In times of great confusion, such as our own day, many Catholics are baffled on how to react.

questionSome claim that we must obey our leaders no matter what, and that to voice the slightest disagreement with them is a manifestation of disrespect and disobedience. Not only is this way of thinking incorrect, it also paralyzes Catholics into inaction and heightens their confusion. What we hope to demonstrate is that, according to the Saints, and according to the consistent teaching of the Church, Catholics are bound to resist even prelates if they deviate from the unchanging doctrine and Tradition of the Catholic Church.

Many also believe that it is impossible for a Supreme Pontiff to deviate in any way from the straight and narrow. This is partially correct. The Holy Ghost will always protect a Pope from defining error as truth, for example, from teaching error in an ex cathedra pronouncement. (1) That is certain. But it is demonstrable from the teachings and writings of the Saints that even the highest authority in the Church may fail in his duty and may drift into deviations from Church Teaching.

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The Holy Spirit is not the author of the confusion in the Catholic Church – so who is?

bishconf

In his magnificent book The Devastated Vineyard (1973), Dietrich von Hildebrand warned against a false loyalty to the Church hierarchy in which Catholics uncritically accept every word and action of their bishop, while failing to acknowledge the harm that may be done to the Church by those words and actions:

A third false response, and perhaps the most dangerous one, would be to imagine that there is no destruction of the vineyard of the Lord, that it only seems so to us — our task as laymen is simply to adhere with complete loyalty to whatever our bishop says….

At the basis of this attitude is a false idea of loyalty to the hierarchy. When the pope speaks ex cathedra on faith or morals, then unconditional acceptance and submission is required of every Catholic. But it is false to extend this loyalty to encyclicals in which new theses are proposed. This is not to deny that the magisterium of the Church extends much farther than the dogmas. If an encyclical deals with a question of faith or morals and is based on the tradition of the holy Church — that is, expresses something which the Church has always taught — then we should humbly accept its teaching. This is the case with the encyclical Humanae Vitae: although we do not have here the strict infallibility of a defined dogma, the content of the encyclical nevertheless belongs to that sphere of the Church’s magisterium which we must accept as true.

But there are many encyclicals which deal with very different (e.g., sociological) questions and which express a response of the Church to certain new conditions. Thus the encyclical of the great Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, with its idea of a corporate state, differs on sociological questions with encyclicals of Paul VI. But when it is a question of practical ordinances such as concordats, or the suppression of the Jesuit order by Pope Clement XIV, or the introduction of the new missal, or the rearrangement of the Church calendar, or the new rubrics for the liturgy, then our obedience (as Vatican I declares), but by no means our agreement, is required….

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At what point does the Catholic duty of obedience to the local bishop cease?

bishop

Listening to bishops has never been easy – nor will it ever be. But obedience to our superiors is inscribed in the word of God: the Decalogue’s command to honor parents includes obedience as a necessary component. And closer to the current subject, the Letter to the Hebrews says “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give an account.” (13:17)

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Editor’s note: This is one of those articles that deals with things – not as they really exist – but as they should be – so most everything contained in it tends towards the theoretical and academic.

When everyone (clerics and laity)  properly holds up their particular Catholic “end” of things – faithfully relying on Traditional, time-tested, Catholic philosophy, worship, sacraments, devotions and principles – then it will be a relatively simple matter to obey the bishop – since the choices the bishop makes will reflect the orderly state of an authentically faithful – and Catholic – world.  But once things have broken down – as they have in the post-Vatican II, world-wide Catholic Church – chaos – not Christ – reigns – and all bets are off!

May God have mercy on our souls.

On Papalotry

Belief and Obedience

My great teacher, Dietrich von Hildebrande wrote four outstanding books on the present crisis in the Church. Recently, his latest book, The Charitable Anathema was published. I wish we could mail a copy to Rome. A chapter in this book contains one of the most important lectures he ever gave to the Roman Forum. It concerns the difference between belief and obedience. He called it the critical difference. It was masterful.
The point is this: if there is a problem on a question of truth, and there’s a big dispute, and finally Rome speaks (invoking its infallible authority) and says, “This statement must be believed de fide”. Then this is the end of the dispute. Roma locuta causa finita. Rome has spoken, the case is finished. That is the end of it. Therefore, we owe assent of belief to statements of truth.

However, practical decisions of Churchmen, even the highest authorities; the Pope, bishops, priests are something quite different. We do not say, for example, that a command of a Pope or decision of a Pope to call a council is true or not. We can say that it is wise or not … it is opportune or not. Such a decision in no way asks us to assent to its truth. It asks us to obey the command or commands that pertain to us. This is what von Hildebrande meant by difference between belief and obedience. And we Catholics are never obliged to believe that a given command, or given decision of anyone, including the Pope, is necessarily that of the Holy Ghost.

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Submitted by Mark H.

Father Dwight Longenecker: Why I Am a Catholic.

I am a Catholic because the Catholic faith stands the world on it’s head. It turns over the tables. It makes you expect the unexpected. Just when you thought you had it figured it out, the Catholic Church, like a mischievous and shrewd old woman, pulls a trick on you, calls you to step out of the comfort zone and be radical once again. In every age and in every place Catholicism has been subversive, and the message of Jesus Christ is only good news when it is subversive.

I’m also Catholic because Catholicism provides a time tested and true method for ascertaining religious truth. It avoids supernatural explanations while not being so dogmatic as to rule them out altogether. It demands that we use our human reason, but then says human reason is not enough. It requires obedience to an authority, but says that this obedience is to true religion as a map is for the journey. Catholicism is inclusive where it should be and exclusive where it should be. I’m Catholic because I wish to affirm all, for a man is most often right in what he affirms and wrong in what he denies.

Link

Another testimony

Obedience to the Catholic Church? Yes. Blind obedience to the Catholic Church? No.

“What was it in the culture of the Catholic Church in Boston that made such tragically incorrect reading of the evidence possible?” In other words, why for certain bishops of the Archdiocese did “the good name and reputation of the institutional church and its representatives [outrank] all other considerations, even the safety of children”?

While the staunch pro-Catholic might argue that centuries of American anti-Catholicism forced bishops into a self-protective bunker, it turns out that, according to Mass, you really need to know the difference between analogical and dialectical.

This distinction was made over fifty years ago in a classic work by David Tracy, which I have not read but which is the foundation for Massa’s argument. The book The Analogical Imagination explains Catholicism as analogical, meaning that the divine is seen by Catholics as being actually present in the material. This means that God is present concretely, as in the sacraments. Creation, therefore, is good, “revelatory of the Holy.” The Church being “the body of Christ” means that community is key to salvation in the Catholic world view. We Catholics have a “fundamental trust in the goodness of persons and institutions.”

The Protestant—and I was one, and so in a way still am too—is dialectical. Luther, Kierkegaard, Barth, Niebuhr, Tillich—all Protestant thinkers—“insist on the radical difference separating” God and me. This implies that we humans are estranged from God, and must be individually saved. For our salvation, we depend not on a Church but on our individual reading of the Word, the Book, the Scriptures.

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Editor’s note: Be sure to read the first reader comment.

Christopher Ferrara on priestly obedience and bishop’s failings

Bishop Zurek’s power play against Father Pavone is a prime example of why the pro-life movement has yet to win a major victory in America: the Bishops are not behind it.  The closest they have come to unity of action in the public sphere is support for Obama’s “Dream Act”—a federal gift basket for illegal aliens. Their chanceries and seminaries riddled with modernists and homosexuals, the American bishops—of course there are noble exceptions—have betrayed the greatest civil rights movement of our time, just as they have betrayed the defense of Holy Matrimony by their cowardly failure to offer a serious and united opposition to “same-sex marriage” initiatives.

How is it that their demands for “obedience” so rarely  advance the cause of Gospel, but so often advance the Church’s surrender to modernity?

Yet the power of the Catholic episcopacy is not entirely dormant elsewhere. In 2008 one Catholic commentator noted the “seemingly miraculous transformation” of the Brazilian hierarchy, producing a “pro-life Pentecost” that has led the Brazilian bishops to adopt strategies that “are a lesson to the whole Catholic world,” including the direct confrontation of “pro-choice politicians,” the excommunication of doctors performing abortions, and a massive educational campaign depicting abortion  procedures in graphic detail, with the result that “Brazilian lay Catholics  are horrified by what they see, and are inspired to act against abortion.” The Brazilian bishops’ goal is not only to “stop new anti-life legislation, but to eliminate all exceptions in Brazil’s penal code regarding abortion.”

The same commentator asks:

“What effect would such an approach have if all of the Catholic bishops of the world were to imitate the Brazilian bishops, and declare war on abortion, euthanasia, and other offenses against human life?”

While the American population is only twenty-five percent Catholic, he notes, “[i]f this ‘sleeping giant’ were to awaken, galvanized by clear preaching and educational campaigns that clearly reveal the crime of abortion, how could any political party stand against it?” 

How indeed?

Corapi’s religious order had been trying to get him to come back and “live in community”

CORAPI AND COMMUNITY LIFE

The bigger focus for many now, surrounds his life within the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. There were changes to the constitution in 1994 and they wanted him back in community. In the first interview you will hear Joan Frawley Desmond, who interviewed Corapi’s superior explain that in the beginning, when the founder permitted him to live in solitude and to preach, the arrangement was not for him to live in his own home. I am not entirely clear on how long SOLT has been trying to get him to live back in community, so if someone catches that, please drop it into the combox, and cite the source. Watch that interview to hear it explained by Desmond. This move to live in a home was a later development that he apparently took on himself, and may not necessarily have been what his community desired.

In the end, we learn that attempts to bring him back into community life did not get anywhere. This would not have meant giving up preaching as seems to be the assumption in some writings online. We see members of other communities like the Fathers of Mercy traveling all the time to speak, as well as members of the Dominicans, among others. What it would have meant was giving up the assets: the money, the ranch, the sports car, the business, personal possessions, and perhaps the most difficult of all, the power to do what he wanted, when he wanted, and how he wanted. I suspect media produced would have been more in line with what we see out of other religious orders.

This goes directly to the vow of obedience and I offer this most especially for those who are discerning a vocation. If a founder or religious superior makes a promise to a member, a future superior is not bound to honor that agreement. Rather, it is the other way around.

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The 7 Habits of People Who Place Radical Trust in God

I found it fascinating to see what common threads could be found in the lives of these incredible people who place so much trust in the Lord, and thought I’d share in case others find it inspiring as well.

1. They accept suffering

One of the most powerful things I’ve read in recent memory is Brother Yun’s story of being a persecuted pastor in China, as recounted in the book The Heavenly Man. After facing weeks of torture, including electrocution, starvation, beatings, and having needles shoved under his fingernails, he was thrown in a box that was four feet long, three feet wide, and four feet high, where he would stay indefinitely. The day after he was put in this mini cell, he felt prompted to pray for a Bible — a ridiculous idea, considering that many people were in prison at that very moment for being in possession of such contraband. Yet he prayed anyway. And, inexplicably, the guards threw a Bible into his cell the next morning. He writes:

I knelt down and wept, thanking the Lord for this great gift. I could scarcely believe my dream had come true! No prisoner was ever allowed to have a Bible or any Christian literature, yet, strangely, God provided a Bible for me! Through this incident the Lord showed me that regardless of men’s evil plans for me, he had not forgotten me and was in control of my life.

Now, the less saintly among us (cough-cough) might have reacted to that a little differently. Had I been tortured and thrown in a coffin-like cell, my reaction to receiving a Bible would have likely been more along the lines of, “Thanks for the Bible, Lord, but could we SEE ABOUT GETTING ME OUT OF THIS METAL BOX FIRST?!?!” I wouldn’t have even “counted” the Bible as an answered prayer since my main prayer — reducing my physical suffering — had gone unanswered.

Yet what I see over and over again in people like Brother Yun is that they have crystal clarity on the fact that suffering is not the worst evil — sin is. Yes, they would prefer not to suffer, and do sometimes pray for the relief of suffering. But they prioritize it lower than the rest of us do — they focus far more on not sinning than on not suffering. They have a laser focus on getting themselves and others to heaven. In Brother Yun’s case, he saw through that answered prayer that God was allowing him to grow spiritually and minister to his captors, so his circumstances of suffering in an uncomfortable cell became almost irrelevant to him.

Read the other 6 habits

How Jesus’ death on the cross served to make possible the redemption of mankind


For the 33+ years of His life on earth, Jesus, true God and true man, successfully resisted the wickedness and snares of the devil and faithfully accomplished the will of His heavenly Father in all things.

Jesus, the “New Adam” succeeded where the first Adam had not.

By definitively rejecting Satan and choosing to do only the will of God, His Father, even unto death on the cross, Jesus proved man worthy, once again, to receive God’s grace.

St. Paul explains:

Romans 5:18 – 19 Therefore, as by the offense of one (Adam), unto all men to condemnation, so also by the justice of one (Jesus), unto all men to justification of life.

For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners: so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just.


Because He is man, (and He died for us)
the grace Jesus obtained on the cross
accrues to the benefit of all mankind.

Because He is God,
the power and efficacy
of that grace
is infinite and eternal.

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Obedience is the virtue that allows the obedient to share in the authority of the commander.


Read “The Power of Obedience”

Bishop Morlino of Madison,WI sets the record straight on a number of critical issues

I cannot pass over the actions of the Catholic Health Association and an organization called Network, a lobby of American religious Sisters, who said, quite publicly, that what the bishops have taught is false. They said that the legislation does provide an adequate framework for a Catholic to follow his or her conscience about abortion. So, we had a trade organization — the Catholic Health Association — which calls itself “Catholic” and we had religious Sisters who call themselves Catholic, saying, “Sorry, bishops, you got it wrong, here is the teaching of the Church.”

The Lord Jesus Christ, unworthy though the bishops are, called the bishops to lead the people in faith; He did not call anybody in the Catholic Health Association and he did not call any of the Sisters in Network. To boot, those Sisters who signed the Network document said that they speak for 59,000 American Sisters — that would be every last Sister in the U.S. Yet, another grouping of Sisters came out publicly expressing their disagreement with Network. Unfortunately, the claim that these Sisters in Network represent all Sisters is actually what is false, not the teaching of the bishops.

And, of course, people like Speaker Pelosi could not do enough to wave the letter from the Catholic Health Association and the letter from Network to provide cover for Democratic legislators who wanted to waffle in protecting innocent human life. Speaker Pelosi is not called by Jesus Christ to lead the Catholic faithful, any more than the religious Sisters in Network are, any more than the leadership of the Catholic Health Association is.

The bishops are called to teach, sanctify, and govern. But, as I said before, with regard to the Holy Father, if people will not recognize authority, then they cannot lay responsibility at the feet of those to whom they are disobedient. The pope and the bishops are only responsible when their authority is accepted. The then-Cardinal Ratzinger himself has said, in our contemporary world, the word “obedience” has disappeared from our vocabulary and the reality of obedience has been anathematized.

In this way, very serious harm is being done to the Church because people in the Church wonder, “Who speaks for Christ? Does the Catholic Health Association speak for Christ? Does Network, an organization of religious Sisters, speak for Christ? Do they teach with the authority of the bishops? Is the bishops’ teaching just another opinion?”

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