Rocco’s “Whisperfeed” alerted me to concern and complaints about another bishop, and an apostolic visitation in his diocese, Memphis. Local news read here.

When an archbishop or two are called off the Confirmation circuit by the Vatican to poke around, something’s not right. I remember lots more fuss about other bishops over the past few decades, but formal investigations seemed rare to me. Some of the fuss is normal–whenever a new pastor arrives. Old things change. New things come in. The hermeneutic of rupture in action.

I was reading the previous bishop was in place for twenty-three years. It didn’t take that many months for the wrath of the sheep to be called down on Martin D. Holley. He was whispered well two years ago:

An exceedingly warm, kind, ever-smiling figure, Holley spent his life and priesthood as a pastor in the Florida Panhandle until his 2004 appointment as Washington’s customary auxiliary with primary responsibility for its sizable Black church.

How do things unravel so quickly? Supporters and detractors lined up in predictable ways online: good/bad or liberal/faithful or inclusive/not so or lax/disciplined. Moving a sizable chunk of the presbyterate to new pastorates: this seemed to be an oft-cited problem for people. Bishop Holley’s defenders sat the move is long overdue for some guys who’ve stood pat for years. One lay person cited in the secular link mentioned a beloved pastor moved after three. Six is the usual term in places I’ve been. But more recently, I’ve heard and read of pastors getting moved at unexpected times.

I know the Church has good, talented, and much-loved priests. Very fine parishes, too. It’s only natural that people would want to hold on to a good thing, be it a well-regarded spiritual leader or a plum assignment. I think I lean with Bishop Holley that “Father Forever” isn’t usually a good thing, especially if the guy is exceptional. Run the risk with any charismatic leader–even in lay ministry–and soon enough we are making disciples less for Jesus and more for the boss.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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