The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Monday, November 25, 2002

I am a Catholic Priest. I take this call to priesthood seriously. It is a great gift and mystery. It is not my own. I am not really called anymore to represent my own words, but to be the bearer of His words. This priesthood is not my own. By the grace of God I am a priest of Jesus Christ. I am still a human being. I still make mistakes. We hold this treasure in earthen vessels...

I have taken some heat for my criticism of a particular Catholic writer. Somehow I expect that in his writing he would reflect the Gospel values. Anger and dismay are good old fashioned emotions. He has a right to his feelings. But there is a line that should not be crossed. Mother Angelica got into this trouble a few years ago when she counseled her listeners to disobey a Cardinal. Now Rod has taken to calling the Bishop's teaching a "sad joke" and saying that they have "no moral authority."

I have been angry at this mess too. Very angry. But there is a difference between the emotion and the action. If I let my anger lead me to reject the bishops, I would no longer have any faculties to serve as a priest, nor could I rightly call myself Catholic.

St Ignatius of Antioch (First Century) took the person of the Bishop very seriously: "Jesus Christ, our Life, without whom we cannot live, is the mind of the Father, just as the bishops, appointed over the whole earth, are in conformity with the mind of Christ." Later he says, "Let no one make any mistake: unless a person is within the sanctuary, he is deprived of God's bread. For if the prayer of one or two has such power, how much more has the the prayer of the bishop and the whole church." (Letter to the Ephesians)

St. Ignatius is very clear. One cannot be in union with Christ without being in union with his bishop.

We do not have to agree with them in everything. We do not even have to like them. Have they made mistakes? Yes. Have I made mistakes? Certainly. Is Rod mistake free? I do not think so. Gaspar's maxims are very instructive here, for me and for Rod. Gaspar says the measure of our disdain is the same measure of how self centered we are.

So Rod has a right to his emotions. He has a right to be angry. He has a right to his opinions.

But as a Catholic he does not have a right to say that the Bishops are a joke and that they have no moral authority. In acting out in that manner he is damaging the unity of the Church and saying, in effect, that that teaching of Jesus is a sad Joke, and that Jesus has no moral authority. Every one is paying attention to Bernard Law, the earthen vessel, and maybe the pottery is a little cracked. The tradition calls us to pay attention to Bernard Law the bishop. We cannot be Catholic without it.

Here is what Rod said:

This gets somewhat to the point of my controversial "The Pope Has Let Us Down" piece in the Wall Street Journal this past summer. I said in the piece that John Paul has been tireless and heroic in his public defense of Gospel principles and human dignity, but his refusal or inability to take clerical sexual crimes against minors seriously puts that legacy at risk. I understand very well people who say, "Why should I listen to what [insert bishop here] has to say about [insert controversial moral issue here]; they can't even bring themselves to deal with priests who rape children." This is why I think it's such a huge mistake not to remove bishops seriously tainted by this scandal. Bernard Law and his ilk have *no* moral authority left. When the bishops came out with their teaching on the coming war recently, it was a sad joke. As Mark Shea has pointed out, they were only doing what bishops are *supposed* to do. But it's impossible to take them seriously, given the nature and the magnitude of their failure.

Rod Dreher

This was a post he had left

According to the tradition of Ignatius of Antioch, this is what Rod has said: "I am angry, Jesus and his ilk have no authority left, The teaching of Jesus is a sad joke. It is impossible to take Jesus seriously"

You may disagree with me, but before you comment I want you to go look at the Letter to the Ephesians by St. Ignatius of Antioch. Another translation can be found here.

For if I in this brief space of time, have enjoyed such fellowship with your bishop--I mean not of a mere human, but of a spiritual nature--how much more do I reckon you happy who are so joined to him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father, that so all things may agree in unity! Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses such power, how much more that of the bishop and the whole Church ! He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself. For it is written, "God resisteth the proud." Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God. (emphasis added)

Fr. Wilson will probably tell me that Rod is a good Catholic Husband and father and that he deserves more from his priests and bishops. I will not disagree. I am only saying that Rod has crossed a line that should not have been crossed. What he is doing is just as damaging to the unity of the Church as what he criticizes.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 10:10 PM link
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