By Steve Dzida, Voice of the Faithful® Orange County, California
“So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” So said the Pharisee Gamaliel to the Sanhedrin as they considered what to do with the disciples of Jesus who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, were preaching boldly and openly the good news of Jesus.
Unfortunately for our beloved Church, our Church officials continue to disregard Gamaliel’s sage advice. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson from Australia toured the U.S. several years ago urging Church officials to investigate the clergy sex abuse scandal thoroughly and courageously no matter where it might lead them. Judging such a message to be rebellious and dangerous, American bishops refused him permission to speak on Church property across the country. Bishop Robinson’s powerful message, delivered with humility and faith, resonated with thousands of committed Catholics across the country. Despite the “heads in the sand” approach of Church officials, Bishop Robinson’s message and the abuse scandal have not just gone away.
Fast forward to 2013. Fr. Helmut Schuller of Austria has just completed a cross-country, U.S. tour in which he proclaimed such “radical” notions as (1) the Eucharist is a symbol of inclusion and must not be used as a weapon against the People of God; (2) the Holy Spirit speaks through all the People of God, not just those who have been ordained; and (3) God made both men and women in God’s own image and likeness so we should not prohibit ordination of women. Fr. Schuller urged all of us to stand up as “Church citizens” and speak our minds to the hierarchy about matters of importance to the life of our Church. Once again, ignoring the wisdom of Gamaliel, American bishops prohibited Fr. Schuller from appearing on Church property. Consequently his tour itinerary was marked with appearances at Protestant churches and secular locations. Judge for yourself; use this link — http://www.wbur.org/2013/07/18/helmut-schuller-reformist-priest — to learn more about Fr. Schuller’s message.
So what will we do? We who are citizens of the Church, members of the People of God, baptized and sealed in the Holy Spirit—what will we do? Let us deliver the message to our pastors and our bishops that we will no longer sit still as they do their best to silence the Spirit’s voice in God’s people. Let us tell our pastors and our bishops that we expect them to stand up and speak up, as did Bishop Robinson and Fr. Schuller, to call for the structural changes that are necessary to preserve and protect our Church. Let us tell our pastors and our bishops that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Church and we will not tolerate their sacrificing and rationing the Eucharist in order to preserve the vestiges of an all-male, celibate priesthood. Most importantly, let us call on each and every one of us people in the pews to rise up and take our places as the People of God, called by the Spirit, to deliver the good news of the Gospel to our Church officials who have lost their way.