Rorate Caeli

When a Bishop Hides or Distorts Doctrine, Watch Out:
He's Revealing Secrets About Himself

Strings attached...
In our note on the moral crisis corroding the personal lives of countless bishops in the world today, inspired (but not centered) on the most recent English revelation, we said the following:

This collapse of Bishops' moral position, their personal moral position, is a tumor destroying the credibility of the Church from the inside and from all sides. When a bishop (or priest) who certainly knows better says something bizarre and completely outside Catholic Tradition, or begins to waver when faced with secularism, Catholic faithful should increasingly ask themselves the questions:

Is the bishop speaking for himself, or is he speaking on behalf of those blackmailing him? Is there truly such thing as a "moderate" bishop, or is he being "moderated" by the enemies of the Church out of fear that his duplicitous behavior will be revealed?

A few hours later, this same English bishop had this to say:

‘It has been difficult keeping the secret,’ he told the Mail. ‘In some respects I feel very calm. It is liberating. It is a relief. I have been very careful not to make sexual morality a priority [in his sermons]. I don’t think it got in the way of my job, I don’t think people would say I have been a bad bishop. But I can’t defend myself. I did wrong. Full stop.’

No one can accuse + Kieran, using the name by which he prefers being addressed, of lacking gall... Yes, that is right, he says he "did wrong," yet he is shameless enough to admit that, even though his first responsibility as successor to the Apostles was to transmit the Catholic and Apostolic Faith whole and unadulterated (which explains why it held him back from feeling "relieved" and "liberated", that is, free), he had no qualms with adulterating it by omitting ("not making a priority") those things that did not square with his personal life. Judas hanged himself for betrayal to his mission. No one can accuse the Iscariot of not having displayed shame or remorse. Kieran, on the other hand, confesses he betrayed his mission by not transmitting the Catholic Faith in its entirety on purpose and due to his passions, yet actually says he was "not a bad bishop."

All bishops know the Catholic faith. It really is no secret. It has been completely in the open in the public square since Christ taught it on the Mount and in the Temple, since Peter spoke in Jerusalem, Paul spoke in Athens, and both spoke in Rome. When, regarding any point of doctrine, but in particular sexual morality and marriage, you see a bishop who is speaking less about it, or less often, or is distorting it, or hiding or criticizing those points he dislikes, or calling it old-fashioned, or dismissing its relevance, or who suddenly turns away from his formerly courageous modus operandi when feeling the pressure of secular activists, watch out.

This means a lot.

A lot.


It may be more often than not a leak waiting to happen, just sitting there on permanent standby mode, depending on the cheated husband, distraught mistress, angry male lover, or even worse in extreme cases, being willing to go public.

This sad episode is relevant in itself, but also as a powerful symbol of a global problem -- a grave warning to all the Catholic faithful, a fundamental breach of trust in the very core of the transmission of the Truth that is the very reason for the Apostolic Succession, a wound that can hardly be repaired afterwards. How many souls are thus lost?

The primary good for which the Church is responsible is the faith of ordinary people. Attention for the faith of simple people must also be the intimate criteria of every theological doctrine. The one who is not merely doing private research, but is teaching on behalf of the Church, must be aware of this. To take on a task of this type and to speak not in the name of the common subject which is the Church implies the taking on of responsibilities for which the individual imposes some limits on himself.

Indeed, he is thus given an authority that as a private teacher and without men’s trust in the word of the Church he would not have. With authority, he is given power, which is responsibility, as it is not about a power which has its origins in him; [this power] has its foundation in the mandate from the Church in whose name he is given to speak.

Those who speak about abuse of power regarding the way teaching in the Church is disciplined, today are thinking only of the usual abuse of power from those in the Church that have this duty. However, forgotten, instead, is that there is also an abuse of power given by means of the mandate to teach; this is the abuse of those who take advantage, for a purely private word, of that readiness to listen and of that trust which is given, even today, to the word of the Church.

Church authority becomes an accomplice in this abuse of power if it tolerates that this is done without qualms, and so places its authority there where it is not allowed. For her [the Church], concern for the faith of the little ones must be more important than fearing the opposition of the powerful.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
March 22, 1986