Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thoughts While Shaving: Papal Tears Over Abuses O.K. but Reforming Seminaries as Induction Centers for Lavenders is More Important. More.

                                                               Feast of St. Anselm.*   

                                   Tears and Sympathy.   
            Pope Benedict as a pristine scholar and theologian has his work cut out for him—and it has nothing to do with theology…but tightening up on administration.  News the other day that he had tears in his eyes when meeting with families of those abused by pedophile priests was stirring: but turning “reform” over to the same-old, same-old Italianate curia with comme-si, comme-sa, approach to change is going to stir cynicism and will, frankly, wreck his papacy which has an enormous possibility for good in the world. 
           Does it take a long time to crack down on the insouciant seminary rectors? You bet.  It’s like fumigating a nest of roaches from a house. But just to test, there’s one thing that can happen with the snap of a finger—that is making a decision on L’Osservatore Romano the sometimes official, sometimes not official publication that causes great consternation over why the Pontiff of 2 billion churchgoers can’t straighten out the publication which misleads Catholics daily.  
          He should decide that either the publication is in fact the official publication of the Church whereby he fires the editor and puts somebody charge who will see that the newspaper reflects the straight words from the papacy…or that it is not and severs unofficial connection with it.   There—that shouldn’t be too hard, should it?  If the pope does that, he will convince people that as an administrator he means business. If he doesn’t, well we’ll just have to wait for a successor to do a job which should be remarkably easy.   
              Tears of contrition are fine but insufficient if they are just a one-day news story and the seminaries go on welcoming lavenders as incipient priests—for while it’s highly politically incorrect—even politically dangerous-- to say it, they are the root cause of the problem. 
                             Paprocki to Springfield. 
             The appointment of Bishop Tom Paprocki to become the new bishop of Springfield, Illinois is extraordinary good news and this blog wishes him well. He is of the new generation of prelates who has shrugged off the bogus “spirit of Vatican II” nonsense in favor of implementing the real reforms.  His seminal talk of some years ago “Reforming the Reformers” tells everyone where his head is.  Some sensationalist paper downstate dug up an old quote of his attributing the difficulties of the Church to the looming presence of Satan…as if this is the ranting of an extremist.   
             The 27-year-old Associated Press copy desk editor doesn’t understand it—but this is exactly what it is…Satan’s power manifested through men who have infiltrated the seminaries, priesthood and bishoprics.  
              Paprocki’s appointment has stirred some speculation as to who will be named to his auxiliary bishopric post here. My inside sources tell me that the fellas out there with the purple fever will all be positioning now.  Paprocki’s vicariate is as much or more Hispanic as it is Polish—although his specialty was Polonia not Mexico.  There will be jockeying to choose a Pole for sure but the cry of the Latino is heard in the land especially in Logan Square, Humbolt Park etc.  
              Insiders are ruminating about Francis George’s successor  (he’s 73 and 75 is the magic turnover unless he’s allowed to be kept on).  If the Vatican really wanted to reform things it would name Chaput from Denver who would drive the liberals here c-r-a-z-y!  Atlanta’s Wilton Gregory?  He’s a native but he’s 63, a bit too old—would be 65 if appointed. But maybe: he’s apple-smooth.  Yet the thinking is he’ll retire from Atlanta. 
             They say Rome would like to install a Gomez as in L.A. but that would be tough because we are much more of a melting pot that a lot of other cities.  Also someone who comes in would have to placate the remnants of the Old McLaughlin Group…the original band of liberals who assailed “Francis the Corrector” headed by the late dynamic Rev. Bob McLaughlin a sturdy red-haired rabble rouser of the Left who was rector of the Cathedral for years, had Sweeney the AFL-CIO prexy speak from the pulpit on Labor Day: wonderful, a card-carrying Democrat …and defied Church law by introducing generalized confession wherever he could, abolishing the old system of one penitent on his knees confessing to the priest in seclusion of the confessional.   As chancellor, Paprocki put an end to the ad hoc innovation but gained the enmity of the liberals here. 
               Which helps nullify the chance that Paprocki himself might be in line to succeed George when the time comes. Anyhow two years a bishop isn’t enough time but he has many ties to the Chicago presbyterate—and he’d never be able to govern here.  They’d almost have to bring in an outsider with big archdiocesan experience but not yet a Cardinal.  The rumors are bandying about St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Denver (Chaput again).   Miami?  No just appointed today.  San Fran?  Nobody knows the guy. Levada’s been out five years now—long enough training for the new guy: he’s definitely a possibility.  Pittsburgh?  Appointed in `07: too new. 
           *Anselm [1033-1109].  Born at Aosta, Italy he was refused entrance to a monastery when he was 15 because of two reasons: (a) his father’s disapproval and (b) Anselm had led a worldly life even at that tender age. So he skipped out on his father, went to Burgundy and in 1059 became a disciple of Lanfranc and became prior at Bec.  Anselm became abbot of Bec in 1079. Lanfranc became archbishop of Canterbury.  The clergy elected Anselm as archbishop to succeed Lanfranc but he ran afoul of King William II (William Rufus) who had to assent.  William wanted Anselm to pony up a huge amount before he would sanction him as archbishop of Canterbury.  Anselm said no thanks. 
            Some recalcitrant bishops back William, some barons upheld Anselm. Anselm went to Rome to ask the pope what gives?  The pope backed Anselm but King William vowed to exile Anselm from England and said he would confiscate all church property. Anselm said: if this is making too much trouble for the Church I’ll resign. The Pope said no-no, don’t do that.   All this time, Anselm was building a reputation as an outstanding theologian, laying the groundwork for Aquinas, believing that revelation and reason can be harmonized.  He was the first to incorporate the rationalism of Aristotle into theology. All the while he wrote, he was distracted by battles with Kings who wanted to exert their temporal authority over Church rights.  But the preponderance of his written work is outstanding which shows that you can fight all day with kings and write half the night about theology and get both right.   
              Anselm died at Canterbury on April 21and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1720. 


  1. I met Bishop Paprocki some years ago. My wife was friendly with Paprocki's brother and we attended a function at the church where the future bishop was then pastor. (I want to say it was St. Michael's on South Shore Drive; I remember it was over there somewhere.)

    So I have no predisposition against the man. But the AP story in this morning's Sun-Times said Paprocki "once blamed the devil for lawsuits over sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and proposed shielding the church from legal damages." That's quite different from your report this morning that Paprocki once blamed the Church's difficulties on this issue on the 'looming presence of Satan.' The latter position is fine -- but the statement attributed to the Bishop by the AP today is (I think you will agree with me here) unacceptable.

    You appear to be on the side of the angels on the clerical abuse scandal and you have connections within the Church and press. Can you find out -- and report on -- what the true facts are?

  2. I'm not sure the Pope is any more of a "pristine scholar" and theologian than you but it's time to realize that he is as much at home in the "Italianate curia" as anyone. And, we liberals don't need Chaput to drive us crazy. The Pope and Cardinal George have already taken care of that. Cmon, Tom can't you ever be happy with the fine conservative Church leadership now in place. I say. . . you and Father Pfleger are such rabblerousers. Give peace a chance.