Around in Bend

Bishops, pastors, and parishes can get into tough spots these days. UCANews picked up the NCR story from across the Pacific on the ousted pastor, the firm bishop, the Vatican appeal, and the outraged parish. A brief local piece from last month is here.

Priests of questionable ability and history get appointed as pastors, and seemingly, are very difficult to oust. I’ve been in parishes where pastors have been reassigned under inscrutable circumstances. In today’s climate, you have to wonder what the guys have done and why the bishop is making a move. The culture of silence is the setting for any surprise move, and that’s what bishops and priests will be working with, or under, for the next generation at least.

Bishops are lawyered up big time these days. Any whiff of lawsuit, and nobody’s talking. Which puts the bishop in a very bad spot. Practically, they can’t make a move without really good cause. Mutual dislike with a priest? That’s one the two men in question are just going to have to suck up and take one for the team.

Bishop Cary has two choices: go public with his reasons for firing Fr Radloff or accept that he has alienated a wide swath of lay people in a parish and raised a lot of questions and will be on the receiving end of ill will. He can’t fall back on the “internal affairs” excuse and think he’s done. That may not be fair. And Fr Radloff may well be a troublemaker making things difficult for his bishop. That’s not particularly fair either.

As for the parish, I hope the lesson they’ve learned goes beyond a charismatic pastor. It’s up to them, not the priest, to keep the pews full and the newcomers coming.

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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 Around in Bend

  1. Bro, you’re not just whistling “Dixie” with your spot on commentary, this is so pervasive a story that I’d be forced to wager some version of it exists in every diocese and chancery in the states. I appreciate your final analysis that the health of this particular (or others) parish ultimately rests upon the faithful laity. But so much detritus generally is strewn within the triangle of bishop-priest-laity that no one will ever see anything remotely close to the truth, the bishop and the lawyers will bide their time (racking up billable hours) and fractionalized people will mob up and eventually dwindle and peel off to resume whatever their new normal has become.
    And folks like you an’ me are compelled to deal pyschologically with folks’ struggles to understand what “their church” has become and tell them to keep chins up, don’t stop believin’ (thanks Journey), and continue serving without any display of emotion or partiality.
    I don’t particularly like Tom Booth’s “I will choose Christ,” as a song, but live on in THE CHURCH with that as my motto.

  2. Thank you NCR for publishing the story of a disgruntled Bishop…Fr. Radloff should place a new appeal now that Pope Francis is running the show, we loyal Catholics have new hope with Pope Francis, and we need priests like Fr. Radloff, we have had enough of the old school
    secret nature of the Catholic Church, look where it got us. Bishop, open the file on Fr. Radloff, what are you afraid of, yourself?? C. B Radloff

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