This article is worth a read. Michael Sean Winters quotes archbishop emeritus Chaput:
But then he gets to the central contention of his article: “And any suggestion that EWTN is unfaithful to the Church, the Second Vatican Council, or the Holy See is simply vindictive and false.”
Chaput seems to be defending EWTN. But since he was a board member and Bishop during most of the time period in question, he is defending himself. If EWTN were unfaithful in some of its programming, he’d be partly responsible. And clearly, that is the case. Arroyo’s The World Over is a prime example.
The other point, which Winters makes well, is that Chaput is essentially accusing Pope Francis of being vindictive and speaking a falsehood. (Lying would be speaking a falsehood deliberately and knowingly.)
This brings up a larger issue. Many of the problems in the Church today, in the realm of lack of faith in magisterial teachings and in the shepherds of the Magisterium, are caused by the faithful siding with some group in contradiction to the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops in communion and obedience to him. This is true on the left, where some Catholics prefer the teachings of modern culture over the magisterium, and on the right, where some prefer to teachings of the conservative or traditionalist subcultures over the magisterium. Chaput’s error mirrors their error, except that he is siding with a television network, treating It like the Magisterium or the Church.
The Church, the Pope, and the body of Bishops led by the Pope are each indefectible. EWTN is not indefectible. So it can be said:
“And any suggestion that the Pope or the body of Bishops led by him are unfaithful to the Church, the Second Vatican Council, Scripture or Tradition is simply vindictive and false.”
But a similar statement, as made by Chaput, wrongly attributes indefectibility to a TV network, in opposition (to a limited extent in this case) to the indefectible Roman Pontiff.
Certainly, a Pope can err in an off-the-cuff comment to the media. But it is manifest that EWTN deserves this criticism of the Pope. Then the Pope’s criticism of wider scope that those who attack the Church are doing the work of the devil was well spoken and Christ-like. EWTN needs to be very careful not to fall into that error of attacking the Church or the Pope, about which the Pope warned them charitably.
Defending the network and giving it blind confidence appears to transfer one’s allegiance from the Magisterium to the network — which I’m sure is not what bishop Chaput intended. But that is the clear implication of his words. It is never the case that a group of fallen sinners — apart from the indefectibility that is from Christ — can be said to be necessarily always faithful and above any reproach. And Chaput’s inference that the suggestion of the Pope was vindictive and false was rightly criticized by NCR and Winters.
So many problems in the Church are solvable by faith in the Church. Chaput needs to remember where his allegiance belongs: first and foremost with the Roman Pontiff.
Saint John Henry Newman:
We must never suffer ourselves to doubt, that, in his government of the Church, he is guided by an intelligence more than human. His yoke is the yoke of Christ, he has the responsibility of his own acts, not we; and to his Lord must he render account, not to us. Even in secular matters it is ever safe to be on his side, dangerous to be on the side of his enemies.
“Our duty is — not indeed to mix up Christ’s Vicar with this or that party of men, because he in his high station is above all parties — but to look at his formal deeds, and to follow him whither he goeth, and never to desert him, however we may be tried, but to defend him at all hazards, and against all comers, as a son would a father, and as a wife a husband, knowing that his cause is the cause of God. And so, as regards his successors, if we live to see them; it is our duty to give them in like manner our dutiful allegiance and our unfeigned service, and to follow them also whithersoever they go, having that same confidence that each in his turn and in his own day will do God’s work and will, which we have felt in their predecessors, now taken away to their eternal reward.
Ronald L Conte Jr