Tragically, the episcopal conference in the U.S. since the council has in many cases usurped the canonical responsibility of the bishop as chief teacher of the faith in his diocese, set down in Lumen Gentium and Christus Dominus. The rapid decentralization of the traditional machinery of church government in the episcopal conference proved imprudent in opening the door to neomodernist-inspired forces discussed in the previous chapters, operant in their committees, commissions and experts. The works of these theologians, priests, sisters and laity began to appear in the syllabi of major seminary professors and on the reading lists of religious and those training to be catechists, I myself among them. A noted Catholic journalist and former spokesman for the U.S. bishops’ conference has written:
That what is involved here can be called a culture [of dissent] is apparent in the fact that dissent has had—and even now continues to have—the support of a powerful infrastructure of organizations, schools, periodicals, and publishing houses. Its weapons include propaganda, mockery, the suppression of opposing views, and the tried-and-true practice of rewarding friends and punishing enemies. It has enjoyed the toleration, and sometimes the patronage, of a substantial number of bishops, though fewer now than in the past. It has been a contributing factor, or worse, to the sex-abuse scandal, the religious illiteracy of young (and not-so-young) American Catholics, and the sharp drop both in priestly and religious vocations and Mass attendance in the post-conciliar years.
And although morality is not the only sphere where dissent has been operative, it is the one where dissent has been most obvious and has had the greatest immediate impact.
So it was that many bishops, psychologically ill-prepared to do battle in this direct challenge to their divinely-assigned role as shepherds, permitted the smoke from these dissidents to seep into their sanctuaries. As we have witnessed, more often than not this has rendered the Body of Christ hostage to those attempting to prevail against Peter and his successors, in no small way through use of the media….