A Tale of Two Archbishops: Show and Tell

NCR’s Tom Roberts compares and contrasts the two high profile American Capuchin Franciscan archbishops.

I had a correspondence with Archbishop Chaput a number of years ago. I complained about a George Weigel piece–I don’t know if it was a talk in his then-archdiocese, Denver, or a special feature published in his paper. We got frustrated with each other. He sent me a neocon article that attempted to pull faith into American conservatism. He thought I was picking a fight just for the heck of it. Could be. But it also could have been that I didn’t find him terribly convincing. The NCR piece labels him as a pessimist. That could be. It’s an unfortunate stance for a minister of the Gospel to take. Doubtless there are reasons to lament the problems and evils that seem to surround us. But do we make them the driving force behind what we do and whom we profess?

Mr Roberts points out the difference of the two in their approach to accepting children of SSA parents into Catholic schools. Even I’m not sure what to make of that. The Colorado explanation, that the children would be subjected to mixed messages and would be troubled by them, seems like a parental discernment to me.

I confess being a skeptic on Archbishop O’Malley. Long-time readers here know that. Four assignments as a bishop–and either he’s a fixer or a careerist, it seemed to me. A bishop should be more than either.

The conclusion of the NCR piece:

One hopes it is not without consequence that during the same week Chaput was delivering his sermon of doom and condemnation, the pope spoke about “becoming slaves to our sorrows.” Reflecting on the day’s readings, Francis said, according to a Vatican summary, “It all speaks of joy, the joy that is celebration.” Yet, “we Christians are not so accustomed to speak of joy, of happiness. I think often we prefer to complain. … Without joy, we Christians cannot become free, we become slaves to our sorrows. The great Paul VI said that you cannot advance the Gospel with sad, hopeless, discouraged Christians. You cannot.”

The critique, of course, is essential. It has always been an element of Christian life. But at some point, the more difficult task of leadership has to surface. The community must be invited into the larger story. It has to be inspired to live something more, to be transformative, or it withers away. It has to have reason to place its faith and hope in something other than sarcasm and a bitter list of complaints.

Invitation. Inspiration. What’s being suggested here seems to me to be more of the show and less of the tell. Do we need doomsayers telling us how bad it is? Or leaders showing the way to live a more authentically Christian life?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to A Tale of Two Archbishops: Show and Tell

  1. Todd I have so many thoughts about this, but I will have to return in order to reply. I do so love what you ask at the end.

  2. John McGrath says:

    Why are so many young Catholics attracted to the priesthood as guided by glum conservatives? Not that the numbers of young priest is all that great, just that the only priests being ordained have a very sour view of life outside their narrow, politicized, melodramatic worldview.

  3. Ray MacDonald says:

    If the commentary I read recently on another blog – total lack of charity among clerics of different ages – is any indication, I fear that Apb. Chaput’s paradigm is becoming the norm. If ordained ministry cannot muster any charity for one another, how much will be left over for the rest of us?

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