Sunday, December 15, 2002

Oh for goodness sake

Newsweek's article on Cardinal Law's resignation is now online.

I am not impressed.

Actually, let me take that back... a bit. The article in many ways is okay. It's the views of the people quoted that fail to impress me.

For instance, the article quotes a "suburban priest" who compared the situation "to the Protestant Reformation and the Second Vatican Council." Perhaps the good priest is exercising a bit of hyperbole, because it's frankly ridiculous to compare what Boston is going through to either historical event.

We then learn that Dr. Jim Muller, founder of the controversial Voices of the Faithful [sic] has an unfortunate understanding of the place, role, and importance of the liturgy for Catholics. Commenting on the revelations concerning defrocked priest Geoghan, Dr. Muller said, "My wife and I, who were devoted Catholics, could not bring ourselves to go to church in January.”

One can certainly understand the pain and frustration which people in Boston like Dr. Muller and his wife felt. But I cannot understand how one might respond to the news of what had happened in the Archdiocese by not going to Mass on Sunday. Dr. Muller doesn't say that he and his wife didn't go as an act of protest, and I'm not implying that he did. Nonetheless, it would seem to met that a "devoted Catholic" would run to the Jesus present in the Eucharist precisely at a time like this, when there is so much pain, suffering, and frustration in one's own heart and in the hearts on so many fellow Boston Catholics.

Where the article really turns south, though, comes when it discusses Garry Wills, calling him "a moderate Catholic intellectual if ever there was one." Huh??? This is the guy who wrote the book "Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit" for goodness' sake! And they call him a "moderate Catholic intellectual"???

Wills is asked about his views on VOTF's attempts to have greater say in Church decision-making. The article reads, "In other spheres 'we don’t accept authority unless it is accountable,' Wills told NEWSWEEK. 'The hierarchy thinks it owns the church. It doesn’t.' Could a group like this really pose a threat of revolution, or even reformation?"

Wills is right: in other spheres, we don't accept authority that isn't accountable. But he fails to remember (if he even knows) that the Church is different. Catholics believe that the hierarchical structure of the Church was determined by God, not man. This means that authority in the Church is different from authority in other realms. Bishops and popes and most surely accountable for their actions, but not to us. They have to answer to Someone else.

Now, I don't have a problem with revisions in the way bishops are selected. Such "conservative" Catholics as George Weigel have done the same. But those revisions have to be done within the tradition of the Church, not according to the programs and policies of those who do not think with the Church.

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