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USCCB hires new spokeswoman for Cardinal Dolan.

Today the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that it has hired Kim Daniels to be a spokeswoman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose term as USCCB president ends in November. (This is a new position, and Sr. Mary Ann Walsh remains director of media relations.) "Daniels brings to the USCCB her experience as director of Catholic Voices USA," according to the press release, "an organization of lay Catholics that works to bring the positive message of the Church across a broad range of issues to the public square. She is also an attorney whose practice has focused on religious liberty matters." The press release does not mention two of Daniels's previous employers: Sarah Palin and the Thomas More Law Center.

Daniels served as Sarah Palin's "personal domestic-policy czar" in 2009 (as part of SarahPAC). And from 2000 to '09 she was a contract employee for the Thomas More Law Center, which was established in 1998 by its current president, Richard Thompson.Thompson tends to make news by making provocative comments about Islam. In February of last year, for example, he derided Islam as a Trojan Horse, claiming it "has entered America disguised as a religion. But its ultimate objective is political: Destroy America and establish an Islamic nation under Shariah Law." At a 2012 rally for religious freedom, Thompson delivered a fiery speech declaring that for Christians, "peace is not our goal":

According to the Thomas More Law Center's website, one of the group's "key issues" is confronting "the threat of Islam":

Radical Muslims and Islamic organizations in America take advantage of our legal system and are waging a Stealth Jihad within our borders. Their aim is to transform America into an Islamic nation. They have already infiltrated the highest levels of our government, the media, our military, both major political parties, public schools, universities, financial institutions and the cultural elite. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, political leaders still claim Islam is a religion of peace.

In February 2012, Thomas More's director of mission advancement tweeted, "Believe Islam a religion, then support the Becket Fund. Believe it will destroy US, then supt This prompted the Becket Fund, which has been running much of the litigation challenging the HHS contraception mandate, to shoot back with a press release titled, "Religious Liberty is Everyones Right Not Just Christians." The statement was signed by William P. Mumma, Mary Ann Glendon, and Robert P. George. (Mollie Wilson O'Reilly covered the Thomas More Law Center for us last year, along with Cathleen Kaveny and Greg Metzger.)Asked how she squares her own views about Islam with those of Richard Thompson and the Thomas More Law Center, Kim Daniels said, "My own view is that religious freedom and conscience protections should be cherished and protected for people of all faiths," noting that "the statement you refer to [presumably by Thomas More's director of institutional advancement] was made after I left [in 2009]."While it seems that Thompson's and his organization's statements about Islam became significantly more inflammatory over time, in 2007 Thompsonobjected to a proposed (now open) New York City English-Arabic public school, claiming it was "nothing more than an incubator for the radicalization that leads to terrorism." He called the school a "Trojan Horse," asserting that "the political goal of radical Islam is to destroy our Judeo-Christian culture." And in 2008Thompson defended an ex-Marine who was told he could not display on federal property anti-Muslim bumper stickers he'd put on his car. Two decals depicted a no symbol over "The KORAN"; another read, "ISLAM = TERRORISM"; and still another showed a boy urinating on a man wearing a turban. "The banning of these decals is political correctness run amok in the military," Thompson said.

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



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It isn't as if Cardinal Dolan has been a leader on this issue. Maybe this spokeswoman suits his views on Islam. real leader on the Islamic Center near the WTC was not the cardinal but the pastor of St. Peter's Church on Barkley Street:

It shows where they're at.

And Pope Francis will right it all. With Sister Aloysius at the close of the play and later film, "Doubt," "I have doubts, so many doubts."

Does it strike anybody else as odd/ironic/really peculiar that a bishop needs a spokesperson? (Or maybe Cardinal Dolan has learned that he needs to spend more of his time listening.)

Ann, you're right! One purpose of the spokesperson is to say things the bishop might want to retract later. "Archbishop Dolan is one of the boards five members, Mr. Zwilling said, but he would not say whether the archbishop had attended the meeting or cast a vote."They say they're prudent, but they're cowards.Our unelected officials communicate through unreliable voices and give unrecorded votes for unchecked decisions in acts of unaccountable, unassailable governance.The system is so close to perfect in its crooked design that one can't resist a form of horrified fascination, almost admiration.

"Our unelected officials communicate through unreliable voices and give unrecorded votes for unchecked decisions in acts of unaccountable, unassailable governance."Claire --Splendid summary! It could be applied to all sorts of "authorities".

As David Gibson mentions .... "Daniels hiring also looks like an effort to satisfy Dolans goal of finding an attractive, articulate, intelligent laywoman to help recast the hierarchys image, which many feared was starting to be seen as unfriendly to women because of legal battles like the fight against the Obama administrations contraception mandate."

Obviously Daniels bears no more responsibility for what her bosses have said than does any other media relations adviser/communications officer/spokesperson. (Although choosing to go to work for Sarah Palin in 2009 does raise---at least for some---questions about her judgment.)It is somewhat troubling that a Princeton College/University of Chicago Law graduate would publish (on the Catholic Voices USA blog linked to above) the following paragraph:"The HCCRA (Health Care Conscience Rights Act) provides a workable solution to the religious-liberty conflict created by the administration with the HHS mandate. Here's hoping it gets bipartisan support. It's long past time for federal law to make clear what the Constitution requires: No one should be forced by the government to act against their religious beliefs."The Constitution makes no such thing clear. What the Constitution makes clear is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". That's a different matter entirely.

And for spokespersons, the Apostles hired . . . who?

I think this is deeply troubling. These aren't the idiosyncratic personal views of her boss. These views animate the entire corporate organization. Daniels freely chose to work for nearly a decade for an organization whose purpose is and has been defined in the following manner: "The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes Americas Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America." She's a litigator. Her demurral about the purposes is, well, too demure.People who chose, for a decade, to work for a single issue, highly focused public interest group can be presumed to agree with the purposes of that group. Think about how the bishops would respond to a lawyer who worked for nearly a decade for Planned Parenthood-- would the claim that she personally supported only NFP be plausible? Moreover, I see a worrisome consistency here: Sarah Palin's views of religious liberty are also limited to "Judeo-Christian" values --whatever that means, other than "NO MUSLIMS need apply." Any religious freedom lawyer knows that a central question in the relevant case law has been how, and how far, the constitutional protections extend beyond Judeo-Christian values. Key Supreme Court cases in the nineteenth century justified the brutal oppression of Mormons because they were not living out Christian values in their marital arrangements. More generally, my problem with this choice of Daniels is that it is anachronistic. It is so two popes ago, so to speak. In an era where Pope Francis's deep respect for all people is energizing so many people who are alienated from the Church, Dolan is getting himself one more Republican culture warrior, accessorized, to be sure, with a smile. But a culture warrior nonetheless, who views public niceness as a winning political and religious tactic. think niceness is good, generally--but it is not enough to qualify as respect for others--and niceness as a tactic in evangelization seems to me to be too manipulative. But the thing about the new pope is that his respect for others --for difference--for Muslims, even --isn't a public relations tactic. It's a deep sign of who he is. This is a six month appointment. Maybe the next President of the USCCB will -- perchance--find a spokesperson who isn't a litigator, or even a lawyer. Wouldn't that be special? What about someone from the direct service world? Maybe even someone with (gasp) some actual training in theology or spirituality. Wouldn't that be a nice change of pace?

"Obviously Daniels bears no more responsibility for what her bosses have said than does any other media relations adviser/communications officer/spokesperson."I think I agree. It seems a little unfair to blame a communications person for their employer's message any more than I should blame a reporter for giving a platform for that message.I have more of an issue with Dolan hiring someone from one of these extremely right wing places than I do with the woman for working there. He is sending his own kind of message of what the USCCB is all about.

Am I right in thinking that the appointment of Kim Daniels is not limited to the remaining months of Cardinal Dolan's term, but that she will continue in the position when the new USCCB president is elected in November? Presumably Archbishop Kurtz.

Let me stipulate that I'm not a fan at all of the Thomas More Law Center, and as for Sarah Palin - I find her entertaining in extremely minute doses.That being said - why should we assume that the tail will wag the dog here? Unless Ms. Daniels is setting policy for the USCCB and its office of president, I expect that the USCCB will continue to do what it does and say what it says. If it handled its hiring process with competency, it has brought on board someone who understands the art/science/profession of being a spokesperson for a high profile, public institution. Personally, I'd like to see the USCCB communicate more effectively. It says a lot of things that don't get heard but are worth hearing. Here are two bishops commenting on immigration legislation, which is enjoying a comparatively rare spell of front-page coverage in recent weeks. The USCCB's position on immigration is one that I'd think anyone associated with Commonweal would embrace. Its position deserves to be much more well-known by Catholics. If she can help get the bishops' message on immigration onto the virtual or dead-tree pages of a publication like Commonweal, then it's a good hire.

Irene and Luke, re this:Obviously Daniels bears no more responsibility for what her bosses have said than does any other media relations adviser/communications officer/spokesperson.Important point is that Daniels was not doing media relations. She was litigating as the TMLC counsel. She was part of the organization. Now how much that bothers you or not is a fine debate. But she was one of those forming and promoting their views. It seems her job with Dolan and the USCCB will be more of a hybrid, but many questions are unclear about her role.

Isn't this appointment part of the rightward direction the bishops conference has taken? Check out John Carr's replacement, John Reyes, at World Peace and Social Justice. Amy Sullivan has this at the New Republic. took over in the last month or so. He previously worked for Archbishop Charles Chaput when Chaput headed Denver.

As mentioned, I wrote a piece for Commonweal last year that featured information on The Thomas More Law Center. I am absolutely stunned that Cardinal Dolan would make this choice. It is very troubling to me because TMLC has been at the forefront of conspiratorial, manipulative, and demeaning work about Muslims. It sickens me that this step would be taken without Daniels being forced to make clear her own views on TMLC and its hurtful distortions and fabrications. You only make a choice like this if you are ignorant of or in support of TMLC's vision. There should be a loud outcry over this choice, equal to what there would be if he had named someone who was a leader in a conspiratorial, reactionary left-wing religious group. I will look suspiciously at everything that comes out of Dolan's office now.

Timmie blunders again....reminded of the quote: "like a bull in a china shop" Will this play out like Benedict failing to check the internet before reappointing the rabid anti-Semitic Williamson? Failing to check the background of TMLC? Weren't we previously subjected to all the wonderful hype about Timmie's persona; communication style, bonhomie, etc. So, why this?

How are Dolan, Daniels, the TMLC, et al. out of line with the thinking of Church? It looks like Dolan is following the lead of Blessed John Paul II.In 1997, the famous Opus Dei priest, John McCloskey, wrote a review of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, by Samuel P. Huntington. The review, which originally appeared in L'Osservatore Romano, gives a summary of Blessed John Paul II's thinking.

Peggy, thanks for that link to the story about Reyes. I had missed that. Your comment is spot-on. This decision is in synch with the hard rightward-turn of the American Catholic hierarchy in recent years.

Is she, Princeton Grad, a former student of Robby George's?

Please note that this references the Thomas More Law Center only. Nonetheless, Cathleen Kaveney's question about the bishops' conference hiring someone who worked for Planned Parenthood is relevant here. Should someone who worked for the TMLC, which has helped defend Pamela Geller, be someone the USCCB should hire to make its message public. Read on.Here's a juxtaposition of names: "September 21, 2011 New York, New York: Omar Tarazi, the Ohio lawyer who represented the parents of Rifqa Bary and who had filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against blogger Pamela Geller, has dismissed his lawsuit with prejudice. The dismissal came on the heels of a court document filed by David Yerushalmi of the Law Offices of David Yerushalmi, P.C., and Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center, asking the court to enter a judgment in favor of Pamela Geller. The voluntary dismissal with prejudice prevents Tarazi from refilling the lawsuit at some later date and was part of a settlement in which Ms. Geller paid no money and only agreed to remove five specific blog entries out of dozens criticizing Tarazis involvement and handling of the Rifqa Bary juvenile proceedings." is Pamela Geller? The New York Times interviews her at home: "It is in this genteel setting that Ms. Geller, 52 and a single mother of four, wakes each morning shortly after 7, switches on her laptop and wages a form of holy war through Atlas Shrugs, a Web site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site. Working here often in fuzzy slippers she has called for the removal of the Dome of the Rock from atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; posted doctored pictures of Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, in a Nazi helmet; suggested the State Department was run by Islamic supremacists; and referred to health care reform as an act of national rape." other "public services," Geller is responsible for paid advertising attacking Islam posted in various New York area train stations.

Maybe Commonweal could organize an interview and allow readers to hear Daniels' account of her commitments?

I think it's appalling that the bishops, who supposedly are educated men, schooled in the scriptures, theology, and the teaching of the church, and also in presenting and preaching it, have to hire a spokesperson for their organization. Aren't they suppose to be teaching the word of God in the present world? Why do they feel they have to act like politicians or CEOs of a major corportion. If they can't present the teaching of Jesus to the world, they ought to get out.

This is just one more situation that proves this axiom:Blessed are those from whom you expect nothing: you shall not be disappointed.I hope that the USCCB will realize that such a partisan spokesattractivearticulateintelligentlaywomanperson will instantly color many people's responses to whatever is spokesd for them.Sr. Walsh is a laywoman, but I guess she doesn't fill the other items on the bill. How soon before she resigns to do something else?" --- It seems a little unfair to blame a communications person for their employers message ---" I remember my parents telling me time and time again that I would be known by the company I kept, particularly if I kept it for a long time. No one forced her to be a mouthpiece for positions and beliefs that she did not hold, particularly for 10 years!

Troubling as the TMLC connection is, I'm getting hung up on the "domestic policy advisor to Sarah Palin in 2009" bit. What I remember most about Palin's contribution to the national discourse in 2009 is her flight of fancy about Obama's proposed health-care reform creating "death panels": "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil." (What I like best about that quotation is how "death panel" and "level of productivity in society" are in quotes, suggesting that Palin is making reference to an actual proposal and not just forwarding a paranoid smear.)The link Grant provided above says, "Politico describes Daniels as an expert in health care 'rights of conscience' issues." And in 2010 the New York Times reported that Daniels was contributing to daily briefings meant to keep Palin informed on domestic-policy issues. Now it may be that she was giving Palin the best possible information, and ending every briefing with "By the way, 'death panels' is still a total falsehood and you should correct it publicly," and Palin was ignoring her advice. (In 2012, perhaps noticing that she had to work harder for attention, Palin resurrected the charge and claimed she had been vindicated.) Or, maybe it was Daniels who wrote this follow-up Facebook post for Palin, trying to make it look as though her initial outburst was grounded in a fair reading of the actual health-care reform bill. Let's hope not. All I know is, if I were engaged in a high-profile struggle with the government over issues related to health care and rights of conscience, and I wanted to make sure I was seen to be negotiating in good faith, I probably would think twice about hiring as a spokesperson an expert in conscience and health-care issues who was on Sarah Palin's payroll as an adviser on domestic policy at the time that Palin was repeating a claim about Obamacare that would eventually become Politifact's "Lie of the Year."

I do not have a problem with Daniels Ties with Palin or the TMLC. I voted for Palin when she ran as McCains running mate. I do have a problem with a diocese spending money on haring a spokesperson for any bishop. Let the good bishops speak for themselves; say what they mean and mean what they say. If the Bishop thinks something is important enough for him to issue a public proclamation, he - maybe with help from his staff - should simply prepare a statement, and the bishop should deliver it in person.

How big a "player" do you think you are to need both a spokesperson and a director of media relations?New directions in Christian humility.

Bobby Kennedy worked for Joe McCarthy and lived it down. Good luck with Daniels shaking Palin. As for TMLC declaring war on 2 billion Muslims ..I re-ask how many divisions does TMLC have?

I don't get it. Kim Daniels, a lawyer, is hired for the position of media spokeswoman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan, present president of the USCCB Right? So the president of USCCB needs his own spokesperson? Why? Doesn't sound very collegial to me. I thought he was elected president because he was a great communicator. Or maybe, the Cardinal is anticipating big time problems this last year of his presidency.

"Bobby Kennedy worked for Joe McCarthy and lived it down."Ed==Not with me he didn't, and he was an awful sexist, too. I've never understood his appeal except for his last name.

Who's suprised. Irecall something about leopards and spots.

"To take one issue that would likely make Sarah Palin cringe: on immigration, Daniels has been a model for Catholics who seek to bring the Churchs complex set of alliances to bear to advance a bipartisan reform of immigration law."

It seems to me that American Catholics regardless of political party preference can at least agree on:Promoting the spiritual and corporate works of mercy (forgive injuries, educate the ignorant, feed the poor, bury the dead, etc.)Welcoming the immigrant/stranger ("when I was a stanger, you welcomed me", and Joseph led Mary and Jesus to Egypt, most probably without papers)Opposing abortionOpposing the death penalty unless very, very special circumstances prevailOpposing forced sterilization (I do not think that is allowed anymore anyway)Opposing euthanasiaBeing obedient to the Pope

Being obedient to the Pope?Under what conditions? In all cases? If not, when?"There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, St. Paul, who was a subject of St. Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Glossa of St. Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2.14), 'St. Peter himself gave the example to those who govern so that if sometimes they stray from the right way, they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from their subjects." (Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, IIa IIae, Q. 33, A. 4)""There are two types of obedience: obedience in relation to power and obedience in relation to love. When understood in the first way, obedience means submission or surrender, the sacrifice of one's own intellect and will. According to the second understanding, obedience does not mean submission, but response. Disobedience is the putting forward of opinions different from those commanded by authority. To do so might well be a duty, not a sin." (Charles Davis on why it was not enough to ignore the church, NCR, February 7, 1992 (

Charles Camosey's link (above) which led me to this Both attest to her friendship and her dedication. What they don't tell us is how she will ever succeed at being a successful spokeswoman for the president of the USCC. Glossing over her Sarah Palin work and the TMLC connection doesn't help. If she is the person of integrity that her friends value, she should resign recognizing that she's the story and not the bishops' conference.

I don't think one can gloss over Thomas More in light of Dignitatis Humanae. And I don't think slick apologetics is the same thing as evangelization. Sarah Palin didn't actually have a developed policy in immigration, as far as I can see. And I see Daniels as trading in platitudes, not offering insight on the topic.There was an opportunity to move beyond a culture war modelmin light of Francis. it is a pity Dolan didn't take it.

Is it useful to remind ourselves of the Thomas Moore group's very active participation, if not outright "leadership", in the Dover school board's being dragged into court over the question of "intelligent design"? Anybody not convinced the Thomas Moore group's sole agenda in that case was to create sufficient obfuscation to land themselves in front of a microphone at the U.S. Supreme Court? Anybody honestly believe God needs a personal law firm to make a point?Does anybody honestly believe Sarah Palin's judgement is anything other than short sighted?Which leads me to a question. Could someone please explain to me what has allowed Dolan to convince himself a religion that has produced some of the most articulate, if not down right magical, defenders of its faith in the known history of the western world would benefit from the assistance of Kim Daniels?

Opposing abortion, opposing euthanasia, being obedient to the pope... I think American Catholics would agree on these three only with significant qualifications.

I'm hoping the new Pope will help move US bishops like Dolan away from politics to focusing more on serving the poor and building bridges not barriers.

I'm wondering if the pope could reduce the number of bishops. In this age of fast communication, why do the US need 270 bishops? Why not have, say, only a dozen bishops? The pope could simply not replace those who retire and merge their diocese with neighboring dioceses.

Duh. Dolan wants to redo the Fortnight of Freedom this summer. She is the Helen Alvare for that project. Which means, of course, that the TMLC will be the way the issue is famed in response to her. SHE will be the issue.

She deserves a hefty bonus to compensate her for the onslaught from the belligerent Left.

Jim - Then don't be obedient to the pope; suit yourself.

"She deserves a hefty bonus to compensate her for the onslaught from the belligerent Left."Especially women from the Left. What is it about Sarah Palin that makes liberal women go berserk?

Bonus? How about time off in Purgatory.

JP: You mean Sarah Palin the 2008 Republican candidate? Here's what should make us all take our distance from her (including men): She knew nothing about the issues she was asked to speak about as the VP candidate, she was an exhibitionist, she didn't learn from her mistakes, and she was chosen by McCain because she's the kind of woman he imagines to be a feminist. Like many traditional women she was used and abused (politically speaking) and didn't know it.

"What is it about Sarah Palin that makes liberal women go berserk?"Not a serious question, right? Tough to tell on the interwebs.

Sarah Palin chose to give birth to her son, Trig, who has Down Syndrome. Thus, she fulfills Jesus' mandate to invite "the maimed, the lame...." into the feast of life. Sadly, not many offer this invitation today to those who are diagnosed in the womb with Down Syndrome. In this respect, Sarah Palin lives the Gospel.

Sarah Palin (cont.): Her selection as VP candidate showed what bad judgement John McCain had and has. In that respect, she was a helpful candidate.

"What is it about Sarah Palin that makes liberal women go berserk?"Jim, I think Republican men have bigger problems with her. They're the ones who keep trying to push her to the sidelines.

Frank Gibbons:So the source of people's dislike of Sarah Palin is the fact that she chose to give birth to her son, Trig, who has Down Syndrome. I never heard that explanation before.Nice try. No cigar.

Sarah Palin gives women executives a bad name. She tries to substitute her appealing mother image and her good looks for ability to do work formerly reserved for men. She's an anachronism, and an incompetent one.

Abe - Democrat women do not like Palin because she is cute.;-)

... and now I'm so, so sorry I hit the Submit button on that one.

Claire wrote:"Im wondering if the pope could reduce the number of bishops. In this age of fast communication, why do the US need 270 bishops? Why not have, say, only a dozen bishops? The pope could simply not replace those who retire and merge their diocese with neighboring dioceses."In that case, most of us -- at least outside a privileged few cities -- would get little if any direct contact with our bishop. It's not just about "communication" in a mechanical sense, it's about being there, hands-on, to teach, to preside, to confirm, to deal in person with issues or problems, to just be present, to be the leader of the local church. I don't know about bishops you have encountered, but mine clearly delights in, and spends a lot of time, being out at parishes, schools, etc., with his people. And he keeps a schedule that would challenge the stamina of someone much younger.If we think of our bishops as shepherds, and spiritual fathers, instead of bureaucrats, one might even argue that we need MORE of them, not fewer.

This is an interesting set of comments. But here's something of a twist. So far as I can tell from what goes on in the diocese in which I live, "communication" from the bishop is a one-way street, as far as most of the people are concerned. He talks, in assorted ways, and we can either listen or tune him out. To my knowledge, and I have looked, there are no established channels for mutual communication. At this point in my life, I have no grand itch to say anything to any bishop. But bishops themselves ought to have serious itch concerns to hear what their people have to say. Otherwise, the "new evangelization" will likely be pretty fruitless.

Oh great, so Cardinal Dolan's new "spokesperson" was for ten years an advocate for a rightwing organization (Thomas More Law Center) known for spreading fear of Muslims, universal health care and the teaching of evolution in public schools? So why am I not surprised? The USCCB's current position on immigrantion and the needs of the poor are leftovers of American Church tradition, deeply a part of our history and of prime importance to Catholic minority groups. Why would the USCCB change its policies on these? On the other hand, on virtually everything else, we've seen rightwing drift, drift accelerated during the Bush 43 years toward whatever the Republican party and its fellow travelers believe, no matter how inimical to traditional American Catholic positions. Btw, those who say the Cardinal just wanted to put a female out front for PR purposes shouldn't be surprised if Sr. Mary Ann Walsh takes offense at that contention.;-)

Ken: tell "suit yourself" to Thomas Aquinas. Last time I looked, he is a Doctor of the Church.And you are .....????

Tangent: Rocco reports today that the person who shortly become the new bishop of Oakland is now a mere priest, not a bishop. This is a highly unusual move for dioceses of Oakland's size. Hmm. Are things in the dicastery for bishops also changing? I hope so.

Ann: Rocco used the term "simple priest." You say "mere priest."Lordy, lordy ... what does that make us lowly layfolk in this Divinely Instituted Hierarchy of Souls?Chopped liver immediately comes to mind.Those of us who reside (but do not worship) in the Diocese of Oakland wait to see what this new Bishop is prepared to bring to a highly demoralized local church. The 2 cardinal wannabes that were inflicted on us in the past (Vigneron and Cordileone) added little to the diocese except ticks to their resumes so they could move up and on.We hope that this new appointment signals a change in attitude and policy on the part of "the Pope" ... as if he really has that much knowledge of good and pastoral men who aren't already trimmed in red ... re: bishops.

Claire and Katherine:Claire, I think Katherine makes an excellent point. I like and agree with her definition of a bishop as one who is

. . . . there, hands-on, to teach, to preside, to confirm, to deal in person with issues or problems, to just be present, to be the leader of the local church. I dont know about bishops you have encountered, but mine clearly delights in, and spends a lot of time, being out at parishes, schools, etc., with his people. And he keeps a schedule that would challenge the stamina of someone much younger.

When it works like that, wonderful things can and do happen. An example: during Archbishop Romeros time (and before it), the thinking was that young people should not have to trek in from their remote hamlets in the countryside, to be confirmed at the cathedral; that is, the bishop should go to the people, not the people to the bishop. And so, even though the archdiocese of San Salvador was huge (it has since been divided into three dioceses), off Romero went, to where people lived, for confirmations and for many other events. Invite me, and Ill come, Romero would say. So people did invite him, and he accepted. I also remember Thomas Gumbleton saying how, in this same spirit, the then cardinal-archbishop of Detroit, John Dearden, told his four auxiliary bishops (Gumbleton being one of them), were going to divide the archdiocese into four areas, and each of you will be the regional bishop of one of those areas. That seems like a move in the right direction.

Yes, Gene, people do want personal attention from their bishops.Archbishop Hannan whom I mentioned recently as residing in our parish and saying Mass there on Sundays used to stand outside of the church after Mass to talk to whoever wanted to talk to him. When he died not long ago well in his 90's, the local newspaper noted his involvement in many, many local projects and said he was "beloved". I believe that -- today at Barnes and Noble at the attached cafe there were some refrigerator magnets on sale with all sorts of local images including sports stuff and historic stuff. One of the magnets was a portrait of Apb. Hannan. That, I think, corroborates the paper's estimation of him :-)

Katherine, Gene, Ann: ok. You've had better luck with your bishops than I have. My image of bishops is that they only interact with priests, unless they decide to go down into the political arena and fight, a move that I hate. I have no experience and no knowledge of what you're talking about. I just thought that reducing the number of bishops would make up for augmenting the number of staff such as the addition of the spokeswoman who is the topic of this thread.

Claire --The bishops of my diocese haven't all been equally good -- Archbishop Rummell was a great one, and I think Apb. Hannan was a good one, or at least better than average, and the current one seems to have a bit of independence. But we've had a couple of stinkers too. Like any group of any size you'll find all sorts in it. The best hierarchical structure will not alone ensure good leadership. But a poor one is intrinsically dangerous. I also think a distinction needs to be made between the structure of the Curia and the structure of organization(s) of bishops outside of Rome. I suspect that the Curia has to function something like the bureaucracy of a monarchy, while the bishops' organization(s) need to be more collegial. And somehow the lower clergy and laity need to be fitted in somewhere.

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