Monday, September 10, 2018

The Imperative of the Imperium

From First Things-

In “The End of the Imperial Episcopate,” Fr. Jay Scott Newman speculates about the Church's current situation. One of his premises is that many bishops have become too much like distant managers and administrators, and that this has contributed to today's problems. He also suggests “the clerical culture in which bishops and priests live is in many ways diseased and deformed, requiring renewal.” I fully agree with Newman on these points. We do not need politicians and administrators. We need bishops who act like bishops:  teaching, shepherding, and, when necessary, disciplining like bishops. We need priests who don’t act like camp counselors, committee chairmen, facilitators, or socialites; we need priests who focus on their priestly, liturgical, and sacramental mission. Further, we need religious who remain faithful to the particular charisms of their founders instead of behaving like secular social justice activists.  In short, we need faithfulness to particular callings across the board.

In his article, Newman proposes various reforms. These include requiring bishops to spend more time in their own cathedrals, eliminating the auxiliary bishop model, and reducing diocesan bureaucracy. While I might offer a few caveats, in principle I think these suggestions have merit. Where I believe Newman goes off the rails is in his proposal that certain elements of the “imperium,” such as traditional episcopal vesture and titles, “need to go.” Newman presents some rather specious arguments that are neither consistently applied nor rooted in a fulsome view of Church history or the Christian East. These proposals do not address the current situation, and, if implemented, may even compound the Church's problems rather than eliminate them.

More here-

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