Faithful Catholics consider their bishops untrustworthy, Complicit Clergy survey finds – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) – Nearly 65% of participants in a 2023 Complicit Clergy survey do not trust their diocesan bishop and 46% believe their bishop holds unorthodox views.

Participants were asked two questions:

  1. How much do you trust your bishop?
  2. What is your personal opinion of your bishop’s orthodoxy (consistency with the teachings of the Catholic Church)?

Respondents could then rank the prelate who leads their diocese on a scale of zero to five, with zero being “completely distrust” or “completely unorthodox,” and a five being “completely trust” or “completely orthodox.”

The prelates received an average vote of 1.97 for trustworthiness and 2.5 for orthodoxy.

“A total of 5,782 survey responses were received for 180 bishops (13 bishops had no responses),” Complicit Clergy, a project of the Lepanto Institute, explained in its findings. “Responses were limited to one survey per IP address to eliminate the possibility of multiple submissions.”

Graphic via Complicit Clergy

“It is also noteworthy that the higher a bishop rises in the hierarchy, the lower their scores.”

The same four bishops had the highest rankings for both trust and orthodoxy: Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas; Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco; Bishop Steven Lopes of the Anglican Ordinariate; and Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon. (One bishop, Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk of the diocese of St. Nicholas of Chicago for Ukrainians, received a 5 in both categories, but only one respondent provided information about him. Complicit Clergy categorized the prelates with highest and lowest ratings based on those who received rankings from 20 or more people.)

Strickland is one of the most outspoken defenders of Catholic orthodoxy within the U.S. episcopate. In June 2023, he was subjected to an apostolic visitation from the Vatican – on the heels of his speaking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ honoring of the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” an anti-Catholic group of drag queens. Cordileone and Sample are well-known to LifeSiteNews readers for their defenses of Catholic doctrine and liturgy over the years. 

Followers of Complicit Clergy tend to be faithful Catholics, although a small number of comments left by respondents showed that some heterodox individuals apparently took the survey and complained about certain bishops being too “conservative.”

McElroy, Cupich, Gregory, Tobin, and Stowe receive worst ratings for trustworthiness and orthodoxy

The bishops with the lowest rankings for trust were Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego; Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago; Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C.; and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey. McElroy, Cupich, and Tobin also received the lowest orthodoxy rankings along with Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky.

READ: Cdl. Gregory cancels first post-Roe Youth Rally and Mass for Life ahead of 2023 march

Graphic via Complicit Clergy

In 2019, Stowe released a “prayer card” for homosexual “pride” month. The Catholic Church teaches that sodomy, as well as the inclination toward it, is intrinsically evil (CCC 2357). In 2020, Stowe released a “Pride Month” video lamenting “white privilege” and saying he is sorry “that the Church has not been as welcoming as it should be in many cases.” Stowe has also taken part in an LGBT “blessing” ceremony alongside accused sex abusers. It was hosted by Dignity USA, which rejects Church teaching on several points of faith and morals. He has also broken with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by supporting the anti-Christian Equality Act.

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In 2021, when societal animosity toward “unvaccinated” people was at an all-time high, Stowe ordered at least two of his priests to reveal their COVID-19 injection status and forbade priests who haven’t taken the jabs from ministering to the sick and housebound.

Cupich and Gregory, whose profiles have risen dramatically during the current pontificate, are both known for their hostility toward the Traditional Latin Mass. McElroy, Cupich, and Gregory were hand-picked by Pope Francis to participate in the October Synod on Synodality.

Tobin has floated the idea of female cardinals and personally welcomed an “LGBT pilgrimage” to his cathedral. In February 2018, Tobin tweeted and then deleted “nighty-night, baby. I love you.” He said the tweet was “meant as a private communication with one of my sisters.”

As the leader of one of disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s dioceses, Tobin has also faced questions about how much he knew about McCarrick’s predation before details of it became public.

Arlington Catholics repeatedly bring up ‘unjust’ suppression of Traditional Latin Mass

Complicit Clergy also invited survey participants to submit comments about their bishops, which were then published as part of the survey results. At least 14 comments mentioned the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Over 200 mentioned the Traditional Latin Mass.

Diocese of Arlington Catholics were divided in their comments about Bishop Michael Burbidge, who has overseen one of the harshest crackdowns on the Mass of the Ages in his diocese. Before Traditionis custodes, Arlington was well-known around the world for its large number of parish priests who offered the Old Rite.

“Bent over backwards to preserve TLM access, and got little credit for it,” one respondent insisted.

“If he openly rebelled against the Pope the Bishop might have been replaced with someone like Cupich and we’d much worse off,” another mused.

“Bishop Burbidge’s moves to greatly restrict the TLM have all but destroyed my trust in his leadership,” another Arlington Catholic wrote. “I have no confidence that he is more concerned about the spiritual health of his flock than in currying favor with Pope Francis.”

Others commented:

  • Completely caved by canceling most of the thriving TLMs in the diocese, leaving the few remaining ones in makeshift, tiny locations. This is unjust and not shepherding the faithful. Sadly, he shows that he is more in support of the pope’s cruel punishments to traditional Catholics than saving souls.
  • Conciliar bishop. Was pretty quick to send Latin Mass Catholics to their ghettos. Celebrated an “ecumenical service” in the spring with 2 heretics. Totally vanilla. Tweets in his name never comment on Church problems, Bergoglian apostasies, and fellow bishops’ nonsense. Keeps his nose clean.
  • He persecutes the SSPX in the diocese while at the same time holding “ecumenical” prayer services with Protestants including female “pastors.” He’s conservative on moral issues like abortion and the trans stuff but theologically he’s very much a modernist.
  • So very disappointed that he removed so many Traditional Latin Masses from our diocese and they will cease to be allowed in the future. Catholicism and the Deposit of Faith is all about passing on tradition. I pray for him every day that he will reconsider his decision.

Catholics remember 2020: ‘I cried watching Mass on TV and not being able receive my Lord’

Many commenters from around the country criticized their bishops for shutting down churches and banning priests from offering public Masses during the draconian coronavirus lockdown in 2020.

Graphic via Complicit Clergy

The sentiment expressed by survey takers indicates that the laity have not forgotten that every bishop went along with coronavirus tyranny to varying degrees – every single U.S. bishop shut down public Masses in his diocese in 2020.

Some of the comments about bishops’ handling of coronavirus hysteria included:

  • I’m still mad about the way the bishop handled the shutdown. Keeping people away from the sacraments — how did he even consider that? (Galveston-Houston – Cardinal Daniel DiNardo)
  • Always talking about need to get rid of nuclear weapons but little, if ever any leadership on faith issues. What little he does comment on is completely unorthodox. He vanished during Covid except to close down churches and Mass. Even when our governor allowed churches to reopen, he did not. (Santa Fe – Archbishop John Wester)
  • He’s bought into the woke agenda. Completely shut down mass during the pandemic. Mandated Covid vaccines for all priests, parish staff, teachers, and volunteers. I would expect bishops to more wisely discern issues such as this than to appease overly tyrannical leaders. (Seattle – Archbishop Paul Etienne)
  • Failed to stand up for us during Covid. Shut everything down when what we needed was Mass and adoration. I was so depressed. Couldn’t even “watch” Mass on Sunday mornings as there were a select group who were allowed in the church, and it killed me to watch them receive the Eucharist. (St. Paul and Minneapolis – Archbishop Bernard Hebda)
  • Things that mattered to me: 1. Coercion of his priests to get vaccinated. 2. Shutting down parishes during Covid. 3. Promoting the vaccines by posting picture of himself getting it on social media. 4. Restricting the TLM to only 2 parishes. 5. Focuses on social justice instead of salvation of souls. (Toledo – Bishop Daniel Thomas)
  • During COVID lockdowns, he did not do his job and administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. He had the parish priest at St. Ambrose Church do it. The Chrism was applied by cotton balls, ashes on Ash Wednesday by Q-tips, hand sanitizers but no holy water fonts. Now we have self-dispensing holy water (Allentown – Bishop Alfred Schlert)
  • Lost my support during Covid – disgusting how he pushed the vaccine! Was hostile to religious exemptions, no respect for individuals’ right to freely choose what they place into their body.  I’m also upset how the church acts in partnership with the US government in the human trafficking at border! (Atlanta – Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer)
  • I wish he wouldn’t have given in so easily and closed our churches during COVID. It was very hard to not be able to have access to the sacraments. This was especially difficult during Easter and Divine Mercy. I cried watching Mass on TV and not being able receive my Lord. (Bismarck – Bishop David Kagan)

The full survey results, as well as interactive data visualization tools, can be found here.


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