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Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

either/or

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jun 15, 2004

The bishops are said to be making a "retreat" this week -- a curious expression, since no one is pretending that there isn't serious business of a concrete nature that will fully occupy their days. Perhaps the term is used more by way of justifying the exclusion of the press than of commitment to silent meditation.

Keeping clear of media pressure would be a boon if it freed the bishops from the pretense of fraternal affability and allowed them the kind of candor necessary to face the fact they've hitherto avoided: that the problem people are in their own ranks. Until bishops decapitate bishops, their moral authority will continue to evaporate.

The Crisis is far beyond the point where nice guys can fix it. Nice guys don't bloody their knuckles, and there's no way the bad bishops are going to quit without a fight. Sooner or later each decent bishop will have to choose between his moral duty and his reputation as a reconcilier, consensus-builder, team player, promotably genial good guy. If their "retreat" gave the bishops the chance to see the alternatives starkly, it wouldn't be a entire waste of time.

In any event, the odds are poor. A beautiful woman will rarely disfigure herself, even if she knows her beauty has brought her more misery than happiness. In the same way, nice guys almost never can put aside their niceness, even when they realize calamity will result if they don't. The thrill they receive from the smiles that meet them when they enter a room is too precious to risk by alienating others through confrontation.

The gauge is pretty simple. If Charles Grahmann, and Robert Lynch, and John McCormack emerge from their retreat with their miters still fixed to their scalps, there will be six more months of winter.

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