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Is Off The Record too hard on the bishops?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 16, 2003

In the England of Henry VIII, every Catholic bishop except one abandoned the Faith and became Protestant. Would Catholics who accused these bishops of sloth, cowardice, and heterodoxy -- in the months preceding the apostasy that proved them right -- be guilty of scandal-mongering? If it is always wrong to raise one's hand against the Lord's anointed, is it always wrong also to raise one's voice against him? Let's do a little stock-taking.

*A U.S. bishop pulls rank to bypass protocol and ordain his Costa Rican catamite to the priesthood, and fits him out with a beeper in order to summon him at all hours for sexual services.

*A U.S. bishop pays $450,000 of diocesan funds as hush money to a gay lover.

*A U.S. bishop throttles a male prostitute while the man is in the act of performing fellatio on him in his hotel room, this during a Knights of Columbus convention.

Note: the above incidents are not mere allegations but facts, admitted in each case by the bishop involved. There is no reason -- absolutely zero evidence -- to suggest that their brother bishops would have moved to depose them had not the scandals become glaringly public (in the last case, the bishop died before the story broke). In spite of this, some will console themselves by pretending that

a) steps are being taken "behind the scenes" to clean the stables.

b) the above-mentioned cases are flukes and, by a happy coincidence, all the rogues and heretics have been eliminated.

c) public agitation against the bad guys was malicious and unnecessary because the normal oversight and discipline would have bagged them anyway.

As Christ's spotless bride, the Church is holy. She was holy in 1535, in spite of her rotten episcopacy. She is holy today, in spite of some of her ministers' lies, depravity, cover-ups, gutlessness. It would be great, of course, if the bishops helped us see and love her holiness by moving to rid themselves of villains in their midst before the first whisper of scandal reached the ears of the faithful. Either they can't, or they won't. So how do the rest of us respond?

Many half-Catholics gloat over the Church's humiliation because they reject her teachings and hate the notion of ecclesial authority full-stop. But many real Catholics -- and this is true frequently in the Church's history -- value the meaning of the bishop's office more than do the bishops who hold it; in remonstrating with episcopal frauds and time-servers they are defending the nobility of the calling of bishop, not spitting on it.

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  • Posted by: shrink - Jun. 17, 2003 8:00 AM ET USA

    Concerned Catholic has fallen victim to the Platonic fallacy in morals, which is that knowledge is virtue. Reading papal pronouncements does not simply translate into good behavior. Knowledge cannot be equated with virtue, it is simply one condition of virtue. There are many who abandon their responsibilities--as is the evident case with many bishops--not from ignorance, but from being UNDISCIPLINED.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 16, 2003 9:46 PM ET USA

    Evil is REAL, and it has a firm grip on the Catholic hierarchy in this country. All the Bishops should be required to read St. Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care. This Church father states that "no one does more harm in the Church than he, who having the title or rank of holiness, acts evilly. No one presumes to take to task such a delinquent, and the offence, serving as an example, has far-reaching consequences, when the sinner is honoured out of respect paid to his rank." He nailed that one

  • Posted by: - Jun. 16, 2003 3:37 PM ET USA

    In the meantime the Bishops have endorsed a commission to criticize the new Jesus film that Mel Gibson is currently filming and producing. Among other things this commission found that the famous star takes the Gospels too literal, that he should not do this since we all know that the Gospels are anti-Semitic and therefore not worthy of serious consideration. They also condemn the film for taking the passion stories of the Gospels as true historical fact, since we all know that the resurrection never took place, a mere collective illusion of the disciples, that there was no real hostility of the Romans or Jewish rulers against Jesus, and in the end, we all know that Jesus is not a historical person, but rather a construct of later Christians, who, of course, we all know invented the Gospels to justify their anti-Semitism, patriarchal chauvinism, anti-social attitude. Of course, another commission, formed at the height of the sexual scandals, found that we Catholics should not try to convert Jews to Jesus since as we all know He is not necessary for their salvation. This is what our Bishops of the Catholic Conference are worried about.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 16, 2003 3:20 PM ET USA

    Diogenes alluded to Bishop Zieman in his comments. I know that what he said is true. I also know that I can't believe everything I read on the internet, but I do know that Zieman is resting comfortably in a Benedictine monastery just south of Tucson. I read that he was minstering to candidates for the priesthood. I have also read that has been seen "partying." Bishop Levada (I believe) is his spiritual director. Something is wrong here.

  • Posted by: Web Doctor - Jun. 16, 2003 2:57 PM ET USA

    Keating was foolish to think that he really had a mandate to aggressively complete the task he was appointed to carry out -- no member of the laity could be granted the kind of authority necessary to fulfill his mission. Passing the buck to a member of the laity was smart PR, but bad practice. These types of problems in the Church can only be addressed by the clergy, and significantly ranked members of the clergy at that. The Magisterium must speak strongly, and emphasize her points with action.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jun. 16, 2003 2:10 PM ET USA

    Keating's departure shows that the American Episcopacy, in collusion with the Vatican, is fundamentally corrupt. It is incapable of reforming itself, and will resist any outside attempts to do the same. Our Faith teaches that the Church will survive this, but the Faith doesn't insist that the Church will survive in any given country, including the US.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 16, 2003 12:36 PM ET USA

    This disaster seems to grow everyday. We can expect nothing but stonewalling from our "bishops" and no action from the Vatican. Loyal American Catholics wait in vain for any demonstration of spine from Rome. It's especially trying for us converts, who have to put up with the derision from our former protestant friends and family members. I long ago decided not to support these criminals with my dollars - and maybe not even my faith.

  • Posted by: Web Doctor - Jun. 16, 2003 11:01 AM ET USA

    It is time for a little tough love for our bishops, and we should openly signal our dissaproval with our voices, correspondense, use of our checkbooks -- and the Internet. keeps the string of crimes clear in our minds so that we don't get easily sidetracked. We are a forgetful people -- but these offenses shouldn't be tolerated or forgotten. The indignation that CWN often expresses keeps me from losing my own -- and I consider that a very valuable service.