Action Alert!

Today's top non sequitur

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Jun 19, 2003

A Washington Post article conveys the impression that the real cause for all the trouble among the US bishops is the absence of national leadership-- that the bishops' conference needs more power. Thus:

R. Scott Appleby, an expert on the American church at the University of Notre Dame, said the weakness of leadership is not just a matter of personalities, but of structure. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he said, has no real power over its individual members.

The pope's "policy has been to reinforce the notion that the bishops report directly to Rome, and he has not been a great supporter of national bodies of bishops," Appleby said. "I think it's a regrettable lack of confidence from the pope in his own bishops."

Let's see, now. If the Pope more confidence in bishops, he would make sure they were supervised more closely? What's wrong with that logic?

The truth is the Pope has shown (misplaced?) confidence in diocesan bishops, and resisted the temptation to make them subject to a national bureaucracy. The bishops, after all, are anointed successors to the apostles. The bishops' conference is an administrative convenience, with no foundation in Scripture or Church tradition.

A year ago we were wondering why the USCCB staff asked Appleby to address the bishops' meeting in Dallas. Now that choice is easier to understand.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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