I’ve been on the fence commenting about Cardinal Martini’s parting interview which has been getting lots of Catholic blogosphere traction the past few days. For a few days, it seemed enough to let others carry the ball on the supposed “progressive hero” that I honestly didn’t know much about. The news from Milwaukee tips me over. If there’s a good way to link up two stories in some new way, I’m inclined to jump in with both feet.
The deceased cardinal has been quoted all over Google as saying the Catholic Church is two-hundred years out of date. More on the Reuters translation from Corriere della Sera:
Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous.
The church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation.
The Catholic Right is in full spin on this one, including Britain’s Catholic Herald:
(P)lease let us remember that reform is not to be confused with abolition.
Even the CH admits there’s nothing about doctrine getting pulled back. So why are they even bringing it up? Just to make sure the alarm spreads, and any potential renewal gets a quick clamp down.
A bit more than a decade ago, Milwaukee’s archbishop got no little Vatican heat for suggesting that rather than close parishes, he would prefer that communities surface viri probati, “proven men” who, though married, would make sound, reliable, and honored clergy to continue the mid-1900’s wave/glut of ordained priests. So much for the proven solution. Slap it down, then let the Jovial One pass on the tough decisions to his sorry-sap successor, who tries to put the best face on it:
Now that a long-term strategy has been determined for the archdiocese, it is extremely important for each parish and cluster to become actively involved in planning for the future. Each pastor or parish director in consultation with the parish pastoral council is charged with the responsibility for these planning efforts. The full implementation of the plan will require the collaborative efforts of everyone in the archdiocese.
Collaboration is indeed a worthy strategy to share. But I can’t help but think Archbishop Listecki is a cover boy for Cardinal Martini’s 200-Year comment. While it may have a time-honored practice in the West, a celibate priesthood is not a matter of faith and morals. It has nothing to do with doctrine. Even if the Church was somewhat preoccupied with Napoleon on the loose two centuries ago, there was no reason not to explore the viri probati solution, say, thirty to forty years ago. Would have done Catholics a lot more good than an Anglican Ordinariate. Or the return of the TLM. Ask Bishop Lennon in Cleveland if he wished he’d have dodged getting taken to ecclesiastical court over his reduction plan.
Let’s not kid ourselves. This has nothing to do with doctrine. Cardinal Martini was being generous with his brother prelates in the curia. They and their neo-aristocrat followers want to dial it back to the Dark Ages. Make no mistake about that.
And as for your own bishop, be aware of his priorities in all this. If he has to close a hundred parishes to prop up the 200-years, he’s going to be his own best advocate, career trail or not. You can bet he will never, ever buck the institution on the non-doctrinal front for you or any of your diocesan parishes.