dotCommonweal notes George Weigel’s latest essay, “After Notre Dame,” and link the Fort Wayne/South Bend diocesan organ. I found a more web-friendly link that avoids the extra pages of the pdf newspaper.
Dr Weigel took some substantial hits on all sides for his historical-critical approach to the pope’s encyclical, so maybe it’s only fair and balanced he gets a little love this time around. On the other hand …
That the vast majority of Catholics in the U.S. never understood that this entire affair was about the nature, structure, and discipline of the Church, not about politics, demonstrates just how attenuated Catholic identity in America has become, and just how poorly catechized many Catholics are.
Not the poor dumb Catholic meme again. Eric Bugyis and George Weigel seem to have some cultural memory that pre-conciliar Catholics were well aware of the true place of the local bishop in the spectrum of Holy Orders. Am I the only one lacking this sense? I only became Catholic in 1970. My Catholic friends in college will remind you of my cultural disconnect. (I was Bible-literate, and I had never attended a Catholic funeral –to name two examples.) So you tell me: did pre-conciliar Catholics have a clear sense that the bishop wasn’t really a brownnose branch manager? Not that I don’t have my own objections to the state of catechesis, but I suspect the failures significantly pre-date Vatican II. Significantly. Or you could convince me I’m wrong. Feel free.
More Dr Weigel:
Were a bishop to summon the courage to deploy his canonical authority and declare that the University of X can no longer be considered a Catholic institution, he would almost certainly be misunderstood by a large majority of his people as acting politically, not ecclesiastically — as a partisan, not as a shepherd defending the integrity of the flock. That doesn’t mean that such things shouldn’t be done.
More Republican thinking. Aside from reminding the Church about the proper role of bishops, Vatican II also urged collaboration between bishops and other people on any number of occasions. That generally means when bishops are dealing with adults, they treat them like adults. True bishops don’t adopt the rape-and-pillage mentality, and attempt to manipulate while holding the Sherman’s March option over everybody’s head.
Dr Weigel is spot-on about the Long Lent of 2002. Not only hasn’t it ended yet, but there are a number of lay people–many well-catechized–who would like to declare a few bishops no longer a Catholic institution. But you’re not going to see any visitations heading up the hierarchical ladder. More Dr Weigel:
But doing (the “un” Catholic declaration) requires careful catechetical preparation and an effective communications strategy for explaining what was done, and why.
Ah yes. All the poor dumb sheep need is proper catechesis on the conservative way, not to mention the threat of losing one’s job or identity, and we’ll all head back to a nice, quiet, comfortable Eisenhower Catholicism. The final assessment:
(H)ow do things look, two months after the Notre Dame affair? Bullish, for the administration and its wedge agenda. Bearish indeed for those concerned about religious freedom, Catholic identity, and the recovery of episcopal leadership in the United States.
The GOP gets thrashed in an election cycle or two, a bishop and/or a university president bumble a commencement (depending on whom you ask), and suddenly it’s a crisis on religious freedom and Catholic identity? Episcopal leadership? Sure, that’s been in the tank for at least three decades. I can understand that. But what’s with the wingnut talking points on freedom?
I value the conservative/traditional voice in the Church. I really do. I sure wouldn’t want them to take over and shoulder aside all of us other Catholics, but we need them to keep the Barque floating upright. But please: can we stop with the superiority complex here? “If you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid and uncatechized.” George Weigel seems like a smart guy. Maybe he needs to turn in his GOP membership card and decide which master he wants to serve. He seemed to be perkier and friendlier as long as he lived in the wedge, eh?