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not my job description

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 09, 2007

The negation of leadership. Asked tough but timely questions about pro-abortion Catholic pols, San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer stammers, panics, and retreats into the high grass (from California Catholic Daily):

Rebecca Corral: And if you're still having the conversation, and, and the Catholic believes a certain principle in her own heart, the dialog is still ongoing, what does it mean, where does it go? Can you still get Communion?

Archbishop Niederauer: I think that when I stand at Communion time, in front of the altar, to distribute Communion, I, like all priests and bishops, I believe, am counting on the individual communicant who's coming forward to receive Communion, to decide whether he or she is worthy of Communion and is ready to receive it, this Sacrament. I am not there principally as a gatekeeper. I am there as a priest and a celebrant to give forth the Eucharist.

The question wasn't directed at you as a parish communion minister, Excellency, but as the archbishop of a metropolitan see who directs his own clergy and who must instruct the faithful. As for the pathetically lame "I'm not a gatekeeper" excuse, I don't know where you locate yourself in John 10:3 ("whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep; the gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice"), but it's obvious that some keeping of the gate is necessary, and if you find the task personally uncongenial you should appoint a less conflicted Catholic to make sure it gets done. The interview resumes:

Ed Cavagnaro: Now, one of your own flock, a Catholic woman from San Francisco, is now one of the most powerful people in all the country. Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic from San Francisco, is the Speaker of the House. She is not only pro-choice, but she would be someone who would be working to try to keep abortion legal. In your view is she less of a Catholic because of that?

Archbishop Niederauer: Well, I have met on one occasion, with Speaker Pelosi, before she was Speaker Pelosi. It was last year. And I -- we've -- exchanged viewpoints on a number of things. At that time, it was last spring, and it was principally about immigration, because that was very much the hot-button topic of the time. We haven't had an opportunity to talk about the life issues. I would very much welcome that opportunity, but I don't believe that I am in a position to say what I understand her stand to be, if I haven't had a chance to talk to her about it.

Well, Archbishop, NARAL awards Pelosi a 100% approval rating plus a positively drooling endorsement, which should give you a hint as to her stand. Is there any San Francisco Catholic, yourself included, whose position on abortion is better known?

Were Niederauer ambushed by reporters when leaving Wendy's half an hour after the first announcement of his bishopric, his squishy and panicked non-answers would be understandable -- dismaying, but pardonable in the circumstances. But this was an interview to which he'd agreed in advance (did he think he'd be asked for his shortbread recipe?) and the questions put to him treat of an issue that has been on the front burner since before the 2004 elections, with eminently intelligible "guidelines" provided by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, and plenty of time to work out a cogent and articulate response. Had his interviewers taxed Niederauer on the morality of the minimum wage or gender-exclusive pronouns, they would have touched on the sort of topics bishops can get excited about, and they'd have gotten in response not only an unambiguous answer, but one that had some moral enthusiasm behind it. But clearly he has no appetite for studying, still less defending, Church teaching on "the life issues." Small wonder he preferred to talk to Pelosi about immigration.

So the faithful of San Francisco are saddled with another five years of leadership by dialogue -- the dialogue, i.e., their bishop always hopes will take place in the near future. The solution? There is none -- no fix from above, at any rate. Those committed Catholics stuck with bishops that are morally weightless, a variety of styrofoam packing peanuts, should move forward the pro-family and pro-life initiatives like an 18-wheeler, which will pull along some of the flakes of styrofoam in the vacuum created by its forward rush. By their own insistence they're not policemen, they're not gatekeepers, they're not watchdogs, they're not comfortable saying no, but they are successors of the apostles, after all, and make decorative appearances at weddings and funerals.

P.S. As church, we are opposed to spouse-abuse.

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  • Posted by: - Feb. 13, 2007 1:30 PM ET USA

    What does the bishop do if a well known person know to be in open conflict with Catholic doctrine ,or is known to be living in a state of sin, approaches to receive the Eucharest? Does the priest allow the person himself to determine that he is worthy to receive the sacrament? So according to the bishop it's all up to the individual. A person with a jaded conscience is home free. Is St. Peter going to open the Gates of Heaven on the same hypothesis? So it's all relative,according to the bishop.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 11, 2007 8:30 PM ET USA

    Readers may wish to check out a new book by Judie Brown of the American Life League: "Saving Those Damned Catholics" exposes the warts on the underbelly of the Catholic leadership in America today, and it is not a pretty picture.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 11, 2007 8:17 PM ET USA

    The Apostles were called the salt of the earth. Bishops inherit the power and authority of the Apostles. Salt that has lost its flavor is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled upon. This bishop and many like him (especially his seminary classmates) appear to qualify as salt in need of flavor. Throw them out, replace them with someone who wants to serve God more than men.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 11, 2007 9:35 AM ET USA

    Hey Archbishop, that hat that you held between your knees to keep them from knocking together when chatting with little Nancy is called a mitre. Call her back for another round, put the mitre on your head, and do your best for our Lord.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2007 3:40 PM ET USA

    Amen, altar boy and Art Kelly. Let us pray for an increase in courage and holy boldness for the Holy Father, for the Holy Spirit to strengthen him to lead the bishops as Saint Peter did the first apostles... disciplining/dismissing/retiring the "Judas Iscariots" (read: traitors) as soon as possible, for the people of God in San Fran & LA & Orange & Erie & Minneapolis & Cincinnati & etc... need bishops who are obedient to the Faith, to the Church, bishops with the heart of the shepherd...

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2007 12:53 AM ET USA

    I hope that a contingent of faithful Catholics will make a beeline to Archbishop Niederauer to explain to him Church teaching on abortion, Speaker Pelosi's longtime 100% pro-abortion voting record, and the duties, responsibilities, and obligations of a bishop. Rather than just a one-time meeting, continual follow-up several times a year may be necessary to get him on-track and to keep him there. If he does not do the right thing, he must "feel the heat" from lay men and women.

  • Posted by: Art Kelly - Feb. 10, 2007 12:53 AM ET USA

    I hope that a contingent of faithful Catholics will make a beeline to Archbishop Niederauer to explain to him Church teaching on abortion, Speaker Pelosi's longtime 100% pro-abortion voting record, and the duties, responsibilities, and obligations of a bishop. Rather than just a one-time meeting, continual follow-up several times a year may be necessary to get him on-track and to keep him there. If he does not do the right thing, he must "feel the heat" from lay men and women.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 3:05 PM ET USA

    Bishop Niederauer's comments about good speaker Pelosi reminds me of the rest of congress who urge the U.S. to resort to diplomatic dialougue with those who have sworn to destroy us. Is this not what Catholic dissenters strive for, the destruction of the church?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 3:02 PM ET USA

    I am mystified as to why anybody would think that the Pope would dismiss Niederauer, whom he appointed a year ago. To replace the virtually identical William Levada, whom he made Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some of us hoped when Abp. Quinn retired we'd get a real bishop but we got Levada, so Niederauer is the third of his ilk in a row. And remember: Levada and Niederauer own a condo in Long Beach together, where they plan to retire. Bosom buddies.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 2:20 PM ET USA

    Look at the picture closely, Special Ops. Is that an illustration of what our bishops are called to do--to turn the Holy Sacrifice into an exhibition of neo-pagan worship? Now, on top of that, this shepherd of the Church goes on record to reject-by-implication a constant moral teaching of the Church and refuse to impose a canonical sanction on a notorious dissenter. Forget about reforming the selection process; what the Holy Father needs to do is to implement an ironclad dismissal process.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 1:16 PM ET USA

    Amen, Diogenes. Abp. Niederauer is yet one more example of the pathetic "leaders" who refuse to act as successors to the apostles, one more example of what happens when classmates (Cdls. Levada & Mahony are Niederauer's) influence the "list of names" that is submitted to the Holy Father. As such nepotism continues & the Holy Spirit is hindered by cardinal classmates, few courageous bishops will be selected. Pope Benedict XVI needs our prayers to re-form the process of naming bishops.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 12:46 PM ET USA

    Archbishop Niederauer can begin a 'dialog' by reminding his flock that aborted children are their brothers and sisters. Then he can read Genesis 4:9-11 to them followed by Matthew 5:23-24. Now THAT is true dialog.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 10:58 AM ET USA

    Once again we are viewing a pathetic bishop. God forbid this man would actually talk to Pelosi. He might find out just how pro abortion she is. i would be willing to bet the good bishop is a registered Democrat but their stand on abortion really isn't a "big deal". After all they respect the environment and want to educate the children. The Church Militant has no bishop in San Franciscp as a member!

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 10:11 AM ET USA

    Archbishop Niederauer said that he is not the gatekeeper, that is true, but he is suppose to be a Shepherd. St. Peter is the "Gatekeeper of the Kingdom of God on Earth.He was given the Key to the Kingdon of Heaven. Jesus said," feed my sheep, I know my sheep and my sheep know me.It is very obvious that Pelosi does not know Jesus and I don't believe that she believes there is a God. Archbishop Niederauer said the "Hot topic" was immigration? If they both won't change, the Hot Topic will be Hell.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 9:38 AM ET USA

    I wish NARAL would post approval ratings for our church leaders. Anyone not at 0% would have some serious explaining to do.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 9:32 AM ET USA

    Benedict XVI appointed him. Last year. It's not like he's part of the old guard from the 60s & 70s and we're waiting for him to die off. Niederauer, apparently, is the very model of a BXVI bishop. How many encyclicals and exhortations and books about Jesus would you trade for decent episcopal appointments? They are all as straw. (I do want the motu proprio, though.)

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 9:26 AM ET USA

    Perhaps the good Catholics of Niederauer's archdiocese should write to the Pope. That is, if they're good Catholics.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 7:47 AM ET USA

    The crime, the utter horror of abortion is immense. The destruction of human life at its most helpless and innocent state should require at the very least utter agonizing and fear on the part of all. Instead, it is treated as a near virtue by martinets like Speaker Pelosi and ignored by invertebrate prelates like his Excellency, the Archbishop and shepherd of San Francisco. On whom is placed the greater sin? Where is Speaker Pelosi's moral guide?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 7:36 AM ET USA

    "because that was very much the hot-button topic of the time. We haven't had an opportunity to talk about the life issues." Grow up, Archbishop.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 09, 2007 4:49 AM ET USA

    This is a disgraceful neglect of duty and an outright denial of faith. This event and his acceptance of adoption by homosexual couples in San Francisco should be enough for Benedict XVI to ask for his resignation.