My Internet Stalker is also upset that I lack all humility. Well, that is true. I do lack all humility. Of myself, I am full of stinking, filthy pride. On my own, without God’s grace, I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God, as have we all. Of ourselves, we all lack humility. But my Internet Stalker narrows this down to a particular. Let’s take a look. He says:
“You also said you could have been a bishop or even an archbishop. Is this humility?”
Well. The truth is humility is it not? There were two occasions.
- One was being invited to transfer from the seminary I was attending so to attend the Accademia ecclesiastica, you know, for clerical diplomats for the Secretariat of State for the Holy See (a different authority structure back in the day). The successful candidate would end up eventually being a Nuncio (in a derived sense, a diplomat) of some kind, which at the time also meant ordination to the episcopacy. There was an attempt in South America some decades ago to appoint a non-Archbishop as Nuncio. The local episcopal conference complained that they were being slighted by having such a terrible situation arise amongst themselves. Oh my! So, the guy was made an Archbishop. Hah! My response through the years to the Church diplomat thing was always that I would never compromise the doctrine and morality of the Church; I would never smash someone down for the sake of mere politics, or play politics with listing candidates for episcopal appointments in whatever country. This attitude of mine was rather offensive, to say the least, to those in such diplomatic circles. I was able to successfully avoid being a bishop.
- Another occasion was being best friends, quite literally, at least from his point of view, with the Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops (now deceased). He was very much interested in having me become a bishop and pointed this out to me. Me being me, however, I made sure this wouldn’t happen by having him do something much more important, that is, having him be the second reader for a doctoral thesis on textual criticism of biblical manuscripts, something which, along the way, called into question some various dumbed-down ecumenical initiatives of the Holy See. He was a biblical scholar as well, and was furious with what I had done. I wanted only to do something much more comprehensive for the sake of a profound, true ecumenism. This was politically incorrect at the time. I knew that. But he did something for me which I thought was much more valuable for the Church than me becoming a bishop. He took a chapter of the thesis (250 pages) to the secret archives for six weeks. He was furious. But he had done what I wanted, something I could not do because I had no access. He did. He was able to confirm everything I wrote. Perhaps he put a block on my ever becoming a bishop in my file. I don’t know. I must say, however, that he was constantly training me in about concern for both the Church and the world. Anyway…
I guess that lack of humility, that pride of mine, goes along with what I wrote in this other post about my unstoppable arrogance, or is it enthusiasm[?]: Fr George David “Peter Abelard” Byers I just reread that. What a fright. ;-)
Of course, what I was doing in avoiding the episcopacy was avoiding something which had scared me to death because I was full of fear at the time. No longer. But what was ringing in my ears was the admonition of Archbishop Fulton J Sheen that becoming a bishop means getting crucified, crucified, crucified. Perhaps Jesus will reprimand me for avoiding the suffering that episcopacy entails. I’m quite happy being a priest way out on the back ridges of the backsides of the beyonds in the unique Appalachia of Western North Carolina. But if the Holy Father asked me, I would do it, you know, be crucified. Perhaps that is said with all arrogance, but, hey! I’m only me. And of my own self, I am, of course, full of stinking pride. Thank God for Jesus Christ who saves me from all of this.