On lukewarm mediocrity, duplicitous hypocrisy, and media deflections – Catholic World Report

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Fr. Rupnik’s case is now only shocking in the fact that it no longer shocks. It is the same story of past decades, just a different chapter.

I am dating myself with this reference, but in the old BBC sketch comedy show, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” there was a sketch in which Michael Palin plays a cheese shop proprietor and John Cleese a customer asking for various cheeses, all of which the cheese shop does not have. The list of Cleese’s cheese requests grows to include just about every known variety and the scene becomes ever more comical as it becomes apparent that this purported cheese shop has no cheese at all. At one point, however, Palin indicates that they do have some Brie but then immediately looks down and says, “Oh my, sorry, but the cat’s just eaten it.” We are never told why the shop has no cheese, but that only adds to the humor as Palin’s character attempts to continue the pretense that this is, indeed, a real cheese shop.

The entire scene highlights the fact that outward appearances, no matter how compelling, can be deceiving. A police officer, for example, may have all of the outward accouterment of his office, but if he is corrupt – taking bribes, planting evidence, lying under oath, etc. – then he is in reality no peace officer at all but an agent of injustice. Likewise for a judge who, no matter his fine robes and high bench, if he is “on the take” from the mob, is a perverter of the law and not its impartial adjudicator. You get the point. And unlike the Monty Python sketch there is no humor in it on any level. The hollowing out of the moral integrity of our most valued institutions via the path of posturing in the direction of propriety and rectitude, all the while misusing the outward trappings of office for the sake of corrupt aims, forebodes institutional collapse when it comes from those in the highest levels of authority.

And the Church, as we well know from history, is not immune from such moral evacuations through the exercise of ecclesial power in duplicitous and mendacious ways. Those in high ecclesial office can preen and posture in public, bedecked in their epicene frills, red robes, and pectoral crosses, and wax rhapsodic about the glories of the Gospel, all the while using those outward appearances to hide their various misdeeds. They can play us for fools and speak of “Roman authority” and of our need as laity to engage in a “religious submission of mind and will” to every official diktat they issue, cynically using our own obeisant piety against us. And, like corrupt Renaissance princes, they have their court sycophants and jesters in certain circles of the Catholic media ever-ready to pronounce that those of us who dare to raise our voices in protest are being sinfully disobedient to the Magisterium.

As a devout Catholic with a total commitment to moral and doctrinal orthodoxy, as well as the Magisterium that upholds it, these words of criticism do not come easily. In fact, they grate and irritate and cause deep inward anxiety owing to the cognitive dissonance induced by the clash between my devotion to the Church and my belief in her doctrines and apostolic authority, and the ongoing abuse of power we see today at the highest levels. In other words, the dissonance is caused precisely by my loyalty to the Church and not because of any insouciant disregard for her claims.

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On lukewarm mediocrity, duplicitous hypocrisy, and media deflections – Catholic World Report

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