If Only We Could Figure Out What the Pope is Thinking With Regard to our Bishops!
It turns out that he’s writing a book on the subject. So we’ll soon know.
By the way, allow me to state for, oh, the thousandth time, I suppose, that when I give my opinion about what the Pope is thinking as he allows our many lousy bishops to keep bishoping, I am not necessarily agreeing with the Pope. There are, as I’ve noted, several bishops who would be gone tomorrow if I were Pope. I’m not. So I ask, “What can I do which will help in the situation where God has put me?”
One thing I can do is remind my fellow laymen that they aren’t nearly as powerless as they tell themselves they are. The proof of this is found in the fact that our worst clerics are people who have, by and large, knuckled under to pressure from laity to leave us alone and not bother us with the Church’s teaching. If bad laity can exercise such influence, so can good laity–if they will stop moaning about how they can exercise no influence, get off their duffs, and live apostolic lives.
This is going to require long haul thinking, not sprinter approaches. It took decades to get the Church into this mess and, by all indications, it will take decades to get it out. We don’t have the option to leave any more than the prophets did when Israel was all screwed up. But we also don’t have the option to do nothing. So we must act in the ways that we can, prudently and prayerfully. With the expectation that God still rewards obedience and still can do wonders in our day, but with the realization as well that when Israel sinned gravely He was not above putting them through a lengthy penance. If you don’t believe the American Church (that’d be us laity as well as the clergy) have not sinned pretty gravely in our morally deranged, spiritually tepid response to the gospel, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
So, fellow layman, quit whining, shoulder the penance we have to endure for as long as God says to endure it, and keep fighting. “Shoulder the penance” does not mean “sit silently and take it while more outrages are perpetrated by AmChurch Experimenters”. It also doesn’t mean “The Pope is always right about everything”. Nor does it mean “victims deserve what they get”.
It means that we laypeople must really desire better bishops and the scandalous, uncomfortable, unsuburban, challenging gospel they will preach and demand we live when we get them. We must work toward the day when the great mass of the laity, not just a few switch-on people in comments boxes, abandon the contract the American Church has made with its leadership that says, “Just leave us alone to pursue whatever sexual morality and other forms of Imperial Autonomous Selfhood we like and we’ll be willing to put up with a few child rapes from our clergy and the bishops who don’t challenge them any more than they challenge us.” We must be willing to really desire the gospel.
That gospel, just to warn you ahead of time, is going to do the one thing humans hate: bid us come and die. That is especially difficult for Americans because our culture is founded on the belief that we should constantly try to approximate more and more to creating heaven on earth and death is such a bummer when you are invested in that.