Lighting Up the Scoreboard
What a surprise to wake up this morning and find Jose Gomez named the new archbishop of San Antonio. It's not an unpleasant surprise -- I met Gomez soon after he arrived in Denver and found him to be gracious, pleasant, very humble, relaxed and smiling all over the place. He's a superlative ambassador for Opus Dei and has the moxie to do great, great things.
Obviously, the overtones of the appointment are legion.
First, this will be remembered as the day Opus Dei arrived in America, with the placement of the first American bishop from the Work at the helm of a very prominent See. It'll help counter the Da Vinci Code stereotype of Opus which has come to an unusually prominent cultural cognizance in the States.
Second, with this nod, look for a commercial featuring Chaput saying, "I'm going to Disney World!" After a year in which he's been embattled from the Left, and Rightward fringe elements have publicly anticipated his martyrdom, Mel Gibson's favorite bishop has scored himself another major coup. Wagging tongues have talked up a potential Chaput move to Los Angeles for quite some time. There's just one problem with that theory: Chaput doesn't speak Spanish. That's a big problem, given Mahony's seemingly native place in the heart of the Latino community.
Smart money -- given the status quo sticks -- might just shift that spec a bit, that the road to L.A. starts in S.A. Naysayers would be wise to remember a place called Ayacucho....
And third, just when we were settling down and starting to observe, someone let Richard John Neuhaus out of his cage. "This is a new pattern," Neuhaus told Jean Torkelson of the Rocky Mountain News, citing a number of auxiliary bishops being moved to archdioceses. (What number is that? Tim Dolan, Levada, Ed O'Brien, Gene Marino, Lyke and Tom Kelly over 20 years? So that makes it six for... 40, and only two in the last decade-plus?). "Now the Holy See seems more inclined to spot likely candidates and move them up by jumping a couple of squares," the attempted sleight-of-history continued.
Not only is Neuhaus wrong, but he's also wrong, and wrong. He's on the trail of our #1 Story You Missed (which will be posted tomorrow evening, the 30th) -- but per usual, he got diverted by his own ego. I could be crude and chalk it up to Neuhaus', um, limited institutional memory, but a gentleman doesn't descend to the cattiness too often observed of clergy who should know better.
Bob Carlson to Saginaw? This has the potential for being the American Chur. And you say, "But there's no parachute in Lichtenstein!" Exactly.
I hope the good folks at the Congregation came up with an exit strategy in case this risky experiment doesn't work out.... The words odium popolo hang over this appointment like a dangerous omen. A tip for the bishop-makers among us: next time a progressive diocese opens up, you don't have to appoint a Berrigan, but just don't send one of the EWTN darlings, either. You're almost asking for it with moves like this... and don't say I didn't warn you.
I'm happy to see Listecki off to LaCrosse. It means Ray Burke actually has to be the archbishop of St. Louis now.