In the 1960s there was a decision made that the truths of the Catholic faith would no longer be taught in religious education classes. Since then, every once in a while people say that we've rejected that paradigm, and now it's different, but it's not. Things are about the same. Now we have the same 1960s religious education courses, just with some Catholic facts sprinkled over them. The people in charge of religious education don't mind the addition of random Catholic facts, liturgical seasons, what the Paschal Candle is, stuff like that, but they keep the courses pretty free of the basics of Catholicism. You may think that's kind of harsh, but if you've spoken with graduates of the religious education system you'll know it's true.
Some people express surprise that the bishop is in charge of the diocese and the parishes, and that "in charge" means "actually in charge." That's just true, though, and it'll be true till the end of time. I don't blame people for not knowing. I blame the people who decided that religious education classes must exclude a great deal of the Catholic Faith.
St. Ignatius of Antioch was an old man when he was martyred in the year 107. In 107 they were about as close to the death and Resurrection of Jesus as we are to WWII. On his way to Rome to be martyred he wrote letters to the Catholics of various cities. Here's what he wrote to the Catholics of Smyrna:
“See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery (the priests) as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”
Don't do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. You can't have a proper Eucharist without the bishop's permission. If you separate yourself from the bishop you've separated yourself from the Catholic Church. This was true then. It's true now. It will be true till the end of time.
Liberals don't want us to know these truths, so they are buried or ignored in religious education classes. I don't blame people for not knowing the truth about bishops' role in the Church, but it should especially be known in Philadelphia because of St. John Neumann's insistence on this truth. (BTW, I just counted and I've published 44 posts so far. Eight mention St. John Neumann.)
When he became bishop of Philadelphia some parishes were under the control of boards of lay trustees who were elected by the parishioners. St. John Neumann would not tolerate this. He went to court, to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, to regain control.
The judge asked Bishop Neumann why the Church is called the Roman Catholic Church. St. John replied:
“Our church is called Roman Catholic because the Pope, who is its head, resides in Rome. According to the laws of the Pope, the bishops administer their dioceses; and according to the laws of the bishops, the pastors govern the congregations. If anyone wants to be a member of our Catholic Church, he must be united through the pastor to the bishop and through the bishop to the Pope. The union is effected through spiritual obedience. Whoever does not render this obedience does not belong to the Catholic Church, because this arrangement is its essential unchangeable constitution.”
Judge Woodward, a Protestant, was very much on the side of Bishop Neumann. Here's what he said to the trustees of Holy Trinity Church which is still at Sixth and Spruce:
“You Germans are a disgrace to our city. For ninety years you have been quarreling with your bishop! You had an Irishman for a bishop, an American, and now you have a German. You are satisfied with none, obedient to none. If you want to be Catholics you must obey the Pope and the Bishop in all ecclesiastical affairs. You cannot expect that the court will protect your disobedience.”
Here's what he said to the trustees' lawyer: If the trustees “are not satisfied with their church and bishop, they are free to change their faith at any time; there is freedom of religion with us. But, so long as they choose to remain Catholics, they must obey the Pope and their bishop in all religious matters.”
That's pretty much the story. That's the way it was in 107, in 1854, and 2013. That's the way it will be till the end of time.
St. Ignatius, St. John Neumann, Judge Woodward and Archbishop Chaput are all on the same page. Archbishop Chaput is in charge of the archdiocese. He's in charge of the parishes. I don't really know what advice St. John Neumann would give Archbishop Chaput on the wisdom of the planners' campaign to remake the archdiocese. (I suspect he might tell the archbishop to think critically about these plans that stir up so much opposition, and not to assume that the way the planners talk to him is the way they talk when he's not around.) But I do know what he'd say to us about the archbishop's power to do it. Archbishop Chaput is in charge and we have to respect that. There is no other way to be Catholic.