Monday, November 22, 2010

What Is The USCCB To You And To Me?

Not a whole lot if anybody really bothered to look at it. In an earlier post, I had referenced Bishop Vasa's comments on this topic as mirroring Bishop Martino's opinion that was expressed back during the presidential campaign.

What he says is absolutely critical for any American Catholic, especially the bishops here. I've spent a while looking for transcripts but never found any. Luckily, Boniface over at Unam Sanctam pulled the commentary together and has provided what seems to be a good synopsis. Emphasis, when noted, is his own with varying degrees of extent provided by me.

[S]tatements from bishops’ conferences necessarily tend to be "flattened" and "vague," allowing certain teachings to "fall by the wayside through what could be called, charitably, a kind of benign pastoral neglect." While some call this compassion, “in truth, it often entails a complicity or a compromise with evil. The harder and less popular teachings are left largely unspoken, thereby implicitly giving tacit approval to erroneous or misleading theological opinions... I fear that there has been such a steady diet of such flattened documents that anything issued by individual bishops that contains some element of strength is readily and roundly condemned or simply dismissed as being out of touch with the conference or in conflict with what other bishops might do. USCCB pastoral documents are “are open to a broad range of interpretation and misinterpretation. ... A charge could be brought that such documents are intentionally vague and misleading. While I have had an occasional suspicion of this myself, it would be a serious defect of charity on my part to speculate about whether this is actually the case, I would say that the vagueness, whether intentional or not, has occasionally been a cause of concern and even consternation.

While [the USCCB] is both practical and desirable” for communication and joint efforts such as liturgical translations and disaster relief, there is “room for concern about the tendency of the conference to take on a life of its own and to begin to replace or displace the proper role of individual bishops, even in their own dioceses. It is easy to forget that the conference is the vehicle to assist bishops in cooperating with each other and not a separate regulatory commission. There may also be an unfortunate tendency on the part of bishops to abdicate to the conference a portion of their episcopal role and duty. Statements from individual bishops "are often stronger, bolder, more decisive, and thus more likely to be criticized as harsh and insensitive. Gentle appeals have their place but when constant appeal produces absolutely no movement toward self-correction, reform or conversion, then reproving and correcting, become necessary. At some point, there needs to be a bold resistance to the powers of the world in defense of the flock the fear of offending one contemptuously dissident member of the flock often redounds to a failure to defend the flock. It can redound to a failure to teach the truth.”

All sorts of goodies in there, so I hope you read the whole thing. Recent posts are all building together for a big rant I'm going to be giving soon, especially with this recent condom stuff. Stay tuned. I'll get there eventually.

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