Discussion on the Sinfulness of Criticizing a Priest or Bishop
Hero Award - Bishop Robert Vasa
Hero Award - Cardinal Burke
A Very Heart-Warming Turnaround at the Abortuary
As a 20-year-old woman accompanied by an older woman approached the abortuary, Gail began speaking to her. (We have a rule that if a counselor is talking to a woman, no one should interrupt her.) Gail spokefor about 15 minutes, going over all of the literature we provide. (She learned the young woman was scheduled for an abortion. The “mother” was taking both sides, warning the young woman and explaining the negative side of abortion, yet at the same time, reminding her that her father was disabled, and they could not care for a baby. She led the young woman to the abortion mill while talking out of both sides of her mouth, as they say.)
Showing them her information, Gail described the dangers of abortion to both women who were listening intently at this point. She made them aware of the many sources of assistance available to them. Since they would not consider keeping the baby although they could receive help caring for it, Gail spoke with them about adoption, the loving option, and asked me to step over to tell them about my adopted grandchildren because Gail knows how much I love those kids. I soon realized she would never allow her child to be adopted. She said she was adopted and (rightly or wrongly) really never forgave her birth parents for giving her away. She lives near my home town so I gave her my card with a phone number and told her we were there to help as we always promise. She was appreciative of this. She is single and lives with her adoptive mother.
I asked how many weeks into her pregnancy, and she said thirteen. From my pocket I took a thirteen-week fetal model of a baby and handed it to her. Gail noted the young woman just melted. On her face was a look of amazement, tears and everything else combined. Afterward, Gail and I wished we could have had a movie of her expressions. I talked about the baby's development, beating heart, fingers and toes, expressions etc. Her adoptive mother claiming to be neutral, continued pulling her toward the door, urging her to just go in and check it out. Gail advisedher once she was in there, the staff would try to persuade her to have an abortion. She could go to another facility close by for an ultra-sound, and it would be free.
It was extremely hot with bright sunlight, and the young woman was feeling weak, so she sat on the stoop of the abortion mill. The pro-lifers all tried to talk to her and her adoptive mother. Both women listened, but the young woman insisted she at least wanted to go into the abortion mill to see “the movie.” Pro-lifers wondered what she meant and thought she might have been talking about an ultra-sound. Celia gave her pro-life information about a local pregnancy center where she could have a free ultra-sound. Father Jack also talked to her. All of the pro-lifers tried to keep the young woman thinking in positive terms. The air was thick with prayers out there!
Unfortunately, she persisted with the movie in the abortion mill, and her mother said she should go inside to see it. Pro-lifers admonished the mother, telling her she should guide her daughter in the right way, not lead her into a dangerous abortion mill. Against our advice, she finally went into the abortuary with her mother. Father Jack paced up and down in front of the abortuary praying the girl would not go through with an abortion. All of the pro-lifers prayed intensely.
The young woman and her mother came out in about ten minutes. Both were smiling, and the girl was weeping as she smiled. She came over and hugged me, saying she had changed her mind. Luckily, I happened to be standing right there. It is always great to witness a save and better yet to be involved in one.
Everyone gave her a hug. Pro-lifers exchanged phone numbers with the young woman and her mother. Charlie gave her a small baby gift set, and Gail took her into the Hope Center next door for some baby items, where Melissa was very helpful. She wanted to get some baby items. Father gave her a rosary and some faith information.
Thanks to God, the counselors' counseling, visual aids such as the rubber fetal model, pro-life documentation, the visible Hope Center and the pro-lifers’ intense prayers, the young woman chose life!
Two of our readers who are also good friends commented on my latest Millstone Award in which I criticized a local bishop. Both readers declared it was sinful, as a Catholic, to criticize our clergy. To corroborate their assertion, they cited the Pieta Prayer Book. Both meant this in all sincerity and were truly concerned for my soul. I felt this “discussion” would be informative to many other readers who have the same beliefs. The following is my response:
It is my duty as well as your duty to defend the faith, and I will prove it herein. First of all, you identify your source as the Pieta Prayer Book. I will identify my sources as the Catechism, the Holy Bible, the writings of a number of Saints plus some sound reasoning from fellow publishers.
Checking on the authenticity of the Pieta Prayer Book, I discovered it began in the early 1970s when Harry Faulhaber, a gentleman in southwest Michigan, wished to have a spiritual gift to leave with his hosts when making home visits on behalf of his parish. With his wife, Lillian, and a friend in San Damiano, Italy, they compiled a book (or booklet) of their favorite prayers, took it to a local printer and had 1,000 copies made. This was the beginning of the Pieta Prayer Book. If you go online and check Catholic Answers’ website you will find, although The Pieta Prayer Book has a great many valid prayers and has been an inspiration for many, there are a number of problems with it. It should never be a reference for theological answers. As one writer commented, "It is full of non-canonical statements. Can anyone recognize the priest who is supposed to have given the ‘revelation’ we should not criticize the priests/bishops?" It still lists indulgences as "x days/years;" unapproved visions as fact; has many claims of promised rewards for certain prayers not substantiated; and, more. What is bothersome is the publishers have been told to drop these errors, but they remain in the latest revision.
I next checked the Catechism of the Catholic Church and found this:
Item, #907, "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."443
Doing a search regarding the subject, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas who refers to the Bible and states: "It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter's subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Gal. 2:11, "Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects." This is taken from St Thomas Aquinas' “Summa Theologica (Second part of the second part, question 33, article 4, reply to objection 2)." Searching the Bible you will read how Paul corrected Peter in regard to his erroneous teaching on circumcision.
In regard to common sense, I asked a couple of my very learned colleagues of the Catholic Media Coalition (CMC), who themselves are publishers, about the laity not being allowed to correct an errant clergy. Mary Ann Kreitzer, President of CMC, and publisher of The Truth, gave this response:
"That is absolute nonsense. Thomas Aquinas says that the laity sometimes have a duty to correct prelates, even in public, when they commit public scandal.
“The Pieta Prayer Book has a statement that no one should ever criticize a priest. In view of the fact that most heresies were begun by priests, that puts the laity in the position of never being able to criticize the heretical views of a Fr. Sparks, Rohr, McBrien, Kung, etc. etc.
“As for bishops, I believe Nestorius was a bishop. Ask your friend if the laity should have shut up and followed the heretics? The bishop is the pastor of the diocese. When his actions and teachings are a danger to the faith, the laity have an obligation to address it. Your response was excellent!"
The following is from Stephanie Block, a professional journalist who publishes weekly on one of the well-known websites. This reflects her good judgment, and she does a great job covering both sides of the issue:
"Actually, the bishop is really the only pastor -- parish priests operate according to his pleasure. So the canon applies first and foremost to the bishop. There is no question that the faithful have a right (granted by canon law) and a duty (mandated by scripture) to bring serious problems with the clergy to the Church for redress.
“That said, there has always been a strong "culture" against criticizing clergy...and rightfully so. For one thing, there's a tendency to be interested in things that are none of our business: Father didn't say good morning; Father bought a cappuccino at Starbucks; Father spent over an hour in private conference with that pretty Miss Smith...by the time the gossips have finished with the story, Father is a misanthrope who's robbing the poor box to court vulnerable young women.
“For another, there's a tendency to make Father's real sins an excuse for one's own or an excuse for snubbing the Church. Father may have caused the initial scandal but the public critic has spread it.
“So, one really shouldn't enter into the business of clerical correction lightly. But, we DO need to make a few distinctions:
1. Until recently, there were ecclesial courts that had their own places of restraint for dangerous clerics (pedophiles, for instance. NB, most immoral activity requires no lay intervention). There is no longer such an institution...meaning that, for the protection of the innocent in these cases, the faithful MUST appeal to civic protection of civil courts and prisons. This is a regrettable public act but one dictated by circumstances.
2. Correction of an errant cleric is NOT denunciation of his person or even of his opus (for which there are special Vatican offices). Communication is no longer what it was. Private acts are increasingly public. (Heck, we can't even travel without strangers examining beneath our clothes!) The cleric who DOES preach heresy often spreads it by Internet, video, books, or popular media. What once could be corrected in a humble, homely, private manner ("No, dears...Jesus was both Man AND God...no matter what Father implied.") now requires strong, public apologetic response. The purpose isn't to criticize or denounce the cleric or religious -- which the laity have no authority to do -- but to correct his errors. That's quite a different matter.
3. The bishop who fails in his pastoral duty -- like anyone else in authority who fails in their duty -- invites chaos. That the sheep might try to hold the flock together themselves and keep the wolves at bay despite their shepherd's negligence is utterly disordered but neither unnatural nor is it the fault of the sheep! Having allowed the loss of souls because it's the bishop's duty to protect them and not ours isn't going to be much of an excuse on Judgment Day.
“So, yes, it is a sin to "put down" a bishop...unless he is guilty of an immoral behavior that MUST be restrained or guilty either of express doctrinal error or negligence (usually failure to restrain others under his jurisdiction from doctrinal error) that MUST be corrected."
And one more writer from CMC: "The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of rotten bishops." Saint John Chrysostom, 349-407 A.D. Doctor of the Church.
I have much more, but I think this suffices. I rest my case.
I really do thank you for your concern for my soul, but I am not only allowed to address errors on the part of the clergy, but obligated to do such. I think others have the same obligation.
Think of Fr. Sparks making derogatory remarks about Our Lady (he does) and no one rebukes him. How does Jesus feel about those who do not defend His mother?
Bishop Robert Vasa
From an interview by Jim Graves published in the Catholic World Report.
The full interview appears in the February issue of CWR.
Bishop Vasa, age 59, has been outspoken in his defense of Catholic doctrine and moral teachings, particularly related to the life issues. He made news recently when he declared that a bishop’s authority in his own diocese supersedes that of the national bishops’ conference, stating, “It is easy to forget that the conference is the vehicle to assist bishops in cooperating with each other and not a separate regulatory commission.”
Bishop Vasa has also voiced concerns over the USCCB’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).” While I trust the bishops on the committee itself, I have many concerns nationally about how we as the Catholic Church interact with elements of our society that do not share our values. It is one thing to interact with those who do not share our values, but it is quite another to financially support agencies, individuals, or agendas which are absolutely, diametrically opposed to our principles and values.
“Unfortunately, there are multi-layered corporations seeking funding that might have 90 percent of their activities perfectly in accord with the teaching of the Church, and they’re working in many areas and on issues for which the Church has a passion. Unfortunately, those same corporations may have a spin-off group that they fund which supports, say, population control, artificial contraception, and abortion. This would, in my mind, disqualify them from any support. Some people’s consciences may find some minor complicity acceptable, but for me, I believe that there are better places where our money can go.”
Bishop Vasa also ended diocesan sponsorship of St. Charles Medical Center-Bend over its refusal to support Church teaching on health-related issues. When the city of Bend issued a civic bond to fund the hospital, the hospital was turned over to a lay board, and there were not suitable protections of the inherent Catholicity of the organization. The lay board followed the religious and ethical directives of their choosing, not necessarily in accordance with Catholic teaching, and did not understand that this was a condition for maintaining their Catholic identity. He discovered that sterilizations were being performed at the hospital in opposition to Catholic teaching, and they had no intention of discontinuing this practice.
Bishop Vasa has stated he would not give Holy Communion to a Catholic politician who supports legal abortion. He stated a politician cannot claim a unity with the Church—a communion with the Church, a communion with Christ—when their beliefs, behaviors, and actions, particularly in terms of your pro-abortion stand, speak in absolute contradiction to that communion. He would first meet with that individual, offer them a warning, and tell them that their soul was in danger. If they persisted, he would deny them Holy Communion.
His parting comment, “What we are called to do, as Mother Teresa said, is be faithful. If we are faithful, then we are successful. That’s really the bottom line.”
Cardinal Raymond Burke
Cardinal Burke is Prefect of the Vatican's highest court and Ecclesiastical Advisor to The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, a division of The Cardinal Newman Society.
In an address delivered at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire, Cardinal Burke denounces “Catholic in name only” Colleges. “Too many ‘Catholic in name only’ colleges and universities have embraced today's ‘secularist dictatorship’ instead of fighting it,” warned one of the Vatican's top-ranking Americans in a frank assessment of Catholic higher education. “The Catholic university which is true to her identity will help students to be strong in giving an account of their faith in their vocation in life." Students should be prepared to confront "the secularist dictatorship which would exclude all religious discourse from the professions and from public life in general."
“In a society which is marked by a virulent secularism," Cardinal Burke said, "...the service of the Catholic university is more needed than ever.
"How tragic that the very secularism which the Catholic university should be helping its students to battle and overcome has entered into several Catholic universities, leading to the grievous compromise of their high mission."
Cardinal Burke said the true Catholic university will teach students "to overcome the prevalent and utterly destructive error of our time that somehow faith is contradicted by reason.
“But any Catholic college or university "at which Jesus Christ alive in His Church is not taught, encountered in the Sacred Liturgy and its extension through prayer and devotion, and followed in a life of virtue is not worthy of the name.
"According to the ancient canonical wisdom, corruptio optimi pessima est, 'the corruption of the best is the worst,'" Cardinal Burke said. "Sadly, we have witnessed the truth of the axiom in so many Catholic colleges and universities in our nation, which once gave pride of place to their Catholic identity and the Catholic life of the campus but now are Catholic in name only, usually qualifying their Catholic identity by another name, for example, calling themselves a Catholic university in the Franciscan or Jesuit tradition."
Michael Voris is a much needed and much appreciated defender of the faith. He is one of the hardest hitting, no punches pulled, media apostolates on the Internet. Check him out. Go to http://www.youtube.com/user/RealCatholicTV for his latest video and sign up to get his daily three to ten minute, very informative show. Michael Voris graduateed from Notre Dame in 1983, trained in theology at St, Joseph’s Seminary in New York and obrtainsed an STB from Sacred Heart University in Rome – Magna Cum Laude. He worked for several news organizations and has earned four Emmys in broadcast journalism. In 2006 he founded St. Michael’s Media. In 2008, Voris partnered with www.realcatholictv.com -- the first ever online Catholic television station -- and began producing daily Catholic programming for www.realcatholictv.com, Catholic News Roundup, The Shadow Priest and the ever popular, The Vortex.
Mr. Voris has only a limited amount of time in which to present his segments. He does not engage in long theological discussions because he wishes to keep it short and simple, something we do not do enough when speaking about the Faith.
Below is a sample edited edition of one of his shows called “Changing Course”.
“Hello everyone .. and welcome to the Vortex .. where lies and falsehoods are trapped and exposed .. I’m Michael Voris.
So going on 46 years after the close of the Second Vatican Council .. how come things are such a disaster in the Church? How come the Church in the West is fading away? Wasn’t the Council supposed to engage the world and find bright shiny new ways of proclaiming the gospel to the world? A few days before Christmas .. Bishop Athanasius Schneider gave a speech to cardinals, bishops and theologians in Rome. His Excellency said there were two main reasons that Vatican II has failed to produce what he called “abundant and lasting fruit”.
The first reason, he says was, “the violent process of cultural and social revolution during the 1960's, which like every powerful social phenomenon penetrated inside the Church, infecting with its spirit of rupture vast segments of persons and institutions.” Think about that. Here is a bishop standing up saying it just like it is in plain and simple language. A violent revolution which penetrated and infected the Church. THANK YOU Bishop for saying it like it is. Why can’t bishops in America and other western countries say it like that? That’s a good question and in fact, it’s been part of the problem. But don’t believe us about it. Listen to what the very good bishop said. “The other impediment was manifested in the lack of wise and at the same time intrepid pastors of the Church who might be quick to defend the purity and integrity of the faith and of liturgical and pastoral life, not allowing themselves to be influenced by flattery or fear.” Did you hear that? A lack of wise and intrepid pastors. Foolish and cowardly bishops who would not stand up to the revolution penetrating and infecting the Church.
This very thought has been the premise of almost every Vortex we have done .. either directly or indirectly .. the subject of most of them. Cardinal Burke said as much in his famous speech given back in October where he came out and said that bishops who did not follow the Magisterium are disobedient. One thing has been absent in the Church for decades now. A sufficient number of bold, wise, brave bishops who say it like it is and FIGHT for the people of God.
In the absence of those types of bishops, we have been, by and large, subjected to politically minded wheelers and dealers .. who are more concerned with never giving offense than challenging the moral decay all around them. They have appointed chancery staffs of weak-kneed yes men who have a completely different view of the Church than what she is. The Church on earth .. what used to be called and still is THE CHURCH MILITANT .. it’s role is to do battle with evil. To get down in the trenches and slug it out to the death.
Let’s ask a serious question. Do you get the idea, the feeling, the sense that this is what your local bishop is inspiring the faithful to? Does he make headlines in the local press for defending the faith (Think Bishop Thomas Olmstead in Phoenix or Bishop John Neinstedt in Minneapolis or Bishop Thomas Tobin in Rhode Island or Bishop Robert Vasa in Oregon).”
Voris is just getting warmed up. He goes on to talk about the “professional Catholic” crowd as the Pope has brilliantly termed them. Look him up and give a listen and a watch.
Pray for him and his apostolate. He is much attacked by those he calls the “unCatholic”.
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