A reasonable complaint

Disputations takes issue both with this blog and with Wick Allison for pointing out that Bp. Grahmann and other bishops such as Bp. McCormack are, in my opinion, lousy bishops who have badly betrayed their flock and who give little evidence that they see very far beyond how much this inconveniences them. My reasons for pointing out their miscreancy has to do with what I think the purpose of the Holy Father is in leaving them in office. As I have maintained all along, this policy is not passive, it is active. The Holy Father takes seriously the theology of the cross and the theology of Holy Orders, including the grace of ordination which enables schleps to become pastors. Rather than deal with the problem of the American Church according to secular templates dictated by Bill Gates (Defective part? Replace it with a shiny new part from the factory!) the Pope has very deliberately opted to compel bad bishops to sit in the midst of the mess they have created, embrace the cross, and let the grace of ordination (finally) begin to make shepherds out of them (and perhaps save their souls). This is always a dicey proposition but I think JPII sees no way out but through. It involves, as I have pointed out, the reality that the flock will also have to embrace the cross (something Americans dislike since what could *possibly* be sick or deranged about our culture? No, it’s all just the bishop’s problem!). It’s also dicey because, of course, there’s always the chance a bishop will simply refuse to embrace the cross and go on looking for way to shift responsibility. When a bishop does this (such as McCormack or Keeler or, I think, Grahmann) I think it’s the duty of the laity to tell the bishop that he’s being a bad shepherd and to make life uncomfortable for him. It seems to me that, if it is truly the purpose of the Pope to compel the bishops to face the people they have hurt and betrayed, then it is the duty of the betrayed to speak clearly to those bishops about just how they have (and in some cases, continue to) hurt us by their lousy fidelity to their office.

I am not, I think, a member of the “Destroy them all!” brigade that appear to infest some comments boxes. I reject the impulse of some I see in cyberspace to be as cynical as possible about everything a bishop says or does and to assume, at all times, the worst about them. God knows I am a sinner and I want people to hope for me, not constantly say, “You loser! There’s no hope for you!” Likewise, I want holy bishops and I think I’ve been willing (and desire to continue) to give bishops the benefit of the doubt. Heck, I even went to bat for Law when he was doing his duty and articulating the bishop’s misgivings about war and everybody else was spitting on him. But I also want people to tell me when I’m full of crap because I know my sins blind me as well as kill me. So I see no good reason to affirm McCormack or Grahmann in their okayness when they still do not seem to be grasping the gravity of what they have done to their flocks. If my take on the Pope’s approach is right, I think he *expects* the laity to make life uncomfortable for bishops till they truly demonstrate some seriousness about living in fidelity to the Tradition.

Okay, now feel free to tell me I’m all wet. I’m really trying to think with the Church here. So help me do it.