Food for thought: “How to Red-Pill a Bishop”

Today at Crisis there is a thoughtful piece by Michael Warren Davis about bishops, both impressive and dreadful.

How to Red-Pill a Bishop

For those of you who have been living the feral life in depths of the forest for a couple decades, “to red-pill” is a reference to the movie The Matrix, in which people are effectively plugged into a massive computer program and all of life they think they experience is a simulation. However, rebels can get you out of the simulation by entering it themselves, telling you the truth about what’s going on, and the offering you either a blue pill to swallow, so you can stay in the simulation, or a red pill which is really a program that detaches you from the simulation and jolts you into the real world, dominated entirely by Google and Twitter and the MSM…. er um… no… machines and AI bent on the destruction of the human race.

Hmmm… the Matrix analogy and the present day hierarchy have more in comment than I thought.

In any event, in the Matrix, the hero gets “red-pilled”, told the harsh truth leading to his free choice to act.

Can we think of some bishops we would like to “red-pill”? I can.

How do we do that?

As St. Francis de Sales – who worked to red-pill Calvinists – said:

“Soyez toujours le plus doux que vous pourrez, et souvenez-vous que l’on prends plus de mouches avec une cuillerée de miel qu’avec cent barils de vinaigre.”

And bishops are tougher to convert than Calvinists.

What does Davis recommend?

You’ll have to read it.

However, he does have this good quote from Card. Sarah at the top:

“If you think that your priests and bishops are not saints, then be one for them.”

And this one from Fulton Sheen in the body.

“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”

That, by the way, has been on the sidebar of this blog for a long time now.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Dear Fr. Z,

    This article by Michael Warren Davis is not only thoughtful. It is superb in the sense that it communicates to us, the Catholic instinct of how we should treat our bishops: with charity and filial respect.

    That truly traditional, Catholic instinct is gone, and replaced by the “feelings meter.” A bishop is not seen objectively as a transmitter of Apostolic Succession and the gifts of the Holy Ghost. He is treated according to how we feel about him. And what we feel, is based on what we have heard, or read about him.

    But this author has obviously worked with bishops, and knows their reality and the environment in which they must function. The genius of the article was how accurately he presents to us the reality of the typical bishop.

    It is not the author’s aim to get Catholics to like their bishops, or to rationalize away, their mistakes and errors.

    Rather, his hope seems to be in helping the faithful see the world, and the Church’s problems, through the eyes of the bishop as a man with limitations who is usually overwhelmed in his tasks.

    I pray that much spiritual fruit, especially a holy wisdom, comes from his words and helps us to discern the episcopal vocation as the most misunderstood roles of service in the Church.

  2. WVC says:

    I agree with Mr. Davis’s article and his goals. Treating bishops with respect and civility does more to further the cause than flooding them with derision and vituperative comments or tweets. That being said, one point came to mind.

    First, the problem is not just that bishops are facing many challenges in the manner in which Mr. Davis describes them. Yes, there is bureaucratic inertia and resource management and a myriad of other pressing matters, but the bishops themselves seem, generally and with notable exceptions, lacking in the training and manly qualities needed to take command and lead. Whether by environment or nature or education or whatever the case may be, they seem to want to react instead of act, to follow trends rather than take charge, and to allow agendas to be set for them rather than commanding their own focus. The “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” and “Save Souls for God” part of the mission, the heart of the mission, seems drowned out by fundraisers and refugee resettlement cases and food pantries and medical clinics and grants . . . .etc. It’s not that those other things don’t have their own importance and role, but if I were weighting the final exam I would suspect they come in well below more primary aspects of the job.

    My rambling point is that it’s not just that bishops have a lot on their plate – it’s that many of them don’t seem to have the chutzpah necessary to throw the damn plate on the ground and get a new plate and put together their own meal based on what they want and what their sheep really need. There are many pastors in this same position. Heck, there are many fathers who act like this in their own families, pretending that they don’t have any real control over their ill-behaving children.

    The problems the bishops face is the same one faced just about everywhere – a lack of real men. Again, notable exceptions notwithstanding.

    So even politely trying to explain things or suggest things to a bishop in a reverent and filial way, while better than acting like a privileged internet troll, doesn’t really transform an administrator into a leader, or a timid soul into a man. Honestly, short of God’s grace, I’m not sure what actually helps. Which is why I pray for my bishop.

    It is still galling, though. For someone like Biden to have run for President, with all he is, all he’s done, and all he represents. With all of the evil that is supporting him, and all that they’ve made known are their plans for the future. With all that, we had two bishops bold enough to actually speak frankly about the election? Just two? I guess that’s one more than just St. John Fisher, but not something that warms my heart.

    The desire to appear “respectable” in the eyes of the world (and to keep tax exemption status and receiving refugee resettlement money) may be about to bear some very bitter fruit.

  3. Chrisc says:

    Excellently put. WCC. We need basic virtues of manly courage. We need more Havel and Solzhenitsyn and, of course, Wotylya.

  4. JonPatrick says:

    I guess I’m going to have to watch “The Matrix”. Life imitates art. Especially now that we are getting these reports about the possible manipulation of the election results via the Dominion and Scytl software used by many states for counting the votes. Oh and Scytl is connected with George Soros and his organizations. So instead of the Russians stealing the election it looks like it’s the Canadians and the Spanish, with maybe help from the Venezuelans. Of course you won’t find anything about this in the mainstream media. Even Fox News seems to have taken the Blue Pill. All anyone wants to talk about is “President Elect Joe Biden” and the prospect of dogs at the White House again. All the important stuff.

  5. Percusio says:

    The comments up to this point have given me hope for the future of the Church.

  6. The Astronomer says:

    One thing to consider is that many bishops, archbishops…etc. KNOW what the differences between the Red and Blue Pill are, and they deliberately gobble up Blue Pills as fast as possible. Living in denial can be a comfortable thing, right up until your individual judgment.

    Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for Us and especially all the clergy.

  7. PostCatholic says:

    It’s been said you distribute these red pills to the Vatican.

    [You can lead a bishop to red pill…]

  8. Gaetano says:

    The part at the end about conservatives/traditionalists being their own worst enemies is an important take away.

    While not as vitriolic as left-wing hate, it is incredibly counterproductive.

  9. Semper Gumby says:

    Michael Warren Davis wrote:

    “Now, whether Mr. Biden calls himself a Catholic or a Buddhist or a Hare Krishna, Mr. Biden is not the legitimately elected President of the United States. The Archbishop [Gomez, President of the USCCB] like many other Americans (including Tucker Carlson), jumped the gun on that one.”

    To say the least. Gomez and Carlson are in fact wrong, and they are spreading Party of Death propaganda. There is a difference between ballots and votes, and there is a process which includes the Electoral College. Shame on them.

    “I have it on good authority that more priests turn down episcopal appointments than accept them.”

    That’s unfortunate, which results in problematic bishops such as Wilton Gregory and Richard Stika. Then again, there’s always been some bishops that are problematic.

    A good article by Davis, with two helpful quotes by Card. Sarah and Abp. Sheen.

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    JonPatrick: Have a look at Jack Posobiec’s Twitter from Saturday night. He’s on a roll, providing links to concerns over voting fraud from…2016 and 2018…by… Leftists.

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