Some Proverbs for the Bishops Gathered in Rome

As the summit on sexual abuse begins in Rome, the prelates of the Latin Rite of the Church are reading from the Book of Proverbs in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours. Some of the proverbs listed in today’s reading are particularly appropriate to the task at hand.

He who winks at a fault causes trouble, but he who frankly reproves promotes peace (Prov 10:10).

There is tremendous pressure today to remain silent about sin and evil. Those who do speak of sin are often labeled judgmental and intolerant. Sadly, many Christians have succumbed to this pressure; nothing but trouble can result from such capitulation. The moral cesspool that is our modern age is stark evidence of this.

The correction of faults, frankly and with love, is an act of charity (St. Thomas Aquinas). Error and sin bring war and division, both individually and collectively, but God’s truth, lovingly proclaimed, brings peace by insisting on what is good, right, true, and beautiful.

We live in an age that turns a blind eye to evil. The world often celebrates it in visual entertainment, books, the news media, and music. One can see the destructiveness of the glamorization of evil simply by reading the news.

God’s law is His peace plan for this broken world of ours; it is His wisdom that will bring us peace.

It seems obvious that the failure to correct sin in others and the downplaying of sin are at the heart of this crisis. We pray for our Church leaders to clearly and confidently proclaim God’s law and to courageously correct and reprove error.

A fountain of life is the mouth of the just, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence (Proverbs 10:11).

Jesus warned that Satan and those who are evil often masquerade in sheep’s clothing, while underneath they are ravenous wolves (see Mat 7:15). Many in our world today who despise God’s wisdom attempt to conceal it with euphemistic or deceptive phrases such as pro-choice, pro-woman, no-fault divorce, reproductive freedom, euthanasia, and death with dignity.

Despite the cloak of pseudo-compassion, they ultimately peddle death and division. God’s wisdom, on the other hand, speaks to the dignity of every human life, to hope, and to the promise of eternal life despite difficulties in this world.

We pray that the clergy and leaders of the Church will be like a fountain of truth and justice. Sadly, too many pulpits have been silent; teaching on many critical moral issues has been lacking or even erroneous. Many prefer to speak of tolerance and love in vague and unmoored ways. Tolerance and love have their place, but only in the context of truth and concern for the ultimate good of souls (not necessarily their present comfort).

Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but he who restrains his lips does well (Proverbs 10:19).

In an age of non-stop communication and 24/7 news reporting, the sin of gossip is an almost ever-present temptation. Discretion appears to have been lost.

Our age is one of easy access to various media (e.g., movies, television, books, news, music), and on account of this sin is not wanting. We talk endlessly about other people’s business and often ignore our own issues.

Rare indeed are those who “restrain their lips” and limit their criticism to what is truly helpful unto conversion.

The Pope has warned in this crisis of the need for care in how we speak to it. On the one hand, there has been too much silence and the faithful are rightly finding their voices. However, all of us must restrain the impulse to speak with invective, undue anger, and cynicism; these can generate more heat than light. Many criticisms of the hierarchy are rightly deserved, but we should not fail to praise what is good, to pray for a miraculous conversion, and to assist in crafting solutions that will restore holiness to the Church.

Crime is the entertainment of the fool; so is wisdom for the man of sense (Proverbs 10:23).

Our culture often celebrates the sins of others as entertainment. Fornication, adultery, and all kinds of sexual misconduct are normalized—even celebrated—in books, movies, and on television.

It is the same with violence. Most adventure movies today glamorize its use to solve problems.

Where are the movies that depict wisdom, beauty, love, truth, chastity, and strong families? There are some out there, but they are far outnumbered by those that celebrate crime, violence, dysfunction, and sinfulness.

As the prelates gather in Rome, we must recall that we are dealing with a cultural issue, not just a Church issue. Our whole culture has turned foolishness into entertainment and proposes we not take grave error seriously. We pray that Church leaders will realize anew our obligation to return to the font of God’s wisdom as the source of truth. Pleasing the world by conformity to its language and narrative is neither our role nor our goal. Proclaiming God’s truth is our purpose and our mandate.

When the tempest passes, the wicked man is no more; but the just man is established forever (Proverbs 10:25).

The truth will out. Evil will not remain; it cannot last. Christ has already won the victory.

The foolish keep resisting; they laugh at God’s wisdom, dismiss the Scriptures, and reject Church teaching. When they are gone, though, we will still be here proclaiming Christ crucified, gloriously resurrected, and ascended to glory.

Though the Lord permits His enemies time to repent, their days are ultimately numbered—evil cannot last.

As the bishops gather, we pray that they will see the need to purge evil from the Church, to resist the pressure to succumb to the spirit of the age. Pray that they recall we will ultimately win only with loyalty to Christ Jesus. Persecution is not the worst thing in life; compromise with the world and dying in our sins is. The victory is in the Lord Jesus, who was crucified to this world, rose gloriously, and is reigning over a Kingdom that is established forever.

These are just a few proverbs that are particularly appropriate for our bishops as they gather. Please pray for them all.


Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: Some Proverbs for the Bishops Gathered in Rome

5 Replies to “Some Proverbs for the Bishops Gathered in Rome”

  1. Thank you Msgr. Pope, The Lord as truly blessed you as one of His Ambassadors. May He continue to abundantly bless and empower you as you touch and lead so many in the right direction. Praying for and with you. Stand Strong.

  2. “The correction of faults, frankly and with love, is an act of charity (St. Thomas Aquinas). Error and sin bring war and division, both individually and collectively, but God’s truth, lovingly proclaimed, brings peace by insisting on what is good, right, true, and beautiful.”

    I feel like this is the crux of your whole article, in that the world doesn’t seem to recognize what is good, right, true, and beautiful. Thanks to a couple generations of weak Catholicism, we now have a world that can’t recognize God or their need for Him.

    The seed we need to plant is in ourselves. We need to be openly Catholic. It’s bold and scary, but we’ve allowed this all to happen and this is the price we must pay. If we give correction with love, we must also accept it with grace.

    The key to effective evangelization I think, is to be authentically faithfully consistently Catholic and then getting out of the way and letting Jesus shine through. Often the corrections we offer won’t be heard. Many people have built high enough walls to keep us out and we cannot scale those with just words. In order to reach our fellow travelers, they must want to take down their walls, and that requires they see something on the other side worth the risk of exposing the brokenness of their hearts.

    There is only so much my words can do if you aren’t predisposed to the message, but you can see how I act, what I do, if I’m a hypocrite, if I cower in the face of opposition, or if I am exactly who I say I am no matter the cost. The martyr Saints evangelized so many they never met precisely this way. We need to return to that level of love for our faith and our fellow man.

  3. “As snow in summer, and rain in harvest, so glory is not seemly for a fool.” — Proverbs 26:1
    Clergy (more than perhaps anyone else) need to concentrate on actually being wise — in their actions, not just in their words — rather than seek the vain trappings of prestige or the favor of celebrities.

    “A whip for a horse, and a snaffle for an ass, and a rod for the back of fools.” — Proverbs 26:3
    Those who will not take guidance from wisdom must be directed less gently.

    There are some choice words from Ecclesiastes that fit, as well.

  4. Uh, sure…fair points about the culture war in the world, but isn’t the summit about clergy sex abuse, predominately of minors, and the subsequent decades long cover up and denial by many in the church’s hierarchy? This isn’t about the “pro choice movement” or “video game violence” or whatever out in the streets (which I don’t defend); this is about leaders in the church doing Satan’s work in an almost perfectly unholy way for many decades. I feel like you’re largely missing, or at least conflating the point here. Not even our depraved popular culture, which you spend much of this post criticizing, “celebrates” sexually abusing kids! A penance of sack cloths and ashes among the clergy for a year or two would be a good start coming out of this summit. Do that, and we can maybe get back to focusing on the evils outside the church. But please, don’t dilute the focus of this week’s work in Rome.

  5. This weeks efforts in Rome should be putting the Homosexual distorted view front and center where it belongs to come out and criticize all those who partake in this tremendous evil and the spinoff is pedophilia. This must be rooted out and stopped at every level within Holy Mother Church. There needs to be no tolerance for any Cardinal, Bishop, or priest who practice and live the Homosexual lifestyle. Clean house and a fresh start is what is needed.
    Yours in JMJ,
    One crying in the wilderness make straight the way of the Lord.

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