Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Benedictine Change

Over the past few years there have been significant acts of the type of change orthodox Catholics had been advocating, but with balance and wisdom, as reported by Catholic Culture.

An excerpt.

“There was a time—and it has extended through most of my adult life—when deeply committed Catholics could cling only to those aspects of the Church which are divinely guaranteed. If Catholic publications strayed into dissidence, at least we could reassure ourselves that the Magisterium did not agree with them. If a local priest preached heresy, at least we could find a Church document which contradicted him. If Catholic education broke down all around us, at least we could found our own schools rooted in sacred Tradition.

“But during this period, our lament was always that of Psalm 13: “How long, O Lord?”

“During the extended pontificate of John Paul II, we witnessed a protracted intellectual battle over the meaning of the Second Vatican Council and even over the nature of the Catholic Faith itself. Perhaps the greatest victory of this campaign was the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which immediately gave the lie to so much preaching, so much religious education, and so many Catholic textbooks. But although the battle for Catholic institutions was waged intellectually (one thinks, for example, of John Paul’s prescription for Catholic universities in Ex Corde Ecclesiae), we saw very little effort to actually take disciplinary control over wayward dioceses, Catholic agencies or Catholic schools.

“The Vatican’s hands-off response to the widespread loss of an authentic Catholic identity set the pattern for most bishops. Although the episcopacy improved through the appointments of John Paul II, few bishops did more than teach. Discipline was rare; public confrontation rarer still. But roughly four to five years into the pontificate of Benedict XVI, this finally started to change. More and more bishops developed plans to rebuild their dioceses from within, to challenge the universities within their jurisdiction, and to publicly confront wayward politicians. Recently some bishops have begun even to remove irresponsible priests from ministry (in the United States, for example, this has been done by Bishop Robert Finn and Cardinal Francis George). Such shifts strongly suggest that Rome has been sending a more aggressive message for some time.

“And now, in the sixth year of Pope Benedict’s pontificate, the Pope himself has finally begun to set an example by removing at least some notoriously bad bishops from office, which he has done three times in the past year (see the surprising outcome of Bishop Lahey’s trial). It is true that other initiatives were already in progress, such as the Apostolic Visitation of American women religious and the Visitation of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia, but an investigation is not always a harbinger of punishment. So the actual removal of several bishops from office in a short time is a sea change.”