Today’s bishops seem overpopulated with canon lawyers and not enough spiritual directors. I was glad to see one of my former bishops, one from the latter category, honored by his brothers, including the Jovial One:
Only a couple of minutes into his homily, Cardinal Dolan, who noted that all were gathered “to salute a great Bishop of Rochester,” got to the prevailing sentiment of the occasion.
“Why don’t I just say it, what’s in all our hearts. Matthew, we love you very much,” Cardinal Dolan remarked, setting off thunderous applause that became a standing ovation.
Cardinal Dolan was wondering later about the Garbage Plate. Please, archbishop, stay on that diet!
I remember that Matthew Clark was regarded with deep suspicion by some when he came to Rochester in 1979–directly from Rome. The previous bishop had, at his predecessor‘s urging, been appointed from among the pastors of the diocese in 1969. That still seems a generally sensible idea, one that Pope Benedict occasionally endorses, such as here, and that occasionally is rejected, sometimes with disastrous results, such as here.
In the early 80′s, I was thinking it better to form my own opinion on a bishop rather than swim with the current. I would occasionally cross paths with Bishop Clark in my formation years. he was always friendly, inquiring about my studies. He seemed more up-to-date on them than my pastor. I remember being most impressed with Bishop Clark as a skilled and prayerful presider, especially at confirmations.
My Kansas City bishops in comparison were dry and difficult presiders and preachers. Bishop Finn did restore the Eucharist for confirmation. And forty-minute homilies were trimmed somewhat. Give me a good prayerful bishop who engages ars celebrandi–who cares for his politics or ideology. Speaking of which, if one were to judge the need for a successor bishop in Rochester, one might have thought that an appointment would be coming the day Bishop Clark turned 75. The counters on the conservative web sites are gone, and the Catholic Right is still grinding its teeth.