Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Anticlerical Trojan Horses in Our Causes

Beware of Greeks bearing Gifts—Aeneid

Beware of Gifts bearing Greeks—Every person who riffed on Aeneid 

The Covington incident, among Catholics, has metastasized. It’s no longer the media or the “Black Hebrew Israelites” that are the target of outrage. Now it’s the bishop of Covington and other bishops who echoed him in denouncing the events before it turned out the video was out of context. It’s not my intention to pass judgment defending or attacking the bishops in this article. Bishops aren’t infallible of course. They can make errors in judgment. They can sin in doing so. But there’s a big difference between an error in judgment and maliciously rejecting their obligations to shepherd the Church. 

This concerns me because, while this incident is less than a week old, the rhetoric we’re hearing dates back to at least the pontificate of St. John Paul II. That rhetoric is of the “corrupt and cowardly bishops” which assumes that whatever mistake of judgment or sinful behavior that an individual bishop might commit is willfully and maliciously practiced by all the bishops. The argument is that, if they weren’t guilty of X (fill in your own blank here), they’d be denouncing the disliked position. 

People forget there is an anticlerical movement in the Church that seizes on any incident of bad judgment or scandal and uses it to bash the Pope and/or bishops. Whether the incident is a Bishop in Point A not barring a pro-abortion politician from the Eucharist (per Canon 915), a Bishop from Point B not disclosing cases of clergy abuse, or a Bishop from Point C saying something that turns out to be false, those critics with issues against the Church seize on these things to push their agenda—that the bishops they dislike are “proof” of the corruption of the Church as a whole. According to their views, the Church is in error unless they change to act as they prefer.

No, not all Catholics are members of this anticlerical mindset. It’s not wrong to want justice. We want politicians to be held accountable. We want the abuse scandals to stop. We wish certain bishops didn’t jump the gun on Covington. But, we need to beware of falling for the rhetoric of the Catholics alienated from  and hostile to the Church. If we look to the anticlerical sources when they attack wrongdoing in the Church, we might be swept up when these sources start attacking the authority of the Church.

The sources most loudly attacking the Bishop of Covington are notorious for their hostility to the Pope. Their mantra is that the Church is overrun by liberalism and modernism. They are using each incident that comes along as “proof” that justifies their dissent. They treat Incidents X, Y, and Z in locations A, B, and C as if all the evil was maliciously done by every diocese across the world simultaneously... except for the bishops they happen to agree with.

The danger is accepting the false narrative of the anticlerical movements. If one listens to their attacks too long, one might be tempted to accept that their dissent is justified. This is why I say beware of accepting the accounts of those at odds with the Church. You might happen to agree with them on disliking how a bishop handled something. But if one accepts their narrative uncritically, they might find themselves accepting the dissent that everyone is guilty, because there always was and always will always be sinners in the Church, and some of them will be priests or bishops.

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