Wednesday, November 25, 2009

If I were Speaker Pelosi's bishop, I'd probably do things differently

Scott Windsor sets himself over a bishop of the RCC:
All I can say is that if I were Speaker Pelosi's bishop, I'd probably do things differently. I'm not her bishop and this is his responsibility, not mine. It is scandalous - I wholeheartedly agree with you on that, but this is NOT a matter of infallibility so to try and bring that up under this topic is diversionary. As I said, I really agree with you on this particular matter and I wish her bishop would take a firm and public stance with her especially in light of her public stance.

Fair enough, you're not her bishop, but it doesn't stop there.
1) Where do you get off criticising a member of the Roman clergy? You're a layman, aren't you? What authority do you have to correct someone who works directly for the Magisterium?
2) You're conceding that your church doesn't do what it should in terms of enforcement of its doctrine. Doesn't that put its actual commitment to that doctrine in serious question? Isn't this "faith" w/o works?


The REAL topic here is the overall authority of the Church, not the authority of individual bishops over individual sheep in their flock.

And the overall church hasn't done anythg to remedy this situation, despite its high profile.
What should an outside observer thus conclude? It's pretty obvious - for all her high-sounding talk about abortion, when it comes to ppl in power, she fears human power and the criticism of men rather than God.


Now, is valid apostolic authority a guarantee that every bishop will do the right thing in every situation? No, it is not.

Is it closer to a guarantee that SOMEONE in the church will eventually do the right thing, given hundreds of chances over the course of decades?
Is it closer to a guarantee that the Pope himself, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, wouldn't go ahead and allow the Eucharist to be served to Pelosi at a Mass he attends?
If it doesn't mean that, what does it mean in real life? You can SAY they have that authority, but if they never use it, you don't really know, do you? It's just as if they didn't have it. And that's been one of the major points in our discussion. You say the Magisterium is infallible and all that, but they won't infallibly tell you what they've infallibly taught. For that matter, they won't UNOFFICIALLY tell you what they've infallibly defined.
You say the Magisterium has authority to bind and to loose, yet when faced with the awesome power (not to mention the nearly unlimited rhetorical and analytical skills) of the weak-minded and big-mouthed Speaker of the House, who is clearly in serious sin even according to lax Roman standards, the Magisterium does...nothing. If it does nothing, it's the exact same as if it can do nothing. It's nothing.

31 comments:

Edward Reiss said...

Rhology,

One minor quibble--Pelosi received not at a mass which the pope attended, but one over which he presided. This puts aside the "popes cannot interfere with a bishops ministry" argument, as it is the mass over which the pope presides, after all, and he is supposed to be the vicar of Christ. Where oh where is all this authority we keep hearing about which is supposed to keep unity?



Also, the equivocation by RC apologists would be easier to tolerate if they weren't acting like their authority settles all issues.

Alex said...

The fact that all of you have fallaciously ascribed some doctrine that every bishop will administer his office flawlessly, which is a teaching that the Church never taught, proves to me that any further discussion here is fruitless. It is impossible to discuss anything with someone who is hell-bent on distorting the facts and doesn't have the slighteous desire to be intellectually honest.

beowulf2k8 said...

Interesting discovery:

Calvinism takes the Obama attitude toward people. Obama thinks we are all too stupid to live our own lives, so Obama must control them. If Obama lets us make our own choices, we’ll make the wrong ones (so he thinks). Calvinists say the same thing about their god: if we are allowed to make our own choices we will mess everything up, so their god must control everything.

Edward Reiss said...

Alex,

"The fact that all of you have fallaciously ascribed some doctrine that every bishop will administer his office flawlessly, which is a teaching that the Church never taught, proves to me that any further discussion here is fruitless."

This has nothing to do with a flawless administration of one's office. This is a rather obvious example of a systemic failure, not a minor oversight.

beowulf2k8 said...

The Protestant churches have systematically failed too. Every Protestant is out driving drunk trying to kill somebody, or in a bar chasing someone else's wife. And their are bad Protish politicians too, and what church does anything about them? Protestantism tells you that you go to heaven by faith alone, so if you're going to heaven anyway why would they discipline you. They say you can go sacrifice a cat to Satan and still be saved. You could probably do it during the Sunday morning service without a rebuke.

beowulf2k8 said...

There's a Calvinist over here advocating MURDERING those who receive the swine-flu shot. Will even Calvinist even have the guts to tell him to 'cimmadon'?

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Rhology and Mr, Reiss,

As a preface, I do not like Speaker Pelosi, her politics, or her apparent hypocrisy in not following the teachings of the Church. She reminds me of "Granny Goodness" from the Superman comics. However, your post is not an attack on them but on the Church itself. It is in that mode, I am offering this response.

1) You asked what authority laymen have in the Church to criticize a member of the Maghisterium? When a bishop is acting pastorally and not setting doctrine, he is not acting as a member of the Magisterium. Msgr. Agius's "Tradition and the Church" might assist you better in understanding what the Magisterium is, its functions and more to the point of your article-its limits.

BTW, according to what the Magisterium has taught me, laymen have the right to criticize a bishop's poor pastoral decisions. This right of laymen stems from one of the means that God has given His Church to preserve it from error called "sensus fidelium." But since you seem to more knowledgeable about the "rules" of the Catholic Church than Mr. Windsor or this humble personage, why don't you share with us where you think that Catholic Church teaches otherwise?

2) As for enforcement of its doctrines, you conflate public correction of erroneous teachings publically made with the process of enforcing canon law. For the record, Speaker Pelosi's public statements that have given a erroneous view of Catholic doctrine have been rebuked and corrected by the Bishops-numerous times and by numerous Bishops. If you do not believe me, google it and you will see. Perhaps because you are not Catholic, you are not aware of this or did not take the time to actually listen to what they said or read what they wrote. It is hoped that you would have taken the time to research this fact before issuing your criticism. You need to listen to EWTN or CNS as opposed to CNN or MSNBC.

Simply put~public correction is within the purview of the Magisterium and that occurred. However, airing of discplinary matters is not a public matter and your criticisms about the lack of enforcement is unfair.

And as far as disciplinary matters go, they are not aired publically in the Catholic Church until at the end of the process and ordinarily, a Bishop would not discuss such matters publically or disclose the status of such matters while they are pending. You sometimes see an individual Catholic whine about such things while they are ongoing as Joe Biden or as one of the Kennedy progeny have done recently, but as a rule, the first steps in matters of discipline are private and are kept confidential according to the biblical injunction. Do you have familiarity with how canon law is applied in the Catholic Church? Do you have knowledge as to how the rules of your Church are applied?

Paul Hoffer said...

Comment continued:

While you are at it, can you tell us with any certainty that Speaker Pelosi has not been disciplined? If so, what is your source for such? If you do not have such knowledge why are you commenting on this at all? If she has been disciplined and is disregarding it, what would you like us do? Torture her? Burn her at the stake? Maybe you long for the "good" old days when Catholics and Protestants supposedly did such things on a regular basis to each other.

If you do not like how the Catholic Church handles such matters, perhaps you can share with us how your particular denomination would handle a similar situation and provide us all with a citation or link so we can see how your flavor of Protestantism has in fact handled such matters so much better than us so we can benefit from the example. And in your example that you are going to provide us, after your denomination imposed discipline, did the person stop professing their error?

Frankly, the reasons for privacy in matters of discipline is founded in concepts of due process. Perhaps you were not aware that the Catholic Church does have a canon law and a process it follows in matters of discipline. Does not your denomination offer its members similar rights? Or do you just believe that Ms. Pelosi does not have the right to receive such because she is a public figure? For all we know, she is in the process of being disciplined.

The reason for privacy is obvious. You yourself recognize the blatant weak-mindedness of Ms. Pelosi in your posting. Given the inherent stupidity of some of her statements and her actions as Speaker of the House, it seems to me that her failure to adhere to Catholic doctrine is the result of a severe mental or emotional defect (a fact you recognize in your post as well-good for you!) rather than willful obstinance. If so, canon law is rather limited to what it can do (which is why I pray that God removes the scales from her eyes and the fog from her brain!) Does your Church punish the mentally ill or handicapped for spouting nonsense?

Personally, I find it funny that you apparently agree with Dr. Sippo's view that heresy is a mental disorder. Maybe you folks owe him an apology for criticizing his remarks about Fr. Luther in the past.

I realize that my comments are a bit off-the-cuff, but I am a bit pre-occupied helping my family get ready for Thanksgiving.

I hope you and yours as well as everyone who reads and writes on this blog will have a blessed Thanksgiving! I hope everyone will take a moment tomorrow to thank and praise Our God for all good things around us and the blessings He generously bestows on each of us.

God bless!

EA said...

"The fact that all of you have fallaciously ascribed some doctrine that every bishop will administer his office flawlessly, which is a teaching that the Church never taught, proves to me that any further discussion here is fruitless."

The fact that all of you have fallaciously ascribed some doctrine that every protestant will understand every verse of Scripture flawlessly or even identically with every other protestant, which is a teaching that no Reformer ever taught, proves to me that any further discussion here is fruitless.

EA said...

"The Protestant churches have systematically failed too."

A non-sequitar considering the RCC claims a SUPERIOR rule of faith; equivalence doesn't cut it. Given the above, how is the RCC better?


"Every Protestant is out driving drunk trying to kill somebody, or in a bar chasing someone else's wife. And their are bad Protish politicians too, and what church does anything about them?"

How did you know that I just got back from a drunken roll in the hay with the vicar's wife during which we drove a bus load of nuns off a cliff? I thought it was okay because Teddy Kennedy did it too and the RCC never said anything about it...

"Protestantism tells you that you go to heaven by faith alone, so if you're going to heaven anyway why would they discipline you. They say you can go sacrifice a cat to Satan and still be saved. You could probably do it during the Sunday morning service without a rebuke."

There it is; "Protestantism" summed up in three sentences! Who needs the Bible? Who needs Calvin's Institutes or Augustine or the ECF or Luther's Works when we have "beowulf2k8" to sum it up for us?

Thanks guy! What a timesaver!

beowulf2k8 said...

Happy to help.

EBW said...

It is all very funny (in a sad sort of way). Pelosi is afforded many liberties in her moral accountability to Civil and Spiritual citizens. That is, her authorities are doing nothing.
The Protestant is denied communion for heresy and schism, but Pelosi gets a free ride.
Remember that silence is not always accessory to crimes. Crimes against the faith cause death to the soul. So in this way, greater action and punishment is allotted to heretics before an accessory to murder.
With Rome, it's damned if you do and damned if you don't ! Either way, we are damned. (NO, this is not a testimony against myself)

CathApol said...

Alan,
Your apologetics is a joke. You rip a statement from the context it was written and then portray it as if I were putting myself above a Catholic bishop, when I really did quite the opposite! I said IF I were Pelosi's bishop I probably do things differently - then I acknowledged that I am not her bishop. I also expressed a wish that HE would do something more public in light of Pelosi's public actions - and what I might WISH for him cannot be construed as putting myself above him.

Next you express an ignorance of the rights and even responsibilities of Catholic laity to offer concerns and even correction to their superiors:
The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
[Code of Canon Law, Canon 212, §2]

According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful [...]
[Code of Canon Law, Canon 212, §3]

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:
as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, "Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects."
[Summa Theologica]

In your second question you assert that "the Church" does not do what you say it "should do" in regard to doctrine and ask if that doesn't put the actual commitment to the doctrine in serious question. I answer you that just because a single bishop or even many bishops may not do what they should do does not make the Church itself in error. In St. Athanasius' day nearly all the bishops defected to Arianism - and yet when he stood virtually alone, the Church itself was not in error, though many of her bishops were.

You then ask, "Isn't this faith w/o works?" If there is something lacking here in not doing this one act, this does not make the faith wholly void of works. Your argument, if you're trying to make one, fails on that point.

So, you don't understand Catholicism, and you attack it (you don't know that it is permissible to correct others, even ones superiors if it is done in the desire to better them). You challenge how Speaker Pelosi's bishop handles her - yet you do not know how he's handling her, you just speculate that he's doing nothing. You base your statements on arguments from silence. Basically a lot of whining about something you evidently know little about.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Paul Hoffer said...

EBW, about Speaker Pelosi getting a "free ride," considering that she could very well be committing the sin of blasphemy by receiving communion unworthily, she is bringing condemnation upon herself as St. Paul wrote. Given the sincerity and love of the Gospel that we all share here, despite our differences, I think it far more likely that we will be seeing each other in heaven than being joined there by Ms. Pelosi. Of course that is my personal opinion.

God bless!

CathApol said...

My response is also here:

http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2009/11/authority-of-church.html?showComment=1259279649004#c3972394421406003431

Since that is where this began, that is where I will continue.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Rhology (I will not presume that you have given me permission to use your given name), I have tried to do some follow-up in answer to some of the points you have raised, particularly No. 2. I stand by my answer to point No. 1 and not reiterate it here. However, to expand upon my former remarks about the disciplinary process, I would direct to the statements made by Edward Peters, a genuine canon lawyer found here: http://www.canonlaw.info/2008/11/canonical-options-for-dealing-with.html . I would merely emphasisize that Canon 915 requires that the person obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin before they should not be admitted to holy communion. You yourself acknowledge that her conduct may not rise to that level because she may not have the requisite mental capability to understand that she is engaging in gravely sinful behavior.

Moreover, as far as discipline goes, the fact that she has advocated positions plainly contrary to church doctrine does not subject her to the penalty of excommunication as I read the law (again I am not a canonical lawyer). It appears that one would have to tie her actions to a particular abortion procedure to warrant the imposition of that sort of penalty. Canon lawyers may differ if the FOCA or this health bill passes with abortion funding language in it.

I hope this answer some of your questions. I applaud your efforts to further understand canon law and I hope that you obtain a measure of assurance from this.

God bless!

Andrew said...

I tried to make a point similar to this one on a recent post. Let me summarize what I think you are saying (I think Alex missed the point). An infallible authority which is excercised fallibly is a functionally fallible authority. Does that about sum it up?

EBW said...

Paul,
Thanks for sharing your opinion. It's evident that you desire all parties involved to receive a sort of "benefit of belief".
Pelosi does seem to be getting a "free ride" from her authorities, because this could be a judgement to "tolerate her evil".
Now if she does blaspheme and is in mortal sin, her condemnation is deserved. But this remains a lesser evil compared to the Protestant confession which says the Popish sacrifice of the mass is most abominably injurious to Christ's sacrifice on the cross. This difference places you closer to Pelosi in heaven than adherents to that confession. Seriously, which is the greater evil ?

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Andrew and EBW,

Andrew, you wrote, "An infallible authority which is excercised fallibly is a functionally fallible authority. Does that about sum it up?"

My response: Dear me, if you got that out of what I wrote, then do allow me to speak clearly. The erroneous perception of Protestants as to the role of the Magisterium does not negate the validity of the Catholic doctrine with respect to same. The Magisterium teaches doctrine; it does not apply discipline. Temporal authority is not the same thing as Magisterial authority nor should the two be confused with each other. The exercise of temporal authority is fallible. The function of the Magisterium is protected from error by the Holy Spirit.

EBW, I would respectfully disagree with your first point. Inasmuch as the Protestant Churches retain their catholic character and doctrines, the documents of Vatican II clearly state that they do serve as vehicles of grace even without the benefits of the Mass. While I hope that I am an example of the faithful servant who doubled the five talents for His Master and was amply rewarded, the fellow who doubled the two talents still fared well and was similarly rewarded by His Master. It was the short-sighted, weaked-will servant who buried what little talent he was given that brought condemnation on himself. The greater evil is clearly the person who is given grace and fails to make it grow-that seems to me to be a pretty good definition of someone who brings condemnation on themselves for unworthily receiving something that is tuaght to give great graces to the recipient.

As far as your comment, "Popish sacrifice of the mass is most abominably injurious to Christ's sacrifice on the cross", I am reading an excellent book on that bone of contention written Francis Clark called "The Eucharist and the Reformation." His book can refute your contention far better than this unworthy soul could. But, given the panorama of Protestant views as to why they think that the Mass is abominably injurious to the sacrifice on the cross, you would need to tell me a little more specificity about your perspective before I would attempt to address it-and I intend to if you honor me to do so. If you feel that this comment box is not the place for discussing that, please shoot me an e-mail and I will try to respond in the manner in which your comment deserves.

God bless!

L P said...

The inconsistency of the RCC in not disciplining public officials whose policies and and positions are well known to be contra their church's teaching is indeed a point of discussion.

Since these people are public figures, their discipline should be public as well, for inherent in their position is a belief system, which obviously counters or undermines RCC policies.

In other words, the RCC's pontificating on morals is reduced, shall we say, to - mere grand standing.

LPC

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi LPC, far be it for me to correct another trumpet enthusiast but I must respectfully disagree with some of the things that you wrote. The statements of Catholic politicians that are contrary to Catholic teaching are publically rebuked and corrected by the Church. Unfortunately, through the filter of the mainstream media, such occasions are not often reported, although they certainly are reported in Catholic news media sources.

That being said, the discipline of those individuals, indeed of any Catholic member, is a matter between member and bishop or priest. The recent disclosure by Mr. Kennedy that Bishop Tobin asked him not to receive communion because of his views on abortion demonstrates that public Catholic politicians are indeed being disciplined. Does your denomination publicize all of its disciplinary proceedings?

However, as I stated before, advocacy of abortion under canon law is not the same as procuring an abortion and does not warrant under present law the penalty of excommunication.

God bless!

Carrie said...

I answer you that just because a single bishop or even many bishops may not do what they should do does not make the Church itself in error. In St. Athanasius' day nearly all the bishops defected to Arianism - and yet when he stood virtually alone, the Church itself was not in error, though many of her bishops were.

I'm curious how your reasoning works here when determining who really is "the Church". At this time when Athanasius stood virtually alone, how was one to know (at that time) who actually represented "the Church"?

bkaycee said...

The spinning and parsing of Canon Law (I.E. traditions of men) sounds more like Johny Cochran in the O.J. trial than anything remotely God inspired.

"If the sin don't fit, you must ecquit"

Very reminicsent of the pharisees, I.E. "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!"

Carrie said...

The recent disclosure by Mr. Kennedy that Bishop Tobin asked him not to receive communion because of his views on abortion demonstrates that public Catholic politicians are indeed being disciplined.

Paul, have you seen of the interviews with Tobin? He seemed to take a very weak position of "asking" Kennedy not to receive communion. That didn't seem very disciplinary to me.

The Magisterium teaches doctrine; it does not apply discipline.

Teaches infallibly, or just defines infallibly?

Edward Reiss said...

Paul Hoffer,

"That being said, the discipline of those individuals, indeed of any Catholic member, is a matter between member and bishop or priest. The recent disclosure by Mr. Kennedy that Bishop Tobin asked him not to receive communion because of his views on abortion demonstrates that public Catholic politicians are indeed being disciplined. Does your denomination publicize all of its disciplinary proceedings?"

The discussion of discipline may be a private matter, but the administration of Holy Communion is a public matter. I am also afraid that the good bishop was a little weak in his pronouncement: he did not forbid Congressman Kennedy from receiving Communion, but requested he refrain from receiving, as Carrie pointed out.

"However, as I stated before, advocacy of abortion under canon law is not the same as procuring an abortion and does not warrant under present law the penalty of excommunication."

She does not just advocate abortion, she wants us all to pay for it, which is material, correct? In other words, her desire to have publicly funded abortion is the same as saying she wants abortion, not that abortion may be the side effect of a greater good. I found the following, which if it does not directly address the issue at least shows where I am coming from:

"A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

From the current pope while he was a cardinal, BTW.

http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/bishops/04-07ratzingerommunion.htm

So, a person who votes for someone because of his support of abortion is guilty of formal cooperation in abortion. Is it too difficult to see that someone who votes for publicly funded abortion and blocks any restrictions on abortion is also formally guilty?

You asked a good question regarding what we (LC-MS) would do about this. every pastor I have asked said he would refuse the person Holy Communion. Now, it is possible that a particular pastor has not or will not do this. But I am prepared to say that is a failure of church discipline at the very least, and a grave sin on the part of the pastor to boot.

ISTM that RCs are reluctant to say as much (excepting Steve) because most of their arguments against prots are based on RC claims of authority. Hence, anything which makes the authority system in RCism look bad must be because of a misunderstanding, for example.

"EBW, about Speaker Pelosi getting a "free ride," considering that she could very well be committing the sin of blasphemy by receiving communion unworthily, she is bringing condemnation upon herself as St. Paul wrote."

If she has excommunicated herself, why can she receive at a papal mass? FWIW, I do not doubt the RCCs formal commitment to life, but the idea that abortion is an intrinsic evil and yet a politician who supports the "right to choose" by her very acts as a legislator can publicly receive communion because she has already privately excommunicated herself seems a little weak. The question remains, why can she and others receive Communion at a mass? If she is already excommunicated by her actions, isn't it wrong to distribute the body and blood of Jesus Christ to her? As a matter of practice, by the act of giving her communion the Church in effect says she is in good standing, even if there are documents which would say otherwise. I.e. I can imagine the outcry if I, a Lutheran who is a former RC, received communion (which I wouldn't do for various reasons). Yet Pelosi gets to receive, and also gets a papal audience.

Ken said...

What is so interesting and ironic about this whole Nancy Pelosi (the Kennedys and John Kerry had the same problem) kind of thing is that the very Scriptures (Matthew 16:16-18; 18:15-18) that Roman Catholics claim teaches that their church is the original church that Jesus founded and has infallible authority to solve problems and interpret difficulties and be a “living voice” and, as Tim Staples said, “We have a man who can walk into the room and say, “thus says the Lord”. (on the Bible Answer Man radio program with Dr. White); cannot solve this problem.

They claim Matthew 16:16-18; about Peter and the keys of the kingdom and binding and loosing, but fail to carry out what Matthew18:15-18 explicitly tells them to do: church discipline and eventually excommunication. These folks deliberately stand against moral doctrines on issues of abortion and homosexuality; yet their authoritative church does not follow through and solve the problem. These politicians have been standing against moral doctrines in the Bible for decades, how long does it take to follow through the steps of Matthew 18:15-18??

L P said...

Ken,

Good point, it is the office of the Keys, which RCC claim to genuinely have with all others - i.e. Prots only have bogus authority, fake power to bind and loose.

LPC

Rhology said...

I'd encourage anyone interested in this discussion to see how it's progressed at Windsor's blog. By now the man can hardly scurry fast enough to make excuses. It's sad to watch, really.

CathApol said...

Alan,
Your argumentation is pathetic. I AGREE with you and you still poke at me PERSONALLY. I believe, as do you, that Speaker Pelosi's position is WRONG. Virtually every other public Catholic out there opposes her as well. I don't know that Abp. Niederhauer has NOT excommunicated her - but if he has not and she has not reconciled - then your beef is with the archbishop, not me.

As I said from the onset of this discussion, if *I* were her bishop, I would likely be doing things differently.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Rhology said...

You apparently take most EVERYthing personally. I guess taking up combox space to whine is your prerogative if you want, though.

CathApol said...

LOL, and when you make comments about how "sad" it is - you're not talking about ME?