In appointing his first US Bishops to care for the faithful in Fargo, North Dakota and Dubuque, Iowa, Pope Francis upset some who confuse his simple manner with a lack of doctrinal orthodoxy.Both of these gifted servants of the Lord are doctrinally orthodox, holy, happy and faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis, in his first time up at bat, sent a signal which bodes well for the years in which he will serve as the Servant of the servants of God.
FARGO, ND (Catholic Online) - In appointing his first US Bishops to care for the faithful in Fargo, North Dakota and Dubuque, Iowa, Pope Francis upset some who confuse his simple manner with a lack of doctrinal orthodoxy.
On Monday, April 8, 2013, he chose Bishop Michael Jackels of Wichita to become the Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa and Monsignor John Folda, rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Lincoln, Nebraska, as the Bishop of Fargo, North Dakota.
Both of these gifted servants of the Lord are doctrinally orthodox, holy, happy and faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis, in his first time up at bat, sent a signal which bodes well for the years in which he will serve as the Servant of the servants of God.
Since the election of Pope Francis there has been an effort to read his words and deeds through the prism of old, tired labels borrowed from politics and now routinely applied to Church appointments. This is done by some in the media who act more like propaganda ministers of what calls itself progressivism in current political language.
For some, the word progressive is now a cover for a radical ideology which fails to respect human dignity and undermines marriage and the family. The dictionary defines progressive as an adjective, meaning "Moving forward; advancing." The agenda calling itself progressive in American politics is not progressive - it is regressive.
The misuse of the word progressive is an example of what the late great C.S. Lewis, in his Studies in Words called verbicide. In The Abolition of Man he warned of progressive governing schemes wherein a collectivist ideology built upon moral relativism is unleashed. He properly claimed, "A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery."
One of his Essays in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics entitled "Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State," warned, "Let us not be deceived by phrases about 'Man taking charge of his own destiny.' All that can really happen is that some men will take charge of the destiny of others. The more completely we are planned the more powerful they will be."
Some political progressives have been assisted by a few within the Catholic Church who overtly dissent from her teaching. They have misread the simplicity of manner of the new Bishop of Rome with their hope that he would bring what they believe is needed change. Yes, change is needed, but not to the doctrine of the Church which, in pointing men and women to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, sets them truly free. Rather, the change that is truly needed is a return to holiness of life and faithful witness throughout the entire Church.
In fact, some of those clamoring for changing what is unchangeable can be detected an underlying motive. They want the Church to conform to the current culture. They reject orthodoxy of doctrine because it challenges that culture. The appointments on Monday confirm what Fr. Jorge Bergoglio's faithful service over many years demonstrated, they will be disappointed by this good man who chose the name Francis.
There is an effort to portray those who adhere to orthodox Catholic Christian faith as backward. We are portrayed as proposing a return to some perceived Dark Age in some political and church circles. However, the ancient but ever new teaching of the Catholic Church offers the path to true progress.
From its birth, the Church has gone into cultures and societies filled with people who prided themselves on being advanced in light of the arts and sciences of their day but rejected the existence of objective moral truths. They resented Christians who challenged their lifestyles and upset their social order - just as they do today.
The early Church was sent on mission into a world enslaved by disordered passions, just like the world in which we now live. Many of the cultures they entered into practiced primitive forms of abortion and even exposure, a practice of leaving unwanted children on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or picked up by slave traders. We have our equivalently evil acts masquerading as free choice. today.
To those ancient societies freedom meant having power over others who were weaker. The adherents were threatened by Christians whom they perceived who kept them from doing whatever it was that they wanted to do and challenged their claims of progress with a competing view of the human person, marriage and the family and a truly just social order. Sound familiar?
Ancient Christian manuscripts such as the Didache (the Teaching of the Twelve) or the accounts of Justin Martyr reveal those cultures much like our own; cultures of use where people were treated as property - cultures of excess where freedom was perceived as a power over others and unrestrained license masqueraded as liberty. There is nothing progressive about moral decline in any age or in any culture.
The selection of these first two Bishops for the faithful in the United States of America is exciting and filled with promise. We need courageous, dynamically orthodox Bishops for the Catholic Church for the years which are ahead. Even though I am not much of a baseball fan, it is a uniquely American pastime and so I borrow an easily recognizable expression; in selecting these first two Episcopal appointments for the Church in the United States, Pope Francis just hit a home run.
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