Thanks for the interesting discussion on the “Cowards and Pokers” thread. When I read Judie Brown’s essay, I thought it illustrated a point I’ve made before. Simply that Catholics of all breeds would do well to temper their expectations when it comes to what others can or will do for them.
On one level, this is simple common sense. As we go through life, we know we can count on some people to back us up, and others to let us down. If our alcoholic parent promises for the umpteenth time to have an experience with us (go to a ballgame, see a movie, take a drive in the country, or whatever) and then doesn’t show, we eventually learn to discount any such promises. For a child, this is hard. A child is naive, hopeful, and innocent and dearly wants the connection. When people (or institutions) we love are involved, our minds will conjure any possible excuse to keep the dream alive.
Disappointment also happens in the adult experience. I had a good friend in college. He was always late. If he was driving and we were going to a concert, I could count on missing most of the warm-up act. If I wanted to catch the whole show, I’d get there myself and look him up later. He was a loyal, devoted friend, and a good listener. But I knew his limits. They ticked me off sometimes, but I knew where I stood.
Brown’s essay struck me in much the same way as these examples. How much can we rely on our bishops? Is it reasonable to expect Cardinal McCarrick to alter his policy and do as Archbishop Burke does? No. Would some Catholic still be hopeful he would? Certainly. Would I hope my friend would learn to be on time? Sure I would. Would it a reasonable expectation? Heck, no. The guy is still late.
Brown and others are looking for a certain kind of leadership from bishops. Apart from the issue that questions such practices, is it likely that men in their 50’s and older will change their modus operandi? You tell me the likely answer.
The point of this morning’s essay was reasonable expectation. I hope and expect every US bishop to found an institute for liturgy and sacred music. Would this be a good thing? Undoubtedly. Is it likely to happen? Snowball’s chance, my friends.
Will every bishop adhere to a single policy on distributing Communion to supporters of pro-choice legislation? I would say the chances are nearly the same: next to nil.
The internet has spawned a new Catholic phenomenon: a community without diocesan borders. What a bishop does in another see has never been of interest to the average Catholic. The Church was never designed for bishop-watching from around the world. Leaving aside the particulars of individual bishops’ policies, it is wholly unreasonable to expect a monolithic stance on a matter outside the core of Catholic values.
It seems to me that the only reason people are scandalized by who receives Communion is because they are looking for scandal. Unless the politician (or other public sinner) is a parishioner, why would a person seek such knowledge or pass it on to others?
It is unrealistic to expect an ultramontanist or a US corporate approach in church matters. The pope is not a CEO. The Catholic Church isn’t designed for business. To expect the hierarchy to adapt and conform to new expectations isn’t reasonable, in my opinion. It would take nothing less than another council to make such a change. And it would have the weight of two millennia of tradition weighing in against it..
For the moment, we live with bishops of different approaches to the pro-choice politician dilemma. To base one’s sense of unity, clarity, and lack of scandal on an unreasonable expectation seems to me to be folly. Looking around on the internet or in the print media to be scandalized knowing full well we will find something to get angry about strikes me as akin to a person attending X-rated movies or chumming around with people who do drugs. It would be nice if the theatre switched to Looney Tunes cartoons or the drug addicts broke out into a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. More likely, neither would happen.
If you want to talk about the particulars of whether or not the Burke or McCarrick approaches are good or right or potentially effective or within the bounds of orthodoxy, try another post. I’ll get to it later.