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The Catholic right's false nostalgia.

Just posted:Eugene McCarraher's piece on new books by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bill Donohue, and Carl Anderson. In begins:

On April 14, 2012, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, speaking from a pulpit surrounded by flowers, a cross, and the American flag, issued a Call to Catholic Men of Faith to defend their faith and country. To the congregation he recounted how the enemies of Christ have certainly tried their best to destroy the church over the centuries: Roman oppression, barbarian invasions, wave after wave of jihads, the modern, homicidal tyrannies of Nazism and communism. Catholics today who believed the church was secure in the United States were mistaken; indeed, Jenky roared, a legion of malevolence had gathered against the faithful, armed with the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry. This army of Satan was led by none other than President Barack Obama, demonically imposing the radical, proabortion, and extreme secularist agenda exemplified in the Health and Human Services mandate requiring insurance-subsidized contraception for employees of religious institutions.Its worth noting that Bishop Jenky left the church that day unmolestedno police or National Guardsmen burst in to cart him off to Guantnamo. No churches have been invaded, locked, or razed; no priest has been forced to bless same-sex unions, nor have Catholic hospitals been compelled to perform abortions, or even to dispense a single condom. The only inconvenience Jenky has sufferedprotected by a First Amendment that has yet to be suspended by executive orderis ridicule.And not enough of it. Far from pointing out the absurdity of comparing Obama to Attila, Hitler, and Stalin, other prominent Catholics have piled on. Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has warned of Obamas impending despotism. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has equated our Constitutions guarantee of freedom of worship with that of the former Soviet Union. Others have compared the mandate to the persecution of priests in Mexico in the 1920s under left-wing general Plutarco Calles. The Evangelical author Eric Metaxaswhose fine biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer indicates that he ought to know betterinvoked the rise of the Nazis. Speaking at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, both encapsulated and stirred up the prevailing hysteria in asserting that never in the life of anyone present here has the religious liberty of the American people been threatened as it is today.Why are shepherds of the American flock and their allies saying such preposterous things? It sometimes appears that the ancien rgime of the American Church is fighting its impending senescence. Having lost much of their moral authority in the sexual-abuse scandal, the bishops have staked what remains on fighting perceived threats to religious liberty. Caught in a great historical transition in which church authority has eroded on every front, many conservative prelates and lay Catholics exhibit an array of morbid symptoms: lurid fantasies of sexual pandemonium; paranoid delusions of cultural conspiracy and government persecution; and ugly outbursts of rage at a world they no longer understand, control, or can persuade. Ashamed of the ecclesial present, the bishops seem transfixed by venerable memories of power and eminence.While utterly forgettable on their own merits, four recently published books by prominent Catholics make for a pathology of reactionary Catholic modernism. Blending myths of the 1950s with fables of that Greatest of Centuries, the thirteenth, they reveal the panic of conservative Catholics, terrified by the waning of the American Age and the twilight of an authoritarian church, retreating to the kitschy redoubt of a suburban medievalism.

Read the rest right here.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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"Why are shepherds of the American flock and their allies saying such preposterous things?"Because they have enough "sheople" (rightwing/"traditionalist"/indifferent/ignorant) to listen to their rants and ravings. Throw enough mud against the wall, and some of it will stick.Legacy of JPII.

Makes you sort of nostalgic for the Red Menace, Moral Re-armament, "Operation Abolition" and the John Birch Society, doesn't it?

While I don't always agree with everything Eugene McCarraher has to say (I was foursquare, however, with his demolition of Hitchens' "God Is Not Great"), I confess to the guilty pleasure of reading his all-too-infrequent contributions to Commonweal. ;)

What's with "Supreme Knight"? Sounds like a video game. Or six-year-olds with bath towels playing Caped Crusader.

When the bishops foam at the mouth, they should try not to drool on their pectoral crosses.

Why are shepherds of the American flock and their allies saying such preposterous things?Becasue they do fear, with some justification, that they will be carted off to jail. For the first time, a secular institution has found bishops acted as crimonals in their handling of clerical sex abuse. The bishops presumed that they were above the law. To their surprise, they are not.

Let us grant that the Holy Spirit is trying his almighty best to preserve Church leaders from error when they teach matters of faith and morals. His counsel is ever gracious and subtle, we are told, never coercive. Yet they are frail and mortal men, subject like other men to temptations of vanity, ambition, and overzealousness, as well as simple ignorance. Could they ever reject his promptings and go their own way, as other men have done before them?I hope they would not, but when I read some of the things that some of them say, I wonder who it is they are really listening to.

Below I have linked to an inspirational election homily by Fr. Sammie Maletta.Fr. Maletta delivers a powerful and thought-provoking homily on the moral truths that we as Catholics are called to defend as citizens in in a free society.He argues that Catholic teaching is neither Democrat or Republican -- but, that does not mean we are free to vote as we wish. There is a hierarchy of moral truth that must inform our vote.Fr. Maletta's homily is a stirring call-to-action in the face of a world increasingly dominated by secularization and a world in which our religious freedom is increasingly threatened.THIS INSPIRATIONAL HOMILY IS WORTH YOUR TIME -- IT IS THAT GOOD!

I believe many progressive Catholics would be surprised at the extent to which President Obama has advanced a pro-abortion agenda through a long list of bill signings, speeches, appointments, and other actions since his election in November, 2008.His many pro-abortion actions are documented at the link below. The list is shockingly long and extensive.The link:

McCarraher has it right == the current bishops are paranoid. Fear is at the basis of all paranoia, And Joe McFaul has it right -- their new fear is of going to jail after the recent trials. Congratulations to the Commonweal editors for having the courage to publish this article. No doubt it will be quoted for years as a (sadly) accurate picture of the big players in the current American Church.

JH: That "shockingly long" list just happens to include every single staff appointment Obama ever made, from Rahm Emanuel to Hillary Clinton, who happen to be pro-choice, whether that has or had anything to do with the appointee's job or not (in most cases, it did not). Policy changes cited, incuding striking the Mexico City policy (which his SCOTUS appointee Ms. Sotomayor just happened to uphold), simply return US rules to what they had been prior to George W. Bush changing them to reflect his pro-life views. Other actions cited don't even relate to abortion, such as his removing funding for abstinance-only sex ed programs. I mention these, though, because I think these federal policies -- and the mindset that made this list -- reflect what's been going through the minds of our bishops: Namely, nostalgia for the way things were under George W. Bush and how, compared to him, Obama can only be perceived as the Interloper who ruined the good thing the bishops feel they had going under Bush, the Faith-Based Consulter-in-Chief who maintained such a close relationship with them and Evangelical leaders around the country.

Even Cardinal Dolan quoted in agreement the words of Dorothy Day that the" Church is a whore but she is my mother." But the Cardinal agrees in the sense that he does not want people to leave. I understand that. But why does he not put the emphasis on the bishops acting better?

The only inconvenience Jenky has sufferedprotected by a First Amendment that has yet to be suspended by executive orderis ridicule.And not enough of it.

Lovely. Spirit of charity and all that. Those evil conservatives.Commonweal, you really ought to try to do better than this.

Ah, that's how charity works! It keeps men who are saying foolish and offensive things from having to hear criticism. No wonder it is so honored among them.

John Prior ==I fear that what you say is exactly true. The moral theologians need to look at the role of criticism in a Christian life and revise the current understanding of it :-(

McG finds fault with Dolans view of freedom. Because such a view is based on Aristotle and Aquinas, McG fears potential tyranny and, even worse, medieval tyranny, and worst of all, suburban tyranny. McGs solution: Begin with a hyper-Augustinian denunciation of the People, apparently hopelessly corrupted by modern day capitalism (except when they differ from the Bishops). Apparently after such a preparation the terrain will be suitable for a new spiritual awakening led by far-seeing, prophetic intellectuals whose good faith is vouchsafed by their level of vitriol, preferably with a flair a la Mencken. Who could object to such a vision of a non-tyrannical primitive village, free of the present-day institutional church - free except for supervised readings of properly selected papal documents on war, certified to be uncontaminated by dreaded medieval nostalgia?

The Right may have a false nostalgia, but I think it is fueled by another facet of Right wing thinking; sentimentality. Nostalgia implies a desire to return to some period that really happened. The "nostalgia" of the Right is selective and not really reflective of how things really were.The Right is infused with sentimental images and a belief that proper feelings (of patriotism, etc.) come from the gut. People are scrutinized as to whether they have the right attitude. Lack of sentimentality about the flag, the veterans, policemen, fireman, dogs, lapel pins, mom, apple pie etc. are seen as signs of incipient treachery. Liberals want people to work more from "the head" and to be more "rational". But the Right works from the heart. That Right wing memes may seem "irrational" is actually proof that they come from the heart and are therefore more authentic than liberal appeals to reason.The Left seems to want the bishops to become more rational. The Left might be more willing to accept an Aristotelian/Thomistic view of freedom if the bishops made a stronger reasoned case for it. (After all, Aristotle and Thomas felt they were making reasoned cases.) But most bishops, coming from the Right, simply don't understand why people on the Left don't "get it".

Ann: You wrote that "the current bishops are paranoid." All of them? Including the current archbishop of New Orleans? What's happened to your regular appeal for precision in language and in claim?

The answer is of course that the bishops are not "saying preposterous things" at all.If someone is winding up to taking a swing at you, the only way to avoid being hurt is to see it coming, and either actively block the move or simply duck out of the way.

Here we have the government promoting abortion and insisting that Catholics pay for bc pills and other contraceptives. Leftists manage to flip even the most basic matters. Awhile back I head Hillary Clinton explain that she favors putting criminals in jail for life instead of the death penalty because the criminal would suffer more with life in prison; because (in her view) a life term is more cruel that the death penalty. What? Reasonable people favor consigning murderers to life in prison over the death penalty, because of the ideal of mercy toward the criminal, to give him time to repent of his sin, to leave the matter to God rather than man.Leftists honestly think that the ends justifies the means, and they seem to never tire of this faulty notion of expediency; they have never forgotten what old Lenin said; If you want to make an omelet, you need to break some eggs.What the American Left really wants these days of course, is to force Catholics to pay for abortions (and for euthanasia for that matter); to put the Catholic Church in its place; to push Catholics out of the public square and keep priests and nuns confined to church buildings. Setting all the sneering and jeering of the chattering class aside, the matter before us Americans is straightforward enough; we must choose either a culture of life, or a culture of death.

Why are shepherds of the American flock and their allies saying such preposterous things?Becasue they do fear, with some justification, that they will be carted off to jail. For the first time, a secular institution has found bishops acted as crimonals in their handling of clerical sex abuse. The bishops presumed that they were above the law. To their surprise, they are not.________________Thomas Becket was murdered for upholding the principle that the Church, not the king, had the right to discipline priests accused of committing crimes.Bishops have modeled themselves after Becket ever since. But very few absolute monarchs still exist, and particularly in the United States, there's a Constitution which guarantees certain rights to those accused of crimes. Of course not every guilty person is convicted, and not every innocent one is convicted, but the U.S. criminal justice system is still fairer to the accused than, say, trial by ordeal.Perhaps because the Church prides itself on changing very slowly, if at all, the U.S. bishops have failed to realize that the world has moved on from the 12th century. For that matter, they have failed to realize that most Americans are not Catholic and if they've even heard of Becket, they don't care about his sacrifice. They expect all Americans, including Catholic clergy and laity, to obey civil laws and not operate a shadow justice system which, left to operate in secret, punished very few pedophile priests and totally ignored their victims.

Make that "not every innocent person is ACQUITTED."

I know the Church the bishops yearn for because I grew up in it. Back then, faith shaped the map of the world: the natural, the supernatural, the angels, the saints, sin, grace, heaven, and hell. Faith was defined and legitimized by religious authorities, and we simply accepted it. My children grew up in a world whose map is shaped and legitimized by reason and evidence.That changed everything, including the traditional, authority-based way of doing faith. That kind of authority simply no longer works. Now, authority must be based in large part on trust, which requires a much greater exercise of reason based on evidence. That's the heart of the polarization. Conservatives typically want to save the faith by protecting authority; progressives want to save the faith by remaking an authority that no longer functions.

McCarraher's explanation of Aquinas' view of freedom is not complete. Yes, for Thomas freedom was the freedom to do what is right when confronted with a choice between good and evil. But freedom is also the freedom to choose between goods, and both are necessary to flourish. Actually, Aristotle and the other Greeks didn't say a lot about freedom and the will. The were too impressed with all the necessity they found in nature. Very weak on that subject.

JAK --What has happened to my respect for accuracy is my anger at the majority of American bishops who elect such paranoids as Archbishop Dolan and Cardinal George as their leader. Also one never hears the minority including Apb. Aymond criticizing them for it, though, as I noted a long time ago, Apb. Aymond came close to naming the Cardinals Rigali and Bevilaqua of Philadelphia as disgraceful leaders. He was the only one out of way over 200 American bishops who spoke publicly on the matter! I'll grant you, it must be hard for the minority to put up with the fundamentalists who lead the American Church and those who support them (yes, that's what they are -- fundamentalists who think you can be a Christian without change). These Catholic fundamentalists and the seculars of the American culture together are killing the American Church. The influence of both of them is horrendous, except in the matter of helping the poor, and the bishops are still good about that, although they are not as articulate about it as the American bishops used to be. And even there, the young people pay them no mind because the bishops own behavior has led them trust the bishops about as far as you can throw a hog. And, yes, i"m talking about ALL the American bishops in the last sentence. Not one of them has ever condemned publicly, for instance, the promotion of possibly the worst bishop of all, Cardinal law. That that awful man remains as "Chief Justice" of the Curia remains a symbol of the corruption of the hierarchy. It would be a farce if it weren't a tragedy.Bishop bashing? You bet. Open your eyes to all the facts.

Ken and the bishops say "insisting that Catholics pay for bc pills and other contraceptives'Yeah just like we Catholics and Omaba insist that Insurance co. pay for the drunken drivers damages to life and limb.. tough world Ken. .

Ann Olivier: Are you familiar with the book BUSH ON THE COUCH: INSIDE THE MIND OF THE PRESIDENT (rev. ed. 2007) by Justin A. Frank, M.D., a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst?Dr. Frank argues, convincingly in my estimate, that now former President George W. Bush is a megalomaniac.In my estimate, the U.S. Catholic bishops who are anti-abortion zealots are megalomaniacs. (For the sake of Fr. Komonchak, I will spell out here that perhaps not all the U.S. Catholic bishops are anti-abortion zealots.)

Thomas F. --I"m always leery of armchair psychiatry, even when it's a psychiatrist doing it. Dr. Frank might be right, but I never felt that Dubya had delusions of grandeur. Some might think he does and that they were planted in him by his "patrician' background. True, he came from public servants, but I recently saw a picture of his childhood home in Odessa, TX and was amazed to see that it was just an ordinaary little shingled house with concrete front steps and porch. (It's at David Frum's blog somewhere.) Not at all what one would expect.Actually, I don't dislike the man as a human being, in spite of his failures. I think he was a charmer who could be manipulated by the Texas big money people, and went on to even greater manipulation by more big money folks. (Compare him with Romney, the iceberg.) Yes, he was competing with his father, but isn't nearly as bright. Americans have a weakness for charmers. We even elect them President for no good reason and then refuse to see their faults, except Dubya's deficiencies were just too big to ignore.

Ann (and others): I'm glad that some distinctions are being made among the U.S. bishops. That's all I've been hoping for. I would add, re Aquinas on freedom, that he regularly cited Aristotle's dictum, (sometimes causa sui): a free person exists for his own sake, for his own purposes, at his own direction, and Aquinas said that this self-responsibility represented the height of human dignity. He even invoked the adage when explaining that a person is not truly free who avoids evil and does the good only because God forbids the first and commands the second.

Ann Olivier: I would urge you to read Dr. Frank's book before you set forth any further comments/criticisms about it. I know, I know, you were a philosophy major, and philosophy majors often like to opinionate about books they've not read.In all honesty, I found certain parts of Dr. Frank's book quite moving to read, most notably the parts about the death of GWB's sister and the inept way GWB's mother and father handled GWB's reaction to her death. In addition, I was impressed by Dr. Frank's case about GWB's attention-deficity/hyperactivity disorder.Frankly, it strikes me as downright hypocritical on your part for you to say now that you are "always leery of armchair psychiatry" after you yourself were engaging in armchair psychiatry about the U.S. Catholic bishops being "paranoid."I did not explicitly advert to your use of the term "paranoid." But I was responding to your use of this term by suggesting that a more suitable term to characterize the U.S. Catholic bishops who are anti-abortion zealots would be to characterize them as megalomaniacs, as Dr. Frank uses and explains this term.By the way, I think your anger at the U.S. Catholic bishops is justified anger. But I think you've put them in a psychiatric category that does not fit them well.

The American bishops are absolutely right to speak out against the unprecedented actions of the Obama Administration. All the bishops are seeking is autonomy for Catholic institutions to run their own affairs according to Catholic principles, an autonomy all recent presidents before Obama would have readily granted.

"I will spell out here that perhaps not all the U.S. Catholic bishops are anti-abortion zealots."But those who remain silent and allow the many to tar the reputation of the few are guilty of the sin of omission.To revisit something said by a regular contributor here:"The Catholic bishops see themselves as holding privileged positions as the supposed successors of the apostles. As we know, Paul saw himself as an apostle and saw apostles as out-ranking everybody else. So as supposed successors of the apostles, the Catholic bishops see themselves as out-ranking everybody else. For this reason, they see their jobs as requiring them to INDOCTRINATE everybody else to think as the bishops themselves think, just as Paul himself tried to indoctrinate everybody else.Moreover, the Catholic bishops think that the Catholic tradition of so-called natural law moral theory is the way that they and everybody else should think about sexual morality. As you say, the Catholic bishops see themselves as indoctrinating, or at least as trying to indoctrinate, everybody else to think as they do about sexual morality.Now, as they see themselves as supposed successors of the apostles, they out-rank everybody else, so they want no debate from everybody else regarding what they (the bishops) say about sexual morality.The Catholic bishops do not see themselves as trying to persuade but as trying to indoctrinate, as you say.So we might ask, How is indoctrination different from persuasion?Persuasion might involve asking questions and perhaps raising objections and perhaps debating.But indoctrination begins with straightforward memory work. See, for example, the Catholic catechism, which presupposes that the bishops responsible for putting the catechism know the right questions that everybody else needs to know and that the bishops also know the right answers that everybody else needs to know. Indoctrination begins with memory work.Now, is it possible for paragons of Catholic indoctrination (i.e., properly indoctrinated Catholics) such as the Catholic bishops ever to become de-indoctrinated about, say, the churchs teachings regarding sexual morality?NCR reports that one Catholic bishop recently called for a review of the churchs teachings regarding sexual morality. NCR has published an editorial supporting the bishops call for such a review.Now, we might also wonder if the Catholic bishops could stop trying to indoctrinate everybody else to think the way they think and start trying to persuade people instead. Or would it endanger their self-concept as the supposed successors of the apostles for them to stop trying to indoctrinate everybody else and start trying to persuade people instead?For the Catholic bishops, debate among equals is acceptable for Catholic bishops to engage in with other Catholic bishops. So if in principle the Catholic bishops can allow other Catholic bishops to engage in debate with them, then perhaps they could use this admittedly limited experience of debate among bishops as a model that they could follow in engaging in debate with non-bishops, or at least in attempting to engage in debate with non-bishops."Thomas Farrell 03/30/2012

Maybe the majority of bishops signing on with the GOP are just demographically ignorant.Polls show that Latinos are 75% to 25% for Obama. Latinos are mostly Catholic and the minority who are evangelical would skew greatly to the GOP . So lets say Catholic Latinos may be 80-90% on the Dem side, mostly due to the GOP opposing any immigration reform [except self deportation] Early 20th century hierarchy walked with the immigrant working classes and my non-Church going, blue collar father greatly appreciated their stance and passed it on. How smart are the bishop when they side against the huge majority of their own people?.They can talk about 'new evangelization' till hell freezes over and a few gigs for Mariachi bands at a few receptions won't make up for their GOP stance.

Compelling diagnosis. I believe Michael Crosby points to the remedy:

Mr. Gleason: Have the majority of bishops signed on with the GOP? What's the evidence for this claim?I continue to disagree that for a bishop not publicly to disagree with what another bishop says means that the former is guilty of a sin of omission. If this were so, how many of us would, every day, on this blog, be guilty of sins of omission! I can hear it now: "You contribute regularly to dot-Commonweal, but you didn't say anything about so-and-so's heretical comment or that other so-and-so's racist comment. By not saying anything, you've committed a sin of omission, and you're complicit in what so-and-so said!" Does that work?

Mr. Farrell --You asked me about Dr. Frank's book. Sorry you didn't like my answer. P. S. I was an English major.

JAK --The issue of the bishops not speaking out against Cardinal Law's promotion and his continuing in his eminent position for 27 (!) years is hardly in a class with a blogger on Commonweal not calling down a fellow blogger for an opinion that is probably an honest one, even if a mistaken one. The issue of promoting someone who covered up prodigious amounts of child abuse is simply not on a par with one of us being mistaken about a Church teaching or being rather mean to someone else. Surely you must see that Law's failure was humongously larger than any of our petty faults here. Further, when someone here regularly is awful, sooner or later someone calls him/her down for it, and we don't wait 27 years to do it.If one were to form an opinion of the bishops about this matter one would have to think that either they don't know what happened (ridiculous), don't care (some probably care), or they're lack the courage to go against the omerta of the old boys club (most likely, I think). In any event, they too have failed the children by allowing one of the worst enablers to be promoted within their ranks without objecting to it publicly. Among other things, their silence sends a cruel message to the the children -- that they aren't important enough to warrant public complaint.

Ann: I have no interest in defending Card. Law's being put in charge of St. Mary Major's Basilica, which, however, I wouldn't regard as a "promotion" from being Archbishop of Boston, from which post he resigned in disgrace. (For what it's worth, I urged that resignation before it happened.) Your three possibilities don't exhaust the options available to bishops who in any case, I suspect, would not regard him as having been "promoted within their ranks." Looking back at your earlier post, I see you refer to Card. Law as "'Chief Justice' of the Curia," so perhaps it is this mistake that leads you to think he was promoted.

JAK --Yes, I was thinking of Burke, is it, who headed the Vatican Court. However, according to Wikipedia (and I have read this stuff elsewhere), "Law is also a member of the Congregations for the Oriental Churches, the Clergy, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Evangelisation of Peoples, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Catholic Education, Bishops as well as the Pontifical Council for the Family. He held membership in all these congregations and of the council before resigning from the governance of the Archdiocese of Boston, and at that time was also a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.[9]"That such a man should be retained in *any* of those positions much less *all* of them, especially the Congregation for the Clergy, the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Institute for Bishops, is simply incredible for the simple reason he had shown monumental incompetence in dealing with all such people. The Pope was wrong, wrong, wrong to approve Law's retaining those posts. In any other organization he would have been bounced out on his ear if not recommended to the police.It is one thing to recognize repentance and forgive someone. It is another to appoint an incompetent to a high position when he has proven his terrible, terrible judgment -- especially when that appointment injures children who have already suffered grievously.

Ann, how do you know that a bishop has not complained about Cdl Law's position to the apostolic nuncio or to the pope during their ad limina visit? How do you know that they're not working behind the scenes? What would they achieve by speaking up in public?

Claire --I don't know what the bishops are saying privately. After 27 years it doesn't really matter. But with reference to Cardinal Law, not one of them has shown public support for the abused children that they should have if they really did put the children first. The abused need to hear their leaders say "Do not honor such awful prelates. They have done incalcuable wrong to the little ones." If the bishops put the children first, they would join the rest of the world, dammit, in condemning the continuation in office -- powerful offices -- of such bishops as Cardinal Law, not to mention the behavior of Cardinals Bevilaqua and Rigali. Those bishops' behavior was contemptible by any standards, yet not one American bishop has ever said so publicly. That's a disgrace, and it is costing the Church the young. You want to know why your kids don't go to church? Talk to them about Cardinal Law et al. Ask what they think of his behavior and how his brother bishops have protected him.

JAK.. " Whats the evidence for this claim?'I say some bishops made too nice with the GOP and ALL the rest of the 300+ remained silent. neutral, quiet ... That's how I call it. They made SS marriage and insurance paid-for BC the cause celebre of Catholic FREEDOM. Well I just watched both the concession and the V speech. The losers also include those bishops who put their feet into the middle of these pesky issues are they lost. Politics has consequences and they will have to learn that lesson. I glad the noisy ones will go more humbly to the meeting next month and maybe they can get HHS to renew the offer of BC being paid for by insurance companies. Lets make it as remote as possible.. that's the ticket... . Also with SS marriage winning in more states bishops ought to re-state that what happens in the basement of City Hall is not the biggest problem on their agenda. "we didn't much care how many times heteros got married in the City Hall basement for the last 80 years so we will repeat that stance with SS. easy does it..

Ann, I think that for my children the sexual abuse crisis is much less relevant than the rejection of gays, the unequal status of men and women, the indiscriminate condemnation of all things sexual, the atmosphere of negativity, and the lack of vision. The public voice of the church in the U.S. media does not lift people up but puts them down. My children do not think of sexual abuse as anything special and to them it's only one more indicator of the dysfunction. They do not remember who Cdl Law is. I mentioned him to them once, but they were not indignant: they expect nothing good to come from the church, and so it fits their worldview that he would be given responsibilities in Rome. But I have to admit that any non-negative interpretation I might try to give to the silence of US bishops regarding Cdl Law is proved wrong by the scandal of the new roman missal. Still, I'm dead tired of complaining about bishops. It's not leading anywhere. It's sterile. All the time we spend criticizing our bishops is that much time not spent church-building.

Ann -- All Roman Catholic bishops are beholden and subordinate to the same single Church authority that Law is. One who chose to speak out on Law would impugn the publicly demonstrated standards of two popes and likely forfeit his own chances of enjoying similar papal benevolence, should a need arise. A scathing summary of Law's malfeasance appeared in the official Boston Archdiocesan paper The Pilot when the Mass. Attorney General reported after a Grand Jury investigation. AG Reilly said No one is more disappointed than I and my staff that we cannot bring criminal charges against top management. Weak child-abuse laws at the time limited him. Voluminous documentation supported his findings and conclusions. Law was granted refuge in Rome on being driven out of Boston. The pope retained him as prince, papal advisor, papal elector, and senior cleric, subject only to the pope's judgment. The pope bestowed on him the basilica position of honor. Among his most ironic assignments is to the Congregation evaluating bishop candidates for the pope, although the Grand Jury in Boston had named 5 bishops who worked under Law as similarly deserving of criminal charges. Every day that Law appears with the signs and symbols of his still-lofty position, he is a reminder of the standards of two popes who, alone, grant and remove such Church honor. In light of civil events continuing in the US related to episcopal child sexual abuse coverup, the prospect of sanctuary as established by the Law precedent may look too valuable to some bishops to be tampered with by imprudent comment.

Claire --To me Law is the great symbol of the hierarchy's corruption, but there are dozens and dozens of other bishops who enabled the sexual abusers and/or covered-up the crimes. Think Bishop Finn, who has actually been convicted of a cover-up but remains in office and whom the other bishops have not seen fit to criticize publicly. Oh, they talk in great generalities about sin and love. But not one has said publicly, "Finn, resign!"This is all part, I venture to guess, of what has given your children such a low opinion of the bishops generally. And the bishops deserve that low opinion. I would be interested to know their explicit thoughts and how they would feel about the Church if the hierarchy were truly reformed.I know that the specifics of the liturgy are terribly important to many people. But to many of us the little specifics such as cup v. chalice and "and with thy spirit" are not matters of great import. Perhaps more sensitive translations would help kids appreciate Mass better, but I doubt it. They really don't seem to understand what it's about in the first place or they simply don't believe anymore. So I don't think the liturgy is all that important for them.

Jack Berry said: "In light of civil events continuing in the US related to episcopal child sexual abuse coverup, the prospect of sanctuary as established by the Law precedent may look too valuable to some bishops to be tampered with by imprudent comment."Yikes. Such is the power of autocracy. And it is about the power of governance, which is the nickel that has not yet dropped among the faithful. Reform of governance is not some airie-fairie theoretical nicety but a practical question that must be faced to keep the Church from doing further harm and to enable it to speak to the 85% of millennials currently lost to it, like Claire's children. And mine. For Catholics raised in a Church run as an absolute monarchy, it requires a far-reaching act of imagination to envision a different future. But it is possible and necessary.

Jack B. ---What gets me about so many bishops is their astonishing capacity for unconscious (?) denial. One of the Boston auxiliary bishops who was lucky not to be indicted was appointed archbishop of my diocese. On the surface he appeared to be a benign man. If you looked at his internet site you would never know that he was a participant in one of the worst scandals in the Church ever. It just gives a litany of where he went to school, when and where ordained etc., and a smiling face. But he was not a benign man in spite of his smiling face. And still his brothers remained silent.

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