CitE* Watch: The Notre Dame Equation

Rock has news on the two latest bishop-appointments stateside. However, no new prelates will be making last-minute hotel reservations for next week’s USCCB meeting. Both new bishops come to Milwaukee and northern Indiana via that grand tradition of modernism: prelates elevated from lower-profile dioceses.

Among other things, the FWSB move is a rare instance of a bishop being transferred to a smaller see than his current one; the church in Pennsylvania’s capital is larger than Rhoades’ new charge by some 90,000 Catholics.

A shift of the sort last happened in 2007, when Bishop Robert Baker was sent from South Carolina’s booming Charleston church to Northern Alabama’s Birmingham diocese — half the size of the former… but, crucially, the home of EWTN.

Curious that Rome would consider Notre Dame worth a minimum of 90K Catholics.

I know neither of these bishops, aside from what I read at Whispers this morning. Fine guys, I’m sure. And holy priests, no doubt. There may be a certain corporate logic to sending a lawyer bishop to an archdiocese “facing some 14 abuse-related civil suits that, depending on their result, could see (it) enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” The question I have is this: Is this the way to run a Church? I wonder what the Eastern Orthodox do?

Once I told a former pastor I found the modern practice of making bishops suspect. He countered that over the years he had “ruffled feathers” among his brother priests in the diocese, and would never be accepted as a bishop. I swallowed my retort that maybe he wasn’t episcopal material. A bishop, it would seem, would be respected by his brother priests. And even if he had “ruffled feathers,” he would have done so in a way to maintain personal honor and principle. Among adults, that is possible. (Perhaps less so on the internet.)

Another time, I heard a parish pastor criticizing his bishop for not promoting his vicars general or big-parish pastors as potential bishops. Again, I held my tongue. I knew one of the guys thus pitied and thought maybe he preferred parish ministry. It’s also possible the bishop didn’t believe in careerism, or that he valued the assistance of these quality guys in his own diocese. Or maybe he had promoted them as “episcopabili” but they declined when the Congregation of Bishops came calling.

I can understand the changing social dynamic in a diocese if a priest were to be elevated to the order of bishop. Maybe that is an awkward dynamic in nearly all dioceses, as  Rome seems to think. But maybe that’s part of the problem in the whole vocation/priesthood/morale/leadership/episcopacy morass.

* Careerism in the Episcopacy

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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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