Faithful criticism

Faithful criticism

Bill Cork responds to my post about criticizing bishops. First, Bill, don’t read anything sinister into my phrase “Some people say.” I just didn’t feel like enumerating the list of bloggers and other pundits (the wide world beyond St. Blogs) who have voice the view.

Second, be sure you understand me right, and perhaps I have been unclear in what I have said. I am not advocating schism. I am not saying that the sacraments become ineffective because of the moral failings of the individual. I am not saying that the corruption among some bishops legitimates schism. I am not saying that I have special knowledge of the kind the Gnostics claimed. I am not saying that we should be disobedient even to bad bishops. In fact, I went out of my way to say that we should remain obedient to our bishops, insofar as we can trust their judgments. Bishops are not imbued with the charism of infallibility so they can and some do teach untruth and error in matters of faith and morals, so it is up to the individual Catholic to compare his bishop’s teachings to the teachings of the universal Church to determine if they jibe. If we can’t make the determination, to the best of our ability, we have to err on the side of obedience.

    Perhaps you might consider taking the time you spend in attacking vicars of Christ, and use it instead doing penance for them. Imagine what sort of penance you might impose on them if you were their confessor—and then do it yourself, on their behalf. Ask yourself—What is your relationship with your own bishop? Do you even know him? Go to him. Speak with him. Tell him your concerns. Ask him how you can best serve the Church, and him.

You have no way of knowing whether I do penance on behalf of the bad bishops and priests. Perhaps I both criticize with an eye toward faithfulness to the Gospel and perform prayer and penance as well. As for knowing my own bishop, I did know Cardinal Law, after a fashion—my brother being much closer to him than I—and I had believed him to be a holy and faithful man. I still do, in fact. But his failings are not above reproach.

And if we remain silent—if we had remained silent over the past year, the journalists and bloggers and people in the pews—are we under any illusion that the bishops would have addressed the problem?

Bill seems to say that you are either faithful to Christ and His Church, and thus silent when confronted by malfeasance of bishops, or unfaithful and critical. I think there is room for faithful criticism.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli