The cardinal’s book; bargain issue

Mediating Structures

William L. Portier’s measured and temperate review of Cardinal Francis George’s new book God in Action (“Challenging Caesar,” August 12) is to be applauded. It’s a whole lot more measured and temperate than George’s own writings, as Portier more or less suggests when he says that a pastoral tone is what we might reasonably expect from a bishop.

When Portier implies a connection between the incapacity of bishops’ conferences to discipline their own members and the Vatican’s newish emphasis on the authority of the individual bishop, however, he puzzles me a bit. I think he means that the Roman emphasis is a response to the weakness of the conferences. But from where I am sitting, I’d say it is at least as likely that the efforts of the CDF during the Ratzinger era to systematically undermine the authority of bishops’ conferences played some kind of role in weakening their capacity to wield any kind of stick at all. Rome’s interest clearly seems to me to be served by reducing the authority of any mediating structure between the local bishop and the Vatican...

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