Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

what might have been

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 03, 2010

For years it’s been a simple decision for Catholic-bashers in the broadcast media. You want someone who will appear on TV wearing a Roman collar and say nasty things about the Pope? Father Richard McBrien is your go-to guy.

But alas the years pass. None of us is getting any younger. Certainly not McBrien, whose weekly columns—published by Catholic newspapers that show an interest in questioning the Catholic faith—have taken on an increasingly plaintive tone. First he published a list of his favorite bishops, mourning that few of them had wielded as much influence as he might have liked. Now he has taken the next step, offering a list of auxiliary bishops who were appointed during the halcyon days of the “Jadot era,” but never rose from the ranks of the auxiliaries to head their own dioceses.

“Jadot bishops,” for the benefit of those too young to recall the era, are those American prelates who were appointed during the 1970s, when the late Archbishop Jean Jadot was apostolic delegate to the US. The Jadot bishops were overwhelmingly liberal, and the American Church is still reeling under their influence.

But from McBrien’s perspective, that influence should have been much greater. He lists the auxiliary bishops appointed in the 1970s who are now deceased, retired, or at least barred by advancing age from further advancement: Rosazza of Hartford, Murphy of Baltimore, Gumbleton and Schoenherr of Detroit, Morneau of Green Bay, Wirz of Madison, Sklba of Milwaukee, Wcela of Rockville. 

It’s sobering to think that these bishops—all friends of dissenters, all ready to question the Catholic tradition—might have been promoted to head their own dioceses. On the other hand, it’s a relief to recognize they weren’t, and they won’t be. Now as the sun sets on the Jadot era—and the day approaches when Richard McBrien is no longer churning out his anti-Roman propaganda—we can all think of what might have been.

And if that’s the best that McBrien can do today—to think of what might have been—the future looks brighter every minute. 

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