Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Timothy Dolan's Election as USCCB President: More Calls to Obediential Catholicism

Joseph O'Leary left an insightful comment at my posting yesterday about the hope to be found in the clear-eyed, intelligent, passionate vision of young folks like Graeme Taylor of Michigan, about whom the posting wrote.  Fr. O'Leary says,

The kids are less confused than the bishops, and the reason is clear: they have more practice in open discussion, consultation, and honest thinking.The constant dishonesty of the magisterium is coming home to roost, undermining their credibility to an astonishing degree.

And here's Marian Ronan's assessment today at Religion Dispatches of what the Catholic church in the U.S. now needs to weather its considerable storms--and what it won't get from the new president of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference Timothy Dolan:

[Vincent] Miller says outright that a major cause of the crisis in Catholic social teaching is the bishops' "reductionist" application of the category of "'intrinsic evil'...only to abortion, embryonic cell research and same sex marriage." To help stem the massive loss of US Catholics, [Peter] Steinfels urges the bishops to hold "regular systematic assessments of...controversial matters like expanding the pool of those eligible for ordination and revisiting some aspects of the church's teaching on sexuality," as well as better pastoral practice.

Under Archbishop Dolan, it's highly unlikely that the bishops will turn their attention to either of these crises. As the Times reports, in the press conference following the election Dolan committed himself to continuing the approach of outgoing president Cardinal George of Chicago who stressed that the bishops are the authorities on interpreting the faith for Catholics. "We're teachers," he said, "and not just one set of teachers in the Catholic community, but the teachers." It's implied that the rest of us US Catholics, like Dorothy Day, should just be loyal and obey.

Serious and respectful dialogue with the faithful is imperative if the Catholic church in the U.S. is to have any kind of viable future at all.  But with Timothy Dolan as USCCB president and Joseph Kurtz as vice-president, there's not a snowball's chance in hell that such dialogue is on the horizon.  It's going to be more of same: the bishops do the talking, the faithful do the listening.

Or, as the case may be, the walking.

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