05/22/2004: I repeat, Andrew Greeley for Pope!
Last time I used those words in a post subject line, I got a bit of attention from a conservative Catholic website called "Catholic[?] Kerry Watch!" and someone named "Earl" (I assume "Earl A. Appleby" who is listed there as one of the contributors) who apparently took umbrage at my marital status and self-description as a failed lawyer as well as taking umbrage at my approval of Father Greeley. So I'll recycle the subject line again, in the hopes that maybe I can garner a little more attention (and maybe even a few comment flames; I've been disappointed that I have yet to get any comment flames) from that quarter. But the serious point of that subject is not that I seriously think that Greeley is papabile, but simply that he'd be, from my perspective, a wonderful improvement on the reactionary monarchist who already holds that office. (Then again, I'm an ex-Catholic turned atheist, so we already know what authoritarians like Earl think of my opinion in that regard.) Greeley confirmed me in that opinion yesterday by penning another column, this one for the Chicago Sun-Times about the disgusting actions of certain American bishops concerning the National Review Board, a board which was put in place to review the American Church's compliance with recently adopted protocols intended to protect children from sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
Before getting to the meat of the issue, Greeley has a few barbs to throw at the conservative bishops who are playing politics with the Eucharist:
Occasionally, just occasionally, I agree with the suspicion of American Catholic bishops that they don't get fair media coverage. Thus His Lordship of Colorado Springs announces that those who vote for a candidate who supports abortion may not receive the sacraments, and it's big news. But when two cardinals and an archbishop (Mahoney, McCarrick, Pilarczyk) say or imply that they do not believe the eucharist should be used in political campaigns, the media hardly notice.Greeley then addresses the more serious issue concerning authoritarianism in the American hierarchy:
I don't know whom the Catholics in Colorado Springs are supposed to vote for. The Republican platform in the last presidential election also supported abortion in some circumstances. However, it would be interesting to know how many votes will be affected by the bishop's ''excommunication.'' Catholics in the United States have a long history of rejecting clerical intervention in politics.
More seriously, the stylus curiae -- which means the style of the curia but also in a classic pun means the dagger of the curia -- tried to do in the National Review Board, which is supposed to verify the hierarchy's compliance with the protocols for the protection of children. Cardinals Egan and Rigali -- who spent most of their priestly lives in the curia -- stuck the dagger into the board by preventing its second-year review of compliance. The review wasn't exactly canceled; it was ''delayed'' long enough so it wouldn't be done -- a characteristic curial trick. Moreover, the death blow was delivered before the board even knew it was under attack. It was a slick job, not untypical of the curia. The two cardinals proved themselves successful conspirators, apparently unconcerned that their plot would re-create all the doubts about how serious the hierarchy is about protecting children.I feel sorry for Catholic parents. It's obvious that there are certain highly placed members of the hierarchy who consider the powers and perquisites of the Church to be more important than the welfare of individual Catholics--what's more disgusting is that they consider preserving the perquisites and powers of the Church to be more important than protecting the welfare of those Catholics--children--who are least able to protect themselves. Such conduct is despicable, and if the Church were truly a divinely founded and guided institution, Cardinals Egan and Rigali would not be behaving in such a truly evil manner. More than anything else I can think of, this incident provides ironclad proof that the Roman Catholic Church is not such an institution.
Why do it? To reassert their authority. Apparently, like the high-jinks hierarchs, they think the way to recapture their credibility in the wake of the sex abuse scandal is to act like tough, nasty authoritarians. Instead of humility and openness and transparency (of which ex-curialists are incapable), they pretend that they are renaissance princes.
Fed up with the endless hassle -- and the mean, nasty letters they routinely receive from the fringe -- four of the members of the National Review Board are resigning in July. If the compliance review is not somehow salvaged, others will probably quit, too. The curialists will be delighted. Then they can appoint a new board that will do their bidding, like good Catholic laity should. Credibility? Who needs credibility when you have a red hat!
Such an outcome would be intolerable. I have seen evidence that abusive priests are still in rectories. Many bishops have done their best -- most, perhaps -- but others have not. If the review board mechanism fails, there will be no guarantee that children will be safe in Catholic environments. The last two years' efforts at credibility will have been wasted. I demand that those who have resigned -- Anne Burke, Robert Bennett, Leon Panetta and William Burleigh -- withdraw their resignations and take on the red hats in public. The issue -- responsible Catholic leadership -- is too important to be sidetracked by ingenious little plots cooked up, if not exactly in the Vatican Gardens, in some similar place in the United States.
Why Andrew Greeley for Pope? Simply because if he were, you wouldn't see the American hierarchy playing such bullshit games. I'm sure of that.
Len on 05.22.04 @ 07:51 PM CST