Humanae vitae, but GS. Very good.]
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". [Good!]
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?" [See Rule #4]
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". 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."
WDTPRS kudos to Bp. O’Donoghue!