Silence of Bishops in Response to the Pope: “A New – and Encouraging – Form of Collegiality?”

by Steve Ray on July 27, 2017

An excellent and insightful article by Fr. Mark Pilon on The Catholic Thing website (worth subscribing to). This article accurately, I think, describes and explains the current rift between this Pope and the vast majority of clergy, including bishops and cardinals.

A recent article in L’Osservatore Romano by an Italian priest who teaches biblical theology is yet another example of the way the present papacy seems to look at priests and bishops who do not join in lockstep with the pope. I’ve never heard of this priest, Giulio Cirignano, but, evidently, he has some standing with the present regime.

The good father is clearly echoing an attitude that is prominent among the closest members of the papal entourage when he says: “The clergy is holding the people back, who instead should be accompanied in this extraordinary moment. . . .The main obstacle . . . is constituted . . . by the attitude of a good part of the clergy, at levels high and low . . . an attitude, at times, of closure if not hostility.”

This has become a frequent refrain in the pope’s own comments, i.e., that many clergy are rigid, closed, and hostile when it comes to his innovative teaching and practice. In my lifetime, I’ve never witnessed this kind of hostility coming from the papal office toward those who are meant to be co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

The Drunkenness of Noah by Giovanni Bellini, c. 1515 [Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie de Besançon, France]

I try to imagine how such badgering of the clergy would have been looked at if it were a so-called “conservative” pope doing this. Suppose Pope John Paul II had been using this kind of language toward priests who were resisting his teaching. That great pope was anything but naïve, and he understood well that many clergy, including some bishops and cardinals, were resistant to the constant teaching of the church on matters like contraception, women priests, and divorce and remarriage.

(Artwork: The Drunkenness of Noah by Giovanni Bellini, c. 1515 Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie de Besançon, France)

 Yet never – to my knowledge – did he demean clergy who disagreed with him.Or I try to imagine what would have been the response of the world’s press, secular and Catholic, if it had become known, say, that John Paul II had refused an audience to a group of cardinals who rejected his teaching on communion for the divorced and remarried in Familiaris Consortio. Imagine how outraged the secular and liberal Catholic world would have been had that pope treated his own privileged counselors in such a manner.

 

And yet Pope Francis seems to be the “Teflon” pope. No matter what he says or does in relation to his beloved clergy and cardinals, it doesn’t seem to affect his image as the compassionate, merciful, open pope……

For the whole article on The Catholic Thing website, click here.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tones July 28, 2017 at 11:25 AM

Steve I’m confused. I thought that Catholics considered the Pope’s pronouncement infallible. If that is so why are some of the Bishops questioning what he has been saying. If he isn’t considered infallible then what does a trunCatholic believe.

Tom Govern July 30, 2017 at 10:51 PM

No doubt that many of Pope Francis’ positions rankle conservative leaders. However, he was put in his position by the Holy Spirit for a reason and we will see where that leads. The Church is made up of many elements and will survive all as Jesus promised. Pray for the Church and all its leaders.

Tom Govern July 31, 2017 at 10:05 PM

Tones,
Infallibility is a doctrine invoked under special circumstances, spoken expressly from the Chair of Peter. The Popes daily teachings and positions are indeed to be listened to but not necessarily “infallible” in his profession. Steve can explain it better.

Leave a Comment

 

Previous post:

Next post: