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See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil,
if a Catholic Bishop is responsible for it!
(Image stolen from www.valuebuy.net)
According to Wikipedia, "The Omertà is a popular attitude, common in areas of Italy where the Mafia is strong, that implies never collaborating with the police. [...] A common definition is the law of silence. It is common in such areas that, after a Mafia-related murder, people will behave as though they are not able to remember hearing or seeing anything, and no one will be willing to talk to the police."
One of the fundamental claims of this web site is that there's currently some sort of "Catholic Omertà" in North America, whereby Bishops (and a fortiori ordinary faithful) are subject to a "law of silence". If a "brother Bishop" does something wrong, nobody can mention it, or talk about it to the press, and even less condemn his actions publicly!
Warning! It's not because this text condemns one extreme, that we therefore have to fall into the other extreme! I am absolutely convinced that indiscretion, destructive criticism and back-biting are sins! (See for example the excellent chapters 27 to 29, in Part 3 of Introduction to devout life, by Saint Francis de Sales, etc.)
Let's try to take stock of the situation. Can the Catholic Omerta exist? What are the possibilities?
2.1) Either all Bishops are doing their job well: 2.3) Either the good job of Bishops is obvious: Solution: There is no problem! So shut up. 2.4) Or the good job of Bishops is not obvious: Solution: You might not see it, but everything is fine! So shut up. 2.2) Or some Bishops are not doing their job well: 2.5) Either it's impossible to do a better job: Solution: Shut up and pray. 2.6) Or it's not impossible to do a better job: 2.7) Either it's impossible to improve a Bishop: 2.9) Either Bishops can be fired: Solution: Shut up, pray, and wait for the Pope to fire the that Bishop. 2.10) Or Bishops cannot be fired, no matter how incompetent: Solution: Shut up, pray, and wait for him to die off. 2.8) Or it's not impossible to improve a Bishop: 2.11) Either laity is forbidden to try to improve a Bishop: Solution: Shut up, pray, and wait for somebody else to do something. 2.12) Or laity is not forbidden to try to improve a Bishop: Solution: The Catholic Omertà is a lie! Speak up, don't shut up!
This "taxonomy of silence" is not complete, nor perfect, and some persons might find it boring, but I claim it does give us a better idea of what we are talking about. Indeed, the arguments in favor of the Catholic Omertà are inevitably of the type: "Number 2.12 is false, therefore #2.4 applies (or #2.5, or #2.10, etc.).
(Of course, I claim #2.12 is true. See "Should a Catholic Publicly Criticize Some Decisions Taken By His Superiors?")
Proving the existence, and conducting research on the "Catholic Omertà" is theoretically quite simple. You just acquire a good knowledge of the official teachings of the Catholic Church, then compare that to what Bishops do and say (and what they omit to do and say). But in reality, there are many reasons why research on the "Catholic Omertà" is difficult:
3.1) It's hard for a fish to prove that water exists. When you've been swimming in it, drinking it and breathing it all your life, it's hard to imagine things could be any different.
3.2) Sins of omission are always harder to prove. Sins of omission can be just as bad as ordinary sins. For example, Christ condemns people to Hell for sins of omission. ("I was hungry, and you didn't give me to eat. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me to drink." [Mt 25:35]) But sins of omission are different from ordinary sins, in that it's hard to "catch someone red-handed", the way you can catch a bank robber committing his crime, for example. People guilty of sins of omission can have a very good public image, and never be seen doing anything negative.
To this fact, you need to add the generalized lack of knowledge of the official teachings of the Catholic Church. In order to see that Bishops and Priests are not giving such a spiritual food and such a spiritual drink to starving and thirsty persons, you have to know the Church has such food and drink available in Her teachings! So these sins of omission are doubly harder to detect!
3.3) It's socially unacceptable to even ask the question. Trying to find out if the "Catholic Omertà" really exists means you are immediately labeled as a "troublemaker" and a "person devoid of Christian charity", etc.
3.4) Only inferiors lacking authority can talk about it. By definition, the "Catholic Omertà" concerns a small, tightly-knit group of powerful people inside the Catholic Church (Bishops). Unless a Bishop decides to disobey the "Law of silence", only people without any authority can openly talk about this situation. Of course, this means they have no credibility, and are exposed to the covert or public attacks of their superiors.
3.5) Some Priests actually defend the "Catholic Omertà". You'd think, after reading the definition of "Omertà" given above, that nobody in their right mind would actually defend the idea of a "Law of silence", except that's unfortunately not the case.
There are probably many other reasons why research on the "Catholic Omertà" is difficult, but the one I'd like to concentrate on in this article is the last one mentioned, i.e. the effort made by some Catholic Priests to actually justify this "Catholic Omertà", based on incorrect philosophical and theological notions.
Catholic Priests are rarely trained as engineers, so to them it sounds obvious that: "Good doesn't make noise, and noise doesn't do any good!" Except as all good engineers know, there is a fundamental difference between noise, and signal! If you're trying to talk to somebody while a train is passing by, what the train makes is "noise", and it makes it difficult to hear the "signal", i.e. the words being spoken by the person talking to you. (That is why engineers love a "high signal-to-noise ratio".)
When some Priests mention "noise", they usually mean publicity. Of course, they are right, in the sense that we must do good, not for the "noisy" publicity it can bring us, but for the glory it brings to God. Moreover, if somebody next to us misbehaves, normally it doesn't help anybody to "make noise" about it, to publicize this person's sins.
What these Priests fail to mention is that "making signals" (not noise) is sometimes absolutely necessary. If, for example, you discover a cure for malaria, you must publicize your discovery, so that as many people as possible can be treated. In the same way, if you discover a criminal who rapes children in your neighborhood, you must publicize your discovery, so the police can hunt down this criminal, and parents can keep their children away from him.
So yes, "Good doesn't make noise, and noise doesn't do any good", but signal is not noise, and sometimes signal is required.
An example of when it's good to "Just teach sound doctrine" and "Focus on the positive" is sex education given by parents to their children. You don't give your young innocent child lectures on all the possible sexual perversions! You wait until your child shows interest, then serenely and lovingly teach him or her the positive aspects of human sexuality, as appropriate to their age and maturity.
But this is not the situation we're interested in. We're talking about Priests and even Bishops who commit serious crimes and teach heresies, while their "Brother Bishops" pretend "everything is fine, just fine!" As explained in #3 of "Blessed Be The Schism That Comes In The Name Of The Lord", our enemies are attacking the very means we have of "teaching sound doctrine".
"Teaching sound doctrine" is practically impossible if the person in authority doesn't publicly refute errors and punish those who spread them. Why? Because of the very nature of laws. Laws must "illuminate" the minds of those who must abide by them. It's like the "Ice Cream Cone Principle". When a child gets a "No!" from his mother, he asks his father! If his father says "Yes!", and his father and mother don't have anything negative to say about each other's command, then the child will probably choose to obey the command that suits him! In the same way, if two Bishops (or Priests, etc.) teach the opposite of each other, and both just say positive things about each other, then who is right? Most persons will just think: "Well, these two teaching authorities don't agree on this issue, and both their positions are legitimate, since they don't condemn each other, so I'll just agree with the one who teaches what pleases me the most!"
Some Priests will try to argue that they've been "teaching sound doctrine and focussing on the positive", and that they've had good results. It's true, because their members are already convinced of the existence and the perversion of the "Catholic Omertà". These religious movements have results that are excellent (because of sound doctrine) and very limited (because they refuse to publicly condemn the "Catholic Omertà", and must therefore practically go into hiding).
I've been told to "just mention the Bishop's errors, but don't mention his name!" There are many problems with this approach:
6.1) If removing the name is necessary, then so is removing any equivalent information. As mentioned in #4.4 of "Should a Catholic Publicly Criticize Some Decisions Taken By His Superiors?", removing somebody's name isn't enough, you also have to remove any other information that could let that person be identified. For petty crimes, such as stealing some money from a convenience store, just removing the name is enough. But what if your local Bishop puts a wolf in charge of the Seminary, or remains quiet while one of his brother Bishops is attacked by the pro-abortion and pro-sodomy Press? Everybody will know who you are talking about, so you'll have to "disguise" your text, remove information, obfuscate what you are saying, until nobody knows who you're talking about. But then, nobody will understand what you're condemning either!
6.2) If someone does something bad once, they can do it again. If you get sick, after going to a bad restaurant where food safety comes after profits, you can't just tell people: "Beware of unsafe food!" You also have to name that restaurant, so they can avoid going there and getting sick! If a Bishop is unreliable in his public statements (or more accurately, in the omissions of his public statements), all the faithful must be warned, so they can avoid being trapped by errors in future statements.
6.3) If justice is good enough for our enemies, it should be good enough for our friends. One of the first principles of justice is that the same sanctions must be applied to all persons guilty of the same offenses. It doesn't matter if the accused is your friend or your enemy. The law is the law, and the law is no respecter of persons.
6.4) We should worry more about the souls of the faithful, than the celebrity image of some Bishops. I'm regularly amazed at how some persons scream and gnash their teeth when the image of their "episcopal golden calf" is scratched a bit, and yet these same people barely notice when thousands upon thousands of souls are threatened with eternal Hell-fire.
In the Gospels, Jesus says: "Let them grow together until harvest" [Mt 13:30], when he talks about the cockle and the good wheat. Advocates of the Catholic Omertà claim this passage means Jesus wanted us to let heretics destroy the Church without bothering them. Except numerous saints, including Thomas Aquinas, say that if we can remove the cockle without destroying the good wheat, then we must wipe out the cockle. See among others The Good Old Christian Virtue Of Vengeance!
Advocates of the Catholic Omertà often use another quote from the Gospels, where Jesus says: "When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well" [Mt 5:39]. Except when Jesus himself is struck on the cheek, he doesn't always turn the other one! "Jesus answered him, «If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?»" [Jn 18:23]» Why? Because if turning the other cheek can reduce the quantity of hatred and violence in the world, then we must turn the other cheek. But if caving in to injustice would only make the situation worse, then we have to defend ourselves.
These Gospel quotes don't tell us that we must remain silent while the wolves chew up the lambs! These quotes just tell us that we mustn't punish any wolf, any which way, for any reason.
It's true you don't need a lot of intelligence to denounce evil. But you do need a lot of courage!
Jesus Christ is the Truth, not the Cover-up. The Law of silence comes from Satan. The Church is seriously ill because of the Catholic Omertà, and silence is not a cure.
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