Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Doctors, popes, patriarchs, on bad prelates

"When there is an imminent danger for the Faith, Prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects." St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, q. 33, a. 4

Leo XIII wanted all of us to read the Angelic Doctor. The encyclical Aeterni Patris put Thomism as the foundation of Catholic philosophy. Leo writes: We exhort you, venerable brethren, in all earnestness to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas, and to spread it far and wide for the defense and beauty of the Catholic faith, for the good of society, and for the advantage of all the sciences.

"Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops", has been quoted as the words of several saints: John Eudes, Athanasius, Chrysostom and other highly revered saints. It is not easy to find it in their extant writings. A similar statement was used in quotation by John Wesley.

The Great Hierarch, Ecumenical Teacher, Patriarch of Constantinople, author of the Divine Liturgy, the man with a silver tongue in a golden mouth Saint John Chrysostom, * c. 349, 409†, had memorised the whole of the Bible. He was an aesthete that ruined his health. He became a priest and taught in his native Antioch.

He was chosen in 398 for Constantinople against his will. He was deposed by clerical enemies and the Empress Eudoxia in 403. He preached for the poor against the rich. He refused to dine and party with courtiers. He reformed his clergy. Saint John was not loved by the decadent and haughty.

He was brought back by the people. He was exiled again. Pope Innocent I sent an embassy on his behalf. John died in Pontus.

People had written down his homilies. Fifty-five survive on the Acts of the Apostles, in the Third one he says:
I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish: and the reason is, that it is an affair that requires a great mind.
Now, this has been most colorfully translated as:
"The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path."

John Chrysostom spoke what he said with bravery. (Catholic) Christianity had just recently (Edict of Thessalonica 380) been made the official religion of the empire. There were many Arian (non-trintarian) and other non-Nicene bishops. Many pagan [and secular] influences were there, even amongst the supposed christians. The arrogance and immorality of the powerful was abundant. They could easily band together and make their vengeance palpable.

How different is that from to-day. Pope Paul VI wrote and preached, in living memory, an homily for SS. Peter and Paul: «da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio».

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