As a preamble, today at Crisis, two new pieces touch the same issue: virtues that govern what is owed to God and what is owed to man. These virtues are closely related. Justice governs what is due to another human person. Religion governs what is due to Divine Persons.
Hence, at Crisis there is a piece by Eric Sammons, “When Bishops Lose Their Authority“. He tackles what we are faced by when bishops (L’affaire McCarrick) screw up badly: we might not owe the screw-up respect but we owe respect for his divinely constituted office. His office comes from God and that divinely constituted element is governed by the virtue of religion.
Sammons goes on to paint a picture of a kind of Protestant revolt going on in the Church again today:
The vast numbers of Catholics who have stopped practicing the faith in recent decades make the Reformation look like a warm-up act. All those fleeing Catholics didn’t leave simply because many bishops failed to live up to their office, but if nothing else, these bishops essentially put a doorstop in place to keep the exit doors open.
So what can Catholics who want to remain in the Church do? Should we mentally reject the authority of bishops, yet attend Mass and receive the sacraments while keeping our distance from the hierarchy? I don’t think that’s the answer, for that way eventually leads to schism.
He goes on to argue:
Ultimately, our goal is to replace the men, not the office. […] One practical way to do this is via the pocketbook.
I made the financial argument yesterday as an alternative to building gallows. HERE
Tracking back to the other article in Crisis, Joseh G. Trabbic of Ave Maria University writes about “Political Implications of Religion as a Moral Virtue“. I know a bit about this, from my work on Ambrose, Augustine and the Civil Virtues. Trabbic get’s into the philosophy, engaging with Aristotle in particular. He eventually shows the deep problems with social liberalism. It’s a good read.
It is interesting that Crisis has two pieces today that deal with the virtue of religion. They are timely.
We owe everything to God. Hence, all of our decisions and acts and words eventually have to take God into account. He is our origin and our goal, our very reason for being. We owe God everything. The primary way by which, collectively, we give to God what is His due is through our sacred liturgical worship. Religio and cultus, cult, worship are nearly intgerchangable when it come to our collective duty to God, whereas devotio might better characterize how we live religion as individuals.
It seems to me that everything bad that we see going on in the Church today comes back to the denigration of our sacred liturgical worship and the loss of true devotion. Are these the sole causes? No, but they are at the core of the rot.
My call for a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship and the recovery of solid, old fashioned devotions is an existential issue.