Another fine episcopal appointment by JPII

[T]he Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ. (Lumen Gentium 20)
Just something to keep in mind while one reads the following AP story (emphasis added by me):

RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian archbishop said adolescents are "spontaneously homosexual" and in need of guidance, while society at large is pedophile, according to a Wednesday report.

Archbishop Dadeus Grings — a conservative priest who has made controversial statements in the past — told the O Globo newspaper at a Brazilian bishops conference that society's woes are being reflected in the sex abuse scandal enveloping the Roman Catholic Church.

"Society today is pedophile, that is the problem. So, people easily fall into it. And the fact it is denounced is a good sign," Grings told O Globo.


Grings denounced the abuse within the church, but he said internal punishment of priests guilty of abuse was sufficient and that police should not be involved.

"For the church to go and accuse its own sons would be a little strange," he said.

The archbishop also said it was important to help children avoid homosexuality.

"We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual. Boys play with boys, girls play with girls," he said. "If there is no proper guidance, this sticks. The question is – how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?"

Grings also said the acceptance of homosexuality in society could pave the way for the acceptance of pedophilia.

"When sexuality is trivialized, it's clear that this is going to affect all cases. Homosexuality is such a case. Before, the homosexual wasn't spoken of. He was discriminated against.

"When we begin to say they have rights, rights to demonstrate publicly, pretty soon, we'll find the rights of pedophiles," he said.

The archbishop has made controversial comments in the past.

In 2003, he argued that only 1 million Jews died in the Holocaust, though a few years later he recanted. Experts say 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.

Last year, he outraged Jewish groups in Brazil by telling a magazine that "more Catholics than Jews died in the Holocaust, but this isn't known because the Jews control the world's media."

Grings told The Associated Press at that time he was trying to advocate for the millions of non-Jewish victims of the Nazis.

* * *

Grings was appointed bishop by John Paul II in 1991. [source]

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Anonymous Henry said...

Prickliest Pear,

You are being disingenuous because you are distorting the document (and the teachings of the Faith) – shame on you, you know better!

#25 of “Lumen Gentium” makes it clear that it is ONLY in matters of faith and morals that the bishops speak in the name of Christ (see extract below).

…Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. (Lumen Gentium 25)

So, being stupid does not prevent the Resurrected Christ, who overcomes all obstacles, from using His divinely appointed shepherd to teach the truth in matters of faith and morals.

4:20 p.m.  
Blogger PrickliestPear said...


I'm not being disingenuous at all. Of course the document does not claim that every utterance of a bishop should be taken as if it came from Christ itself, and I have every confidence that readers of this blog are aware of that. But when a bishop repeatedly demonstrates that he is a fool with a twisted worldview, it is quite legitimate to doubt that he is indeed a "divinely appointed shepherd," as you put it.

To imagine that someone so obviously lacking in moral insight can be trusted to teach accurately in matters of faith and morals when doing so "officially" is ridiculous. Bishops do not suddenly become puppets of the Holy Spirit when they put on their mitres. People with legitimate authority know that one teaches not only through official pronouncements, but through one's entire life, including one's conduct in public and comments made to the media.

There is a massive incongruity between the exalted claims the magisterium makes about the office of the episcopacy and the quality of many of the men who occupy that office, and that is the point I was making.

10:55 p.m.  
Anonymous Henry said...

Prickliest Pear,

Since we are both finished using loaded language can we actually look at the argument being made?

Perhaps I am misreading your unstated premise, but you seem to be implying that being “a fool with a twisted worldview” somehow invalidates the sacrament of Holy Orders. However, if that is indeed what you are implying then I suggest you compare that assertion with what the Church herself says about the sacraments: “The sacraments are means of justification instituted by Christ and they are efficacious independently of the faith and virtue, though not of the intention of the minister. They confer grace ex opere operato on all who do not place an obstacle, without prejudice to grace ex opere operantis according to the dispositions of the recipient.” Hence my sentence: “So, being stupid does not prevent the Resurrected Christ, who overcomes all obstacles, from using His divinely appointed shepherd to teach the truth in matters of faith and morals.”

Regarding your second paragraph, so reading one article, which may or may not be accurate, makes you conclude that this Bishop is lacking in moral insight – is that right? Is it possible he was using hyperbole to get people’s attention, or maybe he had a bad day? In any event, don’t you think it would be wise to read more of what he has written so that one can make an informed judgment?

I actually agree with you that the quality of the men chosen to be Bishops is often mystifying, and I offer Mahoney (who was much worse than Law in covering for abusive priests) and Weakland (who is now espousing dissent to justify moral failings) as prime examples.

Regarding “claims the magisterium makes about the episcopacy” what do you think those claims are? Please cite magisterial documents (and not the opinions of theologians) so that I can see what you are referring to.



12:53 a.m.  
Blogger PrickliestPear said...


Perhaps I am misreading your unstated premise, but you seem to be implying that being “a fool with a twisted worldview” somehow invalidates the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Not at all. I'm saying that it casts doubt on the individual's claim to be an authentic authority. One does not become an authentic authority by undergoing an ordination ritual or by occupying this or that office.

I don't see how anything I wrote has anything at all to do with the sacraments. A sacrament does not give someone authority.

I don't think there is any question that someone is lacking in moral insight if they would say publicly (or privately for that matter) that more Catholics died in the Holocaust than Jews, but that this is not known because Jews control the media. This is not the kind of thing someone says simply because they are having a bad day. And even it it was, they would later apologise for having said so. Grings did not apologise, but tried unconvincingly to explain his comments away. And no, my comment was not based on one article, I've read a great deal about Grings in the past.

2:01 p.m.  
Anonymous Henry said...

Prickliest Pear,

I actually agree with you that Grings is not the sharpest pencil in the pack and that he has said some stupid things and probably will do so again in the future; but I am really confused about the rest of our discussion.

Perhaps if I outline what I am thinking we can together see a way to harmonize what we are each saying.

If you were appointed to be the supervisor of my department, you objectively have that authority whether I like you or not, think you are smart or not, etc., because it is something objective. Yes, I could say, as you did, that the head office made “another fine appointment” but, it seems to me, that I could not argue that you are not a legitimate supervisor especially because the “head office” appointed you. (Whether I want to listen to you or not, is another matter altogether!)

Well, Gings is a Bishop and because he is a Bishop he is part of the sacrament of Holy Orders and, moreover, through the “head office” he has received Episcopal consecration.

Now here is what the Church teaches about these two facts:

#1536 in the CCC: Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.

#1558: "Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling… In fact… by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative (in Eius persona agant)." "By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors."

Ok, so I hope I have clearly outlined my reasons for what I believe and I am interested in understanding what you are asserting because I clearly do not understand what that is.

I hope you are having a better day at work than I am – it’s been nuts here!



3:24 p.m.  
Blogger crystal said...

Depressing and yet sadly not surprising.

10:27 p.m.  
Blogger TheraP said...

If this guy blithely believes that engaging in same sex activity is normal for adolescents, then he must have done so himself. And he's likely telling us more about himself than he realizes. (People often try to justify their own behavior by saying "everyone does it." So if he thinks "society is pedophile...")

And since he's apparently never been a parent, he seems to have no idea that the vast majority of fathers (or mothers) are horrified by pedophilia. How he can imagine society is "pedophile" - when even in prisons pedophiles are the lowest of the low and literally have to be protected as other inmates will seek to harm them - well... (go back to the end of my first paragraph).

9:18 a.m.  
Blogger PrickliestPear said...

My apologies for not responding sooner; I have been rather busy.


Remember when I said that I think you approach things from a very different theological perspective than I do? This is what I was talking about. It appears to me that there is no way to "harmonize" what we are saying, because as far as I can tell, our views on authority are radically different.

The official teachings imagine that simply occupying a position of official leadership within the church confers authority upon an individual, regardless of the individual's competence. You apparently agree with this. I do not.

I really have little interest in what bishops tell us about their own authority. Quoting documents written by bishops to legitimate the authority of bishops is no more legitimate than quoting the Bible to show that the Bible is true. The magisterium would love everyone to believe that authority was handed down from Jesus (and therefore from God) to the apostles, and then from the apostles to the bishops, their "successors."

Unfortunately, authority doesn't work that way. It would be great if it did. It would be great if the people who really knew what they were talking about were clearly labeled as such, and all we had to do was read the label. But they are not. One doesn't have to look very hard to find that many of the men authorised by the institution to serve as teachers of morality evidently have difficulty making even elementary distinctions between right and wrong. (Do I need to provide examples?) So whatever the label of "bishop" means, it very clearly does not mean that someone is an authentic authority in matters of morals, despite what the bishops themselves will tell you.

I don't understand what you are getting at with your analogy about department supervisors and whatever. Your supervisor's task is to make sure you do your job properly. They may be incompetent, and they may tell you to do something that will screw things up. In this case, obedience will not have a happy result, but disobedience will still get you in trouble, and possibly cost you your livelihood. Obedience and disobedience both have negative consequences. The same is not true in the case of incompetent bishops (or religious leaders of any kind, at least in countries where we are free to practise our religion as we choose, and as long as our livelihood does not depend on obedience to said leaders). Obedience in such a situation has negative consequences, but disobedience does not. In matters of religion, obedience is authentic only when authority is authentic, and this authenticity is not guaranteed just because someone has undergone some sacramental ritual.

I don't know if any of the foregoing clarifies what I said earlier. The subject of authority is fundamental in matters of faith, and I can't really do justice to my views on the subject in a blog post, much less a comment on a blog post. And I have no doubt the same is true in your case as well. So perhaps we are talking past each other, and what I am saying is not addressing your objection.

2:50 p.m.  
Blogger PrickliestPear said...


I think it's going a bit far to insist that Grings himself must have engaged in same-sex activity as an adolescent, although I admit I did wonder if he was indeed "telling us more about himself than he realizes," as you suggest. There are very good reasons why little boys tend to play with little boys, and little girls play with little girls, and it's not because of same-sex sexual attraction (at least, not most of the time).

I don't know what he meant when he said "society is pedophile," and I even went to the trouble of consulting a Portuguese-speaking friend to be sure that that's what he actually said. (It is.)

Your point that he would better understand why parents understand the horror of pedophilia is well taken. Can anyone really argue that the current scandal in the Church would have been seriously mitigated if there were actual parents, in sufficient numbers, within the hierarchy?

Anyways, enough about Grings. Like a lot of hierarchs, he has made himself irrelevant and not really worth talking about.

2:52 p.m.  
Anonymous Henry said...


You've piqued my interest and so I will add "authority" to our e-mail discussion because, as you said, we really can't do justice to it here.


3:55 p.m.  
Blogger Peg Baker said...

I continue to follow your blog with interest. Thank you for your dedicated watch-doggedness.

6:23 a.m.  

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