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By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Jan 11, 2005

Russell Shaw has some judicious remarks on the November elections.

Barring major changes in the USCCB, bishops of the Chaput-Myers-Burke variety are likely to continue speaking and acting on their own in the future, without letting a dysfunctional episcopal conference inhibit them.

A Catholic convert from evangelical Protestantism remarked to a friend of mine: "Bishops teach different things. The Holy See doesn't label them for me. In order to decide which bishop is teaching authentic doctrine, I have to use private judgment. That means, in order to be a Catholic, I have to be a Protestant."

The man's complaint is not entirely accurate. After all, it's not private judgment to use the catechism (where possible) to determine which bishops are Catholic and which are not. But the fact that he must do it at all shows that Shaw's word "dysfunctional" is a euphemism, and a dangerous one at that.

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  • Posted by: rob924 - Jan. 11, 2005 7:48 PM ET USA

    have any of you armchair theologians of cwn ever studied "subsidiarity"?

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2005 7:39 PM ET USA

    Shaw's use of "dysfunctional" is accurate. It is a dysfunction when a bishop does not use the three-fold mission of his office to do what he needs to do. And when they don't do it collectively, it's still dysfunctional. What word are you looking for, Diogenes? Heretical? Sinful? Shaw realizes the nature of the episcopal office - no matter how poorly it is exercised - and gives those who hold it the respect they are owed while also giving them the 'whatfor' they need in language they understand.

  • Posted by: O'Solanus - Jan. 11, 2005 10:10 AM ET USA

    Archbishop Myers is of the "variety" that undercuts a good statement on the responsibility of Catholic politicians as soon as there is pushback and a phone call from the New Jersey Catholic Conference pointing out that their entitlement wish-list in the legislature might be jeopardized. In fact, he made clear that his statement was not addressed to Governor McGreevey and that he is fond of the former Governor. To include him with Archbishops Burke and Chaput is unfair to those good shepherds.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jan. 11, 2005 1:11 AM ET USA

    Dysfunctional...that's a nice way of putting it. Re: the convert who remarked to a friend of yours... I hope he was pointed in the right direction: CCC, Church Councils, Papal Encyclicals, Church Fathers & Doctors, etc. Authentic doctrine can be found & grasped. NOW, if a Bishop teaches contrary to what the Church teaches then I hope this person would "protest." I think the key maybe for this person to recognize which Bishops are protestant in order that he might stir clear & remain Catholic.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 11, 2005 12:32 AM ET USA

    I've always found Russell Shaw to be judicious. Not interesting or insightful, but definitely judicious. He makes an interesting point of certain bishops abandoning the USCCB as a platform. However, although I haven't personally read it elsewhere, if Shaw has written it, it's probably been written better for another, prior publication. Shaw is the OSV/NCRegister sort of journalist who, at best, restates controversial matters after the controversy has blown over. He's one reason CWN is worth $30.

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