Faithful disagreement

Faithful disagreement

There are those who say that the laity should never publicly disagree with their bishop, but should only ever do so in private. Likewise, there are those who say a bishop should never publicly confront a politician who dissents from fundamental teachings of the faith, but should only do so in private.

However, I was struck by today’s Mass readings, especially the first reading, from Paul’s letter to the Galatians (2:1-2, 7-14). In it he recalls a dispute he had with Peter, the first Pope, and how he “opposed him to his face” and confronted him “in front of all.” Why did Paul do this? Why not just approach Peter, the Vicar of Christ, for private correction? Because Peter’s error was causing scandal among the faithful and was leading the faithful to hypocrisy.

The lesson is that sometimes one must confront error publicly, especially if the one doing wrong is a politician or even a bishop or the pope, because the correction is not just for the sake of the one in error, but also for everyone who is lead astray by the public acts of the very public person who is in error.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli