I promised respect and obedience to my bishop when I became a priest. I have honored that promise for seventeen years, and I will continue to honor it. With all my heart I want to do God’s will. After all: What good does it do for anyone to want to do anything else?
Five months ago, bishop ordered me to remove my weblog from the internet. I obeyed. Then I tried to use appropriate means for settling the issue–means which the Church Herself provides.
A bishop does not have the legal right to silence a priest altogether, or to constrict a priest’s freedom in an unnatural way. A bishop has the duty to insist on clarifications and corrections, if and when a priest departs from truth and orthodoxy in his preaching or publications.
I acknowledge the bishop’s role there. I have asked many times for the clarifications and corrections that the bishop would have me make. Never got a specific response, or any kind of written response at all. In the meetings we had, he gave me only vague generalizations about what I had done wrong. I pointed out that we seem to have significant misunderstandings between us, and I asked for his specific objections. No response.
The Church has explicit rules about a bishop removing a parish pastor against the pastor’s will. So far we have followed none of those rules.
In his letter to me yesterday, the bishop ordered me to move. But he did not provide the address of the domicile to which I was to move. This tells me that he understands, like I do: we have many more legal rivers to cross here.
Bishop proposes that I become a prison chaplain at-large for the diocese. If that proves to be God’s will for me, I will embrace it with all the devotion I have. I would hold it a great privilege to serve in that way.
But no parish priest fails in ecclesiastical obedience by simply insisting that we follow Holy Mother Church’s own rules. Church law exists to protect everyone from caprice and injustice.
…For your reading pleasure, the last of the unpublished homilies and essays, from late January and early February:
The St. Bede, Williamsburg Affair, written Jan. 16
RIP Kobe Bryant, written Jan. 27
Auschwitz Liberation Anniversary, written Jan. 27
Could King David Do God a Favor? written Jan. 29
February 2 Co-incidence? homily for Presentation Day
The Basis of Psychological Health, written Feb. 3
Galilean Topography, written Feb. 10
The Queen of Sheba and Us, written Feb. 12
First Commandment, written Feb. 13
Valentine’s Day: the Truth about Sex