Christ salvation

When Bishops Disagree: Salvation, Not Inclusion

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio – articles – email ) | April 22, 2022

I admit it; I share the brilliance of Phil Lawler’s excellent commentary, Discord Among Catholic Bishops: A Healthy Sign. Just a week ago it infuriated me to read some of the speeches given at the mysterious meeting of Catholic “leaders” in Chicago. Perhaps the most remarkable story is this: Speaking at a meeting of cardinals, theologians ripping apart ‘Catholic-capitalists’, ‘culture warriors’, National Catholic Center for Bioethics – an address by a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for life! With a pope who can often at least be interpreted as undermining sound Catholic thought and action around the world, it is not surprising to find conferences held and attended by prominent clergymen and their delegates – conferences for “ discover” the best way to counter the regression of forces within the Church deemed to be out of step with the program of the current pontificate.

But even if it is not surprising, it is highly significant. Bishops and cardinals who are serious about taking some of Pope Francis’ more dubious talking points even further than the Pope himself are a minority in the Church as a whole, and they know it. They are clearly a minority in the United States, which is sometimes referred to as an ecclesiastical bastion of resistance to Pope Francis, although he is far from it. In the case of the recent Chicago rally, that minority status is more than evident from the almost exclusive coverage given to the event by the notorious National Catholic Journalist. What we see here is an effort to resuscitate the wayward Catholic agenda of the 1970s, which was largely marginalized during the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

What is different this time around, however, is exactly what Phil Lawler has drawn attention to, which is that a growing number of other Catholic bishops are willing to publicly reject this kind of manipulation of the faith. , Catholic morals and practice, and (even better) to strive to keep their own dioceses firmly on the Catholic path. There are obviously many countries with weak and even heterodox bishops, but so far they have only been able to hijack the synodal process in a small number of places (notably Germany). The failure to hijack the process in the United States is a significant concern for some; hence, I would say, the Chicago convention.

In any case, what will most often make its way to synodal approval will be what the Pope wants to hear at the time. And, as always, it will be faithfully interpreted by faithful bishops, but it will also lend itself to the support of heterodox positions by bishops who simply cannot detach themselves from the dominant secular culture in which (very unfortunately) they live. and move and have their being. As we all know, the appeal of a faithful and courageous bishop to doctrine and morals assignment is the appeal of an unfaithful and cowardly bishop to doctrine and morals cash. So it has always been in this world.

The call to mission

For this reason, while a synodal Church (let’s call it a fully functioning Church, with everyone engaged in the Catholic mission) is eminently desirable, everyone knows that in the modern Church calls for a increased participation are most often interpreted as calls for the empowerment of those who have very different conceptions of right and good, subversive conceptions of the Church, which are inevitably based on what has been divinely revealed. As I mentioned, it is good to understand these conflicting ideas and ideologies, because it is precisely this that should awaken good Catholics everywhere, and especially good bishops, to a deep and urgent sense of mission.

But very often, as all adults living today have often witnessed, this understanding is used as an excuse to accommodate what is wrong, to implement plans and programs that maximize ecclesiastical space for infidelity. . This is the near universal experience of Catholics in the West, at least, as the dominant culture has increasingly distanced itself from and even forcefully rejected truth and goodness as officially taught by the Church. ‘Catholic Church.

Can Catholics wonder, then, what a good bishop should do in the face of constant pressure for secularization – constant pressure to substitute modern cultural norms for an authentically Christian way of life, constant pressure to “reinterpret” the Catholic moral teachings. so that favored spiritual pathologies can be welcomed into the Church without being healed by healthy conduct and the acceptance of grace.

What follows hardly has the character of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit or the seven deadly sins; I only invented it today. Nevertheless, here is a list of seven wills and wills”:

  1. A good bishop will above all maintain absolute private and public fidelity to Christ as represented doctrinally and morally by the magisterium of the Church and, with equal importance, will endeavor to secure this fidelity through constant prayer.
  2. A good bishop will interpret the growing abandonment of Catholic teaching and sacramental life in his diocese, both in the general public and among nominal Catholics, as a call to mission and not a call to accommodation.
  3. A good bishop will ensure sound faith, morals and liturgy in the ministry of the Church throughout his diocese, through the effective use of his disciplinary authority.
  4. A good bishop will issue brief documents of public teaching and instructions on particularly dangerous matters in his diocese and in the wider culture, as specific guides for priests, deacons and laity.
  5. A good bishop will avoid public correction from other bishops. His actions and his teaching for his own diocese will be enough to get away from the capricious brothers. If that makes his disagreement with another obvious, so much the better. But fraternal correction must be done privately by one or a small group (Mt 18:15-17) before being elevated to a public cause within the Church as a whole.
  6. A good bishop will join other good bishops in issuing joint statements for their respective territories. It may even be necessary to counter other such statements that have been made public by the capricious to the confusion of the faithful. Such statements may quote the universal Magisterium of the Church with excellent effect, but they must be addressed to their own jurisdictions; they cannot by themselves formally address the whole Church.
  7. A good bishop will daily increase, through prayer and reflection, his desire to identify himself with Christ and with the magisterium of the Church, both of whom he represents as vicar of Christ in his own diocese. It is precisely in this sense that he will avoid ambiguity, preferring both truth and spiritual healing out of love for those entrusted to him.

Good bishops don’t go out of their way to attack their brethren. They let their own example speak much louder. It is precisely in this that they must have the courage to follow their own path, which will be the path of Christ, which always comes down to the courage to disagree with others. In our modern culture, when too many Catholics at all levels alter their stripes to blend in with their surroundings, Phil Lawler is right: discord among bishops is “a healthy sign.” For it is today as it was when Saint Paul wrote to his new bishop Timothy:

O Timothy, keep what has been entrusted to you. Avoid ungodly chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for in professing it some have missed the mark in matters of faith.[1 Tim 6:20-21]

Indeed, as Paul had already stated in the same letter: “God our Saviour…desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2:3-4). The two are very, very closely related. And this must also be the most ardent desire of every bishop: not inclusion as man includes, but salvation as God saves.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a doctorate. in Intellectual History from Princeton University. Co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full biography.

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