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Bad Prelates

St. Gregory the Great once said, "The subjects must tolerate even evil prelates, if they can do it without damaging the faith". Yeah, that is not easy; especially if you are an American. It is true that we Americans generally have a hard time with bad leaders (and the term "prelate" means a Church leader). After all, "Sic Semper Tyrannis" was a rallying cry at the founding of our nation (please go look it up if you do not know the reference).

Yet, as Catholics we are supposed to determine right and wrong by what God says through the Church, not by what American practice is (right?). This means that we should not quickly seek to rebel. Yes, we are often called to "resist" tyrants, but that is not the same thing as rebelling against them. The difference is vital to our faith.

It would take hundreds of posts for me to give all the details of what that "tolerance"--which St. Gregory referred to--actually looks like. Because, however, each one of us is quite likely to ignore our own motivations when we come into contact with a bad clergyman we have to consider at least a few aspects of it. We are never to obey a command (from anyone) to sin, but exactly how do you "resist" bad leadership? It is completely possible to do so with a response that is just as evil as the one giving the bad command!

Our first question we ask ourselves should be, "how can I tolerate this and still maintain the faith?" Which, by the way, if you answer, "I can't", one second after asking it, you have not thought it through. Serious introspection, and maybe even seeking the advice of someone you know can give wise counsel, is always necessary.

If we truly do reach the point of saying that to tolerate an "evil prelate" would compromise the faith, then we must resist; but only then. It is never our place to try to take more authority to ourselves than God has granted, but that is exactly what many do when they begin to spout off about a certain prelate that they disagree with. We can be faithful in times like these; but only if we seek the grace and wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.


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