.- The Catholic Bishop of Lancaster Patrick O'Donohue has criticized his fellow bishops of England and Wales for their weak responses to modern crises, especially those produced by issues like secularism and homosexual adoption. Arguing that efforts to achieve consensus often results in the loss of the âscandalâ and âfollyâ of the Gospel, he says consensus building can result in Christians no longer being the âsaltâ and âleavenâ needed for the world. Instead, Bishop OâDonohue says, bishopsâ conference statements must be âpassionate and courageousâ and must dare to âspeak the full truth in love.â
âConfident, courageous and prophetic bishops [are] vital for the well-being of the Church during this time of increasingly aggressive secularism," Bishop OâDonohue writes in a 92-page document titled âFit for Mission? Church.â
The bishop emphasizes his âdisappointmentâ that the bishopsâ conference could not agree on a collegial response to government legislation on same-sex adoption, reports LifeSiteNews.com, which says it has acquired an advance copy of the document.
He also charges some Catholic agencies with failing to uphold the âfullness of the Church's teachingâ in their collaboration with secular agencies, adding that staffers at Catholic agencies dedicated to education or development are in a position to witness to the truth of the Churchâs teaching.
A controversy last year over government requirements to adopt children to homosexual couples revealed that many agencies had a policy of allowing children to be adopted to single homosexuals, sometimes with the tacit blessing of the local bishop.
Bishop O'Donohue had suggested that the Catholic social service agency refuse to adopt children to anyone who is not in a legal marriage, saying âThere must be no back peddling on these issues just because certain truths are unwelcome in the corridors of power.â
âWe have talked too much and done too little. We have witnessed over the past forty years a growing crisis in the Catholic understanding or self-identity of the Church...Have we forgotten what it is to be Catholic?â he asks in the document.
Noting what he calls a âlack of confidence and knowledge of the Catholic faithâ during his preparatory consultations for the document, he also calls for a revival of apologetics.
Turning his attention towards his fellow bishops, Bishop OâDonohue calls for bishops to âre-exercise their individual teaching charism.â
âThe passion to serve the Lord is noticeably absent in many cases,â he claims. âThere seems to be at times a tiredness and reticence to preach the gospel.â
The bishop argues that episcopal conference statements, trying to achieve a consensus among âbishops with sometimes divergent views,â have a tendency to be âflat and âsafeâ.â This consensus-building results âoften in the loss of the 'scandal' and the 'folly' of the Gospel, so that we are no longer the 'salt' and 'leaven' so urgently needed.â
He suggests that episcopal conferenceâs division of responsibility among the bishops in areas such as education, healthcare, and liturgy has resulted in a âreluctance among the rest of the bishops to speak out on these issues.â
Bishop OâDonohueâs document is reportedly set for publication next week. It is being produced as he prepares to retire.
Daphne McLeod, a Catholic lay activist who heads the organization Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, welcomed the document, LifeSiteNews.com reports.
âWhat he's saying is what we've all been saying for years, but now it's a bishop saying it. We can use it and quote it and build on it. So yes, it's a very good thing," she said.