laity to the rescue, again

Eric Sammons at OnePeterFive writes concerning why our bishops are so bad

I would say a big reason is the selection process. The process as it’s currently set up results in choosing priests like my old pastor. Although ideology is one factor in bishop picks, I think pragmatism is a much bigger factor. The Church wants “safe” bishops – bishops who won’t rock the boat, who maintain the status quo. The Church wants bishops whose first priority is protecting not the Faith or souls, but the institutional Church.

I hear this a lot from conservative Catholics who should remember that Luther’s idea that there is a visible and an invisible Church is heresy.  The “institutional Church” is the only Church–the bride and mystical body of Christ, etc.  There will be no invisible, spiritual Church left over if media and government action destroy the “institutional Church”, so preserving it should be a bishop’s first priority.

As the process currently stands, the selection of new bishops rests almost entirely in the hands of the local and regional bishops, along with the apostolic nuncio for the country…As should be obvious, this bureaucratic process essentially ensures that the status quo is maintained. If a potential candidate has at any time “rocked the boat,” he will be passed over for a “compromise” choice. There’s almost no chance of a radical selection. In a sense, it’s an oligarchy: a small number of men have all the power in determining who will become a bishop.

Thank God!

Sammons’ advice, of course, is to give the laity a say, which would just put us on the fast track to apostasy, since no episcopal candidate could ever be approved again who wasn’t openly in favor of gay marriage.  As with any democratic element, one might as well just give power directly to the New York Times editorial board and cut out the middleman.

In dioceses that have historically been overrun by heresy, it’s likely the selection committee will make bad selections. But let’s be honest: it’s unlikely their selections will be worse than what we have now.

I don’t think conservatives appreciate how well the Church’s authoritarian constitution has worked.  The Church has kept her prohibition of contraception on the books for half a century in the face of 80-90% lay dissent.  This is extraordinary.

The reason the bishops and priests are so rotten is because the laity is even more rotten.  They may well be the least rotten bunch we’d be willing to endure, which still makes them a loathsome bunch.  We should be grateful that the Church is not following the protocol left by Jesus Christ for situations like ours.

19 Responses

  1. @Bonald – In these posts, you are treating ‘the laity’ as a single unit; but surely the point is not about the big corrupt laity who are not really Christian, but about the minority of devout laity (led by a minority of the clergy)?

    Isn’t this what Pope Benedict was talking about – renewing the (implicitly corrupt) bulk of the RCC from a ‘creative minority’ of the devout?

    Benedict was right about many things – but few of his suggestions were supported and acted on; perhaps this was one of the things he was right about?

    In general – I think it an error to look for institutional solutions to our current deadly malaise. As things stand, we in the West are not-good-enough people – and therefore will corrupt any ‘system’.

    Spiritual renewal is the indispensable pre-requisite – and this will inevitably begin as a minority; and it may well begin among RCC laity – e.g. many of the greatest Saints of the past were lay monks (or nuns). Such spiritual renewal may spread by imperceptible (non organisational) spiritual routes…

    As another example, I believe the early Opus Dei success and expansion in Spain was substantially driven by their lay members.

  2. @Bonald

    You might want to have a look at this article on Newman and his thoughts on the subject.

    https://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/NEWMNLAY.HTM

  3. The Italian laity is far less rotten as the Italian clergy on the political points that have little religious significance, like immigration or the hate-campaign against Salvini.

    They may be more rotten on hedonistic sexual matters (contraception and suchlike) and their consequences (abortion).

    But hedonism is not stable. The human desire for social status means people want something like a religion, something that gives them social status for expressing a virtue. Hedonistic sexuality feels good (for a while) but cannot supply this.

    Consider the following example. General public opinion went from homosexuality being seen as immoral to the whole issue being morally neutral because it is just fun and hedonism to homophobia being seen as immoral because cruel and oppressive. An even better example is when prostitution was banned because women doing such a thing were seen as bad, then legalized in most European countries, and now Sweden and France banned again, but the client punished, not the prostitute because the prostitute is now seen as the innocent victim of exploitative males.

    The point is, things do not stay for long in the neutral moral vacuum of have-fun hedonism. Eventually people have status, hence they will call some things good and some bad and signal the good things and condemn the bad things to gain it.

    Thus. The laity may be way too hedonistic. But. When the Italian laity loudly signals that they are fed up with immigration and are uninterested in the virtue signal system of the Church of Liberalism telling them that the immigrants are innocent refugees and virtue lies in seeing them as so and helping them, not trying to keep them out.

    Which suggests that when and if they will they want to compete for social status again from some kinds of virtue-signals they have only the Catholic ladder again.

  4. @Dividualist

    Great comment. If I can summarize: there is no choice between freedom and a state church; there is only the choice of which state church. Because of the way people are.

  5. “I hear this a lot from conservative Catholics who should remember that Luther’s idea that there is a visible and an invisible Church is heresy.”

    Eventually it will get so bad that everything will be reconsidered. Consider this a prediction.

  6. >we should be grateful that the Church is not following the protocol left by Jesus Christ for situations like ours.
    >spiritual fathers derelict on duty
    >be grateful

    Dude, if Church fathers were following protocol God’s People would be separate from the communist rabble (as it ought to be), they wouldn’t have to flee the temples. That is peace, use the sword to separate the good from the bad.
    The dysfunction in the Church (which is the Catholic society) follows from the fact that one of its essential limbs was cut of, the triadic order of knight-cleric-folk has been destroyed, furthermore the folk is scheduled for genocide as well. The Elites are gone, the father of society is missing, the Mother-Church remains alone.
    To quote NRx SM: What is needed is a New Constantine—one willing to enforce the Church’s irreformable teachings right back on the Church hierarchy’s head.

  7. Having bailed out of Anglicanism precisely because I could no longer drink the Kool-Aid after watching the laity vote on doctrine, I don’t think the 1P5 crew really knows what they’re getting into. The average Catholic layman is hardly more orthodox than the average Anglican these days, and for all its faults, it was the hierarchy (definitely not the laity) that was a strong selling point when I went Catholic.

    My guess is that the whole “true Church” versus “institutional Church” line of thinking, explicit or implicit, helps one corner oneself in a ghetto of like-minded laypeople and build a non-existent “silent majority” in one’s head after sufficient separation from John Q. Public.

    In any case, I’m not even sure a laity filled entirely with the 1P5 demographic really would have such a positive effect. I can’t help but suspect that they would try to dogmatically define something wacky, like geocentrism or whatnot, just to “own the libs”. I remember seeing someone on Twitter (himself a Trad of sorts) opine that the Palmarian Catholic Church exists for the purpose of showing what the situation would be like if the professional Trads™ had free reign. An exaggeration to be sure, but not wholly a lie either.

  8. Just as the health of a republic depends on the virtue of its citizens, the health of a church governed (on the human level) through sobornost depends on the fidelity of its members. Unfortunately, I believe that Bonald is right. The Roman laity, as a whole, may not even qualify as rational sheep at this point. Worse than that, their shepherds don’t appear to be interested in raising them to a higher level.

  9. Case in point for Bonald. Observe the article and comment section here.

  10. Another relevant article. Excerpt:

    Because for all the cowardice, for all the denials, for all the obfuscation, and for all the pro-abort politicians they crawl into bed with, the successors to the apostles are still less disgusting than the American laity—that huge mass of heretical, masturbating, contracepting, selfish morons who don’t think (or care) about the logical results of their actions. The vast majority of US Catholics want lax sexual morality—contraception and premarital sex. Women want to be able to hand off their kids to unknowns so they could work in a cubicle. Catholic men let their parishes be turned into a woman’s clubs, opting to give their Sundays to the NFL rather than God.

  11. It takes a special kind of insanity to insist the sins of the laity remotely comparable to the clergy’s transformation into a pederastic organized crime syndicate.

  12. It seems to me that the consensus of this post and comments is one likely to provoke despair.

    Negative critique will not suffice. If not, then what?

    Surely devout Roman Catholic lay people need some kind of hope-full project to work upon? Need this Now more than ever before?

    Whether that project be mostly socio-political (orginisational) or spiritual (eg a prayer) – something more focused that just hoping for the best, and that the corrupt, net-evil Magisterium and Bishops will reform themselves…

    One bishop, a few priests and a dedicated laity are enough to begin with (eg SSPX). The creative minority idea, again.

    Note: Carter’s comment above ought to alert people to the possibility that this evil may be the key link between the senior clergy and the global elites – and the conduit of church corruption.

  13. There will be no invisible, spiritual Church left over if media and government action destroy the “institutional Church”, so preserving it should be a bishop’s first priority.

    The visible Church can never be destroyed. The duty of a Bishop is to preach the Gospel in season and out. If that brings on persecution then so be it.

    Sammons’ proposal is idiotic, but that doesn’t mean that the selection process for bishops should stay as it is. Without having thought much about it, I’d think that putting e.g. the FSSP in charge of recommending candidates for the episcopacy would be a good thing.

    Thus. The laity may be way too hedonistic. But. When the Italian laity loudly signals that they are fed up with immigration and are uninterested in the virtue signal system of the Church of Liberalism telling them that the immigrants are innocent refugees and virtue lies in seeing them as so and helping them, not trying to keep them out.

    Which suggests that when and if they will they want to compete for social status again from some kinds of virtue-signals they have only the Catholic ladder again.

    There’s nothing preventing the majority of the public from embracing an ideology which combines social liberalism with opposition to mass migration.

  14. >There’s nothing preventing the majority of the public from embracing an ideology which combines social liberalism with opposition to mass migration. AR
    This may seem so on the surface but social liberalism and mass migration are intimately connected. They both have at their root a total disregard for objective standards, for what is good and right against the bad and left, for WHO is good and right and who is bad and left and well as the question of the natural superior and the inferior.

  15. They’e connected in the sense that social liberalism leads to mass immigration being accepted. But the simple fact that X leads to Y doesn’t prevent large numbers of people over extended periods of time from supporting X but not Y. E.g. social acceptance of homosexuality will naturally lead to social acceptance of pederasty, but the majority of people nonetheless support the former but the latter.

  16. Carter Craft:

    It takes a special kind of insanity to insist the sins of the laity remotely comparable to the clergy’s transformation into a pederastic organized crime syndicate.

    Zippy rightly critiques the view that liberalism is not specially wrong, because ‘there have been libertine people in the past’. Yet he would have us believe that there’s nothing specially wrong about Bergoglio, after all ‘there have been bad popes in the past’.

    Heads in the sand.

  17. I don’t think conservatives appreciate how well the Church’s authoritarian constitution has worked. The Church has kept her prohibition of contraception on the books for half a century in the face of 80-90% lay dissent. This is extraordinary.

    “At least I still have the Constitution”, he said.

  18. The institutional church can certainly be destroyed within a single country. Does everyone forget that there were no priests in Japan for over a century?

  19. The Japanese Church survived for a surprisingly long time without clergy. However, they lost their priests because of outside persecution. A Church would not survive made of laity who are without priests because they themselves turned against them.

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