Bishop Switching: Bad Show

Rock reports on a few bishop switches for US dioceses. The movement of a long-time bishop to Washington is partially understandable. But given the pope’s statement several days ago against “careerism” in the clergy …

The priesthood is not a path to prestige, says Benedict XVI. In his homily today during the ordination Mass of 15 new priests in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope said that the spirit of the priesthood is opposed to “making a career” of it, to get to the “top,” or “to seek a position through the Church: to be served rather than to serve.” The Holy Father criticized the “image of the man who, through the priesthood, wants to be important, to become a personality.” “But the only legitimate ascent to the ministry of the pastor is the cross,” said the Pope. “This is the door.” On World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Benedict XVI said that to be a priest is “not to desire to become personally someone, but to live for the other, for Christ and, in this way, through him and with him, to live for the men he seeks, whom he wishes to lead on the path of life.” The Pope continued: One “enters the priesthood through the sacrament, that is, through giving oneself to Christ, so that he can dispose of me, so that I serve him and follow his call, even if it is opposed to my desires for self-fulfillment and esteem.

In moving a bishop from one diocese to another (I’m speaking of Sartain’s switch from Arkansas to suburban Chicago) I think the potential for careerism is reinforced. It sends the wrong message. If a qualified priest could not be found in Joliet, then a priest from a nearby diocese could have been tapped. Not a bishop. Whenever an established bishop is taken from a diocese, Pope Benedict and the Congregation for Bishops risk reinforcing careerism despite the good words they say.

For all I know Bishop Sartain is a great guy and might be a good fit for Joliet. I don’t know the man at all, so I can say my criticism of the pope and curia on this one is independent of the quality of the person involved.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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