National Catholic Register


Their Flock

BY Father Owen Kearns, LC

November 18-24, 2007 Issue | Posted 11/13/07 at 4:25 PM


As I write this, America’s bishops have gathered together for their annual meeting in Balitmore.

The bishops’ meeting gets a lot of attention from Catholics. In a certain way, the widespread interest in bishops’ doings is a sign that one of the core driving ideas of the Second Vatican Council — communio — has permeated our life and attitudes. We’re interested in what our bishops say and do because, well, it’s our Church and they are our bishops.

We are particularly called to live the theology and the spirituality and the attitude of communio today. We are called to be one with the Church — not some ideal Church, made in our own image, but the real Church, made of sinners striving to be saints, in communion with the bishops in communion with the Successor of Peter. We are called to build communio with the bishops — not with the ones that we might wish to have, but with the ones we actually do have.

Not all bishops are models of what the ideal bishop ought to be. The same could be said of the bishops’ conference, which makes it tempting to focus on the shortfalls, the failings, the disappointments, the betrayals.

Throughout history, some saints have been called to fulfill this role. Today, not a few Catholics act as if that prophetic mantle has fallen on their shoulders. In righteous anger, they speak the truth to power. Those who set themselves up as judges over and above the bishops should beware that what starts out in righteousness often follows a trajectory that ends in self-righteousness. There’s a dynamism to speaking the truth in anger that’s almost impossible to avoid. What the saints did was to speak the truth in charity.

When you read this, the bishops will be finishing their annual meeting. Let’s pray for our bishops that they will be better bishops. The only way that will happen is through personal conversion, which is a grace. And let’s pray that we will be a better flock to our bishops

That only happens through personal conversion, too. God established this Church and gave us this bishop and this Pope. Let’s build communion with him by building communion with them.