True Obedience: The Mark of A Faithful Catholic Part B: Obedience in the Church of Christ
True Obedience: The Mark of A Faithful Catholic
IntroductionIn the liberal atmosphere that permeates Western culture, obedience has been greatly abused as an excuse for great evil. However, obedience is a virtue and Catholics are supposed to seek to continually increase in virtue. This leads to the question: How does a Catholic obey both their religious and civil superiors when they are obviously perpetrating evil laws and doctrines?
The answer provided by the Catholic Church is surprisingly simple: God does not require blind obedience to all commands.
In this article, we will review the Catholic teaching on obedience and its practice in the modern world.
Obedience in the Church of Christ
Because the Church has discussed obedience at length throughout the ages, forming an opinion aligned with the mind of the Church should not be difficult. In this age of immediate access to information, three authorities are readily available: Catechism of the Council of Trent, St. Thomas, and St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Catechism of the Council of TrentThe Catechism of Trent discusses obedience as part of the its treatment of the Fourth Commandment and one section deals specifically the obedience due to Bishops and Priests.
The Apostle also teaches that they are entitled to obedience: Obey your prelates, and be subject to them; for they watch as being to render an account of your souls. Nay, more. Christ the Lord commands obedience even to wicked pastors: Upon the chair of Moses have sitten the scribes and Pharisees: all things, therefore, whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works do ye not, for they say and do not.The key points of this teaching are obvious: Bishops and Priests are entitled to our obedience as they are responsible for the salvation of our souls. Moreover, this obligation is not limited to good and holy priests, but also to 'wicked pastors'. In this light we are admonished to not follow their wicked example but to observe and do 'whatsoever they shall say to you'.
To a casual reader, it may appear as if subordinates should obey all orders from bad priests, bishops, and Popes irregardless of the nature of the order. However, in the 1923 edition of the catechism there are footnotes that direct the reader to the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas.
On the honor and obedience due to ecclesiastical superiors see Summa Theol. 2a. 2Ae (Second Part of the Second Part) cii. (102) civ (104) 5; ....