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Assumptions and Presumptions

If someone got sick right after reading a book about theology, would any one of us assume that theology books make people sick? Possible, but not likely. If a Priest who is devout and faithful got disciplined by his Bishop, would any of us assume that it was because of his faithfulness? Sadly, it is likely. I know there are bad Bishops out there who are just trying to silence what is good (may God have mercy on their souls) but we have to be careful about assuming and presuming.

I am not saying that every Priest who gets disciplined (or especially those who are cancelled) are necessarily being treated justly. To assume, however, that every Priest who is under discipline is experiencing it because his Bishop is a bad guy who wants to stifle holiness, is . . . well . . . stupid. Yes, there certainly are some Priests who have been punished because of their devotion to the deposit of the faith (I know some of them). I am not denying that. There are also some Priests who are truly committed to the historic faith, who behave like jackasses and refuse to be corrected by anyone (I know some of them also). You need to realize that traditionalists can be just as pig-headed as modernists. Just because we have the right theology, does not mean that we always handle it correctly.

An assumption in this arena (when none of us have the full story) is always a stunningly bad idea. I recall reading an article by a Priest who was pointing out the sins of a certain clergyman. The article was accurate, balanced, and properly documented. It was also mean-spirited, crude, and crossed the line into gossip more than once. Just because we appreciate accurate information (we are obsessed with "knowing stuff" aren't we?) does not mean that every source of information (even from a Priest) is necessarily given out in holiness. It is possible to say the right thing in the wrong way, but most people ignore that fact.

Unless we genuinely know all the details of a situation (and it is hard to believe we would) then it is just as incorrect to presume the Bishop is wrong, as it is to presume the Priest is right. Yes, I know the "innocent until proven guilty" is how we do things in these good ol' USA, but the Church is not America (we have problems, but not that many!); the Church is not a democracy, and there is an essential degree of trust that we are expected to try to give to the Bishops over us.

I sometimes hear people respond to a comment that a faithful Priest was "shut down" and immediately speak with disdain and contempt towards the Bishop who did it. Even if that Bishop is wrong in what he is doing, we are not immune from being just as sinfully judgmental as he is! Let us recognize that when we only have a small piece of information that we need to pray for all involved, and ask the Lord for grace not to fall into the same sins. May God have mercy on us all.


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