Disturbing data points have come to me in the last few days.
First, I had a telephone conversation with a priest who described how the local bishop had removed the faculties of a number of priests pretty much because he didn’t like their style. No accusations. No crimes or delicts. BAM. Some of the priests have had successful recourse to Rome, but the damage to those priests is done.
Next, I have read of the case of the a priest who came into the Church under the Pastoral Provision for Anglicans. This last week he was removed from his parish in order “to dedicate some time to reflect on certain specific concerns” which “relate to expressions in the life of the parish that indicate an identity separate from, rather than simply unique, among the parishes”. It seems that he hasn’t done anything wrong, like commit a crime, but he doesn’t conform.
Also, I read last night at Rorate – we really need to close ranks now, lads – of a Bishop in South America, of the Diocese of Pereira, Columbia, who suspended a priest because the priest, “expressed publicly and privately his rejection of the doctrinal and pastoral teachings of the Holy Father Francis, mainly regarding Marriage and the Eucharist”. That priest was summoned by the bishop to explain himself in front of others. The decree claims that he “separated himself publicly from the communion with the Pope and the Church”. However, there is no indication in the bishop’s decree about the nature of the priest’s “separation”. I suspect that the priest has not professed obstinate heresy regarding clearly and definitively doctrines of the faith. It may be – may be – that this priest has declined to accept that those who have committed publicly known mortal sins and who have no purpose of amendment can be given Holy Communion. That may be it. And barring a clarification from on high about what Amoris laetitia means, that priest’s interpretation could be just as good as another person’s.
Then, we heard a rumor – rumor – during the week that a Bishop of Malta, who perpetrated with another bishop The Maltese Fiasco, had threatened to suspend priests who refused to give Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried, in other words in an adulterous state. The bishop has denied that he said that. The Maltese Fiasco was, by the way, reproduced in L’Osservatore Romano. That could give cover to other bishops to adopt the same unheard of approach as the Maltese bishops.
Add to these certain personnel reports from the Roman Curia.
Anecdotes are accumulating. And we all know that the plural of anecdote is “data”. But seriously, when anecdotes start to pile up, something – not nothing – is going on. What it could be is unclear.
What is clear and has always been clear is that when you scratch a liberal, you find a despot underneath.
I had a chat by phone with another priest friend who has under his care, inter alia, a retreat center. Our conversation drifted into the situation of all the priests who will be unjustly persecuted for the crime of adhering to Catholic teaching. Apparently there are dozens of rooms at that center. We could found a new community called, say, Fratres Unitatis. Over the entrance gate there could be emblazoned:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled clerics yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Perhaps the apostolate of the FUs, in addition to teaching remedial catechism, could be to say Mass ad orientem, to teach priests to implement Summorum Pontificum, and to uphold canons 915 and 916. They would have to give talks in the public parks near parishes in dioceses where they have been banned about the Sacrament of Matrimony and explain other mean and merciless teachings of Our Lord and His Holy Church, such as the dogma of the existence of Hell, the reality of sin and personal guilt.
Dear readers, pray for priests and pray for bishops. Pray especially for bishops. The Devil hates bishops and relentlessly works to twist them into instruments of harm in the Church. Pray for them and do penance. Ask you Guardian Angels also to assist your local bishop as well as your parish priests.
Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy…