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By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 13, 2008

It remains open to the judgment of the authorities in the church in order to offer assurance that a translation remains truly faithful to the original inspired text of the Bible.

What ultramontanist made that claim? Why, Milwaukee auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba, that's who. And why does Sklba invoke "authorities in the church" (he means Church) to safeguard the scriptures? Because there are too many non-union exegetes out there:

There are times when I receive local announcements of forthcoming conferences in the archdiocese, each listing the speakers invited to expound various biblical themes associated with the topic and directed to the targeted audience of that gathering. The names of the presenters are completely new and unknown to me, even though I can claim familiarity with most of the Catholic biblical scholars and teachers of the country. I wonder what background the speakers might have, and how competent they might be to speak out of the Catholic tradition.

A closer look at the bios reveals that the speakers may indeed be converts from some other Christian tradition. Subsequent reports after the conference suggest that the presenters haven't always fully absorbed the Catholic approach to the Scriptures at all. I even hear tell of speakers who exhort their (male) audience to reclaim headship of the house over their wives, and I am troubled by such messages because those interpretations often arise out of a literalistic approach to the New Testament and its teachings.

Literalistic how? Do these fundamentalists attempt to attach their decapitated wives' cervical vertebrae and carotid arteries to their own because St. Paul said (Ephesians 5:23) the husband is the head of the wife?

Whatever the merits of the case for reclaiming male headship, it's hard to see what further light biblical studies could shed on the subject. The dispute concerns not the biblical witness but the pastoral theology that applies it to contemporary circumstances. Yet the puzzling aspect is Sklba's appeal to ecclesial authority. Flash back to the bishops' meeting twelve years ago, when he was campaigning for an inclusive language lectionary and whistling a different tune:

Sklba said the Vatican's intervention to override lectionary translations developed by U.S. Catholic scripture scholars and adopted by U.S. bishops in 1991 represented "a serious affront to our Catholic scholarly community" and "a human relations problem ... of major proportions. Criteria were approved by this body, and suddenly the rules changed," he said.

What -- no deference to the " authorities in the church"? No ecclesial assurance that our translations be "truly faithful to the original inspired text"? A less trusting soul than Uncle Di would underscore the coincidence in Sklba's championing the fashion of the hour against tradition, both when invoking authority and when opposing it. But what's important to keep in mind is the chief message of his "Herald of Hope" column, which is the motto of his guild: YOU can't understand the Bible.

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 02, 2008 8:03 AM ET USA

    What Bishop Sklba has trouble with is that we converts are orthodox Catholics!

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2008 8:56 AM ET USA

    I wonder if those presenters were people like converts Dr. Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, Cardinal Avery Dulles , (maybe even Father Pacwa, S.J., while he is a cradle Catholic, he comes from a very different tradition than the poor beleaguered Bishop)? I can imagine them all quoting St. Paul. Tch,Tch,Tch.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 16, 2008 7:18 PM ET USA

    Uncle Di, I think you missed the true motto of his guild: "YOU can't understand the Bible and only I can." So this column is totally consistent with his 1996 statement - HE is the authority, no one else. Pope Sklba, anyone? Or maybe I should say, President Sklba, as in the Mormon president, since the LDS prez has more authority than the pope. The pope has to stay within the Catholic tradition; the LDS prez can make it up as he goes along.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2008 7:31 AM ET USA

    Bishop Sklba was selected by Rembert Weakland. Enough said? We too live in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and are forced to travel a half hour to attend a parish in which to worship--one without campfire music, blather-ridden sermons, and girls, girls, girls, leading every step of the service.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2008 5:24 AM ET USA

    In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee I must drive hours to find a truly Catholic parish. I have encountered priests here who openly dissent from the teachings of the Church on issues that range from the Real Presence to Sexuality and do so from their pulpits and in the local newspapers. Hey, we do have the Winter solstice Mass lead by this bishop with Eagle feather smudgings, tobacco incense and readings from "Grandmother winter" which is why I cannot take this column seriously.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 13, 2008 8:26 AM ET USA

    VII says the bishop is responsible for EVERY soul (not just Catholics) in his diocese. Bishop Sklba's concern over what is said in his diocese is proper and too often not shown in many dioceses. I just pray that in the future such concern is for orthidox teaching, not scholarly creditials. I've seen too many scholars who are Catholic in name only. God grant us prayerful, holy bishops who are faithful to their vows.