The last pass of arms, by press articles, between the bishop of Springfield (Illinois) and that of San Diego (California) once again highlights the lines of fracture that cross the American episcopate on several points of doctrine and Catholic morals.
“Unfortunately, it is not uncommon today to hear Catholic leaders affirm unorthodox views that, not too long ago, would have been espoused only by heretics.” The Bishop of Springfield does not mince his words.
In an opinion piece published on February 28, 2023 on the First Things website – a conservative Catholic monthly in the United States – Bishop Thomas Paprocki did not hesitate to attack one of his colleagues, without naming him directly, Cardinal Robert McElroy, Bishop of San Diego. He is high prelate who could not be more “Bergoglian.”
McElroy had seen fit to publish a column last January in the progressive Jesuit journal America Magazine, in which he openly defended the most heterodox clichés: access of “remarried divorcees” and homosexual couples to sacramental communion, placement of women in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, etc.
In an interview granted on March 1, 2023 to Catholic News Agency, Bishop Paprocki clarified that he was not targeting anyone in particular in the First Things article: “I intentionally did not mention a name because I do not want we focus on this particular person, but rather on the points of Catholic doctrine that are denied,” he said.
A precaution of language that misleads no one, because the Bishop of Springfield takes up the arguments developed by Cardinal McElroy one by one, to demolish them: “Is it not contrary to the Catholic faith and therefore heretical to say that sexual sins are not a serious matter?”
“Is it not contrary to the Catholic faith and therefore heretical to say that one can receive Holy Communion despite having committed a serious sin without repenting? If so, what are the canonical implications of such heresies? This is why my article is titled ‘Imagine a cardinal heretic’ and not ‘I accuse a cardinal heretic.’”
We can only rejoice in the lucidity of the Bishop of Springfield. The same prelate also distinguished himself a few days earlier by criticizing the vagueness of the last Roman rescript restricting the traditional Mass, with laurels to the faithful attached to the Mass of all time: “They are people very docile to the teachings of the Church, very eager to put them into practice; they are very faithful Catholics,” he stressed.
Cardinal McElroy, for his part, replied to his opponent, without also naming him, with great reinforcement by quotations from Popes Francis, Benedict XVI, and John Paul II taken out of context, relying dialectically on the distinction between doctrinal dimension and pastoral attitude, the latter resembling in his discourse a form of generalized permissiveness.
The fencing match with blunted foils between the two prelates has in any case once again brought to light the lines of fracture that cross the American episcopate. Lines that the new president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, elected on November 15, 2022, the conservative Timothy Broglio, intends to reabsorb without giving in to the sirens of progressivism.