Tuesday, November 12, 2013


The Second Vatican Council put forward an ancient mode of subsidiarity for the hierarchical nature of the Church, that the local bishop of local dioceses where and are "pontiffs" in their own region/diocese, but intimately linked to the Universal Church directly to the Bishop of Rome to whom he promises obedience at the bishop's ordination or installation.

Subsidiarity basically implies handling on the local level those things that need to be handled and only going to a higher level if the lower level is incompetent, unable or has no jurisdiction in some area of discipline.

Every bishop is commissioned to model Jesus Christ the High Priest and to "teach, rule/govern and sanctify" his diocese, priests, deacons, religious and laity. He does so in obedience to the Church, the pope and canon law, the Deposit of Faith, which the Second Vatican Council called the Church to hand on to the generations in the most solicitous manner possible. Yes, the Deposit of Faith! (spirit of Vatican II progressives hate the term "Deposit of Faith" but the Second Vatican Council uses it as does the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

So the local bishop in harmony with the Bishop of Rome and the successor to the apostles must guard the Deposit of Faith and hand it on. This means making sure priests and deacons and religious and lay people are in tune with him and the pope and hand it on in an orthodox and not heterodox way.

It also applies to the Liturgy and how it is celebrated. Strict supervision should take place that the black is spoken or chanted and the red is followed.

Associations of bishops are necessary for bishops to find support from other bishops and agendas developed in regional and national meetings are helpful but each bishop has the authority to implement or disregard what regional or national groups might suggest. Catholics should also lobby in the areas of morality in Washington and local state governments for moral principles as we see them but in a nonpartisan way. National and regional bishops' associations help facilitate this.

I think Pope Francis is going to strengthen the role of national conferences but not to the injury of what the local bishop should be doing in his own diocese.

Rocco Palma of Whispers in the Logia has a very good commentary on yesterday's speech given by our Apostolic Nuncio who has been in Rome and here at the seminary since my arrival and he spoke to us at one of our Pranzos. He is impressive. He gave the bishops yesterday the "what for" and rightly so. YOU CAN READ HIS SPEECH BY PRESSING THIS PARAGRAPH FROM WHISPERS, ONE OF THE BEST CATHOLIC BLOGS THERE IS!

Keep in mind that Pope Francis is modeling for the other bishops of the world what their pastoral approach should be in how he interacts with everyday Catholics and bishops and priests. He wants bishops and priests to have the "smell of the sheep" on them and he has made a clear delineation between sheep and shepherd, clergy and laity and the proper roles that belong to each. There is no Protestant ecclesiology in Pope Francis' understanding of the hierarchical nature of the Church, he simply doesn't want to hierarchy to act like kings, princes and emperors of previous generations which brought great corruption to the Church.

Pope Francis has consistently called all Catholics to fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church--the pope and bishops in union with him. He has highlighted in the most dramatic ways the smoke of Satan and has spoken frequently, even this week, about the devil. He calls us to a very practical Marian devotion, the Holy Rosary and other devotions such as Adoration and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

He has called us not to worldly ideologies of secular culture or to be seduced  by these. There are plenty, all the way to the libertine sexual amorality of our day, the contraceptive mentality, the promotion of natural and unnatural sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman and the like. Are we worldly or not in accepting the fades and ideologies of our day in this 21st century? Are we like the pagans of Ancient Rome who did the same thing and tried to kill Christians who they could not force into joining them in their grotesque immorality, worldliness and false religion?

Pope Francis has made clear that the hypocrisy in the Church in terms of leading a double life as it concerns Catholicism is a great scandal. This double life it appears is now being led out in the open to try to manipulate the Church in to accepting worldly ways, the ways of Satan and not just in the "closet" so to speak. It happens with theft, sex and the like! The most insidious are those who publicly live their double life, being so worldly, like our Catholic politicians, who are pro-choice, pro-same sex marriage, pro-keeping aid away from the poor and the immigrants and yet proudly profess they are Catholics and make a point of receiving Holy Communion from bishops as photo ops to push forward their worldly agenda! Pope Francis allows for no such photo ops at his Mass!

The Bishops' Conference of the USA was heralded in the 1980's for bringing about the "Catholic Moment" on topics that are dear to the hearts of "progressive Catholics" and liberal politics. They wrote letters on the Economy, on War, on Nuclear weapons and the like often taking political stances that divided Catholics rather than uniting them and all this happened during the peak of their horrific mismanagement of the clergy under their authority--the abuse scandals they enabled as well as disintegration in their own dioceses of the "Deposit of Faith" and the liturgy!

Today a similar thing has happened I think but according to conservative parallels which conservative Catholics like and well as conservative politics. The focus of the NCCB has been on the HHS mandate, abortion politics, and gay marriage. This has caused division in Catholics according to politics similar to the progressive approach in the 1980's and all this while the sheep are being snatched away by the devil.

Should each bishop simply hand on the faith in his own diocese, the complete faith, the Deposit of Faith and do so locally? Wouldn't that have a national impact without being so divisive?

Yes the Catholic Church is pro-life, starting most importantly with the innocent and defenseless unborn and moving from that foundation to the other pro-life issues such as end of life decisions and the criminals who must be punished but in a pro-life way and without the death penalty, except in the rarest of circumstances. This must happen on the local level. Does there need to be at national mandate from the USCCB!

What about same sex marriage and the agenda of the ideology of the homosexual community which wants to change the Catholic Church. Every bishop in his own diocese  should and must fight this with all the spiritual weapons at hand. But we start by focusing on sexuality in general, what God intends for this awesome gift, what the disorders are, there are plenty not only in homosexuals but also heterosexuals and then call people to chastity depending on their state of life and natural law. Disorders don't have to rule the day, and there is always spiritual healing and wholeness that begins in this life and finds its perfection in heaven. There is nothing immoral about being disordered, sexually, physically, mentally or the like, but we know what order is, which humans fall short of because of Original Sin and actual sin! Call sin for what it is!!!!!

Is that too difficult to do locally in local dioceses and if all dioceses do this, wouldn't there be a national impact?

The same is true of all issues of morality and sharing with the poor and being the Church of the poor, of welcoming and caring for the widow and orphan, the immigrant and alien, those in trouble and those who are perfect. It happens locally!

The same is true of liturgy. If local bishops make sure the liturgy is celebrated well and by the book and in term of the reform of the reform and allowing for the EF, wouldn't that have a national impact and have a worldwide effect of making the Liturgy truly the source and summit of our Catholic Faith?

It ain't that hard. Why complicate things when subsidiarity works?


Gene said...

The Pope says that we should not be so concerned with "ideology." I wonder if he considers doctrine and dogma to be "ideology."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Gene, if you have been reading and listening to what Pope Francis has been saying since day one, all of what he says, you know this not to be the case. Read what Archbishop Vigano said to the bishops yesterday. The Magisterium of the Church and fidelity to it is the core of being a Catholic. Strengthening local bishops to hand on the Deposit of Faith and without bowing to ideologies that oppose it, the anti-gospel, the anti-Church, the anti-Christ is what Pope Francis is initiating. This is exciting stuff, but local bishops have to give up their lives for it and some might be inprisoned for it!

Gene said...

Thank you Father, and God Bless you! Forgive me, but I am still not convinced. I have been listening VERY carefully to what Pope Francis has been saying..which is why I am still not convinced. I certainly do not trust "local Bishops" with the deposit of Faith. I firmly believe that secularism is continuing to make inroads into the Church and that it will take more than pep talks about "poverty and simplicity" and obligatory perseverations about "doctrine" to reverse that juggernaut. We still collectively do not get it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I mean this in all charity but also as a rebuke, you are still of the Protestant reformation and imbued with the ideologies of Calvinism. It is not Catholic and needs purification as it concerns the offices of the Church. You are way too critical and this leads to further protestant forms of ongoing division rather than Catholic unity.

Gene said...

Fr, I am not sure I understand what you mean, but I trust your warning. Let me say that my Catholic faith is strong and that my theological and doctrinal reasons for being here are solid and irreversible. The Church, for me, is the Magisterium and I am confident that, ultimately, She will recover from her battering by secularism.
Now, it is just "protestantism" that has gotten us to this point. Protestantism was alive and well and kicking in the documents and spirit of Vat II. It is alive and well and kicking in the OF and most Masses I attend (like the one I attended Sunday at an out of town Church where the choir sat facing the congregation and sang "How Great Thou Art" accompanied by guitar and piano with a female choir leader playing to the congregation. The Priest came down front of the "in the half round" congregation to preach the homily and told three jokes and mentioned Macabees at some point or other). I thought I was at First Methodist. Surely, honest criticism from a belief stance is not merely "division."
BTW, regarding Calvinism…we might re-learn a Calvinist lesson (Calvin was raised Catholic) about the sovereignty and majesty of God, with which Calvin's theology was filled.
PS I will be glad when you return. I miss our conversations and I think I need one.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me, but it seems as though the pope is continuing a policy that just hasn't worked: Pandering. I don't mean to sound disrespectful. There's just something in his carefully-drawn examples of humility and his off-the-cuff remarks that just drips of: "See? We're really not so bad. The Catholic Church isn't about rules or judgment or anything that wants to make you feel bad." And to a certain extent he's right, but that's no way to deliver the message. And, ironically, the Catholic Church isn't a Church of judgment, but a Church trying to prepare us all for the terrible Day of Judgment that we all dread. Jesus calls us all to repentance and that means we're going to have to feel bad sometimes and so is anyone who's going to follow Him. I honestly think we'd be better off concentrating on being better educated in our faith and working harder on living it rather than trying to convince our enemies that we're a bunch of teddy bears.

John Nolan said...

I shall give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt, but someone who authorizes his CDF prefect (the most important curial figure after the pope) to publish a lengthy document confirming and explaining the Church's teaching regarding marriage and then tells a journalist "that's his opinion" should need to consider seriously what he is saying.

When his election was announced earlier this year my first thoughts were "Oh no, an Argentine and a Jesuit. Will the last person to leave the Church please turn the lights out". Fortunately he is only the pope, and an old one at that, so his capacity for causing damage is limited. Paul VI was ten years younger when he was elected, and inherited a Church stampeding out of control. The pull now is towards orthodoxy, and this will continue.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Actually the statement about "that's his opinion" was on Archbishop Mueller's more positive evaluation of liberation theology which then the pope said, "that's his opinion."

In terms of the clarificatioin you speak of by Archbishop Muller which appeared in the Vatican newspaper, the consensus is that Pope Francis ordered it and desired it to be printed and desiminated to correct the false impression some of his off-the-cuff remarks had generated.

The same Archbishop Muller two weeks ago had a brief article in the same paper decrying Protestant ecclesiology that had diminished the identity of the Catholic priesthood and the distinctions between lay and clerical in terms of the baptismal priesthood and the ordained priesthood. This seem to be directed to a certain Honduran Cardinal's talk given in Dallas a few days earlier.