Bully Bishops

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 27, 2020   

Twisting arms and consciences

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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Bishops are feeling the pressure to conform as diocese after diocese shuts off sacraments to Catholics owing to the Wuhan virus.

Tyler, Texas Bp. Joseph Strickland on Thursday addressed the need for each bishop to run his own diocese.

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Bp. Joseph Strickland

"I think the principle of subsidiarity, it's my new word for all of this, because we've lost it," Strickland said on World Over. "Really, with the Church we have these huge organizations, this megachurch that is controlling everything. That's not what Christ gave us. He gave us successors of the Apostles."

As one of the last bishops to close his churches to Mass-goers, Strickland noted health concerns differ from place to place and that he can only speak for his own diocese. 

"I have no authority. [As] soon as you leave the borders of the 33 counties I have no authority. Thank God! Thank you, Lord," he exclaimed. "I don't want any more than I've got. But I'm responsible for the people in these counties."

Strickland has shown that his responsibility is not only for the physical health of his flock but also for their spiritual well-being. He and a handful of other bishops have been standing up for this principle of subsidiarity on various occasions by pushing back against the ecclesiastical tide that's steadily eroding Catholic moral values in such areas as contraception and the push to normalize homosexuality.

The confusion must stop.

Earlier this month, Strickland broke ranks with U.S. bishops by calling for an investigation into Catholic Relief Services (CRS), which promotes the use of condoms. He did so after Lepanto Institute spotlighted a number of documents by CRS that encourages the use of condoms as a means of combatting sexually transmitted diseases.

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Highlighting this scandal involving the international charity founded by the U.S. bishops' conference (USCCB) Strickland said, "This report by the Lepanto Institute must be proven to be false. If what Lepanto says is accurate then we should call for a thorough investigation of CRS."

He added, "The confusion must stop. Promoting contraception is immoral and we are reaping sin's devastation."

My obligation before God is to lead the faithful ... and to teach the Faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues.

Two weeks later, the USCCB came out in defense of CRS issuing a statement that assured future donors the bishops' charitable efforts are morally sound.

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Bp. Thomas Tobin

"CRS stands in firm defense of life," read the statement. "Criticisms to the contrary should not detract from the powerful impact your donations have on the lives of otherwise forgotten, suffering populations."

It added, "CRS works alongside other relief agencies that may not share our teaching. In these instances, CRS keeps its work distinct."

Rhode Island: Calling Out Pride Events

This obligation of each bishop to protect his own flock from moral degradation sweeping across the Church was also evidenced by Rhode Island Bp. Thomas Tobin when he took heat from gay activists for warning his flock of upcoming gay pride events in June 2019.

Responding to the blowback, Bp. Tobin affirmed:

As a Catholic bishop, however, my obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the Faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues. That is what I have always tried to do — on a variety of issues — and I will continue doing so as contemporary issues arise.

This is occurring while other bishops with greater authority in the USCCB, like Newark's Cdl. Joseph Tobin and Chicago's Cdl. Blase Cupich, go out of their way to push the gay agenda. These prelates take center-stage whenever the bishops gather. 

Washington state: Calling Out Bishops

This tendency of U.S. bishops in general towards moral indifference prompted Bp. Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington to ask at bishops' general assembly in November 2018 if all bishops still believe the Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

During the meeting, Daly offered some "reasons" why certain bishops turned a blind eye to Theodore McCarrick's homosexual predation of seminarians and priests.

"Did this come to be," asked Daly, "because we have certain bishops and priests who don't see anything wrong with consensual sex between adults?"

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