The List

The infamous Richard McBrien of Notre Dame provides a list of liberal bishops he admires.

You can tell the nature and quality of the list by the fact that Archbishop Weakland is on it. Weakland, you will remember, was being blackmailed by his homosexual lover; he was paid off  with $450,000 dollars of the church’s money. He also threatened to bring libel charges against teachers in his schools that threatened to expose child abusers he had sent to teach there.

The teachers were subsequently fired. The abuse continued.

What McBrien’s column reveals is that Pope Benedict is being wildly successful in replacing the bishops that most caused the abuse crisis, in my opinion.

McBrien says:

The death of Williams Borders, retired archbishop of Baltimore, this past April at age 96 has dramatized the acute change in the composition of the U.S. hierarchy over the past 30 years, that is, since the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978 and the departure of Archbishop Jean Jadot, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, in 1980.

So marked and long-lasting has the change been that many Catholics today, clergy, religious, and laity alike, tend to view many, if not most, bishops as ciphers at best, hopeless reactionaries at worst. To such Catholics, bishops are irrelevant to the life and mission of the church, and to their own lives as well.

This week’s column offers a reminder that this was not always the case.

Taking the various U.S. dioceses in alphabetical order, here is a representative sample of retired or deceased bishops, many of whom have served the church in America with uncommon pastoral zeal and who are fondly and gratefully remembered by many in their dioceses.

…If anyone wants to know why there has been so much hemorrhaging from the Catholic church in recent years (the Pew Study of U.S. religions has put the number at 3 in 10) and why there is so much demoralization among those who have thus far remained, we need look no further than the general pattern of appointments to, and promotions within, the U.S. hierarchy over the past three decades.

But this, of course is nonsense. The traditional dioceses have very high rates of vocations. There are three Catholic churches in my town, all are packed to the rafters every Sunday; you better come early or you will not find a seat. They even preach against abortion and uphold traditional Catholicism. The decline in the church came after the liberals took over. It is being reversed. Numerous studies have shown that many Catholics left to become Evangelicals, where the Bible and Jesus were emphasized. There was no religion left in the Catholic church after the liberals got through with it.  So people left.

Still, the Catholic church grew at about a 25% rate in the last few decades, albeit largely through Hispanic Immigration into the United States. At the same time, those churches advocating a Richard McBrien/New York Times sort of religion (Episcopalians, UCC, United Methodists, etc) declined drastically in membership.

So McBrien’s list helps explain what the problem was. We had bishops who were “pastoral” (which is their little code word for liberal, and desiring to change the church into a namby pamby outfit). The abuse problem arose and flourished under the liberals, and the traditionalists are now squelching the problem

There you have it. John Paul II and Benedict are getting rid of the bad wood. The inclusion of Weakland on the list is telling.

If that is one of the left’s admired bishops, then no wonder they are being eclipsed.

And so: that is the reason they have started the latest attempt to shift blame from the liberal bishops of the church to the Pope. Note that they were successful in getting everyone to look elsewhere; no one is looking at the real roots of the problems in the German and Irish churches. That was the whole reason for these trumped up charges; deflect attention, get on the Pope’s case. Meanwhile, the guilty sneak away.

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