I’ve been following the laity-archbishop kerfuffle in San Francisco somewhat closely. Frequent commenter Jimmy Mac sends me updates. Catholic bloggers near and far–but mostly far–weigh in regularly. Opinion polls are now popping up–and most pollees seem to think Archbishop Cordileone should stay put.
I think it’s a difficult thing to agitate for a bishop’s removal. I don’t think I’ve ever seriously suggested a prelate get fired here in the past several years. I probably stand in variance with some of you readers on this point. However much money was spent on that ad in the San Francisco paper was likely a waste of $$, in my opinion. How many meals will feed the poor for $$?
Since 1979, I’ve served in parishes under eight bishops. Some have been excellent, and those who have not been top-notch had good qualities. Perhaps I would have a different perspective were I a chancery employee. But I serve parishes. And outside of the occasional confirmation liturgy or pastoral directive, a bishop’s influence is fairly minimal in the day-to-day work in the trenches. For ordinary laity, contact with a bishop might be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Otherwise, keep preaching the Gospel in season and out wherever you are. Bishops have little enough influence there. And that’s our mission as baptized laity anyway.
I’m aware Archbishop Cordileone is asking for morality clauses in teacher contracts. I think that’s his right to do so. But I question the prudence of the initiative. It seems to place a higher standard on educators than it does on pastors and bishops. Maybe impressionable children need more protection.
On the other hand, inflicting an employment punishment for something like attending the irregular wedding of a close relative or good friend seems to be a bit much. I think church employers resort to the pink slip more often than they should. People make mistakes on the job, like installing expensive sprinkler systems for sidewalks rather than lawns. Correct a mistake and move on: that would be my motto.
I have a high respect for the office of bishop. If I have a fault, I might respect the office more than some of the people who fill it. I’ve gone on the record here on this website that I think a bishop should be appointed to a diocese for life. No termination. No promotion. The old-fashioned, traditional approach of the ancient Church.
I know Jim would likely disagree, and possibly prefer his ex-auxiliary to his present ordinary, but there’s a value, somewhere, in having to work with a person knowing that firing them or lobbying their exit is off the table. In some ways, it’s like family. You can’t fire a family member who doesn’t want to go. But someone may choose to withdraw, resign, go away.
These are the San Francisco things I would give thumbs down on: new morality clauses, sprinkler systems, no girl servers, Mass mob protests, newspaper ads, online polls. But I wouldn’t fire anybody over them.