Speaking of repenting…

Bill Cork sez: “the bishop remains vicar of Christ for his local Church. And that demands our respect.” He criticizes bloggers who mock prelates of the Catholic Church.

What can I say? Guilty as charged. And I apologize. It’s a difficult thing to distinguish the sinful acts of the occupant of the office from the office itself and the sacrament who hold it (for the bishop *is* sacrament by virtue of his ordination). This past week has been difficult given the fresh spewage of sewage out of Rockville Centre, but the fact remains that bishops, though they can and should be criticized when they betray their office, should not simply be made the object of generalized contempt. They are still sacraments of Christ, even if they are unworthy of the office. And when they articulate the Tradition, they are still to be heeded, even if their sins were as black as Judas Iscariot’s. For when they articulate the Tradition, they are speaking Our Lord’s mind, not their own. This, by the way, is why it is utterly wrong for Catholics to dismiss the bishops’ attempts to articulate Just War doctrine by saying, “I don’t have to listen to them since they allowed child abuse.” You might as well say you never had to listen to them since they were all sinners and always have been. Insofar as the bishops are trying to articulate the Tradition, they are not speaking on their personal moral authority. They are speaking out of the deposit of Faith which they did not invent and do not own. In the case of Just war theorizing, they are not articulating a specific plan of action for us to follow. Rather, they are simply trying to look at possible courses of action in light of Just War theory and asking us to think using the tools the Tradition gives us. They do not bind us to agree with them (and, in fact, I don’t agree with them). But we must, as faithful Catholics, take their thinking into account as we make our moral judgements. We can’t simply say, “I don’t have to listen to you because you have sinned.”