Friday, October 17, 2014
Guarding the Guards, a duty
Yesterday's events in the aula of the Synod were certainly remarkable, the bishops rose up cried 'No' to their manipulation, Kasper disappeared as in a puff of smoke, and the Pope appoints an African.
The triumph of orthodoxy? No, just one battle won, the first maybe in a long war.
What gave me joy was that the media, both Catholic and secular, followed the Kasper line that very few of the Bishops favoured 'Tradition' and yet yesterday's events showed that most Bishop are actually orthodox. I mistrusted the Synod and I was right to do so, yesterday's events show that the majority of the Synod Fathers, including some of the Cardinals shared my mistrust.
Yesterday I asked, 'who will guard the guardians' and in a way yesterday's events gave an answer: Truth and openness will guard the guards. I have a friend who worked in the Balkans who talks of saintly bishops who are constantly challenged by crotchety parish priests, he has also worked in southern Italy where he says it is not unusual for Parish Priests to be challenged by irate parishioners, sometimes even whilst preaching. I think this what we should mean by collegiality.
I am the son of Liberalism and of the 1980's but I find the 'Via Traddie' incredibly attractive, it is not just liturgy but the 'style'. I mean the egalitarianism of it all. Nothing is hidden, a child or an elderly woman can challenge my preaching simply by saying, 'How does that square with the Catechism which says, .....?', I was quite delighted when a child after the Traditional Mass asked if my sermon was 'a bit Patriapassionist' (obviously it wasn't, I was right she was wrong, but it made me think), in the same way that someone can say after Mass, 'Father, the rubrics say quite specifically that ..., why didn't you do it, can't you read, are you a fool?' Traddiness has none of the arcana of Liberalism, the type of thing which led Kasper to suggest that poor Africans just don't understand. If you pressed Kasper about what they don't understand I suspect that he would have come some 'spirit of ...' nonsense, or they hadn't read some fashionable theologian or they hadn't grasped the meaning of 'mercy' or 'love' or 'the human condition'; basically what he would have been talking about would have been some Gnostic kind of secret language known only to the elite. It is the same in a parish, question what a priest says in sermon or why he does something odd at Mass and you get a lot of obscure b... ...t, which simply places the priest beyond question.
Who will guard the guardians? It should be all of us. If a Bishop (or a priest or even a Pope) is unclear in his teaching, we have a duty to demand clarity. If he is not preaching the Gospel, if he never mentions sex, or marriage, or seems unconcerned about pro-life issues, or Eternity, if he rarely mentions God in his Pastoral Letters, if his views on the family or homosexuality, or money or whatever are singular or odd, he ought to be asked to explain himself. If he invites into his diocese speakers or groups who are obviously destructive of the faith, his priests or his people should ask, 'Why?'. In the same way if at a Confirmation or First Communion he suggests that it is acceptable for those who have just received the sacrament to lapse, he needs to be questioned by the clergy and the faithful. If he decides to sell his predecessors' house and get rid of the community that lived with him and live on his own, he needs to be questioned about his motives or similarly if he decides to cancel every Mass in his diocese on a particular day.
The Presbyterate of a diocese really do have a function not just towards their parishioners but towards their Father in God, and to one another, ultimately to get their Bishop to heaven but more immediately to ensure he has acts in a Christlike way, if the Bishop turns out to be sinful or falls, it is not merely his failure but the failure of his priests too, in the same way if a priest isn't saintly, it is failure of his people as well as his own. The sheep have a duty to make known their needs, this is surely what our obscurantist Pope means by' 'smelling of the sheep'.
The real problem is the Liberal gnosticism that was introduced following the Council removed the plain clear sense of the faith from ordinary men women, to the point where 'the Council' seemed to have more weight than the Gospels or the creed. How many of the faithful called to study those turgid documents have a grasp of the Gospels or the Creeds? Liberal gnosticism placed a liberal elite above the masses and gave a sense that they were not to be questioned, not to be held to account, which is exactly what happened until yesterday in the Synod. I remember an old PP after reading the 1983 Code of Canon Law and regretting that it failed to hold bishops to account as former Code did, his description 'between the anvil of Rome and the hammer of the diocesan Chapter'. This is precisely why Cdl Mueller was so right in deploring the anonymity of the Synod, the people (and most especially the clergy) of a diocese have a right to know what their Bishop has said. I would say they have a duty to question what their Bishop has to say, if they don't they fail him and Christ!
Posted by Fr Ray Blake