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By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 11, 2003

In the entire history of the Church probably not a single saint was ever canonized for the conspicuous virtue of prudence, and many were, from a worldly standpoint, quite imprudent. This applies to canonized bishops, many of whom were martyrs and almost all of whom were involved in severe conflicts of various kinds. (When St. Charles Borromeo began to reform the diocese of Milan, the inmates of a particular monastery actually hired an assassin who shot at the bishop during Vespers.)

By the logic of prudence as it is now understood, the Church should not have canonized John Fisher, the only bishop who withstood Henry VIII, but instead Stephen Gardiner and Cuthbert Tunstall, men who, although not devoid of principle, nonetheless managed to survive the ecclesiastical changes of three reigns. (Although the fact is well known that all but one English bishop conformed to Henry VIII in l534, much less well known is the fact that in l559 no English bishop conformed to Elizabeth I, and all were deposed, including Tunstall, a fact which demonstrates the possibility of thoroughly reforming a national hierarchy.)

-- from James Hitchcock, "Conservative Bishops, Liberal Results," Catholic World Report, May 1995. Emphasis mine.

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