The US bishops are meeting in Baltimore this week. Foregoing, I hear, ritzier digs in California. On fb, I posted this brief essay from my new archbishop. In it, a quote from a book he was reading, The Boys In The Boat:
He suggested that Joe think of a well-rowed race as a symphony, and himself as just one player in the orchestra. If one fellow in an orchestra was playing out of tune, or playing at a different tempo, the whole piece would naturally be ruined. That’s the way it was with rowing. What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew. It wasn’t just the rowing but his crewmates that he had to give himself up to, even if it meant getting his feelings hurt.
This swims against the recent current in the Church, the initiative from 1978-2013 to downplay the teamwork among bishops and make sure everyone rowed to the count of Rome.
And on getting feelings hurt, I noticed that tweet from the USCCB asking Catholics still with the Church why they stayed. It’s an important question. One commenter said Jesus and Mary, but not the bishops. “You guys kind of suck,” is how I remember seeing it.
A friend alerted me to this essay by Mary Pezzulo. She hammers on abuse cover-up. For some people, she’s not wrong. Others on fb suggest it’s the dismissive attitude of the bishops on many issues important to today’s young people. Maybe every “none” or “done” isn’t running off to a Pride parade, but they read the tone of comments from some bishops. “I wouldn’t want to be like that, either,” some might say.
More from the Steel Magnificat and her citation of Bishop Barron:
Why are they leaving? Bishop Barron presents data: 1. They no longer believe (doctrine). +Barron says this is “a bitter fruit of the dumbing down of our faith.”
And her response:
No one dumbed down the faith for us, Fathers. I had a good preparation in my confirmation classes.
If only the lay people were smart, they wouldn’t leave. I think it’s an old, tired, and utterly fake argument.
There’s nothing to suggest that catechesis was better in previous generations, especially before Vatican II. One, we never studied faith knowledge before the 60s. Two, learning the faith didn’t seem to be a priority. Obedience, supporting clergy, and the devotional life were emphasized.
Archbishop Etienne to his readers:
My friends, please pray for us, your bishops, as we meet in Baltimore this week. Pray that we can rise to the challenge before us, that our efforts may bear good fruit for the good of the people of God whom we serve. Pray that the communion we share as brother bishops, that we as bishops share with all of you, may be strengthened.
My readers know I’ve been critical of bishops. Not to the point of posting clock countdowns. I’ve also written favorably when I’ve noticed actions of words that were meaningful. As long as the Holy Spirit is involved, there’s potential afoot.
I suspect that today’s bishops won’t be budging the baptized, especially the inactive people or the discouraged massgoers. I think “do no further harm,” while a meager goal, is a worthy one. It might be the best we can hope for. I think the next bunch of bishops–those of the 2030s–will be better placed to win back the lost. Anyway, there’s only so much a few hundred men can do. There are a lot more lay people willing to work. A few million of us will get it done–if only we are asked, guided, and lifted up.