I am perpetually amazed when Americans, with the historical perspective of fruit flies, announce that since the sex scandals, the bishops have lost their “moral authority” and therefore the Church no longer has any right whatsoever to talk about (insert pelvic/just war/gay “marriage”/random social justice issue here).
Excuse me, but the bishops lost their moral authority when the apostles fled Gethsemane like the pack of cowards they were, Mark ran off into the night buck naked, and Peter denied Jesus Christ three times. The authority of the Church comes, not from the dazzling sanctity of her bishops, but from Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit preserving the integrity of Christ’s teaching despite our best efforts to screw everything up. The teachings of the Church are not the personal property of the bishops. They no more depend on the “moral authority” of bishops than the multiplication table depends on the “moral authority” of a math teacher. Until the critic of the abundant moral failings of Catholics from Pope to dog catcher grasps that, he can’t hope to understand why his “Bishops are moral failures, therefore the teaching of the Church is worthless” arguments make so little impact on any educated Catholic. The Church’s teaching does not come from the Pope or the bishops. It comes from Jesus and the apostles. The bishops are the often reluctant and frequently inept transmitters of that tradition, not the originators. The integrity of the teaching is guaranteed, not by the fact that the Pope and the bishops are awesome saints (sometimes they are, usually they are not), but by the Holy Spirit.