Speaking of the Devil : Polarization in the Roman Catholic Hierarchy


The Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, is “very disturbed” that there are debates about official Roman Catholic teachings about people with a same-sex orientation and remarried Catholics receiving Eucharist. In fact, Chaput said in a New York, earlier this week, that this month’s Vatican summit sent a confusing message; and he stressed that “confusion is of the devil.”

“I was very disturbed by what happened” at the synod, the Archbishop said. “I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.” Archbishop Chaput also condemned gay activists for their “dishonesty” and “hatred” of gay marriage foes; and he said portrayals of them as homophobic are “dishonest and evil.”

Over in Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin offered his “random thoughts” on the recent Synod of Bishops: “In trying to accommodate the needs of the age, as Pope Francis suggests, the Church risks the danger of losing its courageous, counter-cultural, prophetic voice, a voice that the world needs to hear,” he wrote. “The concept of having a representative body of the Church voting on doctrinal applications and pastoral solutions strikes me as being rather Protestant.”

The Bishop of Providence did have kind words for Pope Francis: “Pope Francis is fond of ‘creating a mess.’ Mission accomplished.” His highest praise, however, went to Cardinal Raymond Burke: “Wherever he serves, Cardinal Burke will be a principled, articulate and fearless spokesman for the teachings of the Church.”

If he hasn’t already done it, Cardinal Burke will soon be emptying his desk and handing-in his office key at the Apostolic Signatura. Burke, well-known for his high Renaissance ecclesiastical dress, finds Pope Francis far too lenient with liberals who would water-down Catholic teaching. He and other far-right bishops were highly critical of the open-minded interim document released halfway through the recent synod. That report had suggested that the Catholic Church should be “welcoming to homosexual persons” and open to lifting the no-Communion ban for remarried divorcees.

Burke has accused Pope Francis of harming the Church by allowing free-ranging discussions on key contemporary issues. For Cardinal Burke homosexual men and women are “intrinsically disordered” and homosexual acts are “wrong and evil.” Perhaps “intrinsic disorder” is in the eyes of the beholder? A majority of U.S. Catholics, today, now favor same-sex marriage.

Nevertheless….Roman Catholic hierarchical polarization is a fact of life. Perhaps it is good to shake-up the institution from time to time. A continually reforming church is a healthy thing. Let the discussions continue, let transparency be the operative value. Let us think, reflect, and debate at all levels in the church. I think the Holy Spirit thrives in this kind of environment.

Blaming the devil for opposing Catholic viewpoints? Maybe we are simply too close to Halloween…….

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5 thoughts on “Speaking of the Devil : Polarization in the Roman Catholic Hierarchy

  1. By so openly disagreeing with Francis, these bishops do something very important for the church: they break (or at least bend) the back of creeping infallibility. The conservative bishops needed creeping infallibility, “i.e.,, we know all, we have the truth,” for their thoughts (and importance) to survive. Their open disagreement with their chief “truth telling” position destroys their own system. When their chief “truth teller,” said, “Who am to judge,” and kept pushing for dialogue, they were sunk (at least with this pope). May the mess reign.

  2. Something else comes across from their denunciations of the Synod is that they are too full of their own importance & power… Considering themselves to be at the top of the pyramid of the RCC?? Since they ARE NOT THE POPE, this just shows their true lack of service mentality for the People of God (& impending senility?)…
    How many more ceremonial posts can there be, to shuffle them off to the side, while the Pilgrim church goes on??

  3. I wondered if these bishops were going to support Francis, or continue their mad tirades. It appears as if they’re continuing, and are entrenched. I guess I really shouldn’t have expected more – still – it’s disappointing to say the least.

  4. Maybe the Pope should think of early retirement for these “gentlemen”……who seem who
    feel or think they are the only ones who know how everything “should” be done! Their lack of spiritual depth and creativity just blows me away! So sorry our money paid for their stupidity over the last 30 or so years.

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