Saturday, March 14, 2015

Obedience and Parrhesia

The Crown was made by B Pius IX himself

I remember being told of one of the Welsh bishops being with the rest of the Bishop's Conference at the English College, they all went out to dinner in small groups but left him in the College alone, they were side-lining him. One of my friends, then a student, now long since ordained, felt so sorry for him, he gathered a small group of his fellows and took him out for a drink. Clergy, even Bishops can be unpleasant, just like little children in their excluding of someone with whom they disagree, especially if they are being called to obedience in Christ and to a more rigorous path.

Cardinal Burke since his sacking from the Signatura has apparently lost his smallish salary but more significantly his office and secretarial help but I suspect the thing that really hurts isn't that, or the public humiliation in front of the whole Church but it is the realisation that former friends and colleagues are no longer that friendly, and others just ignore you. Being 'excluded' is my idea of hell.

'Exclusion' is the Church's way of disciplining people, properly after just trial, if the situation merits it. I know of a Greek bishop whose brother is a little more than slightly mad but also a bishop, every so often they fall out and strike one another from the diptychs. The Patriarch of Constantinople was 'struck' a few years ago from the diptychs of the Metropolitan of Athens over some dispute. How that effected the reception of Communion by the average Greek Orthodox I don't know but formally it meant that if you were in Communion with a bishop who was not mentioned in the reading of the diptychs before Mass, you were not welcomed to communion. Such 'strikings', as in the Athenian case and the case of the two brothers seem easily repaired, often they are a bargaining tool in an ongoing internecine spat.

It would be wonderful if Christians always got on together but we care deeply about things and most especially we care about the truth, like many a married couple we will always bicker, Like some married couples we might even throw the crockery about, we have to speak with parrhesia, openly, frankly, as His Holiness reminds us.

Thinking about the email from Fr Anonymous, published by the Remnant, I continue to find it deeply disturbing, more so today than when I first read it. Priests and bishops are married to the Church, we cannot simply, 'leave the ministry' give up. We can do that no more than a married couple can give up. That is disturbing but it is also the anonymity of the priest that is worrying. Conscience should compel this priest not to be anonymous, the Holy Spirit demands we risk all for Christ's sake, even being excluded, the Gospel demands it. I have had that icon of the new Coptic martyrs on my desk, priest's should have the same courage to speak out, we are supposed to prophetically denounce sin and evil, especially if the cost is often simply human respect if do, but we are continually told it could cost heaven if we don't.

Being a bishop should be like herding cats. Love unites us in obedience to our Bishop and to the Pope but first we are servants of Christ and his Gospel, if we don't defend him and his teaching we are no more than hirelings. As the Holy Father reminds us we should speak frankly with our Father's in God, we are supposed to be son not cowering surfs, that might be a positive quality of an employee of a multi-national corporation but not in a member of the Church, for a Christian it is a sin. In the same way religious obedience, the promise we priest's take demands that we do not allow our superiors to risk their souls and the souls they are entrusted with by Christ, they are supposed to lead their flock to Heaven not to Hell. What son would watch his father fall into sin and do nothing, what priest would do it? The terrifying answer is, many would.

Cardinal Burke last Tuesday called us priests to use every means we can to safeguard the teaching of the Church, I urge any reader to do the same, even if it risks getting our heads cut off or being crowned with thorns.


JARay said...

I'm with you 100%

Gregkanga said...

Father, as a regular reader of your blog I can only concur. I hear your call to courage. A Catholic in pursuit of holiness cannot live in fear. As an ex-religious education teacher, who has been blacklisted in the diocese of Sale in Gippsland and Australia really, I have been in the trenches for the last 20 years. I can truly say, that since I have committed my cause to the living Eucharistic Presence of Christ in his Church, I have received nothing but Grace upon Grace.

Unknown said...

Agree with you Father. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

Unknown said...

The truth is, that those Catholics, whether Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacsons, Seminarians, Religious, Laymen and women, who have stood fast in the Faith on any point, throughout the last 50 years have been quietly excommunicated by being shunned by the Modernists. And that the mess in the Church right now is due largely to the fact that these many heroic voices have been sidelined, forgotten, buried, etc..

So the drama playing out is not one which includes all the actors whom the Holy Spirit hired for the act...

Nicolas Bellord said...

I would guess that the Order of Malta will be providing Cardinal Burke with any necessary material and secretarial needs.

August said...

I have thought the odd thought that I am the Church- which sounds rather odd in my mind because I am just one guy, a lay person, of no account, and am certainly not thinking it in the same way as the pope who said it.

But it is clearly obvious that people are not in communion with me, and all sorts of novelty and frivolity are more important than communion with me, and I can't despite my own sinfulness, imagine these people are anymore in communion with Christ than I am.
If there is no place for me in 'the Church', then perhaps it is no longer a church- and I speak of place as of old. Certainly there is a 'place' for me now, but I suspect it is as a consumer.

Fr Ray Blake said...

August, the Cross, tha is place for us, we are offered no other.

August said...

And yet from the Cross, Our Lord put upon St. John's heart the need to take care of His mother. True christian sacrifice is for a purpose. The Lord said he came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We do have a place, not extraneous to our sacrifice, but a part of it. A body is composed of different parts, but today this lesson is lost. Most likely a side effect of democratic thinking.

Jacobi said...


What you say is so important.

It really is up to priests to lead their flock to Heaven, something so many of the clergy by their silence, either complicit or in false obedience, have been guilty of not doing over the past decades.

And I am glad the pope has called for out-outspokenness, (although it should be logical and not self contradictory) and we must not be put off when we are called names, such as Promethean Neo Pelagians and so on. I mean, I have been called worse than that.

Sin is a stark reality. It is why Christ died a cruel death on the Cross. No one can whitewash it out of existence with illogical and false constructs of mercy.

As a pre-Vat II Catholic I must admit I have felt sometimes a bit uncomfortable at being in
opposition to so many bishops and priests, but now that the Holy Father has urged us to speak out, well that feels a lot better.

Enough. Time for my whisky, oh no, perhaps a good Guyanan rum tonight!

JARay said...

I have just read Rorate Caeli and two posts there are very interesting indeed.
One is by the Historian De Mattei who says that a schism is certainly coming.
The other says that Bishop Williamson (ex SSPX) is going to consecrate at least one new bishop and maybe two on Thursday of this week, the Feast of St. Joseph. This will lead to his excommunication for a second time.

Православный физик said...

A most blessed time that we live in, with the capacity to stand for the Truth, God bless you Father.

Paul-A. Hardy said...

As a Catholic of African-American background I find your choice this picture of the crown of thorns that Pio Nono made with his own hands emblematic of why I am unwilling to speak out in defense on the matters that you find distasteful. The family that held my family in bondage for well over a century was close to Jefferson Davis. My own mother bears the female counter-part of his name. This family was good to us in that they never alienated any of us during the entire period of slavery. This is more than can be said for the Society of Jesus, who alienated their slaves on the slave block because the superior could not in good conscience alienate the property of the society. Nevertheless, what Jefferson Davis stood for was immoral and wicked. How could Christian marriage take place, when wife husband and children could be sold at whim? And this happened on a regular basis throughout the Americas. No I will not speak out, although I have never supported the vernacular mass or tenets of Vatican Council II. I avoid the entire question. Will speaking out necessarily make us closer to God or will it simply affirm that 'I' which is suppose to die with Christ, the only true utterer of 'I am'? The Catholic Church long ago surrendered its right to sit as a moral authority in society not only by its support of slavery, when the institution was first launched in the Americas—and for what? Coffee, sugar? Things Europe could well have done without. Belatedly the Church spoke out. But then turned around and supported the apartheid system in the US until the fifties of the last century. St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington D.C. was segregated racially until the 50s of the last century. Cardinal Glennon of St. Louis refused to allow negroes to worship in his cathedral. Please Father think about what you do. You might as well have displayed a Confederate flag. I am so ashamed of you in this instance but love you all the same because I know your heart is in the right place. And as the reading for Laetare Sunday said, God looks at the heart.

gemoftheocean said...

Wish there was a way to do a "thousand likes."

Nicolas Bellord said...

The latest from Chiesa is essential reading:

He illustrates at length how Pope Francis has made many statements, in the last few months, which are absolutely in line with the traditional teaching of the Church on abortion, marriage etc.
Chiesa comments on an apparent paradox:

And yet in dominant opinion, both secular and Catholic, this pope passes as an innovator who changes paradigms and breaks with the dogmas of the past, also and above all on questions of life and death that were the cross of his predecessors."

It is very confusing but I believe that the Synod will stick with the traditional position so no schism at that level. But perhaps there will be some ambiguities? However I do believe that many of the clergy will just continue to ignore the teachings of the Church; the Germans in particular and their church will slowly die.

Perhaps the Holy Ghost is just allowing the liberals enough rope to hang themselves?

Nicolas Bellord said...

JARay: The Rorate article by Mattei is, as you say, well worth reading as it points out with great clarity the paradox to which Chiesa has drawn our attention.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I do not what Pius IX's attitudes to slavery were but the crown of thorns which he made were a reaction not to JD's political views but to suffering and imprisonment, which was widley reported in Europe.
Europe on the whole tended to support the Confederacy rather than the Union. In an age of colonialism and industrialism values were shockingly different.

Unknown said...

"The Patriarch of Constantinople was 'struck' a few years ago from the diptychs of the Metropolitan of Athens over some dispute."

It was the other way around and it was over a dispute about the authority of the Orthodox Church of Greece (led from Athens) over the "New Lands". These are the parts of Greece that joined it after 1913 and comprising mainly northern Greece. The "New Lands" are nominally under the Patriarch of Constantinople but their actual administration is under the Archbishop of Athens. The dispute was patched up soon after.

"How that effected the reception of Communion by the average Greek Orthodox I don't know but formally it meant that if you were in Communion with a bishop who was not mentioned in the reading of the diptychs before Mass, you were not welcomed to communion."

Striking from the diptychs means that there can be no concelebration in the meantime but it does not extend to the ordinary faithful. Presently there is a rupture of communion and striking from the diptychs between the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch. There is no concelebration but their faithful remain free to commune at Divine Liturgy celebrated in either Patriarchate.

This is one of the things demonstrating how different Orthodox and Catholic ecclesiology really are. In Orthodoxy it is possible to have "partial" ruptures of Communion without veering into all-out schism. This makes it possible for the Orthodox Churches to "police" each other with this weapon - go far too out and we strike you from the diptychs. In Catholicism it is all or nothing - you are in communion with everyone or with no one in the Catholic Church.

Paul-A. Hardy said...

Thanks for the reply, Father. But we only have to update Pio Nono's gesture. Would Pius XII sending Albert Speer a crown of thorns whilst he was imprisoned have the meaning that you propose? Given the nature of retributive justice prevalent during Pius IX's time, it makes no difference what his intentions were. The punishment fit the crime. Slavery was a crime of immense proportions. That he was willing to drag a whole nation into civil war for the sake of an institution as devilish as American slavery testifies to his extreme moral ignorance or stupidity. I think the latter is, in fact, the more charitable interpretation of Pius IX's act. In my opinion Pio Nono was a dubious character for any number of reasons. No doubt he will eventually be canonized in the vain hope of shoring up an institution, which like slavery, at least. according to the judgment of the Church, is not intrinsically unjust but extremely difficult to practice with justice, human nature being what it is. The response to this is that human nature in the case of the Pope has a special assistance in the form of divine grace. I do not doubt it. Still, being human and thereby endowed with a free will, he may refuse it. I read your blog faithfully because it so often gives evidence of these refusals in the case of the present pontiff, in whom I rejoice, since he evinces a pattern of behavior, which I pray God I will never be inclined to emulate. And to me these failures are part of the charisms of his office. His magisterium shows both how to act and how not to act. And this charism has been present in the papacy since Peter denied Christ thrice.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Pierre, I now too little about American history, I don't know what Pius IX intenytion was, I think making a crown of thorns was a extraordinary penitential act.
I know hardly any European monarchy supported the Union, even those like Britain who had been anti-slavery for a generation.

TLM said...

There are many ways to be martyred. It doesn't necessarily have to be a physical martyrdom, but it can and will come in many ways, even including physical. Case in point: Patricia Jannuzzi, a High School Teacher at Immaculata High School in New Jersey, U.S. (She teaches theology, it is a so called 'Catholic' school. She wrote a piece on her facebook page in response to a public homosexual activist, stating Church Doctrine and explaining how these 'activists' work. She was told to take down her facebook response (from the Bishop) and put on paid suspension. But she will not be hired back in the fall. The Bishop came out with a public response to the incident pretty much summing it up as 'hate speech' in so many words. Google her name to get all the details, but this woman is now probably blackballed from teaching anywhere. To make matters worse, I do believe I read that she is the sole supporter of her family.

I think her case is an example of a certain kind of 'martydom', and not from outside of the Church but from INSIDE.

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