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Roman Holiday?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 29, 2004

Commit Random Acts of Kindness

The egregious Bishop Thomas O'Brien succeeds in finding yet another way to visit humiliation on the Church in order to indulge his recreational needs.

Maricopa County holds more authority over Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien than the pope these days. That became evident Tuesday when Judge Stephen Gerst, relying on the recommendation of the Maricopa County Probation Department, rejected O'Brien's request to make a 13-day papal visit to the Vatican next month. The request put O'Brien in between his vow of obedience to Pope John Paul II and his obligations to carry out his sentence of three years' probation and 1,000 hours of community service. ...

The pope summoned O'Brien a year ago to the visit, known as Ad Limina, which all bishops are required to make every five years, defense attorney Tom Henze wrote in the request.

The rejection further diminishes the retired bishop's position in the Catholic Church because he can no longer take part in his normal duties, said Carolyn Warner, an Arizona State University political science professor who is an expert on religion and politics.

O'Brien is retired from duty, and his proposed Ad Limina visit could serve no earthly purpose -- except to embarrass his fellow bishops and give him some R&R out of range of the Phoenix news crews. While the press and Prof. Warner are mistaken about the supposed conflict of obligations, they rightly see that the Church will appear feeble and confounded in the public eye, for which we have to thank an almost insane disconnect between the episcopal claim to privilege and unconcern for the responsibilities that justify that privilege.

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