Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Catholic Leaders in America: Getting Uppity

New Orleans got a new bishop: Bishop John Noonan's been transferred from the Archdiocese of Miami. He had a few words to say about his new job:
"...'Vatican II calls Bishops to be fathers and pastors to the people,' Bishop Noonan said on Oct. 23 in response to the news. 'I pray that with God's help I will be able to be a good father and pastor as Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando.'

" 'I ask that my brother priests and all of God's people pray for me as I begin my new ministry among you,' he added...."
(Catholic News Agency)
I'll add my prayer, as one of the God's people, that New Orleans' new bishop get the help and support he'll need. That's more than just a formality: particularly these days.

Maybe it's because I've been paying closer attention in the last few years, but it seems to me that bishops have been acting a lot more like bishops lately: and getting criticized for it.

Last Saturday I wrote about the Archbishop of New York and The New York Times. He had the audacity to say that the Times showed chronic disdain for the Catholic Church. He's right: what may be shocking is that a Catholic leader in America actually said that it's not nice to praise a cross-dresser who likes to make fun of nuns.

There's more at stake than dubious comedy acts: like trampling the Host in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The point is, an Archbishop - here in America - said that it's not nice to show disrespect for the Church. For which he's received the standard-issue tongue-lashings. Happily, we're not at the point in this country where someone can be sent to a re-education facility for criticizing an establishment newspaper. Yet.

Getting Uppity in America

For me, it was refreshing to read about another bishop who's not being nice and docile: who is stepping out of the little behind-closed-doors area that the established order in America has set aside for 'those religious people.' Other folks, more in tune with America's dominant culture, don't seem to be so pleased.

Where does a bishop or an archbishop get off, telling people what's right and what's wrong? A short answer is that they're the people who currently have the authority that my Lord gave the apostles - and they're working for the man who has the authority that Jesus gave Peter.1

Personally, I'm not overly awed by authority. But when it comes to someone who's speaking for the outfit that the Son of the living God2 set up: I think it's prudent to pay attention.

Related posts:In the news:Background:
1 The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a bit to say about the authority of bishops and the Bishop of Rome. This, for starters:
" 'In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them "their own position of teaching authority." '35 Indeed, 'the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.'36"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 77)

" 'In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend to the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry.'374

" 'Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops.'375 Hence the Church teaches that 'the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ.'376"
(861, 862)

"The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, 'is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.'402 'For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.'403"
2 "Son of the living God" - see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 442.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.