Friday, November 19, 2004

I think I've finally pinpointed my frustration with the way the word "orthodox" is thrown around in the Catholic blogs, which has been bothering me for some time.

Per this dicussion, I suggest we stop using the word "orthodox" as a description of people, and use it strictly to refer to individual beliefs. Because we have statements like this...

That statement reminds me of a situation involving Fr. X., a holy and orthodox priest who used to pastor a thriving parish, and was well known for his charity to the poor and his bold orthodoxy in the pulpit.

Fr. X. once told me that he stayed in hot water with his bishop, who was always demanding that he come down to the chancery for seminars, meetings, discussions, and on and on. Fr. X. said, "I never do..."

Now, from what we're hearing this story, there's nothing orthodox about disoberying a bishop to whom one has made a sacramental pledge of obedience. Maybe these requests don't really fall under the pledge of obedience, I don't know.

But there seems to be this attitude that once someone qualifies as "orthodox," then anything that person might say or do is immune from criticism. I can't help but think this is a fruit of the "non-negotiable issues" type thinking. So long as I have the correct positions on the non-negotiable issues, I'm "orthodox," and any criticism I receive for anything is persecution from people uncomfortable with hearing hard truths.

I don't think it's so simple. In fact, I'm not sure any of us could accurately say about oursleves, or another, that they are "orthodox." We can recognize certain beliefs as truly orthodox or heterodox, but I can't say with confidence that every one of my beliefs is in full accord with the Church. Orthodoxy is a journey, not a destination. We don't reach a point where we can pronounce ourselves "orthodox" and stop working to unite our will and intellect with that of the Church.

And, BTW, all this parsing of bishop's statements ought to seem absurd after the Scripture we heard last Sunday from Thessalonians.
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