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Submission To A Renegade Bishop John Thursday, April 19, 2012


Dear Bro. Ignatius -

Our diocese unfortunately is being run by a renegade bishop who has made it quite public concerning his reluctance to 'tow the line' as far as Rome is concerned. He is what one might call a 'progressive' bishop who delights in innovation. He has introduced 'Lay Parish Leadership' into the diocese and this has resulted in much confusion and heartache. In one particular parish, the 'Lay Parish Co-Ordinator' is a feminist 'New-Ager' who actively promotes women's ordination! The bishop has introduced this new 'model of parish leadership' as an alternative to the more conservative and traditional leadership of ordained clergy. The bishop says that because of the dwindling number of priestly vocations in the diocese, this 'new model' is essential. The irony is that in our two neighboring dioceses, vocations are flourishing! Not in our diocese. We strongly suspect the bishop is using this 'new model' as 'back door' - to encourage women's ordination. We know he is all for women's ordination - although he has hasn't affirmed this officially (for obvious reasons).

Our diocese no longer has a seminary as such (because of the lack of vocations). There is - though - an 'Institute' which openly promotes very progressive and heterodox views (e.g. alternative ways of viewing the Eucharist and the 'Real Presence' - as well as other liturgical and doctrinal novelties). A number of concerned parishioners throughout the diocese have already forwarded numerous submissions to the Apostolic Nuncio concerning these matters - and he has forwarded our concerns to Rome. The bishop has been reprimanded, but still persists in doing 'his own thing'. He is due to retire in November of next year, so we are unsure whether or not he will be forced to retire earlier because of his mismanagement of the diocese.

This is my question - Should we submit to our bishop (despite his poor leadership and failure to submit to the authentic teaching of the Church)? Our parish priest has said we may disagree with our bishop, but we still must respect and submit to him, and be loyal. Is this true? Personally, I cannot agree with our bishop in any way - he is misleading our diocese and his progressive ideas are drawing us more and more away from the Church. I don't feel I am in communion with our bishop. Therefore, because I feel this way, should I be receiving Holy Communion?

I look forward to hearing from you concerning what I have raised above.

God bless you!

Question Answered by

Dear John:

Your pastor is correct that we must respect the office of Bishop and to submit to legitimate directives from our Bishop. Such obedience, however, does not extend to a situation in which our Bishop orders us to do something that is immoral or in violation of Church teaching.

From a practical point of view, however, such a situation with laity is extremely rare. There is not likely to be a situation in which the laity of your diocese would be directed by your Bishop to do something which is improper.

If your Bishop, for example, was to direct the faithful of your diocese that the Sunday obligation is no longer relevant, then the faithful need to ignore that directive and practice the Sunday obligation anyway. If the Bishop were to direct the faithful to do jumping jacks at the consecration of the Eucharist, then it would be the duty of the faithful to disobey that directive.

But, as I said, situations of obedience that affect the laity will be extremely rare, if nonexistent, no matter how liberal the bishop.

As for trying to sneak female ordination through a backdoor, that is impossible. Any woman submitting herself ordination, and any bishop who would attempt to ordain her, will be excommunicated, and the so-called ordination invalid and nonexistent. There is no need to fear in this regard.

In terms of receiving the Sacraments, there is no connection between that and the nonsense of your Bishop. The Sacraments are valid. Do not ever allow a liberal Bishop or a liberal priest rob you of our Lord. The impecability of our priests do not affect the validity of the Sacraments. No matter what liturgical abuses a priest may practice the Sacrament is valid as long as the priest does what the church intends, the words of institution said, and the Sacraments are of proper form and matter.

Do not hesitate to receive the Sacraments. Offer your prayers during Mass for the conversion of your Bishop.

In terms of the tenure of your Bishop, it sounds as if the problem will soon be resolved by his retirement. If the people of your diocese wish to do so, they may certainly write letters to the Papal Nuncio and/or the Congregation on Bishops asking that for the good of the diocese the bishop be retired early. That request will probably not be fulfilled especially when normal retirement is no near.

Always keep in mind that any situation like this, the suffering that we must go through because of liberal bishops and priests, is an opportunity to lift up our suffering to God for the conversion of those bishops and priests. Except the opportunity and continue to live the good and loyal Catholic life in spite of those liberal bishops and priest. It is not likely that anything will occur that requires you to disobey.

God Bless,
Bro. Ignatius Mary

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