I just got done listening to a recording of a sermon delivered last year by a priest of the Fraternity of St. Peter--a great preacher whom I used to be fortunate enough hear from on occasion, but who now is stationed far away from Kansas City. For convenient reference, we'll call him Fr. T.
It was a short sermon on how we are the executors of God's will (in the testamentary sense--we're charged with notifying and distributing the "fortune" of Salvation left for us by Christ as his heirs). It may sound corny with such a summary, but it most certainly was not.
Although the bulk of Fr. T's message is directed at the laymen present in the nave for Mass, and how even as laymen they have an obligation to spread the Gospel in their own way, early in the sermon he discussed the terrible--even criminal--breach of trust committed by those who, charged specifically with the obligation to spread the Gospel (implying Bishops, priests, and missionaries), refuse to teach the truth in its fullness, for fear of offending anyone, or bringing scorn upon themselves.
Fr. T's point about those who don't wish to spread the Gospel is rather a good one to be heard again today, when news that the Episcopalians in the US have selected a woman to be their presiding "bishop," and that certain Episcopalian dioceses have appealed to the nominal Archbishop of Canterbury in an attempt to get "alternative oversight" rather than acknowledge a woman as their primate.
Now, I'm going to leave aside the comical aspect of these American bishops appealing to the head of the Anglican communion at a time when he is facilitating the introduction of women bishops into the Church of England. I'm going to leave aside the fact that they're appealing to an office claimed nearly 500 years by political hacks selected by the secular power for their willingness to go along with the political zeitgeist. I'm also going to leave aside the fact that the woman elected as the US primate and the women queued up to get their mitres and crosiers in England are, and will be, just as much bishops as their male counterparts (which is to say, neither set are bishops at all). Instead, I want to talk about what Catholic Bishops will be doing as the executors of God's will.
And I'll sum it up in five words: They will be doing nothing.
Each misstep of the heretics in the ECUSA is an opportunity to bring countless people to the True Church, but in each such misstep, the real Bishops have been silent.
When the heretics started pretending to ordain women in 1976, and disaffected Episcopalians of good will started questioning the tenets of their heretical confession, the Bishops did precious little. Oh, sure, a few of them accepted a few formerly heretical parishes into the Church and ordained a few former Episcopalian ministers as priests, but there was really no great outreach, and one can fairly question whether the Catholic effort to bestow real orders on married Episcopalian ministers was motivated by a desire to weaken the discipline of clerical celibacy rather than in response to their communities' needs.
When the heretics threw out their own artful (if flawed) 1928 prayer book, in 1979, the real Bishops didn't do anything to reach out to disaffected Episcopalians of good will and use the opening to bring them into the true Church (then again, why would they, since they had finished the process of doing the same thing to a far more venerable text nine years before?). Some did come in on their own, but no concerted effort was made to gather the scattered flock that broke away from the false shepherds.
Shortly thereafter, when the heretics started pretending to consecrate women as bishops in 1989, same thing. Nothing from the real Bishops.
When the heretics pretended to consecrate an unrepentant and active sodomite as a bishop in 2003, there was a little handwringing in a few quarters over setbacks on the road to Christian unity, for a change, but again, their were no concrete or concerted efforts by the mass of real Bishops to bring home those whose faith in their heretical confession was shaken.
Now the heretics are geared up to introduce women bishops to England, and to have a gal in charge in the United States as well. I am willing to bet that no competent Curial official, nor any person on behalf of the bishops' conferences of any of the countries where the Anglican heresy is widespread will stand up, and not only announce that there are no longer any prospects for unity with the Anglican structures, but also invite all individual Anglicans of good faith to return on their own to Holy Mother Church. And I will go double or nothing that there are no more than three bishops in the United States that will publicly announce such an invitation to Episcopalians in their own dioceses.
Here we have another opportunity to bring many good souls (who, only by Grace, retain a faint, incomplete, unrealized notion of Catholicity in spite of all that has happened in their sect) into the bosom of Holy Mother Church. Perhaps it's one of the last great opportunities, as the shards of their sect are scattered and ground into sand. And it's an opportunity that shall be squandered, as have the previous opportunities.
Some Bishops, surely, won't stand up and make that call because they do not fully share the faith of the Catholic Church that God has (at least permissively) willed them to serve, and they are actively working to subvert her. But most (I suspect) are simply too cowardly to do so. My reflection is, of course, that the men who stood by watching individuals flounder while the Anglican communion splinters into yet more sects and worrying about "prospects for ecclesial reconciliation and unity" (or worse, ignoring it all together while they work on pastoral statements on American foreign policy in Polynesia and the latest Farm Bill) while there are scattered souls to be gathered--that these men--whether they stood silence out of malice or cowardice--shall have a rather unpleasant judgment day.