Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger…

Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger… March 31, 2014

on why bishop-bashing is wrong.

I agree with him in part: the orgy of bishop-bashing by Reactionaries who all seem to imagine they are Catherine of Siena Redivivus has become ridiculous. On the other hand, I think that, as our bishops have demonstrated on multiple occasions, when a bishop is engaged in criminal behavior it is not only a right, but a positive duty of the faithful to call him out publicly.

The thing is, Reactionary hysterics treat almost everything as though it is a wilful sin and a crime on the part of “the bishops” (that wonderful amorphous gestalt scapegoat for all Reactionary rage about everything). Fr. Angelo (and, by the way, Reactionary hysterics) are quite right that Michael Voris is being inconsistent in his adamant insistence on refusing to treat the pope with the radical lack of charity that Reactionaries demand in their hatred of the grave sins of faith, hope, and love.

The thing is, I take that inconsistency as a hopeful sign. It means the Mr. Voris recognizes that such Reactionary lack of charity to the Holy Father and such embrace of despair, hopelessness, and malice are wrong. My hope is that he will work backward from this fundamental apprehension of truth and apply the same standards to the other people he so often treats uncharitably in his attack videos–that he will consider the possibility that “the bishops” are not the monsters he makes them out to be, that people like Karl Keating and Jimmy Akin and Fr. Robert Barron are not the corrupt stooges of “the Church of Nice” he has taught his audience to defame them as, that people who receive communion in the hand are not tainted with heresy as he suggests they are, that the Knights of Columbus are not the Enemy.

Reactionaries, in contrast, attack Voris for not being sufficiently despairing, hopeless, and malicious and want him to extend his bad treatment of the 99% of the Church they already loathe and despise to the Pope as well. They think the resolution to the inconsistency is to despise the pope too. I think the resolution to the inconsistency is to treat the Church’s members with the same charity Mr. Voris extends to the Pope.

And that, by the way, includes Reactionaries who–as loathesome, Pharisaic, prideful, anti-semitic, self-pitying, and repellent as their behavior often is–and as much as they would love to see a vile “neo-Catholic” like me kicked out of the Church–remain members of the Body of Christ who are welcome at the Table they would deny to me and most of the rest of the Church. You can pick your friends, but you are stuck with you family. That’s life inside the herd of cats that is the Catholic Church.

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  • Mark,

    Thanks for the link. I hope as well that Voris continues to think his way out of the Church of Rage.

    There is a section in my post on fraternal correction in which I say that if need be way may correct a bishop privately, or have recourse to higher authority and according to St. Thomas, when certain conditions are met, one may even publicly correct the scandal given by bishops.

    I also mention that attributing a too “divine” character to the sacred priesthood has led some to silence about priestly abuse when they should have gone to the police.

    Diane Korzeniewski has provided some useful thoughts and links on the teaching of St. Thomas on this matter in the comment section to my post.

    • chezami

      Fair enough.

  • Jared Clark

    Wait, this is the first I’ve heard of Voris having a problem with the K of C. What’d he say about us?

  • PalaceGuard

    “Catherine of Siena Redivivus” Rediviva?

    • S. Murphy


      • PalaceGuard

        Mrs. Swanson (9th grade Latin teacher) would be proud. Amazed, true. But proud!

  • Chris

    “On the other hand, I think that, as our bishops have demonstrated on multiple occasions, when a bishop is engaged in criminal behavior it is not only a right, but a positive duty of the faithful to call him out publicly.”

    But — given Jesus’ words in Mt 18 — don’t we owe it to a bishop to address it first privately, e.g. private written correspondence?

    Secondly, it seems likely that what much of what happens on the web as alleged fraternal correction is actually gossip, and it rarely pertains to criminal behavior on a bishop’s part.

    Third, we are often not in possession of all the facts… the recent dust-up over the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at Fisher More College is a perfect example of people rushing to judgement of the local bishop.

    While there have certainly been exceptions, I suspect that most of the time, prayer for Bishop X in Diocese Y (in which I do not reside) will be the more effective course of action instead of the spleen-venting that one often finds online.

  • Justice

    How ironic that today, Remnant TV’s Michael Matt explained why they DON’T criticize bishops

    In fact, it’s what separates them from the family’s other newspaper: The Wanderer

    • The sky fell for them the day Pope Francis was elected. They said as much under the colonnade of St. Peter’s only hours after the election. Interesting how the logic is the inversion of Voris’. They are convinced that the future of the Church depends on them.

  • I would think first and foremost if you need to speak (privately or publicly), you got to ask yourself the following:

    “How is the action of the prelate preventing myself or others from living out the Catholic Faith?”

    Not our little pet projects, but hindering a legitimate aspiration. For example, tomorrow the pope starts calling for greater access to the confessional, and a priest responds with even less availability. Such a priest should be approached privately, and if he still doesn’t, it could be a public matter.

    Or during the Ecclesia Dei days when Bishops went to rather extraordinary measures to destroy Latin Mass centers (placing them in dangerous ghettos at horrid times, forbidding advertising them, etc). These were lawful aspirations the faithful were denied, and bishops who did it were rightly called onto the carpet.

    Yet the Pope giving an interview in which he speaks priorities we just don’t agree with?

    Once we’ve established a need, then we have to ask ourselves: how qualified am I to talk about it?

    If we are qualified, then we have to ask if my airing complaints will cause more noise than signal.

    Once we’ve decided all those things, then eliminate half of what you were planning to say, as its probably redundant at best, and uncharitable at worst.

    • SteveP

      Well written. Thank you.

  • AquinasMan

    Thank you to Fr. Angelo for drawing to my attention the idea of the Prodigal Son vs. the Older Son. That really illustrated and reflected, for me, at least, my own occasional, obnoxious agitation over Francis. Spiritual pride is a wicked, WICKED thing, and I dance so often on the edge of that knife. Pray for me, Father!

    • You are welcome. I am so glad it helped. The time spent in reflection on the matter has helped me as well.

  • SteveP

    Mark: “to call [a bishop] out publicly” does not seem, to me, to be the same as “seek the Will of God in the matter.” That is, pray, pray, and pray again. However, perhaps I misunderstand you.

    I am amused, in an emulated hipster sardonic manner, that you posted this on the same day your Patheos neighbor engaged in perhaps-bishop-bashing-by-implication-of-place (