Sunday, January 15, 2012

Of Bishops & Obedience

"Obedience" is highlighted in large letters in the Catholic Church - inspired in large part by the ultimate obedience demonstrated by Christ Himself. Many saints and mystics were unerringly obedient, even in the face of what seemed to be blatant injustice. They humbly complied despite immense suffering. And, in turn, God always seemed to find a workaround to any particular stumbling block they faced.

But, is obedience always demanded and is disobedience to a superior ever justified?


It is the teaching of the Church that obedience is part of justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, which are in turn subordinate to the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Faith is greater than obedience! Therefore, if obedience acts to harm the faith, then a Catholic has a duty not to obey his superior.

And the following:

"Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God, therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, Summa Theoligica II-IIQ. 104

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema - Galatians 1:8

These are harsh words. From the earliest times, there seems to be a zero-tolerance policy for any teaching, doctrine or decree that is "against God".

In recent times, 1975 to be exact, we read the following from a transcript of a prominent exorcism that involved some pretty big-name demons. Although, we are not obliged to believe this, nevertheless the transcript possesses an imprimatur. Here is what Akabor and Judas Iscariot said through the possessed woman, under the compulsion of the exorcist and the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was apparently ordering him to speak:

On the subject of communion on the hand:

A (Akabor): I have to say the Communion must not be received in the hand. The Pope himself gives Communion in the mouth. He does not want Communion to be given in the hand at all. That comes from the Cardinals.

E (Exorcist): In the name..., by order of the Thrones, tell the truth!

A: Then it went to the bishops and they imagined that it was a question of obedience, that they must obey the cardinals. Finally, it came to the priests, and they, in turn, imagined that they had to conform, because obedience is written in very large letters.

E: Tell the truth, you have no right to lie, in the name...!

A: Evil people should not he obeyed. The Pope, Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin are the ones who must he obeyed. Communion in the hand is not at all the will of God.

On the subject of obedience to modernist bishops:

A (Allida): Many priests make reference to obedience. But now, in these times, it is not necessary to obey modernist bishops. It is now the time of which Christ spoke: "There will rise up many false Christs and false prophets"

Those (modernist bishops) are the false prophets. But one ought not - nor has one the right - to believe them. Soon, one will no longer be able to believe them, because they... because they... have accepted so many novelties. We are in them; we from down there (he points downward) have stirred them up. Prior to that, we deliberated a great deal as to how to destroy the Catholic Mass.

On the subject of obedience to bishops who are not on the right path:

J (Judas Iscariot): I have to say that, today, many bishops are not on the good road, and those ones must not be obeyed. Obedience is of great importance. Even in Heaven, Obedience is written in large letters. But it is now the time of the howling wolves.

E: Continue, Judas Iscariot, in the name of the Immaculate Conception, in the name...! You have no right to lie, in the name...!

J: No lamb throws itself into the jaws of the wolf. One cannot give obedience to wolves.

E: In the name of Jesus, continue; continue, in the name.., in the name of the Saints who were not traitors and whose relics are placed on your brow, continue!

J: All men flee when the wolf arrives. Now, alas, it is the time of the wolves. Many bishops have become ravening wolves who no longer know what they are saying; and they must not be obeyed. In the eyes of Heaven itself, they can no longer lay claim to obedience.

E: Continue, Judas Iscariot, in the name of the Blessed Virgin!

J. One can make reference only to the Pope!

On the subject of bishops and priests who lack courage:

After a stubborn battle between the exorcist and the demon Beelzebub, the latter absolutely refusing to speak, here are the avowals which he was finally compelled to make:

Beelzebub: They (he points upward) say: Adore, adore more, have more veneration before the Most High, Infinite, Sublime, Universal Majesty of God. It is much greater than you believe. Never turn your back on the Blessed Sacrament (painful breathing) and exhort others also to adore the Majesty of God by bringing it to their notice without delay. Think how the greatest courage and even the greatest good will (gasps and groans) must appear compared with such Majesty; or think how everyone should prostrate themselves in the dust before such Majesty. And how much more should they grovel in the dust, and how repugnant to the Divine Majesty are those who are cowardly, like present-day superiors, bishops and priests who, in the name of God, have no courage at all and who turn more towards exterior things than towards that which is their duty: that which they are commanded to do by Those up there (he points upward), that which the impetus of grace inspires in them. Often they do not respond to the impulses of grace (because this is so difficult in our era) and take the road of so-called obedience, which is no longer obedience in the minds of Those up there (he points upward), as we have previously been compelled to say.

From these transcripts, the clear message is that the Pope must be obeyed in all circumstances, but this unequivocal obedience does not automatically apply to lower-ranked clergy, including cardinals and bishops.

These references also detail quite specific instances where obedience is not required and can be contrary to the faith. There are probably other specific instances. It is not to say that obedience loses even a smidgeon of its weight or importance. For it is surely important and often commanded, as in the following, where mystics were obliged to be obedient by Christ Himself:

The Example of the Saints

In the Diary of St Faustina Kowalska we read:
"...Jesus says; 'Obedience. I have come to do My Father’s will. I obeyed my Parents, I obeyed My tormentors and now I obey the Priests' ...I understood that our efforts, no matter how great, are not pleasing to God if they do not bear the seal of obedience.... I understand, O Jesus, the spirit of obedience and in what it consists. It includes not only external actions, but also one’s reason, will and judgment. In obeying our superiors, we obey God.." -Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska
 And elsewhere in her diary she writes:
"Satan can even clothe himself in a cloak of humility, but he does not know how to wear the cloak of obedience." (Diary, par. 939).

And St Catherine of Siena states
“Oh! How sweet and glorious is this virtue of obedience, which contains all the other virtues! Because it is born of charity, and on it the rock of the holy Faith is founded; it is a queen, and he who espouses it knows no evil, but only peace and rest.”

On one occasion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus made a request to St Margaret Mary Alocoque, but when she told her Superior this request, her Superior did not approve. Soon afterwards, when Jesus came to her again, she asked Him about this, and He replied: "…not only do I desire that you should do what your Superior commands, but also that you should do nothing of all that I request of you without their consent. I love obedience, and without it no one can please Me" [Autobiography of St Margaret Mary].

Elsewhere in her Autobiography, we read that St Margaret Mary was told by Our Lord: "Listen, My daughter, and do not lightly believe and trust every spirit, for Satan is angry and will try to deceive you. So do nothing without the approval of those who guide you. Being thus under the authority of obedience, his efforts against you will be in vain, for he has no power over the obedient" [cf. -Autobiography]

So, here are specific instances where a directive from Christ Himself overrides everything.

There is also an underlying idea that obedience springs from, and depends upon, the trustworthiness of superiors and their fitness to guide, and/or the amount of insight about the specific situation Christ has allowed the superior to have and therefore the most that can be expected from the superior. And it is the absence and loss of this fundamental trust that is perhaps being referred to in the examples of permissible disobedience provided earlier.

Can we apply this to modern day situations? I certainly think so. These are the times Christ spoke of when he said "There will rise up many false Christs and false prophets".

An obvious, though unlikely, scenario might be if the local Bishop says that abortion is OK and to go right ahead and do it. This is obviously not to be obeyed.

More subtly, a disparity might exist between the local application of a central Vatican decree or recommendation. For example, when a local bishop forbids holding hands during the Our Father or receiving communion while kneeling down or on the tongue, when the Vatican itself does not forbid it or even recommends it. Obedience is certainly not necessary in these instances.

Another example might be if a local Bishop forbade pilgrims from going to an apparition site when the Vatican says that they may go. This situation occurred in Medjugorje, where the local bishop, who was against the apparitions and officially declared them false, forbade pilgrimages and ordered the seers to stop their apparitions. Confused faithful sought clarification from the Vatican and were advised, through Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of the CDF, that pilgimages were allowed and that the opinion of the local bishop is, and remains, "his personal opinion". Today, supporters of the local bishop continue to fly the flag of obedience to the local bishop and the visionaries have made a point of complying despite the history, tensions and onerousness of the directives.

In conclusion, a rule of thumb to follow:
  1. Always obey the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary
  2. Always obey the Pope
  3. Test everything any lower-ranking clergy decrees against what is decreed by The Holy Trinity, Mary and the Pope.

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