Now I have to admit I've watched the footage of the protest at Thiberville, Evreux, more than once. Oh, all right. I confess! I did it at least ten times - and I took certain pleasure in it. Indeed, it was not alone, but with others, that I indulged, joyfully and knowingly, in the vice of watching some of the faithful- finally having had enough of their bishop- absolutely hitting the roof. For those of you who haven't seen the footage the highlights include a general booing of the bishop, tugging at his vestments, face to face confrontations, and a general exodus. All this during the ceremony to farewell a long loved pastor and to instigate a new regime. You see the parish of Thiberville may have just been a teensy bit conservative for their ordinary. Whatever the reality of it all, and I'm sure there's fault on both sides (probably heresy for the bishop and some form of gallicanism for the laity) the question still remains; 'Should we publically protest against our bishops?' At the outset I have to say I find it slightly dubious that such a demonstrative protest should happen in front of the Tabernacle. One can only hope that the outgoing parish priest had the sense to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the church before it was used for profane purposes. Anyhow it does seem that it was 'tit for tat' (probably in multiple senses) as the bishop allegedly seems to have tried to interrupt a later celebration of Mass by the priest, in another Chapel, and had to be shown the door.
Two thoughts for the moment. The image of the Christ's cleansing of the temple comes to mind. Certainly the 'gentle Jesus meek and mild' 60s ideology doesn't fit well here. Surely the faithful need to be encouraged to deal with their leaders in a manner that it is likely to get results rather than a hurriedly word processed non committal acknowledgment via that faulty fax machine in the bishop's office. Quite obviously, in Evreux, enough was enough. May that lot of the faithful lead the way for others to dare to give some voice to their anger. Secondly the faithful do have a serious responsibility to protest against error and injustice not only in the world in general (and haven't we heard enough about that in the last 40 years) but also in 'localised' cases including bishops. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Perhaps indeed it is more than a simple responsibility for we find in the writings of St John Chrysostom an absolute gem of apposite wisdom. For he held that it was actually sin not to protest against unorthodoxy.
So when you find a dreary liberal berating you about respect for the episcopacy just remind them of what they thought of civil disobedience all those years ago. The strange look on their face may either mean it's either time for cocoa and 'beddy byes', or the pills haven't kicked in yet, or perhaps, and just perhaps, they might be beginning to realise that their whole new world order is perched to collapse and it's all that gorgeous 'people power' that is going to do it.