Before I begin this post, allow me to say that I understand bishops possess the fulness of Apostolic Authority. I fully believe and understand that bishops are, by virtue of their office, successors of the Apostles. Knowing this, I also believe that one must be careful in their criticism of bishops. As specially anointed ministers of God, bishops hold a special place in both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That being the case, however, it is particularly hurtful to both Jesus and His Mother when these ministers offend God. While one needs to be careful when criticizing bishops, bishops themselves are not above some criticism.
It has been my experience that people in positions of authority, power, or prestige are particularly adverse to receiving criticism. Heck, some such people don’t even like receiving advice! Yet, we laypeople should be afraid to appropriately criticize members of the hierarchy; especially when such criticism is obviously deserved. This bring me to the case of Bishop Gallatin.
In case you don’t know, Bishop Gallatin is the head of the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was handpicked by Pope Francis. Recently, he is also the bishop who has basically criticized Church Teaching. I’m not referring to His Excellency’s comments about the Church needing to relax the celibacy rule for priests. As I have stated in other posts, such is a discipline, and it may change if there is good reason. Instead, I refer to Bishop Gallatin’s words regarding pro-lifers and homosexuality.
Bishop Gallatin was heavily critical of pro-lifers in his recent public comments. He said he doesn’t “identify” with those who finger their rosaries outside of abortion clinics. Judging by his comments, Bishop Gallatin thinks Catholics have wasted their time trying to protect the unborn.
I hate to inform His Excellency that abortion is, perhaps, the most essential issue. For one, if any government can claim the right to prevent you from even being born, then what can they not do? If you lack the most basic of human rights-the right to life-then what rights do you have?
Second, I would point out that the unborn are entirely innocent. They did not ask to be in the position they’re in. Nor are they responsible for it in any way. Furthermore, the unborn are incapable of defending themselves. We must defend the defenseless. It is our duty as human beings. So I would suggest that His Excellency Bishop Gallatin would do well to begin identifying with pro-lifers. Especially in light of the seriousness of abortion.
Bishop Gallatin also called for a more open discussion of homosexuality without the “taboos” normally associated with the topic. I must admit that I am not exactly sure what His Excellency is referring to. What are the so-called “taboos” about homosexuality that he is referring to? For that matter, what does His Excellency mean when he mentions homosexuality? Is he referring to same-sex attraction, or to homosexual acts?
I do not advocate persecuting homosexuals, or treating them with less respect. One who has homosexual tendencies, but is attempting to combat them, should be commended and receive our support. Practicing homosexuals should also recipients of our love and sympathy. They should be encouraged to abstain from homosexual acts.
For a bishop to suggest, however, that the Church should accept homosexual acts as legitimate sexual expression is completely unacceptable. I am not saying that is what Bishop Gallatin was saying. He was not clear in his words, but ambiguous. Therein lies the real problem. I would strongly encourage His Excellency to come out and make a clear statement of his position on these issues. Perhaps he has not, however, because he has not been misunderstood. God forbid this be the case!
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity