Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Condemning bishops and clergy ...

"If we could see each other's thoughts, no one would be considered good." - Saint Stephen of Muret

I knew a priest who once publicly referred to his bishop as 'the antichrist'.  It's almost impossible for me not to recall his contemptuous condemnation every time I hear that bishop's name.  When priests do that stuff, it scandalizes their hearers.  The result of such scandal generates a tendency amongst their hearers to rash judgment and the critical spirit.  God knows I've fallen into that quagmire - all too often.  Earlier, I read a critique calling a Cardinal of the Church a pornographer.  In the past few days, accusations and condemnations of gay clergy have multiplied - and yes - I posted on it.  I've done so in the past as well.  To no avail, BTW.  It does absolutely no good and changes nothing.  Even if I would have had a catholic tv show - it changes zip.  Did M. Angelica accomplish change by her criticism of Cardinal Mahoney and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles?  Really?

A few months ago I came across an insightful article in Homiletic and Pastoral Review on the subject - I will reprint an excerpt below.
In the thirteenth century many priests were involved in seeking wealth and having a pleasant life. They hardly preached at all, virtually never studied, and paid for important positions so that they could get even more money. A number of priests openly lived with women, causing great scandal. Some of the bishops lived in unbelievable wealth, and would sell Church positions to keep their rich life style. Many of the people were just as bad as their leaders.
As a result, many so-called prophets had appeared, some good, some not-so-good, who promised terrible punishments if people did not reform. Peter Waldo was one of the reformers who had a great beginning. He gave up his riches to live in poverty and spread the faith. He had many followers who also lived as poor men, and did penance. However, when they began to preach without permission against the lazy and sinful priests, the Archbishop of Lyons, France, excommunicated them.
In time they got into all sorts of errors, such as placing their interpretation of the Bible over the authority of the pope, denying both purgatory, and veneration of the saints. They also refused to go to confession to immoral priests, preferring to confess to good people who were not priests. As a result, the Waldensians were excommunicated by the pope in 1184.
Despite their sincerity, and their living radical Gospel poverty, they all fell astray. They lost the faith. But, their contemporary, Francis of Assisi did not. Why not? Because he never went anywhere to preach the Gospel without permission of the priests. Furthermore, he would never criticize the priests and bishops—even the most lazy and immoral ones—nor would he allow his friars to do so.
Today there are many priests and even bishops who seem to invite criticism by what they say and do, but most are far less culpable than the priests and bishops of St. Francis’ time. The recent scandals in the U.S. priesthood are much uglier but they have been dealt with far more strongly than those lesser but more widespread faults of the thirteenth century.
Perhaps the example of the Waldensians and Albigensians gives us an insight into what happens when people focus on the sins of priests and bishops.
I believe such criticism can feed our own pride, and make us feel superior to our Church leaders. From that point it is not a great leap to begin to lump their teaching in with their behavior, and to begin to reject the doctrines of the Church. The danger is real.
Jesus warned his followers not to reject the doctrines of the scribes and pharisees despite their shameful behavior... Rev. Thomas G. Morrow - Read more
"Remember, my brothers, that the winning of souls is what pleases God, and we can do this better by working in harmony with the clergy than in opposition." - Saint Francis of Assisi, Mirror of Perfection - 54


  1. I remember years ago as a boy reading in the "Pieta Prayer book" the following quote:

    Criticism of Priests "Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel"

    "One should NEVER attack a priest, even when he is in error, rather one should pray and do penance that I'll grant him My grace again. He alone fully represents Me, even when he does not live after My example!" (page 29, Mutter Vogel's Worldwide Love, St. Grignion Publishing House, Altoting, South Germany (29.6.1929)."Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel"

    "When a priest falls we should extend him a helping hand THROUGH PRAYER AND NOT THROUGH ATTACKS! I myself will be his judge, NO ONE BUT I!""Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel"

    "Whoever voices judgment over a priest has voiced it over me; child, never let a Priest be attacked, take up his defense." (Feast of Christ the King 1937)"Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel"

    "Child, Never judge your confessor, rather pray much for him and offer every Thursday, through the hands of My blessed Mother, Holy Communion (for Him)" (18.6.1939)"Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel"

    "Never again accept an out-of-the-way word about a Priest, and speak no unkind word (about them) EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE! Every Priest is My Vicar and My heart will be sickened and insulted because of it! If you hear a judgment (against a Priest) pray a Hail Mary." (28.6.1939)"Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel"

    "If you see a Priest who celebrates the Holy Mass unworthily then say nothing about him, rather tell it to Me alone! I stand beside Him on the altar!""Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel"

    "Oh pray much for my priests, that they will love purity above all, that they will celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with pure hands and heart. Certainly the Holy Sacrifice is one and the same even when it is celebrated by an unworthy priest, but the graces called down upon the people is not the same!" (28.2.1938)"Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel"

    Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for them.

  2. susan8:23 PM

    Man Terry, I am waaaay on the other side of the fence from you on this one. I know you don't like him, but Michael Vorris' last couple'a videos hit this subject dead-on, and Ann Barnhardt's last few posts at her blog (barnhardt.biz) reinforce the matter. Mother Angelica did G.R.E.A.T. good in calling out Mahoney for exactly what he was, and what he did. It does NO good for everyone to let the Weaklands and the Bernardins lead countless souls to perdition, and dismantle the beauty of the Church, without calling them out on the evil. In fact I believe it to be a duty under both Justice and Mercy. God bless.

  3. Dear Susan, Thanks for the comment and I completely understand your concern - you aren't alone.

    First let me reaffirm - I do like Voris - I haven't said anything bad about him - in fact I posted on his latest video - I simply pointed out that it is an oft-repeated story - nothing has been done. My goodness - I have written about the same stuff on my blogs. As for M. Angelica - Mahoney remained in place until his retirement. I don't know who Ann Barnhardt is - I've only seen her name bandied about.

    This post is meant to be a warning for those of us with blogs who post opinions - it is simply cautionary. I agree with what the author has to say and I wanted to share it with my own editorial comment.

  4. Anonymous1:17 AM

    What do your comments criticizing those who criticize Bishops do?

    Zip, nada, nuttin.

  5. Anonymous2:30 AM

    You're following St. Francis here--as he clearly states in one of his letters (as you know)--and you are exactly right. There is no need to name names, just speak forcefully, patiently and with humility against the behaviors in question/claims in question. Love the blog.

  6. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?'. They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us'. He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too'"( Mt 20:6-7).

  7. I think there is a very fine line between criticising the behavior and actions (or lack thereof) of Bishops and priests on issues and castigating them. One should have respect and revere the dignity of their office without condoning their bad behaviour or inaction. As Father Morrow says in his Homiletic and Pastoral Review article, "Alas, how sad it is that some are far more ready to judge (and criticize) priests than they are to pray for them. We should spend more time praying for them as a first line of defense.

  8. Prayer , fasting and holding priests in the public square accountable for support of sodomy, for e.g., are not not mutually exclusive undertakings.

    1. I agree, Maria. As for the Pieta Prayer Book referenced above, it has its own errors. Check the second item in this newsletter: And check this out too:


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