Thursday, November 13, 2008

Authority Is Transitive

Over the years, I've developed a shorthand take on the deterioration of the authority of Bishops in the Church in America--and it is the title of this entry.

"Authority is Transitive" is more familiar when phrased "...bishops [teaching] in unity with the Pope"; it simply means that there can be no question of the authority of the Bishop. Conversely, when a Bishop is NOT teaching, or acting, in unity with the Pope, the Bishop has an "authority problem."

The Hatted One makes the point very forcefully.

The bishops have spent decades sending us the clear message that Rome is a long way away and what the Church teaches hasn't mattered since Humanae Vitae. Now they are puzzled as to why Catholic voters were hard to educate about the Church's teaching on abortion? Note to bishops: first you have to educate the Catholic voters as to why they should care what the Church teaches on any subject. Then you have to educate Catholics (me, for instance) as to why you have the authority to throw politically incorrect passages out of the Bible and/or ignore them as you see fit.

The bishops don't have a tough job ahead of them. They have an impossible job. They cannot explain why the Pope is right about abortion but wrong about female altar servers. They cannot explain why one bishop can read us the riot act and another can march down the aisle behind the rainbow Jesus fish banner. They cannot explain why "good Catholic" has a different definition in every diocese. They cannot explain why the priest in my parish could spend last Sunday playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on his clarinet (during the homily) and then make up his own Mass, or why the deacon could get up one Sunday and explain to Caleb that his favorite miracle (the loaves and the fishes) did not really take place. (That was the homily on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Hmmm... what other miracle might not take place?

Indeed. One does not have to look hard to find reports of liturgical abuse, "invented" Masses, or blatantly scandalous behavior in this Archdiocese. One does not have to look hard to find the "missing condemnation" over outrageous legislative activity.

But on the teaching of "stewardship"--which amounts to "fork over $100 million, we need it," there is unanimity. But that message did not emanate from the Pope.

1 comment:

HeatherRadish said...

A little off-topic for this post, but you might appreciate this: