Disputations Makes a Good Point…

that I mostly agree with and partly disagree with. Speaking as a Catholic, I agree completely (and have stated elsewhere) that insofar as a bishop is delivering the Tradition or acting in his office as teacher, his “moral authority” is utterly irrelevant to whether we should listen to him. Even Jesus makes this point. Insofar as they speak from office, even the Pharisees who demanded Jesus’ death were to be heeded–but not imitated. It is simply not that case that Law (whose sins are considerably less than that of direct responsibility for the murder of God Incarnate) is “impossible” to take seriously. I take him seriously, by virtue of his office.

That said, prudence also dictates that yer average citizen of this here Republic *is* going to find him much more easy to ignore now that he has shown himself to be a dunderhead. Not, of course, that people were hanging on the bishop’s words before the Scandal. But the reality is that gross immorality and corruption *does* compromise the Church’s witness to the world. As Paul sez: “you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

(Romans 2:21-24). This is simply a basic psychological fact and the Church will have to live with this compromised witness for a long time. In that sense, I agree with Rod and believe that it will therefore be all the more urgent that authentic *lay* witnesses to the teaching of the Church live out their baptism with fidelity, so that the Church’s teaching may be compelling and not sneered at as Instapundit did the other day. But I disagree that that the lack of moral authority on the part of many bishops has anything whatever to do with whether a lay Catholic should listen to them when they speak from office and not from their person.