Today Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted publicly revoked episcopal consent to the claim ‘Catholic’ with relation to Saint Joseph Hospital & Medical center in Phoenix, Arizona. Under Canon 216 of Canon Law this is his right and duty.
For those of you to whom this is news, I would refer you to Jimmy Akins’ excellent commentary and explanation of this debacle as it unfolded.
The fact of the matter is that this conflict has been brewing for years, if not decades. Phoenix is the testing ground of the inevitable clash between the world and the Church. We are only fooling ourselves if we make claim that this is an isolated incident. This is the result of several decades of bad catechesis, poor leadership and ultimately, faithlessness within our Church.
John Henry Cardinal Newman’s words ring true, now and then: It is as absurd to argue men, as to torture them, into believing. As Christians, we have bought into the idea that we have to debate, argue and reason our way into the minds of those who don’t believe. Unfortunately, those who want to debate, argue and reason aren’t actually interested in doing any of the three; they simply want the platform to promote their own agenda.
Goodwill has gotten us into this trap, much like a naive but well-meaning child enters into a game where the other players deliberately change the rules to watch him fail. We keep trying to engage, they try to attack. And in the process, some of our members have compromised the faith – unwittingly at times, deliberately at others – while others have been confused.
As painful as this is, we have needed wake-up call as much as St. Joseph’s hospital: its time to move to the adult practice of our faith. Unlike children on the playground, we know that the best way to true friendship & unity is to simply offer the truth and stick with it. If someone doesn’t like it, we don’t argue, we simply leave the door open. Adults in the above scenario would never put up with those tactics: they’d simply start there own game. Depending on the others around, that might mean playing alone.
Undoubtedly, there will be a huge outcry about Bishop Olmsted’s declaration, a declaration that is but an authoritative assertion of the truth. Most of these complaints will come not from the world, but within the Church, by those led astray and those deliberately leading astray. This is not the time for argument. This is the time to offer what we believe and leave it at that. If you’d like to have the truth, stick around – there’s plenty where that came from! If this offends you, we’re genuinely sorry. We’ll offer explanations if you would like, but there is no room for argument, because an argument implicitly agrees that the truth is up for debate.
It never was. And pretending the opposite is what has brought us to this point today.
We don’t have the truth because we’re somehow better. We have the truth because it is what Jesus Christ has left us and His Church has faithfully taught. Desperately trying to convince others of that truth has little power when compared to the confident trust that the truth will speak for itself, if only we will proclaim it. The holy love of the Truth Himself is our only goal, which seems fitting as we prepare for His birthday.