This post is meant to be a type of sequel to the previous article I posted by Patrick Archbold entitled, “Bishops Share the Blame.”
Like many of you, my heart is heavy today as I try to wrap my mind around all of what is going on, and what will be the consequences. I’ve been a priest for nearly 22 years, and my youthful naiveté, along with the benefit of doubt I tend to give to my neighbor, continues to be challenged, especially as I become more and more exposed to the corruption right in the very bosom of Mother Church.
I guess I want to believe we are safe in her bosom; that we will be given the truth that sets us free to live life open and honestly, rather than under any despairing mantle of suspicion and mistrust.
As we continue to see a steady fading of the trust we have for our shepherds, there is a ray, no, a beam of hope that comes from the poignant words of the Vicarius Christi:
“Priests who see insults offered to God and remain silent are called by Isaias ‘mute dogs.’ But to these mute dogs shall be imputed all the sins that they could have- but have not – prevented…. Hence, St. Leo adds: ‘The priest who does not withdraw another from error proves that he is himself involved in it.’” (St. Alphonsus De Liguori) …
“The words of the Bible and of the Church fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs; in order to avoid conflicts, they let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.” (Cardinal Ratzinger, 1997)
In chapter 26 of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Christ had found his apostles (our first bishops) asleep for the third time, just as his betrayer was approaching. Instead of confronting evil, he could have said, “Let sleeping (mute) dogs lie.” But he did not. He took this bungling band of brothers with him and faced his betrayer head on: “Rise, let us go, see my betrayer comes” (Matt. 26:46).
This is the greatest temptation of every one of our shepherds: In order to avoid a disturbance or any trouble or complications, our shepherds are inclined to say, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” But, as our Holy Father points out (above), peace is not the highest priority. Recall Christ’s words: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” (Matt. 10:34-36)
The sword he equips us with is, in the words of Scripture, “the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17), “lively and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). The word of God in fact leads to these divisions. It can lead, even within families, to those who embrace the faith being regarded as enemies by relatives who resist the word of truth. Yet, without being led by the sword of truth, we are left misled and confused and prone to every wind of false doctrine and temptation to sin. We are sheep without a shepherd.
The time has come to call for own type of Catholic Tea Party, as we urge our shepherds to bring us the truth, no matter how difficult it is to hear.