Catholics take pride in certain persons and places. Francis of Assisi. Lourdes. Their favorite bishop. Their favorite pilgrimage site.
Yesterday, one archdiocese celebrated the funeral of a bishop much-loved in peacemaking circles. He was effective in other aspects of ministry as well. And also under investigation during an era in which uninvestigated bishops and their dark proteges ran amuck among children, teens, seminarians, women, and who knows who else. Instead of the tools of peace: accompaniment, gentleness, humility, the acceptable implements were–and are–secrecy, seduction, and sex. The ways of power.
Much to the lament of some who hold Lincoln in high regard, another scandal breaks, is resisted by fangirls and boys, then conceded by the bishop. A note from a pseudonumous commenter:
(The) thriving conservative diocese’s tendency to lock down all talk of clerical problems:
They have a greater moral standard. That’s what makes Lincoln special. They hold up the morals of the church more than anyone else. That’s why they’re being called to task: their hypocrisy. I think this is prevalent wherever you go in the Church: this code of silence. They’re the big dog of moral standards.
Thriving may be a matter of more than the culture’s measure of success: numbers and high regard among allies. Even prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners rejoice when their numbers are high and their friends are happy for them.
Otherwise the comment leans dangerously into Pelagianism. It may be the grave sin of Catholic conservatives today–the thought that human beings, by their actions and will, can by themselves create an individual or class or group of relatively higher morality. Upholding morals, well: that could get one crushed beneath the weight of sin. God holds up morals for which we aim, and lifts us when we fall. If there’s a big dog, it is Jesus, not Lincoln, Nebraska.