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ends & means

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 10, 2006

George Weigel on lay discontent, and its discontents:

The Long Lent of 2002 has left a residue of deep, and in some cases, smoldering, lay discontent with the Church's episcopal leadership. Catholics have understood that a scandal of clerical sexual misconduct became a crisis of enormous (and, in financial terms, still untold) proportions because of the failures of bishops: failures that were theological as well as managerial.

Some, perhaps many, bishops believe that this reaction is unfair, that the entire episcopate is being maligned for the malfeasance of a few. There is perhaps some truth in that complaint, but until the bishops of the United States show a far greater capacity for self-correction than they've shown to date, lay discontent will continue. And it will likely grow.

That discontent, which often focuses on inept administration, has already taken some unhelpful forms. The Boston-based Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, while identifying some real problems in Church governance, has addressed those problems with proposals that would, in effect, turn the Catholic Church in America into another liberal Protestant denomination.

Any structural or managerial reforms, says Weigel, "must clearly protect the bishop's authority as governor of his local Church while freeing him to be the apostle --- the evangelical witness --- he was ordained to be. That's a tall order, but not an impossible one."

Very true. But it is an impossible order if bishops continue to permit themselves to frame the quandary in managerial terms. Your Uncle Di has argued earlier that The Crisis is unfixable because it's not the kind of problem the problem-solvers can stand outside of. It's not a question of weighing different approaches to the same end; incompatible ends are at stake, each with its cadre of bishops, priests, and laity in support. Benedict XVI and Benedict XV and Benedict I belong to a single communion; those clergy in Canada and Minnesota who have declared their dissent are trying to claw their way out of it. Like Rebekah, the Church has two nations in her womb. Her spouse, like Isaac, has only one blessing to give.

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  • Posted by: benedictusoblatus - Mar. 15, 2006 11:50 AM ET USA

    I wish the solution were just a matter of "waiting out" the liberally poisoned generation of priests trained between 1960 and 1980+. Doubtless that will help. The problem will be solved when people begin to realize priests are not called to be social workers and genial entertainers. They are soldiers in a conflict with eternal consequences. The souls they save are happy forever. The souls they fail to save are lost forever. Return to this message and the seminaries will be overflowing.

  • Posted by: benedictusoblatus - Mar. 15, 2006 11:44 AM ET USA

    The priesthood and episcopal "office" today are all about making the world a better place. Once upon a time wiser heads prevailed and realized the world cannot be saved, but souls can. Priests wore black cassocks and read Latin books steeped in ancient wisdom and unchangeable truth. They almost anonymously offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - quietly, reverently, facing God and His Altar and encouraging the people to unite their hearts and minds (if not mouths) with their prayers.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2006 11:54 AM ET USA

    The "Long Lent" obviously has not ended, and it's obtuse to continue to refer to in discrete terms. The recent events in Chicago demonstrate this beyond cavil. There will not be some sudden renascence of the church through personnel changes in the episcopacy. Rather, there will be an increasing lack of defined faith. One finds fault with the bishops not simply because they're incompetent managers, but because their moral values no longer correspond to those who define themselves as faithful.

  • Posted by: wvcatholic - Mar. 13, 2006 9:23 AM ET USA

    The fundamental problem is much deeper - the "me" generation (that is anyone living today.). It is the same issue as in the later post on American's opposition to abortion except in cases of "rape, incest, and me." People across the entire liberal/orthodox spectrum are willing to be obedient only to the extent that it means agreeing with the views they already hold. Few today are willing to die to themselves and truly abandon their own will to the will of God expressed through his Church.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2006 9:05 AM ET USA

    Allowing the blame to be placed on the holy Catholic Church instead of the individuals that violated its doctrines will one day come back to haunt the American bishops. It is unconscionable that parishioners were required to pay for the sins of their bishops and priests that violate their vows. Justice is indeed blind.

  • Posted by: Eagle - Mar. 13, 2006 6:32 AM ET USA

    Uncle Di is, not unpredictably, correct in acknowledging that the "fix" of episcopal ineptitude, and, for some, moral turpitude, lies not among the members of "the club", but by higher authority. Bishops are no different than physicians who do not testify againt each other, the Fraternal Order of Police who "see no evil" among themselves, or any other group. Physicians need lawyers, cops need chiefs, and Bishops need the Pope. Papal governance, not papal pleas, is required to restore trust.

  • Posted by: principle not pragmatism - Mar. 11, 2006 3:43 PM ET USA

    I believe that the problem with Cardinal{designate] O'Malley is, that he has not yet found out who his friends and enemies are.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 11, 2006 12:25 AM ET USA

    I really wish I had a good way to respond to these things at length. That is my simple post, as any attempt to respond in a ten-second sound-byte would be an insult to the integrity of both the poster, and my response. Bye now, on that, I suppose. Trust God. Trust the Holy Spirit's influence on the Pope. Trust in the Prodigal prodigy, and the hope that he and she will go off on all of these experimental tangents, and at the end, arrive home to the loving welcoming arms of God.

  • Posted by: Gino - Mar. 10, 2006 9:10 PM ET USA

    What happened to the One, Holy and Apostolic Church. Some bishops and some clergy profess many self proclaimed versions of Catholicism. Until someone becomes strong enough to stand up and confront these people and the so called "Catholic" politicians, who espouse abortion etc., we will continue in the same vein in which are now floundering.

  • Posted by: opraem - Mar. 10, 2006 9:05 PM ET USA

    the resolution of this problem relies upon three forces: 1/ pope benedict's willingness to appoint good bishops and discipline those who have failed; 2/ the good bishops using the club of fraternal correction and 3/ the laity praying for our bishops and using their checkbooks to punish those bishops guilty of episcopal malfeasance. failure to repair the 'bishops' problem will bring the us courts, which is blunt but effective tool, deeper into the running of the church.

  • Posted by: Eleazar - Mar. 10, 2006 12:54 PM ET USA

    I respectfully disagree; I believe that the problem IS solvable, if it is properly framed, and if faithful, orthodox Catholics have the courage to endure the pain necessary to see the solution through to completion. For example, the dissident clergy are not trying to “claw their way out,” they’re trying to destroy Catholicism. They should be rejected and removed; but who has the courage to do it? Ditto inept or unorthodox bishops.

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