Scratching Off Bishops’ Names

A facebook friend posted on this, from central Pennsylvania. The diocesan statement is here. Harrisburg Bishop Ron Gainer acknowledged the poor judgment and culpability of bishops.

Regarding the legal investigation of that state’s dioceses:

“(It) has caused the diocese to take a frank look at its past as well as its present,” he said.

As a result, the name of every bishop since 1947 will be removed from Church facilities in the diocese.

“This decision may prove to be controversial, but as a bishop I strongly believe that leaders of the diocese must hold themselves to a higher standard and must yield honorary symbols in the interest of healing,” the bishop said.

The bishop did not take this action unilaterally:

I agree with the recommendations that I have received from my advisors on these matters and have instructed Diocesan Staff to begin efforts to change names, effective immediately.

The daily Mass chapel in my current parish was originally named for a well-regarded former pastor. I believe our archbishop and/or the diocesan liturgy director alerted us this was inappropriate. The sign hung there now reads “St Joseph Chapel,” a move I think appropriate, remembering the name-saint of the priest, but placing the space under the patronage of a saint. I know high schools and such get named for bishops. I attended one. It was a big thing when our namesake visited us once before he died.

I think this is an appropriate step for Bishop Gainer. If my alma mater saw fit to change its name, I would support sound reasons for it. If every bishop’s name were erased from high schools as a gesture to the aspiration for a higher standard, including my own, I would agree with it.

I notice that the one high school to be named for Archbishop McCarrick was shuttered many years ago.

Saints and angels seem a far safer way to go when honoring great women and men.

As for bishops, it would seem troubling and challenging days are ahead. Perhaps more grave than in 2002. The good ones, of which I am sure are more than a few, need prayers. And those involved in cover-up likely need the intercession of Mary and the saints quite a bit more.

About catholicsensibility

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