Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bishops: Warriors or Diplomats



I can't help comparing and contrasting our hierarchy with the Scots.
Cardinal O'Brien has broken off direct communication with the First Minister and Government, "because they are not listening". Our hierarchy seem to think access to the halls of of power is still important, though many might suggest "access without influence" is pretty meaningless.
There is a sense in which bishops can be divided into warriors and diplomats, theirs are warriors, ours are diplomats.
Warriors tend to rally the troops, are clear in their sloganising, and risk everything on on the battlefied and can end up slaughtered by the enemy. Diplomats avoid direct confrontation, delight in obfuscation and subtlety and work calmly behind the scenes in an atmosphere of give and take, normally they reach a working, if compromised, relationship with their opponents.

 It was often suggested Catholics before VII lived in a "ghetto", with our own education system, our own teacher training colleges, our own doctors, even our own hospitals, pharmacies, undertakers. Those who worked "outside" like doctors, police, nurses had their own professional organisations or guilds, that gave them solidarity and protected their interests. There were deeply Catholic, and yet serious and respected journals, like the Tablet, profoundly Catholic aid organisations like Cafod. There were Catholic banks and building societies, even Catholic dating or marriage agencies. We had the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council to help those whose marriages were in difficulty, which has now dropped its Catholicism and has become Marriage Care Ltd, until recently we had Catholic adoption agencies and child care social services. We even had our own young offenders institutions.

We live in the world, we are going to be compromised by it, even in the "ghetto". The loss of Catholic identity can be blamed on many things, the financial cost of a separate structure is certainly one factor, perhaps more importantly are the developments following Gaudium et Spes, and the choice of Bishops. A friend suggests Bishops being nominated by the Secretariate of State has marked a movement to diplomats where as previously the Holy Office or CDF had chosen bishops who were also warriors. One can hardly imagine Secretaries of State for Education being afraid of meeting a Catholic bishop today, as Butler was on being given an audience by Archbishop Amigo in the 1940s.

The big problem is that so much that we do depends on government funding; being "open to the world" inevitably means not only stepping into the world ourselves but also accepting the world comes into the Church. It does mean that we cannot discriminate against a teacher who wishes to celebrate their second or gay marriage or sex change operation within their school, just as it means at times having a pro-abortion school nurse. It does mean Cafod working alongside the condom supplying UK Government. It does mean that despite having Archbishop Nichols as Patron of Marriage Care Ltd it counsels gay partners and compromises its Catholicism, in the same way the Cabrini Society, complying with law is "open" to gay adoption. This is all about diplomacy. Formerly radical Catholic charities have become milder but hugely important national and international organisations, dealing in millions, running them, or even directing them. is beyond the capabilities of well-meaning amateurs, like our bishops. They simply haven't the time or expertise.

Warriors might, ultimately decide that it is impossible to co-operate with evil in any way, this seems where the US bishops are going, they are likely to raise the banner of the cross and draw the claymoor. It could mean that they break the law, eventually becoming outlaws! It will mean that governments withdraw funding in an attempt to curb rebellion, impose tighter laws to control them, try to sequester funds, do their best to crush disobedience. Eventually it might mean that the Scottish warrior-bishops end up by separating themselves from the State. It could mean breaking the law. It could mean closing or having their schools closed or nationalised. Withdrawing from anything that will compromise the purity of the Faith. It could mean bishops going to prison, it could mean Catholics refusing to pay tax, it could mean civil disobedience.

I cannot help wondering if this is the "smaller, humbler, purer Church" of which Pope Benedict speaks.

I think this is not unrelated but I am intrigued by the new Prefect of the CDF, this fusion of Liberation Theology (without the Marxism) and Ratzingarianism. German radical orthodoxy, with deep sense of social justice with an understanding of the Glory of the Truth.

16 comments:

EFpastor emeritus said...

Many years ago the Bishop John Jukes was interviewed (I cannot remember if it was in The Catholic Herald or The Tablet).
He claimed that Catholic Bishops exercise great influence "behind the scenes". Of course he couldn't indicate any areas where anything was achieved by such diplomacy!

Pétrus said...

Theirs our warriors - ours are irrelevant*


*In the sense of interaction in the public square.

Anita Moore said...

I hate to say it, but the hierarchy in England must be in pretty sorry shape if the American bishops look like warriors by comparison. There are in fact very few warrior bishops on my side of the Pond. Many of them run their dioceses as though they were middle-management bureaucrats instead of shepherds of souls. And now we have the spectacle of Cardinal Dolan chumming it up with perhaps the most anti-life, anti-Catholic president in the history of the United States at a major Catholic charity event, just before the election.

No, I fear the warrior bishops in the stamp of Bl.Clemens von Galen are very few and far between here.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Dear old Bishop Jukes used to say that to me when he came to address the TUC, I can't remember how they did it.

But today I think the Government have moved so far away from us we are whispering from different mountain tops, and hopelessly compromised too.

Savonarola said...

As they grow up people begin to realise that in the world as it is they will not get everything their own way. Accepting that this is so, while retaining one's integrity, is what distinguishes the truly mature. In the world of today churches can no longer expect ready acceptance of their views. If they want to be heard they will need to show maturity and Christlike humble authority and seek allies wherever they can be found, knowing (humbly again) that so-called secular society shows many signs of Christian concern from which the churches can learn.
The "ghetto" Church of the 1950s was in many ways beginning to be outward looking and forward thinking. If the aim of Pope Benedict's "New" Evangelisation is to retreat into a smaller purer Church (something that no previous generation would have countenanced) maybe we need some of the old-style Evangelisation.

Amfortas said...

Breaking off contact is just gesture politics. Cardinal Dolan in the US is a formidable defender of the faith who cheerfully speaks truth to power without silly gestures.

romishgraffiti said...

"Smaller but purer Church" is a bit like Martin Luther's comment that we are as "dunghills covered with snow" in that neither actually said it.

The closest thing to that from the Holy Father was when he was talking about Nazi Germany and that if the Church had foregone privileging brick and mortar institutions, the Christian witness might have been better than it was (which was still pretty good if you read Robert Royal's Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century).

Rather, I take the smaller-but-purer meme to be more prediction than prescription. As society (including too many Catholics) makes it clear they have no god but Caesar, expect the Church to shed more institutions rather than throw the pinch of incense at this god.

EFpastor emeritus said...

"Fr Ray Blake said...
Dear old Bishop Jukes used to say that to me when he came to address the TUC, I can't remember how they did it."

They didn't.

Anita Moore said...

Amfortas said...Breaking off contact is just gesture politics. Cardinal Dolan in the US is a formidable defender of the faith who cheerfully speaks truth to power without silly gestures.

The avoidance of scandal is not a silly gesture. But in any case, breaking off contact and declining to extend an undeserved honor to an enemy of the Church are two different things.

Long-Skirts said...

Anita Moore said:

"And now we have the spectacle of Cardinal Dolan chumming it up with perhaps the most anti-life, anti-Catholic president in the history of the United States at a major Catholic charity event, just before the election."

THE LILY

"The martyrs were bound, imprisoned, scourged, racked, burnt, rent, butchered —and they multiplied." St. Augustine

NO BURNING, TEARING,

SCOURGING SKIN.

IT'S PSYCHOLOGICAL,

ALL WITHIN.


NO ROTTING FLESH

OR PUTRID BLOOD

IT'S STERILE, CLEAN

NO RANCID CRUD


FOR BUTCHERED,

TORTURED,BOUND UP SKINS,

REVEALS THE TRUTHS

OF BISHOPS SINS.


THEY WANT IT NICE,

THEY WANT IT HUSHED,

WITH VEINS OF ICE

GOOD SOULS ARE CRUSHED.


THE SILENT COLD,

IS BETTER YET,

FROZEN, SOLID,

CAN'T BEGET.


FOR MARTYRED BLOOD

REVEALS THE CHURCH,

BLIND SOULS SEE TRUTH

AND END THEIR SEARCH.


"WE CAN'T HAVE THAT!"

THE BISHOPS' SAY."

SO LET'S IGNORE...

THEY'LL GO AWAY."


"ENLIGHTENED MEN,

DON'T SCOURGE THE SKIN.

ENLIGHTENED MEN,

KEEP BLOOD, WITHIN."


BUT THEY FORGOT...

THE WOMAN BLEEDS,

AND MONTHLY, MAKES

A BED FOR SEEDS.



WHERE "NICE" AND "HUSHED"

THEY'LL GROW TO MEN

AND SEIZE THE OARS

FROM WRISTS THAT BEND...


ON PETER'S BARK

WHERE BLOOD STILL FLOWS,

FROM WOMAN'S WOMB...

THE LILY GROWS!

gemoftheocean said...

To give in is to sell out. To sell out is to compromise the faith. If you compromise the faith, you lose the faith. If you lose the faith, you lose everything.

romishgraffiti said...

I thought his "This isn't about contraception" approach to the HHS mandate was a silly gesture. It came off more like:

"We Catholics have this weird idea that contraception is bad. We have no reason for this belief. Don’t look at us, man; it’s the old man in Rome. He made up this rule and the rest of us are stuck with it. It’s like the Jews and pork–-a ‘religion’ thing. However, even though poor, poor women (Who cares about men, after all?) are going to, like die, or whatever it is that happens to chicks who don’t get their contraceptive pills, we are selfishly sticking with our arbitrary dislike, and we think we’ve found something in the constitution that forces you to let us."

Rather, he should have said, "Contraception is evil. It desecrates the marital bond, offends against chastity, and is a menace to public morals. It is reprehensible to engage in contraceptive acts or to cooperate in them in any way. The State has no common good interest in facilitating it to say nothing of forcing others to pay for it."

johnf said...

Father

When did we last have an Archbishop of Westminster who was a warrior rather than a diplomat?

I suggested Cardinal Heenan to my wife, but she pointed out that it was on his watch that the Abortion bill went through. He had been advised not to make it a Catholic issue, and later regretted his inaction.

Still, I have always had a soft spot for him, particularly with his defence of what we now must call the EF Mass

CE User said...

RomishGraffiti:

It is a paraphrase, certainly, but there is a much closer quote than the one you cite. From 1969, published in 2009 by Ignatius Press, including these snippets:


"The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning."

Toward the end:
"She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death."

Sounds to me like the paraphrase does have a grain of salt behind it...


romishgraffiti said...

CE User,

Thanks for the quotes. My beef is that the "smaller-but-purer-church" is used by certain quarters to say that B16 is a big meanie that wants to start a massive and unjust witch-hunt for dissidents and expunge them. I don't think any of his quotes support that.

Sadie Vacantist said...

If the "ghetto" Church had continued, Catholics would today constitute a voting block equal if not superior to that of the nation of Scotland. Nobody could win an election without us.