Letters to the Editor
I probably received more letters, emails and phone calls after the last edition of The Defender than for any other issue. All were almost all from priests. To remind everyone, the last issue contained a discussion on the sinfulness of criticizing a Priest, a letter to the editor supporting the previous Millstone Award of a bishop, the hypocrisy of Notre Dame University and some other comments regarding the bishops from Michael Voris of Realcatholictv Vortex.
Most communications from the priests suggest we were disrespectful, undermining the authority of the bishops in the eyes of the faithful and risk doing incalculable harm to the faith and to the Church. This is a good argument if we were criticizing a priest or bishop regarding moral failings; however, when the clergy by their action, or inaction, are the ones doing incalculable harm to the faith and to the Church, then it is not only our right but our obligation to correct this error. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Item 907, says this, "In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons."
St. Thomas stated: "It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly."
Reverend Thomas G. Morrow, whom I know and respect, wrote an article in the March 2007 Homiletic & Pastoral Review entitled The Danger of Criticizing Bishops and Priests. According to Rev. Morrow, in the thirteenth century many priests led immoral lives, and as a result a group called the Waldensians took their case to the Pope. The Pope supported them, and eventually the Waldensians corrected the moral errors, but not having proper theological training, in the end were excommunicated because of their false teaching. We are in complete agreement on correcting the clergy for moral indiscretions. However, a priest or bishop teaching or demonstrating errors in the faith must be corrected.
Father Morrow goes on to say, "It is not up to us to decide what is apt in the Mass, but the bishops. Surely, we should avoid doing something immoral, but besides that unlikely case, we should obediently follow the liturgy given to us by those chosen to do so. Whether we like a translation or not (and some seem to be lacking at times), we should accept and use what our superiors have given us. Far better to write a humble letter to the bishops than to change things on our own authority. And far better to pray for better translations." We agree to this and encourage others to do the same.
Father Morrow also states, "Clearly, the Lord wants prayers, not judgment for his priests." Our long time readers know that we have had a prayer for priests in every issue almost from the very beginning of our 14 years of publication. We urge all of you to pray for our priests and bishops, and if possible, to do penance for them.
A Letter from a non-Priest
When reading your piece, "Discussion on the Sinfulness of Criticizing a Priest/Bishop", I couldn't help but think that, in doing so, you were practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy to Instruct the Ignorant (those priests/bishops unaware of or unwilling to preach the Truth, as well as poorly catechized Catholics) and to Counsel the Doubtful (those Catholics who may be wavering in their Faith because of the preaching without substance that they have grown accustomed to).
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