What is coming apparent from this shameful episode is that the only thing that those who hold the levers of power in the English church really fear is consistent pressure and criticism from the laity. Without it, they can conveniently ignore the Holy Father and carry on as if he did not exist.
For the reality is is that Rome is not in a position to deal with the dissent, compromise and corruption that has infected the upper ranks of the ecclesiastical bureaucracy. The elites at Eccleston Square have too many powerful allies in the curia for anything to be done about them. It is not a coincidence that Archbishop Piero Marini, the former papal MC, chose to launch his book about the liturgical reform in Archbishop's house in Westminster.
Among the rank and file of the English clergy are some really first rate pastors and intellectuals, young, old and middle aged, who are faithful to their vocations and truly live up to the expectations of the Good Shepherd himself. Alas, they will never be made bishops with the present status quo, and despite the fact England is producing some of the world’s leading Catholic theologians, not one of our present hierarchy has any intellectual stature.
It is essential for the status quo to have a relatively docile and 'sheepish' laity, and a Catholic press that repeats platitudes that all is well and the church is undergoing great renewal. It may be easy to deal with Rome, but a revolt in the pews is another matter. Damien Thompson's open criticism of the hierarchy may not be entirely just, but it is clear that it is a serious threat to the powers that be, for it is causing discontent among the faithful, and must be silenced.
St. Thomas Aquinas has said "When the faith is in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public." We are only bound to the obedience and submission of our pastors insofar as they uphold the tradition, faith and magisterium of the church, as given by the successor of Peter. Should they fail to do this, their authority ceases to that of Christ, but of themselves. Before they can demand our obedience, we must demand their submission to Peter.
As this year draws to a close, the future of the English church lies in the hands not of its bishops, nor of Rome, but of its laity. It is imperative that we make a stand against dissent and compromise, demand that our shepherds feed the flocks entrusted to their care, and give us the rights given in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The development of the internet and blogging has given us a great opportunity to break our silence: let us take full advantage of it. Otherwise we may find the church in this island of saints doomed to extinction.