‘Looking Back’ with Margaret O’Brien Steinfels
Our web-exclusive feature continues. In our 2005 series of articles titled “What Next?,” Commonweal asked five writers to look at the challenges the then newly elected Benedict XVI was likely to face. We’ve been checking back with those writers to get their thoughts on whether the hopes they laid out eight years ago have been realized.
Featured now is Margaret O’Brien Steinfels. An excerpt:
In 2005 when I commented on his election, my advice to Benedict was, “loosen up.” I was referring to the appointment of bishops and the state of the local church. I wrote then that the bishops are the point “where the local church meets the Vatican [and where] the engine of Catholicism ha[d] seized up.” Then and now, the U.S. bishops are “seriously hampered by their lack of credibility and authentic authority.” If anything, the situation has gotten worse: The clerical sex abuse crisis keeps turning up in the headlines, while the bishops have painted themselves into a corner over contraceptive coverage in the new health care regulations and their crusade for a “Fortnight for Freedom” last summer was all leaders and no troops.