With all the fuss about the new Chicago archbishop, I was reflecting on how heated and political the reaction to it has become. Did anybody yawn when Joseph Bernardin was tapped for the Windy City? Supposedly, it was in the middle of the most criminal, heretical, loosey-goosey time in all of Catholicism. Surely somebody noticed the decay from one archbishop to the next?
Maybe conservatives have nobody to blame but themselves. The hopeful chit-chat on the net I was reading was that Cardinal Burke was heading for a triumphant Midwestern homecoming. Did they really think there was a prayer of that?
So when a non-Burke is appointed, it seems to me it’s less about liberal glee and more about dashed expectations.
Or maybe political Americans–of any stripe–have a hard time being good losers. Is it all about being at the top of the heap? Can’t a pro sports team cite the good family fun at the ballpark, the thrilling moments in the season, of oodles of money raised for breast cancer or domestic abuse awareness (I wish) or of a new generation of fans getting excited about playing a game? Clearly not, it seems.
It seems difficult to acknowledge the possibility of conversion. Especially our own. Have we ever had a feeling of dread about someone–future in-laws, a new pastor, a new neighbor, or such, and then found much to our alarm that the person turned out to be really great?
I’ve heard a lot of people had a high regard for Blase Cupich after they worked with him, or after he had been their pastor. To me, that speaks volumes of the quality and integrity of the person. Can a Democrat say, “I don’t like the GOP and I didn’t like so-and-so, but she’s really not a bad sort after all. I can work with her.” Can a Catholic say, “I don’t like priests, but Father just won me over because he’s so ____.”
Let me suggest that such people who inspire conversion are the ones we want to serve in key church positions. Let me also suggest that if a believer has never had a conversion experience with regard to another person, I would be very, very leery about listening to them for advice on anything serious at all. I think every Christian must–simply must–be prepared to allow God to change our minds, especially about people.
Maybe the appointment of so-called Francis bishops will give us an opportunity. I suspect the Chicago appointment is less about a South American Jesuit wanting to give the finger to hidebound American Catholics, and more about a simpler objective: send a good pastor. If the man’s different from the ones who went before, maybe the need is different today. Let’s accept it, and move on.