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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The New Investiture Controversy

A few days ago, a lowly priest in Austria was named bishop-elect. The Austrian bishops' conference almost immediately went berserk, holding a special meeting to question his appointment.


Well, (pace Mark Shea), Bishop-Elect Wagner is of the opinion that sin has consequences.

Specifically, he said that Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for the homosexual sex clubs and the abortion clinics that were scattered throughout New Orleans. He had the unmitigated audacity to point out that every one of those clubs and clinics were destroyed by that same hurricane.

Worse, the man actually forbad altar girls. He called Harry Potter books "satanic".
It's CRAZY talk, I tell ya'...

For these sins, and for many more, the Holy See has seen fit to elevate this man to the bishopric!

Cardinal Shoenborn defended him, but that wasn't good enough.
The Austrian bishops kept screaming.

The poor man, being crucified by his soon-to-be fellow bishops, tendered his resignation to Rome.

But Rome is not so easily swayed.

In the earliest years of the Church, the community of Christians often made known who they would like for their next bishop by popular acclamation, and Rome often recognized the worth of their recommendations, elevating the person to the bishopric. That's how St. Ambrose, a catechumen at the time of his appointment, got baptized, confirmed, received first Eucharist, then was ordained deacon, priest and bishop all in the space of a couple of days.

Everyone knew he was holy.

But as time went on and Christian communities became less intimate, less knowledgeable about their own members, this practice faded away.

For a time, kings and princes, heads of state, recommended bishops for various sees within their kingdoms. For her own reasons, Rome often chose to recognize and elevate these men. Numerous bishops, including more than one bishop of Rome, was elected, or not elected, due to the influence of the head of a secular state. Indeed, the last state to exercise this kind of influence was Austria, in 1903, blocked the almost certain election of Cardinal Rampolla. In response, Cardinal Sarto, the man elected Pope in his place, became Pius X and stripped that veto power away.

That was the last gasp of what was known as the Investiture Controversy - who is permitted to decide which man may be invested with the office of bishop?

Now, the Austrian bishops seem intent on reviving the Investiture Controversy, intent on forcing Rome to bow to the desires of local bishops' conferences.

Who has the power to appoint?
Or a bunch of none-too-orthodox bishops?

Combine this controversy with a second: what will be done to Nancy Pelosi, now that she is twice confirmed a heretic, by her own bishop and by the Bishop of Rome?

And a third: a cardinal who deliberately offers disrespect to the head of the Apostolic Signatura, the pope's own, his hand-picked canon lawyer?

Rome is under siege.
Or, rather, the gates of hell are under siege, and open battle has been joined.

I know which way I'm betting.

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