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Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's called Teaching Authority

Bishop Morlino wants his message to reach his constituents to the letter. So he's basically telling his priests to play his recorded message for the people -- or else! This sort of behavior will make many people cringe, shake their heads or say nasty things about authoritarianism. On the other hand, we have St. Paul's words to St. Timothy about how it is to be a bishop, how selective he must be about who to lay hands on to ordain as another bishop, and that he is to wield his authority as bishop when necessary. We have St. Paul's own example in his letters on how tough he can be as bishop. Christ told his disciples: he who hears you, hears me -- and he might as well have said, "if they're not hearing you, they're not hearing me!" We might take it for granted that both the bishop and his priests are disciples of Christ. We must never forget, however, that this was spoken to the Twelve, and it is their successors, the bishops -- episkopos -- who are overseers and teachers of the faith, and that priests -- presbyteros (I think) -- must always -- always -- work with their bishops. Why? Not because bishops are smarter. Not because priests know less. It is simply because the bishops were ordained to their role as teachers. Their authority does not come from their abilities -- we know how imperfect even the Twelve were. The authority is granted to them, so it comes from the one who granted the authority: Jesus Christ. If they fail in their teaching responsibilities, it is Christ who will deal severely with them (think millstone around their necks). However, if priests are to contradict those teaching responsibilities.. I shudder to think what Christ would say to these stumbling blocks...

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