WashTimes on the dynamics within the USCCB on defending life

From the Washington Times with my emphases and comments.

Double-minded bishops
Belief Blog
POSTED November 11 2008 5:36 PM BY Julia Duin

I spent much of yesterday sitting in a large ballroom filled with some 250 men all dressed in black. These were the nation’s Catholic bishops.

As I have been covering the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops off and on since 1986, I’ve learned there are small ways of learning who is in and who is out, who is rising in status and who is losing power. One thing reporters have learned to look for is who wins or loses yearly elections as chairman of a variety of USCCB committees. I have noticed, strangely, that the most outspoken bishops on the pro-life issue always lose these elections.

I first noticed this last year when St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke lost his bid [I am not entirely sure how nominations are made, but I doubt most bishops are dying to toss their zucchetto into the ring so that they can have a lot more work and inconvenient travel.  "Lost his bid"?  I doubt it.] for chairman of the Committee for Canonical Affairs to Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki. Now Archbishop Burke had famously told Sen. John Kerry during his presidential run in 2004 not to try taking Communion in his diocese. Usually archbishops don’t lose to auxiliaries, so the majority vote against Burke sounded like a message to me. But the archbishop got the last laugh. [Again... I think this distorts the picture.] In June, he was named to the Signatura, the highest Vatican court and the highest church post possible for a canon law expert.

Still, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput is another key bishop who has spoken out forcibly against pro-choice politicians. He too has lost out on some key leadership positions. Time magazine says he’s been "marginalized" [Yah.  And they know.] within the USCCB for being "extreme" about denying Communion. That sure appears to be true and it was just yesterday that someone was telling me in the USCCB press room that’s the reason why Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl, not Chaput, got the coveted Washington see in 2006 after Cardinal Theodore McCarrick retired. [Uh huh.  This is rapidly losing credibility.]

So that afternoon I was interested in seeing whether some of the outspoken pro-life bishops (I mean they are all pro-life, but some are more vocal than others) fared in the election cycle. Archbishop Wuerl was elected to head the Committee on Doctrine — no great surprise as Wuerl is known for his emphasis on church teaching and catechesis. He also has refused to close local altars to the many pro-choice Catholic politicians lurking about Washington, a policy very similar to what Cardinal McCarrick had[snork]

Two other elections were very telling in who won and who lost. Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. Bishop Robert Finn, who famously said before the recent election that Catholics’ eternal salvation may depend on whether they voted for a pro-life candidate, lost to a lesser-known auxiliary: Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles.

And Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who has refused Communion to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius because of her extremely liberal views on abortion, lost to Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who has been a lot quieter on the issue.

So what’s the message here? There were several speeches during today’s USCCB meeting about bishops needing to be "prophetic" in the face of a possible draconian pro-abortion law known as the Freedom of Choice Act. One bishop said that if FOCA passes Congress, one-third of the nation’s hospitals (which are Catholic) might have to close if the law mandates that all hospitals must perform abortions.  [And that is probably true.]

Thus, the days are getting more desperate and bishops may need to be more outspoken than ever. But when they are, their own confreres punish them for it.   [I think this needs to be read with a block of salt.]

— Julia Duin, religion editor, The Washington Times

 

What this article does not sufficiently consider is the trend among the bishops.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to WashTimes on the dynamics within the USCCB on defending life

  1. Liam says:

    Couldn’t Catholic hospitals just close their OB-GYN departments and not retain any OB-GYN staff? The issue of referrals might well linger, but those departments are usually major losers in hospitals (which is a horrible indictment of the dis-incentives in our so-called health care system, but I digress), so it actually might improve their finances (at the tremendous cost of narrowing their mission).

  2. Michael says:

    What this article does show is that it is high time to put an end to the “liberal church in America.” The only trouble is, no one at the Vatican seems to have the stones to do it. There will soon come a time when the Vatican will have to put up or shut up.

  3. I agree! If you look at the new bishops being appointed in the US you definitely get the sense that “change is coming!” It is only a matter of time before the “new guard” will be in place and the old guard can retire and mind their own consciences on their own!

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    I first noticed this last year when St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke lost his bid for chairman of the Committee for Canonical Affairs to Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki.

    Archbishop Burke and Bishop Paprocki were nominated by a committee. There were no nominations from the floor. Bishop Paprocki received the most votes. Thus the U.S. bishops gave fewer votes to their foremost expert on canon law, who has since been appointed to (in effect) oversee canonical affairs for the whole Church.

  5. marcel w says:

    The article was exactly right. It is the more courageous pastors who are defeated at these meeting. The fact that there is even a ‘discussion’ over whether pols who support abortion should receive communion shows the USCCCB is still in deep, near terminal crisis. Didn’t Cardinal Arinze once opine that this issue could be settled by a 7 year old child?!

    I cannot understand how any Priest could ever give the Body of Christ to a known public supporter of so called abortion rights. The fact that Bishops cannot settle the issue in a conference room far removed from the actual Communion line, affording them time to actually think about the ramifications of a politicians unworthy reception (read St Paul), really beggars belief.

  6. John V says:

    “it was just yesterday that someone was telling me in the USCCB press room that’s the reason why Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl, not Chaput, got the coveted Washington see in 2006 after Cardinal Theodore McCarrick retired.”

    You have to laugh and shake your head at that lead in. So who was he talking to? Fr. Tom Reese? The guy who sets up the microphones? I dare say the press room is full of reporters with lots of opinions and few facts, but unless the nuncio happened to be around, nobobody with any actual knowledge of the factors entering into the Holy Father’s episcopal appointments.

  7. Ken says:

    Washington Times reporter Julia Duin, an Anglican (!), has more insight into the workings of the American Catholic Church than most Catholics — and a much better sense of right and wrong.

    On the “trend” of bishops actually speaking out against abortion and Catholic politicans receiving Communion, it is a good thing. But it means very little when the first Catholic vice president of the United States can receive Communion 1) in his home diocese (Wilmington) and 2) in his work diocese (Washington). Each of those bishops has explicitly said he would not deny a pro-abortion elected official Communion.

  8. EJ says:

    While the trends among some bishop’s appointments seem promising, the old guard still has alot of force, especially at the USCCB, where (incredibly) even administrative staff are able to marginalize and ridicule the more orthodox and outspoken bishops through unrestricted bureaucracy. Consider the episcopal “old guard” appointments still holding strong in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Atlanta (who some hope will be named to New York), San Francisco. Also consider who will unfortunately succeed Cardinal George as USCCB President. It is likely that Congressional consideration and debate over FOCA will occur in the tenures of all of these men. It was just yesterday or before that the Archbishop of Washington nervously pleaded with his brother bishops to keep the Pro-Abortion politician debate entrenched in the mud of the McCarrick approach. I pray that we get extraordinary prelates for New York, Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans, among other dioceses at stake.

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    Two other elections were very telling in who won and who lost. Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. Bishop Robert Finn, who famously said before the recent election that Catholics’ eternal salvation may depend on whether they voted for a pro-life candidate, lost to a lesser-known auxiliary: Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles.

    And Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who has refused Communion to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius because of her extremely liberal views on abortion, lost to Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who has been a lot quieter on the issue.

    Having carefully observed several recent cycles of these USCCB elections, I believe the author of this article is correct in suggesting that there is a clear pattern to the outcomes.

    The extraordinary frequency with which the seemingly (to me) most orthodox nominee loses is difficult to explain by chance alone.

    Perhaps the explanation is that orthodox candidates simply tend to have unpleasant personalities, and therefore tend to loose these popularity contest elections. Anyone have an alternative explanation?

  10. Patrick Rothwell says:

    I did not know that Duin was an Anglican. (I know that she is conservative.) If so, that explains a lot. At a gut level, she probably equates USCCB with the Episcopal General Convention which causes her to go down blind alleys based on wrong assumptions. While I think her coverage of religious story is far superior than that of the Post, she is getting increasingly cranky and shrill and ideological. But, when one takes a “no enemies on the right” perspective, blog posts like this can be expected.

  11. The article may not be complete, but either the USCCB needs to be dissolved (preferable) or decreased dramatically)…

    It is a bureaucratic nightmare which apparently takes away the spine from most individual bishops.

    The new guard is coming in, and there is hope…2011-2012 albeit, but there’s hope.

  12. PMcGrath says:

    It appears that Diogenes agrees with Ms. Duin. “Personnel is policy,” as Morton Blackwell famously said.

  13. Houghton G. says:

    The pattern noted in the article may indeed be visible. But Paprocki is not soft on abortion and to imply that he is is calumny. He preached a famous homily at St. John Cantius ca. 1996, while still vice-chancellor of the archdiocese that was reprinted across the country. He received an ovation at the end of the homily, something that just never happens at St. John Cantius.

    What did he say? He pointed out that the City of Chicago had recently admitted that it had erred in changing State Street into a pedestrian mall and had now turned it back into a regular street. So too, Fr. Paprocki said, the Church needs admit that some of the things after Vatican II were mistakes and set about correcting them. I can’t say for sure, but I think this must have been before Cardinal Bernardin died.

    I’m sorry, but Ms. Duin is reaching a bit in this article. I don’t think Bishop DiNardo of Galveston-Houston is soft on abortion or doctrine either, but I don’t know the situation there as well as Chicago.

  14. Miguel Andres says:

    Bishop Zavala is the current President of Pax Christi, the foremost proponent of the generally discredited “seamless-garment” theory. Any Bishop who is involved with Pax Christi can pretty much be classified on the very liberal side of the Church. Also, in our recent election, quotes from Bishop Zavala (http://www.cinews.ie/article.php?artid=5326) were cited in the press in favor of not voting single-issue in the candidacy (i.e. pro-Obama). Whatever Bishop Zavala’s intentions were in speaking out, his words were used to encourage Catholics to vote for the most pro-abortion President in history. It tells wonders about the USCCB that Bishop Zavala would be picked for a committee position over Bishop Finn, especially in the aftermath of the election when it appears that the pro-life side of the battle suffered grievous wounds. Ms. Duin does not seem much off the mark in regard to Bishop Gavala.

  15. John 6:54 says:

    Why even post or comment on such an article. There are much better articles out there to comment on.

  16. Henry Edwards says:

    Houghton G. But Paprocki is not soft on abortion …I don’t think Bishop DiNardo of Galveston-Houston is soft on abortion or doctrine either

    It might help to take another look at Ms. Duin’s article. So far as I can see, she neither said nor suggested by implication that any bishop mentioned is “soft” on abortion. She merely pointed out the obvious fact, in each of the cases mentioned, the more publicly outspoken or “vocal” candidate had not been elected.

    However — in my 11:48 am post — I also misstepped when I used the word “orthodox” in attempting to describe the evident pattern. Ms. Duin was more careful; the distinguishing factor in each case sited is not a bishop’s personal inclination (whatever it may be) but his public profile.

  17. EDG says:

    I think there’s a lot of unwarranted optimism here. Raymond Arroyo said today on the Laura Ingraham show, and I quote: “The bishops I spoke to say that maybe half of their brother bishops if not more voted for Obama…”

    I know we’re not supposed to bash bishops, but there are some serious problems with some of them. And that’s not bashing.

  18. trp says:

    Liam,

    FOCA would establish a “fundamental right” to abortion. Why would a hospital be freed of the obligation to respect a “fundamental right” just because it does not have an OB-GYN department?

  19. jarhead462 says:

    trp-
    I don’t think you would perform an abortion procedure without an OB/GYN, just as you would not do neuro surgery without a qualified neurosurgeon.

    Semper Fi!

  20. Michael R. says:

    The abortionists who work at the abortion clinics are not OB/GYNs.

  21. John Penta says:

    I could be wrong, but I remember reading somewhere that surgical abortion was one of the procedures that, generally speaking, a surgeon is expected to learn during their medical training.

  22. trp says:

    You don’t have to be an OB-GYN or a surgeon to perform abortions. In some states, you don’t even have to be a physician:

    http://www.prochoice.org/cfc/legal_practice.html

    It is not at all implausible that even Catholics hospitals w/o Ob-GYN departments would be required to perform abortions under FOCA.

  23. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Prophets are never accepted in their own USCCB!

  24. georgeaquinas says:

    None of this should come as a surprise. The Bishop’s Council is primarily a political/bureaucratic organization. But this I mean that it functions along the same lines of businesses and political organizations. Though there is a change in the wind, it is not surprising that those zephyrs are having very little affect. The prevailing attitude of the Bishop’s Council has been (apparently) political accommodation. If you read the documents put out by the Bishop’s Council, you find that they are written in the same political/bureaucratic cant that is used by the social services and liberal leaning political and social organizations—–it is full of big words that don’t mean anything and can be interpreted to mean anything. When any organization undergoes forced changed (i.e it is not driven by those in power), the final struggles are often violent. Do not be surprised if you see lashing out against the newer and more orthodox bishops. Also do not be surprised if the Bishop’s Council lurches even further into liberality. It is naive to think that the transition to authentic Catholicism is merely a matter of getting the right people in the right places. It is a matter of replacing the entire supporting infrastructure of the Bishop’s Council. The support staff of any organization wields the power to severely limit the effectiveness of any new directives. Once an organization has established its course and its agenda, it is extremely difficult to re-direct it. It is made even more difficult when there is not outside force that can institute and mandate the change. Of course, in this case there is; but I don’t think the Vatican will or wants to get that involved. If it were not for one thing, I would be extremely pessimistic. But that one thing is that this is the Church and it is directed by the Holy Spirit.

  25. tertullian says:

    It’s a shame some intrepid reporter didn’t poll the Bishops on their vote. Given the heightened interest over abortion, I can’t imagine they would refuse to share their decision, would they? Certainly they wouldn’t say one thing but have voted the other, would they?

  26. siena says:

    The article needs to be read ‘with a block salt’? I would be interested in your reasoning Fr Z.
    It seems painfully obvious to many of us that Amchurch is alive and well.
    The message of faithfulness to Catholic teaching needs to be sent by the USCCB to the faithful. Instead, the ‘go along to get along’ compromisers among us are coddled and encouraged in their unbeliefs.
    It is shocking, if Raymond Arroya is correct, that half the bishops voted for Obama.
    It is also enlightening to hear from commenter Miguel that Bishop Zavala of LA is president of Pax Cristi, a P and J group. Jesus was interested in souls. Did he not rebuke Judas….”the poor you will always have with you”?
    We hunger for the TRUTH.

  27. Andraea says:

    Majority of US bishops preferring Bishop Zavala over Bishop Finn?

    Something is not right. What a joke.

  28. TAAD says:

    How many more years must we educate and dialogue with ‘pro-abortion’ catholic
    politicians? We have new generations of them coming up who are the same as
    the prior ones. My questions is, does the Catholic Church really believe what
    it says about abortion and contraception or doesn’t it? Do all the bishops
    believe abortion is wrong? I am beginning to doubt. As my father always taught
    us, actions speak louder than words.

  29. Barb says:

    Wasn’t there a prophecy somewhere about “bishop against bishop”? I can’t remember where I read that but it sounds
    on spot to me. The general housecleaning will be taking place first at the top….where the mess began.
    It won’t be pleasant, that is for sure, but it will be necessary. First thing that must be done is to
    see the people involved in their true light, this issue of abortion has begun the process of shining that
    much needed light.

    The pope is watching and I am glad of that.
    The glass is half full folks. *grin*

    Fiat Voluntas Tua

  30. Henry Edwards says:

    Grading the USCCB Committee Picks
    http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=16703

    Looks like a pretty informative grade card on the various committee chair contests: Bp. Murray over Bp. Blaire (fail), Bp. Farrell over Bp. Bransfield (pass), Bp. Wuerl over Bp. Listecki (fail), Bp. DiNardo over Bp. Naumann (fail), Bp. Zavala over Bp. Finn (fail), Bp. Soto over Bp. Steib (pass).