In the wake of the Orlando attack earlier this month, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida penned a statement in which he blamed the Catholic Church for the massacre:
…sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence.
Some people think we shouldn’t criticize bishops when they say things that are utterly stupid.
Fine, I won’t.
But luckily we have bishops of a different sort than Bishop Lynch, who aren’t afraid to serve up a little fraternal correction when it’s needed. One of those bishops is Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.
In a great homily during the Mass opening the Fortnight of Freedom (well worth reading, here), Archbishop Wenski, although not naming Bishop Lynch, quoted his statement and showed how ridiculous it is:
[O]ne bishop who should know better even opined, and I quote: “It is religion, including our own which targets…and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgendered people.”
Where in our faith, where in our teachings — I ask you — do we target and breed contempt for any group of people? In today’s second reading, St. Paul teaches us: “Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek… there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Our faith, our religion gives no comfort, no sanction to a racist, or a misogynist, or a homophobe.
One bishop publicly correcting another. It’s not something you hear everyday. In fact, as recently as a few years ago, George Weigel noted in his book Evangelical Catholicism that “fraternal correction among bishops is virtually unknown today.”
And yet maybe, just maybe, we can discern a slow re-emergence of this particular charism among the shepherds of the Church.
Last year, after Archbishop Cupich of Chicago tried to equate the evils of abortion and unemployment, Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, while not naming Cupich, wasted no time in issuing a clear rebuke to the notion that all social ills are morally equivalent.
Earlier this year, Archbishop Cupich (he keeps saying wrong things, doesn’t he?) had to be “clarified” again, this time by Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, when Cupich made a complete mess of the Church’s teaching on conscience.
So we shall see. Hopefully we don’t see more bishops making foolish statements. But if they do, hopefully we see more bishops willing to take a stand and follow the example of Wenski, Chaput, and Paprocki.
Be sure to read all of Archbishop Wenski’s homily for the Fortnight of Freedom. It is very good.
And read Evangelical Catholicism as well. Weigel, while noting the lack of fraternal correction among bishops (as of 2013 or so when he wrote it), traces its biblical roots and its role in the history of the Church, and makes a compelling case for its recovery as a “service of charity” that would well serve the bishops and the faithful they are charged with.