Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Patricia Miller on What the U.S. Bishops Have Wrought, Michael Sean Winters on USCCB Meeting, James Carroll on Francis Effect

Recent commentary that has caught my eye, about various Catholic issues:

Patricia Miller on what the U.S. Catholic bishops have wrought:

What, exactly, have the Catholic bishops wrought by inflaming the religious right with the idea that fundamental religious freedoms are under attack in America because Barack Obama wanted health insurers to give women free birth control?

Michael Sean Winters on Archbishop Joseph Kurtz's first address as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as that group began its annual meeting yesterday:

Sometimes, you can tell about the relative influence of different parts of organization based on how much time the leader of that organization devotes to a given topic in a big, annual, survey speech, like the one Archbishop Kurtz gave this morning. Religious liberty was mentioned. Immigration reform did not get a mention. So much for "sterling leadership" by Msgr. Jenkins and his senior leadership team who worked on +Kurtz's draft: 11 million undocumented immigrants, most of them Catholics, do not merit a mention but fighting a contraception mandate does.

James Carroll on how the so-called Francis effect contains the seeds of its own reversal, in that it highlights the continuing pettiness of the Catholic institution, and elicits even more pettiness from leading prelates:

It is easy to love Pope Francis for his resounding defense of the poor, his simplicity, his evident large heart. But the moral grandeur of his personal triumph throws into stark relief the continuing pettiness of the institution over which he presides, a pettiness that inevitably seeks to impose itself on him. What magic, actually, can Francis’s singular magnanimity work on the church’s iron triangle of bureaucracy, dogma and male power? 
The intruding voice in my head keeps asking, for example, why has Francis, too, joined in the denigration of American nuns? 
Why is the culture of clerical immunity that unleashed a legion of priest-rapists being protected instead of dismantled? 
Why in the world beatify, or advance toward sainthood, Pope Paul VI? With his solemn reiteration, in 1968, of the ban on contraception, that pontiff, whatever counterbalancing virtues he displayed, single-handedly made Roman Catholicism a church of bad conscience. 
Is an awful truth about dogged church backlash on display here?

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