Sunday, June 26, 2011

Even So...

In light of my last post about the troublesome anti-bishop mentality in America, some may be wondering about my thoughts on the bishops concerning the fiasco in New York where Catholic Andrew Cuomo has enthusiastically signed gay "marriage" into law (I hope to write more directly on this topic later).  Edward Peters, for example makes a good case for canonical action against Governor Cuomo.  It is certainly a serious public act in defiance of what the Church believes is right, and indeed, I do hope that the bishops of New York will take action.

However, the question is: what if they do not?  Would this not prove the point of those who accuse the bishops of corruption?  Well, no.  Moreover, that is the wrong question to ask.  This is not a case where the bishops of the United States can take collective action.  Nor can the bishops of New York State as a whole take action.  If you read the documents of the Council of Trent (among others) you can see that the bishop in Diocese [A] does not have the authority to act against a person in Diocese [B].

Ultimately it is the bishop of Albany who has the authority to take action – even though we might wish Archbishop Dolan had jurisdiction (We've had a similar issue a generation ago with Mario Cuomo not being under the jurisdiction of Cardinal O'Connor).  So we should be praying for Bishop Hubbard to make a wise decision concerning this issue of public scandal.

But there is always the question of "what if he doesn't?"

Well, that would be unfortunate indeed, though I believe my points I made in the previous article (linked above) would hold to be valid.  We would need to be careful that we have all the facts before issuing any objection and not assume that because no public action took place that no action took place.

This isn't an argument to justify inaction.  I believe that under canon 212, we do have the right and the responsibility to make our concerns known in the face of such a scandal.

A bishop ultimately has to render an account to God for the way he shepherds his diocese, and an affront like this is surely something which requires shepherding.  However, even if a bishop fails to act as he should it is not just to accuse all bishops for the inaction of one.

So I would say faithful Catholics should be prayerful and respectful, recognizing that just because action does not take place immediately or publicly does not mean "the bishops" as a whole are corrupt.  As for Bishop Hubbard of Albany, our first thought to be to pray for him to do the right thing in light of the grave scandal and the salvation of Governor Cuomo's soul,  and not to whip out a stopwatch and say after a short period, "he did nothing… that proves the bishops are corrupt!"

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