The title for this posting was stolen (like in baseball) from a classic poem I memorized in grammar school, Casey at the Bat [LINK] by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. He in turn stole (like in plagiarism) the line from an essay On Man by Alexander Pope. Just in case you can’t remember the poem, or sadly never heard of Mighty Casey, here is a brief summary. The baseball fans of Mudville, who were watching their team lose that day, were divided into two groups, the “struggling few (who) got up to go leaving there the rest” and the loyal fans who stayed because of their belief in the “hope that springs eternal within the human breast”; and they were counting on Mighty Casey to whack out a homerun and win the day for the Mudville Nine. If you want to know the outcome of the game, click on the link above.
It seems to me that in some ways, many of us are waiting for “a Mighty Casey like” person or movement to fulfill the hope that Vatican II inspired for reforms in the church. If we’re one of those, I think we need to listen to the wise sage Pogo, who said in a 1971 cartoon, “We have met the enemy and it is US!” [LINK] Pogo’s statement has become a universal truth that applies to most organizations, including the church. Like many others, I believe that the laity is the key to change. Having aired our grievances, and recognized that we are part of the problem, we need to keep hope alive. We all need to become change agents and not just “leave it up to George”. This commentary will focus on those who believe that “hope springs eternal…”, and are willing and able to follow Pogo’s challenge to be part of the solution. In my next blog I will focus on sources of hopelessness.
SOURCES of HOPE
“Every area of trouble gives out a ray of hope; and the one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy
I don’t intend to use “hope” in the biblical or theological sense, as in Faith, Hope and Charity, but in a more everyday way, as in “Hope is the belief in what is possible and the expectation of things to come.” Or as St. Augustine of Hippo described it, “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.” Or if we think of hope as a movement, the Chinese author and Guru Lin Yutang described it as, “Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.“
I realize that these “bumper sticker” type quotations might seem Pollyannaish, especially when we apply them to the Vatican. So, I’d first like to suggest a prototype of person who as a cardinal, had all the characteristic and values for providing a hopeful vision for leading the church forward, while at the same time would not throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.
In my last commentary in Catholica, [LINK]I included several references to Cardinal Carlo Martini’s death in which the articles mentioned examples of his progressive observations and convictions that the cardinal had about what the church needed to do to become relevant in the 21st century. The September 8, issue of The Tablet: The International Catholic Weekly had several post mortem articles under the overall title Cardinal Carlo Martini Remembered. The lead article on page 2, Prophet for Our Times [LINK] acknowledges some of the many contributions Cardinal Martini made to the church, and suggests how different the church might be now if he had succeeded Pope John Paul II.
The article also serves as an introduction to his last interview two weeks before he died, entitled, The Pope and Bishops Should Find 12 Unconventional People to Take on Leadership Roles (notice the title specifies people not clerics).That interview describes “…a papacy that never was, but might have been.” The interview is on pages 8 and 9 on the link immediately above. Additionally, in an article entitled Never Afraid on pages 6 and 7 under the same link, Cardinal Martini is remembered as “…the torch-bearer of liberal Catholicism”. I particularly appreciated the author’s describing Martini’s primary role as bishop being “a pastor of souls” rather than being limited “to that of ecclesiastical authority”. We are getting closer to a conclave to elect a new pope. Hopefully the next pope to sit in the chair of Peter will be someone like Cardinal Martini. If that were to happen, I think the hopes we had for Vatican II, and even beyond, could become a reality not just a dream.
Another source of hope for me was the celebration of the 50ieth Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s opening session. I’ve been encouraged by the many positive reactions to the celebration of that historical event. There have been a number of article that I’ve read in the past several months that I found hopeful,without ignoringwhat remains to be done, nor hesitating to point out how much of what we hoped for and thought would be accomplished had been sabotaged by the Vatican Curia, Pope John Paul II, and his handpicked successor. For me the articles brought back some of the same excitement and hope that I had as a newly ordained priest when I first heard about Pope John XXIII’s plans for the Council. In the words of the renowned philosopher, Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà-vu all over again”.
One concept that was reinforced by several of the anniversary articles was collegiality, the fact that we are stakeholders in the church.You know that, and I know that, but the people in charge still don’t seem to “get it”. We’re all familiar with the sensus fidelium (the mind of the people). The term stakeholder is perhaps more in touch with current corporate lingo. It wasn’t around when sensus fidelium was first used by the early fathers of the church, but it’sexactly what collegiality is in current corporate lingo. As members of the People of God, we are stakeholders, and this is one of the issues that remain to be resolved in accord with the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium, promulgated by Pope Paul VI, November21, 1964.
Chapter 3 of Lumen Gentium is where collegiality is spelled out. [LINK] In an article by John Wilkins in Commonweal, p.16 in its October 2012 edition, the author describes the “fierce and protracted” debate between the minority of the conservative bishops, and their progressive opponents had over collegiality. Basically, the conservatives were concerned that if they budged an inch on collegiality, the church’s teaching on infallibility, defined by Vatican I in 1870 would be in jeopardy. The argument was between those who saw collegiality as community and those who saw it as a pyramid, with the “…pope at the apex.” In Roman Law a college (like in the College of Cardinals) is an association of equals, a concept that the traditionalists could not reconcile with a monarchial papacy.”  Although the progressives won in the end, in reality the “community” structure, as envisioned by Lumen Gentium was never operationalized, thanks to the long reigns of John Paul II and the present pope’s obsession with tradition.(See Jeff Mirus’ article Benedict’s Hermeneutic of Continuity).[LINK]I believe that the concept of collegiality is a priority for change and needs to be implemented according to the original promulgation of Vatican II.
As stakeholders there are a number of change organizations that are available for us to join if we want to participate in taking our church back and beyond Vatican II. I suspect that most of you are familiar with the major lay organization in your own countries and around the world, so I’ll put their websites along with additional articles, at the end of this posting, so you can refresh your memories if you think it’s necessary. What all the lay organizations need is more of us stakeholders to join them in their missions.
A NEW GOVERNANCE MODEL
Besides the older lay organizations’ contributions, I see a source of hope in a lay group that was established in 2005, the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Governance (NLRCG). If you check their website [LINK] you’ll see a completely different type of organization with strong ties to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), with a membership that includes key lay leaders from organizations across the country. The “Target membership is approximately 225 individuals who are top leaders and key experts from the worlds of business, civic life, professional associations, foundations, universities, healthcare systems, vibrant parishes, and other organizations.” The board of directors is made up of seven lay women, seven laymen, and three clergymen. The Executive Director is a lay woman. I was very impressed with the credentials the members have and what they’ve accomplished in a short time. If you check their website, their annual reports for the last few years, along with their mission, strategic plans etc. are available.
One of their guiding principles of NLRCG is to provide:
“…an avenue for greater incorporation of the expertise of all the faithful, especially in the areas of church management, finance, and human resource development. By virtue of baptism, lay people have not only the right but also the duty to offer their gifts and talents in service of the church. See: Christifideles Laici – Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on The Vocation and The Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World, 1988, 29 and Code of Canon Law, Canon 222.1, 1983.
NLRCG’s goal is to build “… a Church that is stronger in areas of management, finance and human resources and more fully utilizes the talents and skills of the laity.” Their recommendations are presented to the USCCB and, as stated in an article in America, they become a, Blue Print for Change [LINK], “…a roadmap for strengthening the organizational, financial, and managerial structures of the church at three levels: national, diocesan, and parish.”
Given the fact that, “…the Catholic Church in the United States, with its more than one million employees and operating budget of nearly $100 billion, is comparable in size and scope to some of the nation’s largest corporations…” having management experts guide the bishops seems like an excellent idea. Especially, since most bishops do not have any professional credentials or experience in managing what is essentially a position for a CEO of a large “corporation”. At the very least it should promote a new transparency in the church, and strengthens the role of the laity in at least the governance of the church, and give them a foot in the door for being included in decisions on the church’s teachings. I believe that the clergy sexual abuse of children, would never have reached the proportions it did if the “managers”, i.e. bishops, were not able to cover up for the perpetrators. In the words of James Muller, “With lay people involved in the decision making, certainly no priest who had abused a child would have been transferred to another parish…parents would never have permitted it.”
To me, the fact that there is such an organization as NLRCGis encouraging. I often wondered how we could expect men with degrees in theology, canon law orscripture to have the knowledge that’s required to be a “CEO” in a “corporation” as large as a diocese.
SELECTING OUR BISHOPS
Here’s a major issue that NLRCG has already recommended to the bishops, “… improvements in the process by which bishops are selected. While recognizing the primacy of the Holy See, it suggested the process for choosing bishops be supplemented with help of human resource professionals…” The election of bishops is one of the goals that most of the lay groups have been advocating for years. Here’s an interesting paradox: despite the fact that the hierarchy usually invokes tradition and teachings of the fathers of the church as their rationale for their doctrinal positions, yet when it comes to the selection of bishops, the fact that bishops were chosen in the early centuries of the church by the laity, doesn’t register with them.
In his book, Electing Our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose It’s Leaders, Joseph F. O’Callaghan, points out that “The terrible moral failure of the American Bishops in handling the crisis of priestly sexual abuse has focused intense attention on the office of the bishop.”  He believes that bishops are often perceived as branch managers or subordinates to the pope in their own dioceses, with administrative responsibilities over subdivisions of multinational corporations with their headquarters in Rome. This goes back to our conversation on collegiality.
I also recommend Robert Mc Clory’s book, As it Was in the Beginning: The Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church. As the title suggests, the author goes back to the beginning of the early church, which obviously not like the present church, and shows what needs to reclaimed and rejuvenated. He makes a good case for laypeople: having a sanctioned place at the table, along with the clergy; provides many historical examples of laity playing significant roles in assisting the institutional church in adapting to the 20ieth and 21st centuries. His answer to the question “is anyone listening?“, often asked about the hierarchies’ negative responses to the “…energy expended by all these Catholic reform groups…”, is very positive. He lists a number of achievements that he sees as hopeful signs, and in his final chapter “The Vision Presses on to Fulfillment”, he provides a number of scenarios for the Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church.
WHERE SELDOM IS HEARD A DISCOURAING WORD…
As an octogenarian and card carrying member of several catholic organizations whose foci are on reform in the church, I obviously don’t have the same energy that I had fifty years ago, and my involvements with these groups ain’t what it used to be: no more driving at night to meetings, no more taking leadership positions, no more demonstrations, no more lectures, but thanks to the modern technology I can still actively participate on-line. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a half a dozen petitions to sign, or “change causes” to support. Thankfully, I am still able to take advantage of connecting with the virtual world out there in cyberspace with my computer. To paraphrase Descartes, “Scripto ergo sum” (I write therefore I am). What I’m suggesting is we don’t have to sit on the sidelines if we still have a glimmer of hope.
1) Wilkins, J. (2012) “Bishops or Branch Managers?” Commonweal, October 12, p.18.
2) O’Callaghan, J.F., (2007). Electing our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders. New York: Sheedp. 3.
The Second Vatican Council has Already Made Us FreeArticle by Robert Blair Kaiser, National Catholic Reporter, August 7, 2012.
Opening the Church to the World Op-ed, New York Times, by John W. O’Malley, S.,J., October 10, 2012,
The Promise of Vatican II to the People of God National Catholic Reporter, Editorial, October 11, 2012
The Bigest Meeting in History Feature Article on Vatican II, The Tablet, October 6, 2012, by Hilmar Pabel.
Map for the Journey of Faith From the Editor’s Desk, The Tablet, October 6, 2012.
Catholicism at the Cross RoadsReview of Paul Lakeland’s book, by Frank Dechant, Future Church.
LINKS AND RESOURCES
- American Catholic Council
- Australian Website, Catholica
- Association of the Rights of Catholics in the Church
- Bishop Accountability
- Call to Action
- Commonweal Magazine
- Future Church
- The National Catholic Reporter
- The 21st Century American Catholic
- The Progressive Catholic Voice
- Voice of the Faithful
My last blog, My Calling to the Clerical Culture, described and analyzed my experiences as a seminarian, when I was being indoctrinated into the clerical culture and as a priest when I became part of that culture. The anecdotes I related were not intended to represent all clerics, but to provide readers with one man’s perspective, with the hope that they would be able to see how it was possible for a sincere, but naïve and psychosexually immature individual to actually become part of the clerical culture.
In this blog, I intend to concentrate on the abuse of the virtue of obedience, which I believe is the crucial characteristic, the underlying problem, of the clerical culture that gives the hierarchy power over the “lowerarchy”. As Lord Acton (1834–1902), the historian and moralist reminded Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This same reference also suggests that monarchial governments are more prone to corruption. But more about that later!
The Perils of Obedience to Authorities
One of the first scholars I thought of when I decided to write this commentary on obedience was Stanley Milgram, PhD, a social psychologist whose website is linked here. Although his untimely death in 1984 ended a life of scientific inventiveness, his research and writing continues to influence contemporary culture and thought. When I was taking classes in research and statistics at Columbia University we studied his ground breaking work on obedience to authority as a model of an empirical study. At that time my focus was not on obedience to authority, but on Milgram’s methodology as a researcher. After recently re-reading his experiments, it became abundantly clear how his findings could apply to the chain of command in the Catholic Church, and it confirms the need for change in its archaic application of obedience to authority.
I’m just going to give a brief synopsis of his research on obedience, but if your interested, here is a paper he wrote that explains his methodology and findings: Perils of Obedience
As described on his website, between 1961 and 1962 he set up an experiment at Yale University to determine how conditioned humans were to obey persons in authority. He found, surprisingly, that 65% of his subjects, ordinary residents of New Haven, were willing to give what they thought were harmful electric shocks-up to 450 volts—to protesting “victims”, simply because a scientific authority instructed them to, and in spite of the fact that the “victim” did not do anything to deserve such punishment. The ‘victim” was, in reality, a good actor who did not actually receive shocks. This fact was revealed to the subjects at the end of the experiment. But, during the experiment itself, the experience was as powerfully real and gripping one for most participants. His experiment illustrated the power that authority has over most humans. In Milgram’s Perils of Obedience above, he concluded that the road to disobedience “… is a difficult path, which only a minority of subjects is able to pursue to its conclusion…” For those of us who are Catholic Christians, the bottom line is, since many of us are so strongly conditioned from early childhood to obey the injunctions that the Church authorizes as the unchangeable word of God, it’s important for us to question these orders and challenge unreasonable mandates of obedience to authorities.
Is Obedience a Virtue or Vice?
I believe the answer to the question above is—it depends. However,if you follow the official position of the Catholic Church verbatim, the correct answer would be that obedience is—always a virtue! This is clear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)Check Chapter Three, Man’s Response to God , and scroll down to Article 1, I Believe, # 144 I. The Obedience of Faith and you will find this statement:
To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to “hear or listen to”) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment.
If we agree with the CCC, we always must obey the pope and bishops, “because the Bible tells us so”, as does the Church’s magisterial authority on faith and morals, that dates back to the apostles and the writings of the early Church Fathers. According to these sources, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church speaks for God, and to defy or disobey Church authorities, is to defy and disobey God herself.
Marie Louise Uhr in an article published in 1998 entitled Obedience, a Questionable Virtue , arrived at a different conclusion than the CCC. I agree with her position that although in some cases obedience may be evil, (e.g. soldiers obeying orders to kill innocent civilians) at the very least, obedience is—a questionable virtue. She provides the historical background of how the Christology of obedience became so central in the church’s hierarchical structure. She puts the questionable virtue of obedience in the context of the Old and New Testament, as well as its theological and psychological background..
The whole article is available on the link above, and is well worth reading. Here are some highlights of her thinking, which hopefully will encourage you to read her article. In the introduction she first makes a strong case for the devastating results that the present Christology of obedience has produced.
I wish to suggest that Christian theology which preaches an obedient Christ and upholds obedience to authority as a major virtue has led to authoritarianism, hierarchical church structures, which have encouraged church members to uphold obedience, rather than conscientious discernment, as the primary response to orders from both church and civil authorities. And this has had disastrous consequences for large segments of society. Hence I want to consider the theology, and in particular the Christology of obedience; some of the social and theological problems that I think come from this Christology; scriptural foundations for dissent and disobedience , and the possibility of a more Spirited, democratic church…
Consequences of Considering Obedience as a Virtue
To mention just one of Ms. Uhr’s “disastrous consequences” of considering obedience as virtue, she describes the fact that for hundreds of years women have lived under “divine authority” to obey their husbands in all things. It was even part of the wedding service thanks to Saint Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, and Pope Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical Casti Connubii, until rather recently when it became politically incorrect, thanks mainly to the women in the feminist movement.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:21
Had Ms. Uhr lived into the beginning of the 21st century, I’m sure she would have addressed what many think is the most scandalous consequence of obedience in the history of the Church—the sexual abuse of children by the pedophile predator priests and the bishops who covered-up for them, instead of protecting the victims. Without trying to go through hundreds of cases over the last twenty years, I believe the recent trial of Monsignor William Lynn, of the Archdiocese of the Philadelphia, his conviction of a felony, and his sentence of three to six years in prison, for the key role he had in covering-up for the clergy who abused children, should send a message to the hierarchy that they need to get their act together. They are no longer able to hide behind their prestigious positions in the church, their expensive lawyers, and public relations people.
A recent article in the Irish Times, entitled The Church in the Dock, highlighted the Lynn trial and sentencing, pointing out the impact Lynn’s conviction will have internationally. The author specifically mentions cases in Ireland and London as well as Lynn case. He ends the article by saying in a typical Irish poetic and polite writing style, “All three cases raise uncomfortable issues for the church in addressing how, quite properly, its priest/employees, will be held to account legally. These and other cases all involve uphill battles in which the church used all legal means at its disposal…to fend off accountability. That is its right, but, particularly to victims, appears a strange form of contrition.” He’s got that right! It’s tantamount to the church giving itself absolution by saying an act of contrition, and for its penance saying three Hail Maries and three Our Fathers. The time for the church to be apologetic is over; it’s time for them to be accountable!
Back to Philadelphia! Rather than my going over the details of the months-long landmark clergy-abuse trial of Monsignor, Lynn, and his sentencing, if you’re interested in a thorough and professional coverage of the trial, I’d suggest reading the archives from the website of Catholics4Change, based in Philadelphia. The website’s primary concerns are:
- The Priest Pedophile Scandal
- Church Accountability to Laity
- Empty Pews
- Lack of Moral Leadership
All of these concerns are in one way or another, connected with the abuse of obedience by authority.
Our Right to Loyal Dissent
Ms. Uhr’s articlealso deals with dissent. She reminds us that “Jesus is the great dissenting prophet”, and that there is a need for “dissent or disobedience from the ‘obedient laity’ to become a Spirit-filled People of God, if we are going to have a healthy church.”
Dissent has a long history in the Catholic Church. Robert Mc Clory’s book Faithful Dissenters provides stories of men and women, who loved and changed the church by taking contrary opinions on one or more of the Church’s teachings, and are models of loyal dissent. Most of the subjects of the eighteen stories in his book are well known names including: Galileo, St. John Henry Newman, soon to be declared a saint, the mystic Hildegard of Bingen, St. Catherine of Siena, theologians Yves Congar and John Courtney Murray, S.J. to mention a few. Mc Clory identifies how all of their stories have several things in common: each story was inspirational and can encourage us to stay the course, and most of all to be fearless in the face of extreme controversy. All the dissenters suffered emotional abuse for their dissent, for example John Courtney Murray was publically disgraced when he was silenced by Pope Pius XII because of his writings; they all remained in the church through thick and thin; they did not reject the concept of church authority, but just how authority was applied to particular teachings; the issues they questioned eventually were resolved, and more often than not, had ramifications that benefited the whole church and; the resolutions of their issues established principles that could be applied to other doctrinal disputes. These dissenters have been called by their admirers “the original cafeteria Catholics”, who dared to contradict and criticize the Church.
I believe “now is the time for all good people of God” to ratchet up its level of dissent, and to follow these great role models. As the Irish Times article suggested above, I believe that Monsignor Lynn’s conviction and sentencing as a felon, should sound an alarm to the clerical culture, from the hierarchy on down, to the point where they will be more open to make positive changes in their style of governance. And perhaps, just perhaps Lynn’s jail sentence will put the fear of the Lord or the fear of the civil justice system in them, if for no other reason to avoid Jesus’ uncharacteristic harsh admonition “But whoever shall offend one of these little ones who believes in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6. And perhaps, just perhaps, the USCCBs will have the integrity, the fortitude to follow the example of Penn State. The dyke built to protect abusers at Penn State finally broke and though overdo, the president, the vice president, the athletic director, and the icon of college football Coach Joe Paterno were fired. (See my blog Say it Ain’t So Joe—Penn State and the Catholic Church, 12/3/11). Not only was Paterno fired, but they removed the halo that encircling his head in a group painting, that canonized him as Saint Joe. They also impounded the famous eight foot bronze statue of him that stood outside of Penn State’s Beaver Stadium. There must be a message somewhere in there for the bishops. For a more in depth opinion of this issue, read Bishop Spong’s essay, The Penn State Tragedy Highlights the Catholic Church’s Failure.
On further reflection, I don’t think that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as it is currently structured will make significant changes without “the power of the people of God” mounting a persuasive crusade to claim their rights and needs. Here is an interesting article that appeared recently on the website, Questions from EWE, entitled On Sheep and Shepherds.,that adds more light on our shepherds and our right to dissent. The authors of the website preface the article with a statement that appears on everyone of its blogs: “Test everything: retain what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). They then remind us of our canonical right to dissent: “Please remember that Canon Law says it is not only a right but a duty to question the church. Also, Canon Law provides an over-riding power to the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful). By this, Canon Law says that if the collective of the faithful rejects a law, it is not valid.” (How about contraception! The last I heard, close to 90% of the faithful did not agree with Pope Paul VI’s so called contraception encyclical, Humanae Vitae.)
The article uses its interpretation of scripture to point out that the faithful want Shepherds not clerical politicians to lead the church, and they use Jeremiah’s prophecy as a warning to shepherds (aka bishops), ‘’Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture declares the Lord!” (23:1) Apparently Jeremiah foresaw what was to happen under the reigns of Benedict XVI and John Paul II as they systematically rescinded parts of the most progressive documents of Vatican II. For example, Gaudium et Spes, The Church in the Modern World, Apostolicam Actuositatem, The Apostolate of the Laity, and Lumen Gentium, The Constitution on the Church.
MISSION OF DISSENT
The good news is there are already dozens of active groups within the church that are already actively exercising their right to dissent and their obligation to be responsible as baptized Christian Catholics. From the American Catholic Council to the Voice of the Faithful virtually from A to V, and in between, there are thousands of fellow travelers already involved in carrying out their mission of dissent. Every day I’m collecting more Links and Resources for my website, so you might want to check there.
For my next commentary, I plan to address the issue of democratizing the church, starting with how we choose our bishops, and how we can help change its monarchial structure. In the meantime, I am writing a letter to the bishop of Phoenix and several bishops I know personally. I’m basing it on the great letter that Anthony T. Massimini wrote on his website The 21st Century American Catholic under the section, CURRENT DISCUSSIONS, dated July 24, 2012.
He starts his letter to the Archbishop of Philadelphia by stating that Msgr. Lynn is not the only one that is sentenced for being an obedient servant but “…the Church’s authority structure has also been convicted, and must be “sentenced”. He goes on in a very straight forward style to remind the bishop of his responsibilities to the “true People of God”; and challenges him to do more than apologize and has a number of good suggestions how the archbishop can do that. I hope you will consider joining in this letter writing campaign.
Finally, I end this commentary with a phrase that was used to close letters in the 19th century, the time of Pius IX, the father of infallibility. It seems appropriate for the topic of obedience to authority.
Sincerely, your humble and obedient servant,