In 2002, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – then the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — said that “a bishop must do as Christ did: precede his flock, being the first to do what he calls others to do and, first of all, being the one who stands against the wolves who come to steal the sheep’ [emphasis added]. For a typically mild-mannered Ratzinger, his words were untypically sharp. They were also warranted. Ratzinger was well aware, from long experience, that whenever the Church does good work, she draws the attention and resentment of those who oppose her – not just from without, but even more painfully from within.
Examples abound. An editorial in one of our nation’s chronically unhappy religious publications recently lumped the Knights of Columbus, EWTN, Legatus, the Napa Institute, the Busch School of Business and Economics at Catholic University of America, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), and the Chiarascuro Foundation together as a kind of big money conservative alliance to take over the Church’s task of evangelization.
Practice - Groups - Teaching - Church - Eager
This is odd. It’s odd because, in practice, all of these groups are faithful to the teaching of the Church and eager for good relations with local bishops (note that Chiarascuro is a secular foundation inspired by Catholic principles). In fact, they embody one of the main messages of the Second Vatican Council: the empowerment of laypeople to take on the roles of apostles and missionaries. FOCUS alone has been and continues to be massively successful in evangelizing young adults.
The real problem for critics is that none of these groups is controlled by the “right kind” of ecclesial politics or bureaucracy, and thus their effectiveness at what they do . . . scalds. Whatever their flaws – and yes, the Church in her humanity...
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