Friday, January 2, 2015

Bishop Daly, Bishop Forester, and the Bishop of Rome

Another cleric commented on [Bishop Daly's] intensed dislike of public criticism:

He's on record among the clergy as being very bitter towards certain groups because they have criticized the bishops. He can't stand them. He harps on this business of their being "negative, negative, negative," which of course means anything that's against the Bishop – it's a re-interpretation of the word! He'll talk freely and comfortably about non-contentious issues. But if, for example, a group criticizes Catholic education, he'll say: "They're so negative. They always find negative things. What about all the good things happening." It really is a pathetic approach. Childish.

For many years, Bishop Forester too had neglected his bottom-line obligation as a Catholic Shepherd – to call wandering sheep to obedience through the enforcement of Church discipline. But he finally realized that the wretched fruits of this irresponsibility stood in contradiction to the renewal it promised. When asked by one of his priests why he took so long to draw the line on abuses, he replied:

Who knows? Cowardice? Hypocrisy? Ambition? … Stupidity? Human respect? You can accuse me to your heart's content and I shall not deny you. I do no know; God knows. I can, however, rationalize my delay in drawing the line although, pray God, I shall never have the impudence to justify it … Pray for me.*

* Bryan Houghton, Mitre and Crook, 1979, pp. 42–43.

In the meantime, as they waited for a sign of remorse from the Bishop of Sandhurst, parishioners contented themselves with an apology already issued on his behalf by the Bishop of Rome. At the beginning of his Apostolic Letter on the Eucharist, Dominicae Cenae, issued on February 24, 1980, John Paul II made this remarkable plea:

I would like to ask forgiveness – in my own name and in the name of all of you, venerable and dear brothers of the Episcopate – for everything which, for whatever reason, through whatever human weakness, impatience, or negligence, and also through the at times partial and one-sided and erroneous applications of the directives of the Second Vatican Council, may have caused scandal and disturbance … And I pray the Lord Jesus that in the future we may avoid … anything which would weaken or disorient in any way the sense of reverence and love that exists in our faithful people.

— R. Michael McGrade, Death of a Catholic Parish: The Benalla Experiment, 1991, pp. 287, 292–293.