Did you know that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has no power within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to make policies?
Did you know that the USCCB has "no relationship" with the laity of the Church?
Yet that is exactly what their attorneys have proclaimed in court.
In a 1996 lawsuit filed by clients who were abused by three Dallas priests, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB, which later became the USCCB) was named as a defendant, accused of engaging in a decades-long conspiracy to protect known sexual abusers.
Water under the bridge you say?
You could be right, but it is instructive to understand why the bishop's attorneys made these assertions. The attorney for the victims, Sylvia Demarest, said this:
"...in their legal papers, they say lay Catholics are 'strangers to the Bishops' conference,' and since the conference had no relationship with them, there was no duty to protect them, even from known danger.
"What lay Catholics need to know is that the Catholic bishops of the United States are telling a judge that they are not the shepherds of the Catholic flock, and they have no duty to protect them from a danger they knew about and, in fact, they created."
If you find this legalese employed by the NCCB to cover their backsides as despicable as I do, good. You still have a moral compass.
If you agree with the arguments of the bishops attorneys, bad. You have forgotten what it means to be Catholic.
Your bishop IS your shepherd, regardless of what any attorney says. There is one Judge who cannot be bought or bribed and when we appear before him, there will be no attorneys collecting any fees.
But let's go back to the USCCB (formerly the NCCB). As a body, they DO NOT have quite the authority many of them would have us believe.
They do not have the power or authority to contradict the pope.
They do not have the right to subvert or violate canon law.
Their endless policy statements on topics as diverse as the economy, poverty, immigration, ecumenism, the environment and voting are condescending, tedentious and just plain irrelevant. This is the same conference that cannot find the moral backbone to warn voters against specific candidates who are clearly pro-abortion and refuse to to stand up as a body to pro-abortion "Catholic" politicians.
So, if these bishops, as a body, have no authority over us and if they have no relationship with the laity, why are they wasting our collection dollars to hire consulting firms and fly to semi-annual meetings at five-star hotels to make decisions that should have no bearing on us (by their own attorney's admission)?
Why indeed! But that's the USCCB.
Now, back to YOUR BISHOP.
He DOES have authority. He IS your shepherd.
Some of us have terrific bishops. Many of us have so-so bishops. Some of us have terrible bishops. A lot of us can't tell what kind of bishop is running our particular diocese.
St. John Chrysostom warned us that the floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops. But it is too easy for us to blame the ills of our Church on the bishops and turn the TV back on. We have a responsibility to our Church. As your shepherd, your bishop deserves your prayers, regardless of what kind of bishop he is. If he is one of the bad ones, it might just be that your prayers could save him from paving Hell with his skull.
If you really think your bishop's skull is destined for the walkways of Hell, pray, pray, pray. You don't want to find yourself stepping on it.