More Thoughts on “Disobedient Priests”

April 11, 2012 at 15:36 1 comment

Disobedience is not by its nature disrespect. Often it is an act of loving respect by folks who see an organization or group that they love dearly moving down a path that seems to them to be headed toward destruction, or veering away from the fundamental principles on which it was founded, and away from the Person whose life, example, and teachings are the basis for its existence. Church history shows many such acts of loving disobedience, and the Church is richer for them. Compliance with the dictates of such an organization which seem to the “disobedients” to be hurting folks and discriminating against folks is wrong. When obedience to a law causes pain to innocent folks whose biggest mistake was that they were born of the wrong sex, or who are in a marriage that was not working, is seen by the “disobedients” as wrong, and as not following the example of Jesus, following that law can be seen as a moral wrong. Nuremberg Principle IV might apply here: “I was just following orders” doesn’t cut it. This phrase has been used to justify some terrible actions in history. Perhaps it still is.

Then there is the role of one’s own conscience. “Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirements of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which is the last resort, is beyond the claims of external social groups, even the official church, and also establishes a principle in opposition to totalitarianism”. (Fr Joseph Ratzinger (1967): Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II).”

Obedience to Rome is not of itself a virtue. There has to be some critical examination of what one is being told to do. And some of what folks are being told to do by Rome appears to many to be morally wrong, and certainly not following the example or teaching of Jesus. This might include – keeping women as inferior by denying them ordination, forbidding even the discussion of certain topics such as women’s ordination and optional celibacy, issues surrounding same-sex marriage, silencing priests who dare to express their own doubts about these things. Obedience that is enforced by threat and punishments does not seem to be the type of obedience that is described as a human act. It is more like the act of a human. Moralists understand the difference. The fear filled atmosphere surrounding obedience has given rise to a new phenomenon known by many names: liturgical police, thought police, dogmatic terrorists, etc. They are self-appointed watchdogs on the lookout for anything they see as an abuse committed by anyone, especially priests. They are quick to judge and report to whatever level of ecclesiastical authority cares to hear from them. They reflect the mentality that “anybody who disagrees with me about anything is wrong, and I will get them, in the name of Jesus Christ whom I love, and the Church authority whom I adore”. Recent events, such as the Pope’s rebuking of “disobedient priests and the silencing of the two priests in Ireland who have “liberal” views on contraception and women priests, have shown up some strong attitudes among people that are especially obvious on the web. Some folks feel that these priests and any who agree with them are absolutely wrong, bad, not catholic anymore, unfaithful to their vocation, breaking the vows of obedience, etc. A common thread is along the line of “I’ll pray for you, Father, that you may see the light and turn away from your errors”, or, in other words, so that you can become as judgmental, arrogant, and self-righteous as I am. These are indeed interesting times. I firmly believe the Holy Spirit is alive, well, and very much involved.   Just sayin  .  .  .  .


Entry filed under: Catholic, Church Leadership, Current Church, Disobedient priests, Forbidden topics, Priest. Tags: , , , , .

Thoughts on “Disobedient Priests” Thoughts on Recent Events

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. paul smith  |  April 12, 2012 at 12:26

    I have recently been made aware of your blog and I would like to comment that I find them well worth your time and effort!


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