A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Archbishop Burke to Rome

A Roman Catholic is chief justice of the highest court in America. And now, an American is "chief justice" of the highest court in Roman Catholicism. (Too bad we can't design a moot court that would allow them both to sit!)What does Archbishop Burke's promotion mean for the Church in the U.S.?


Commenting Guidelines

Here is the link to what Bob Nunz mentions: Shortcut to: info from STL - Fr. Kleba is an elderly pastor who has served and worked with the poor for years; dedicated; and well respected. But, the parish is viewed as "advant-garde" if I may use that PC term. Like any parish, it has its non-conformists; may be a few more outspoken dissidents than usual; it does great work among the inner city poor and homeless. In some ways it reminds me of the brouhaha over Fr. Pleger and St. Sabina's in Chicago. Inner city parishes that have struggled to find their mission; often at odds with the diocesan authorities; fighting for respect and limited resources; and at times feeling like victims. Given their total commitment to the disadvantaged and marginalized, it makes sense that they would support recognizing women's roles in the church (even ordination); supporting gay rights; etc. Again, my point would be that you can not impose law on these folks and that respectful dialogue rather than legal threats would have been the preferred pastoral response.

Two more editorials from the "admittedly" liberal NCR:Shortcut to: to: that one of the newly ordained said his first mass using the "extraordinary" latin rite and facing east away from family and friends. Yes, this will really support the current and future needs of the archdiocese of STL.

See the following article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:Burke's efforts lead to biggest Catholic ordination class in decadesBill, you're right: These guys "will really support the current and future needs of the archdiocese of STL." Yeah, sure they will :((You'll have to search as I was unable to provide a link.)

More from NCR, from Sean Collins, on Lear's punsihment.Seems the archdiocese gave permission for someone to secretly video the women's ordination which several religious attended, but only Lears was singled out for punishment. He speculates that the two women ordained had been connected with St. Cronan's -hence Lear 9pastoral associatet here) had to be punished.The videos, per Colins, are in Lear's file at the archdiocesan office.Such is the m.o. .... Zenit must be feeling the fallout if they had to publish an article called "To Radical Feminism and Back."The gist of it is that a Catholic Feminist is an oxymoron. The petition in support of Sr. Lears has reached 1020 signatures.The fact that Sr. Lears was singled out among the many religiousin attendance may help the canon lawyers who are defending her.Abp Burke quote: Any Catholic, he wrote, who knowingly and deliberately assists risks the eternal salvation of their souls. Is he God?

Pamela, if behaviors are any indication, Burke apparently thinks he is God!

R.M. Lender, thank you for your comments from a few days ago. I do, though, want to question some of your assertions and apparent assumptions.1. Although you acknowledge "the dangers of clericalism and clerical culture," you add a confusing qualifier, to wit, "to a point."Why the qualifier? The dangers are either real or imagined. Wrongdoing, criminal or otherwise, occurs or does not. If you agree the church had --- and still has --- a clerical culture characterized by "ordained above" and "laity below," how can such stratification be inherently healthy or good for the church? If this arrangement is ordained of God, so to speak, what must be done to address the institutional roles, rules, norms, processes, and structures that have sustained the clerical culture? Just as important: Who is responsible for taking concrete action?When we look at the "fruits" of this culture, how do we reconcile the existing arrangement with the words of Jesus: "I have come to serve, not to be served;" "Whoever wantsto be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all;" and "My kingdom is not of this world"?2. Each sacrament "has a distinct, defined form and matter. Women simply do not constitute the requisite matter, and they never can."Although I'm familiar with "form and matter" from my pre-Vatican II, Baltimore Catechism days, I cannot --- for the life of me --- find any specific reference to this language in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the index, I think, leaves much to be desired).Please identify the underlying basis for the official view that women "do not constitute the requisite matter" for priestly ordination.As an aside, "form and matter" may be conceptually simple, but a recent dotC blog discussion on baptism would suggest that any concrete application of "form and matter" to specific cases can be anything but black-and-white.We know there was no "priesthood" in the church for about the first 200 years of its existence. Kenan Osborne, in his PRIESTHOOD: A HISTORY OF THE ORDAINED MINISTRY IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (1988), writes: "Around 200, for the first time, sacerdos is applied to episkopos. Cyprian, in an indirect way, loosely extends sacerdotal to the presbyter as well....From roughly 350 to 500 sacerdos normally refers to the episkopos. The diversification process in which the presbyter takes on some of the liturgical functions which the episkopoi had been doing only begins in earnest between 400 and 500....In the eleventh century, sacerdos refers normally to priest." In other words, our church began without priests (sacerdos). It used presiders, a term brought back into use by Vatican II. Surely women can "preside" at worship. Why not the next step which our male presiders took, namely, to "priesthood?" Jesus was familiar only with the Jewish priesthood, which ended after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD. 3. "[T]he priesthood must be understood as a vocation of service, of humility....[T]oo often, those who have received orders have treated them as an opportunity for the exercise of power...I can understand --- to an extent --- why some today likewise make the same mistake of viewing the priesthood as a power position, and see the exclusion of women from it as an occasion of injustice..."Are you suggesting that a women's pursuit of ordination means that she sees the priesthood as a position of power to which to aspire --- rather than as an opportunity to render humble service? We know that male clergy (not all, of course) have "treated [orders] as an opportunity for the exercise of power," but what evidence have you to date of even one female ordinand using her new position to exercise power over others rather than give humble service?Is gender determinative of a person's ability and desire to give humble service?

CONTINUED4. "Christ (who was so radical in so many ways during his earthly ministry) was a free actor in choosing his apostles solely among men."Really?To quote Robert Egan: "But the 'sovereign freedom' of Jesus from his contemporaries' prejudices and prohibitions doesn't necessarily mean he was 'free' to choose women as members of the Twelve 'if he had wanted to'...any more than he was 'free' to speak Chinese [or Latin] to his disciples 'if he had wanted to.'" In other words, by growing up in this part of the world and intermingling with the people, Jesus knew his audience. In human terms, Jesus was like us in all things but sin.In his teaching, Jesus had to consider the ability and willingness, among other things, of the people to listen (as opposed to hear) his message. See, for example, Mt 13:10-17 where the disciples ask Jesus, "Why do you speak to [the people] in parables?" Although various translations give what the modern ear might consider fairly convoluted, Jesus essentially says, I use parables because it's the only way I have any hope of reaching these folks because of their sinful and hard-hearted ways. As a former trainer, I know that one must consider the capabilities of the target audience in deciding the training design, i.e., what resources to use and when to use them. Jesus faced these same constraints.5. " not determined by majority vote."So the majority is inherently --- and always --- wrong??? Do you accept the idea of the "sense of the faithful" conveyed in Vatican II's "Lumen Gentium?" In applying "truth," are specific factors of a case irrelevant? How does acquisition of human knowledge fit into the equation here?6. "Among the other young, under-35 Catholics I know who are what I might term intentional Catholics...I sense no outcry for women's ordination."What does someone's personal preference have to do with this issue? While some Catholics may not want to see the ordination of women, many more Catholics --- "intentional Catholics," if you will --- think it's long overdue! They regard Vatican explanations so far as nothing more than excuses rather than as reasons.

7. "I think it's unfair and a cheap shot to say that all of these more conservative young priests will not be of 'any real service to the People of God.'"In all fairness, there are those newer clergy who do not fit the "JPII priest" mold, but reports suggest they are in a minority. And, of course, not all of our newer clergy are "young" (as in their 20s or 30s).Otherwise, we obviously disagree. These men have voiced beliefs/opinions and exhibited behaviors that, quite frankly, alienate not just the older/longer-term clergy but the laity, as well. Folks young and old are not going to tolerate the arrogance and paternalism of pre-Vatican II. "If you want respect, give respect." People who "pay the bills" (and we're not talkin' the ordained here) are not going to kowtow to a decisionmaker simply because he (or she) wears a Roman collar.8. "Finally, that Burke was poorly served in terms of public relations is not incompatible with your negative verdict on his own actions and decisions --- both could be possible at the same time."I doubt it. This archbishop did not incur (good word choice here) widespread condemnation because of poor PR or crisis management! Raymond Burke demonstrated marked pastoral insensitivity/inability and a predilection for legalism. Truly, without exception, this guy stood out in the crowd --- and in a negative way!Burke was unsuited for his role in St. Louis (or any other local church for that matter). What you saw as a "vigorous exercise of his teaching office" was seen by others as the clear manifestation of unChristlike behavior: demands, threats, intimidation, legalism, paternalism. Burke was the contemporary version of the benevolent despot: Do as I say, and I will let my favor rest upon you (or at least leave you alone), but cross me, and I'll isolate you and make you rue the day!Burke may very well have been quite friendly and cordial in one-on-one situations with friends and well-wishers, but his downfall was not due to his ability in interpersonal relationships. No, it can be attributed to his dictatorial and legalistic management style. Nothing more, nothing less.

Joseph, your comments have made my day! Your articulation of the issue closest to my heart is stunning.May I quote you? I was referred to Commonweal by a wonderful Dominican who appreciates the level of discourse here. I hope that the fallout from the Edict of May 30 and the actions of Abp Burke will have enough force to wake up the faithful from their dream so that an honest and thorough discussion of this issue can take place. If polls show that 70% of the faithful agree with you then it behooves them to get involved so that we don't have flocks of women jumping into the Tiber and swimming to the Anglicans or groups of men and women forming an underground church where these newly ordained women can exercise their ministry "... women do not constitute the requisite matter for priestly ordination." Is this ' requisite matter' referring to flesh and a small appendage that during the Mass is conveniently tucked away where it can not cause any trouble. It appears that this "requisite matter" has caused more trouble for the church recently than they ever bargained for.

The discussion of the vidoetaping at a VOTF website has been labelled "Shades of the KGB."One poster there says that Bishops regularly use Opus Dei members to infiltrate leftist meetings to report on any malfeasance.Is this true?If it is, what does this say about our leadership?

Articulate response from Joe - some added thoughts and clarifications:a) "majority vote comment" - trying to find it in Kaiser's book about the first session of Vatican II but am fairly sure that this quote came from Cardinal Ottaviani who was against any and all decision made during Vatican II. It also does not take into account the sensus fidelium concept;b) JP II newly ordained - it is always unsafe to make generalizations but a clear, concise study of the 2008 ordinations across all US dioceses would reveal a number of broad trends - for example, Chicago Archdiocese - not one ordinand was born in the US; most are older candidates; more than 50% came from a seminary sub-division, the Polish American Seminary; many dioceses match this trend - older candidates switching careers, large number of 1st generation immigrants, candidates where english is not their first language, etc. None of this disqualifies them but it sheds more light on the newly ordained and their readiness to meet the needs of the modern American parish;c) link from SNAP on the taping incident: Shortcut to: trying to drill down on the Opus Dei comment - remember, many US bishops do not favor or support Opus Dei but are aware of its favored position/support from Rome/Curia. appears that the NCR is incurring the displeasure of a few in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.St Louis Today.Com says:"On Thursday, the archdiocese issued a statement saying it never asked anyone to conduct surveillance video-taping as written in the article, and that the affidavit, which NCR maintains gave permission for such a taping, is actually a witness statement from someone who witnessed the attempted ordinationIt said the video evidence in Learss file came from images widely available on the Internet after the ordinations, including those on TV news stations websites.""The archdiocese also sent NCR a letter to Fox, signed by Bishop Robert Hermann, the archdioceses administrator until Pope Benedict names Burkes successor, and Msgr. John Shamleffer, the archdioceses judicial vicar, citing a dozen complaints of either factual error or journalistic malfeasance in his story."The article can be read in its entirety at the above posted website.