Kindly Grandfathers or Unfocused Assertiveness?

It almost seems as if the latest USCCB meeting has snuck into Texas with all the fanfare of an illegal border crossing from the other side. I don’t see too much blogging on it. (I could be reading the wrong blogs.) There’s a lot of liturgy to be discussed and voted, at least according to the published agenda for the days. And there’s a USCCB Media blog. Thanks to Rock (who is an invaluable read on days like these) now we all know that.

Commonweal has a good editorial rolling on the bishops. “Unfocused assertiveness” is the phrase used to describe Kansas City’s Bishop Finn and others who seemed to be trying to channel the late Pope John Paul in addressing what none of us would deny are genuine evils in our culture. And yet, many of us wish the bishops would be assertive in many ways. Is it just about our pet issues? Or is there a wisdom in having a “serene” hierarchy, a collection of a few hundred kindly grandfathers who all say the right thing, but they say it gently?

The bishops should be aware that some aspects of episcopal ministry aren’t entirely fruitful. How do they avoid the political mistale of playing to their “Republican base” and watching the flock hemorrhage? Stay tuned, I guess.

I don’t for a moment believe the choice is as simple as I’ve headlined it. Any adult knows the nuance of real world life. We parent not with rods or kisses, but usually the wide range of tools in between. We don’t perform ppp or fff, but with fewer p’s and f’s and the occasional “m” in the middle. I have faith the Catholics bishops are genuinely good men who want to do a good job. I pray they get the guidance they need, from wherever they’re willing to receive it. Having a fruitful episcopal ministry in the Church is a boon to all of us, not just the ultramontanists.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Kindly Grandfathers or Unfocused Assertiveness?

  1. The meeting is being Twittered live. Great minute by minute updates on comments from the floor and in the hallways. If you’re on Twitter, check it out @usccbmedia

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    – By clericalism I mean an elitist mindset, together with structures and patterns of behavior corresponding to it, which takes it for ¬granted that clerics—in the Catholic context, mainly ¬bishops and priests—are intrinsically superior to the other members of the Church and deserve automatic ¬deference. Passivity and dependence are the laity’s lot. —

    Russell Shaw, “To Hunt, to Shoot, to Entertain: Clericalism and the Catholic Laity” (1993)

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