The title is not intended to be polemical, though some may interpret it as such. It is also not intended to judge hearts, that is up to God. It is intended to, however, to identify a strong perception that many bishops seem to do nothing when seeming error, scandal and even probable heresy take place in the diocese. I neither imply that the bishop is a "prisoner" in the Chancery, or that he is a tyrant....
I shall digress to a personal experience that suggests problems at the Chancery level, and subjectively a dismissal of the layman's concern. Such dismissal on a short term can lead to anger, frustration and the hardening of hearts. It can lead to the layman feeling disrespect for the local bishop. It can, eventually, in the longer term lead to schism.
As some of you may know, having read this blog from its beginning, in January we posted on the issue of the now ex-bishop Raymond Lahey. I wrote to the bishops conference and my local Ordinary (Cardinal Collins - also, head of the Ontario bishops) on this issue. Two observations emerged. 1) The bishops dropped the ball due to the weight of bureaucracy (confirmed in private emails from the CCCB to me), and 2) the feeling that something is wrong within the Archdiocese of Toronto vis-a-vis the Cardinal and access by the lay faithful to him. Obviously, a bishop cannot reply to every email or letter sent him. However, on a very important issue, probably it might be a good idea for him to reply. Now - was my letter important? Probably, as Archbishop Smith took it as such, and acted promptly and with decisiveness.
In an experience several years ago, when I wrote to the the then Archbishop, I received an immediate reply. No more. Letters from a Neil McCarthy or a Silvija Vigeon do not supplant the bishop-lay faithful relationship. Is there a corporate culture in Toronto impeding the pastoral activities of our Cardinal? (now, before you become judgmental, let me say that I think our Archdiocese has a very pious archbishop and wonderful priests. As an example, I can point our the patient determination of Fr. Michael Busch in leading men to the priesthood...)
Canonically, the laity have a right of access to their Ordinary. It becomes very, very dangerous - and is objectively and evil - when the bishop cannot be the bishop. Perhaps, part of the problem is that the Archdiocese is far too large? Another post, but a smaller diocese would bring the bishop to the people, as a pastor. let us recall Cardinal Woytila in Krakow - or, for that matter even as Pope visiting all the parishes of Rome as a pastor. When did your bishops ever make a simple pastoral visit to your parish? It is time for bishops TO BE bishops.
Perhaps it is time to break the Archdiocese of Toronto down into a size that actually allows the Archbishop to be a pastor, to be able to visit parishes, to rub shoulders with parishioners, and not be a corporate CEO or prince-bishop whose agenda is drawn up months in advance; distancing him from the people - nay, HIS people, his flock, his sheep.