Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recommended Article: Bishop Martino on Authority

Untangling the confusion about the Church

There's been a lot of nonsense about certain people claiming that Obama Care was compatible with Church teaching.  Here we have Bishop Martino on the issue.

Most notable is his comments on those who claim to speak in the name of the Church:

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.

The CHA, the Sisters in Network, Pelosi, Stupak and others who claim their actions are in accord with Church teaching while the Bishops are not are in gross error.  Whether or not one believes in the claims of the Catholic Church, it is reasonable to expect one to understand that the one who has authority to teach in the Church is the Bishop, as successor to the Apostles, and not to whatever politician or dissenting Catholic comes across.

Sure, Pelosi, Stupak and others have the ability to disagree if they choose.  However, they don't have the right to call their opinions Catholic Teaching.

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