Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Chicago Pre-Game

And now, from the bishops who brought you Scandalrama, we have this latest installment....

Tomorrow, the USCCB kicks off its Spring Meeting (now called Retreat because the unwashed are best kept out) at the luxe Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. Some retreat destination, no? Why don't they just take over the Oprah compound? Maya Angelou would be a tremendous speaker -- she, too, is a victim-survivor.

Behind the scenes, I'm told, some significant changes of the "wing-clipping" variety are being made to the mission and structure of the National Lay Review Board. Last week, four new members were named and board chairman Nick Cafardi -- dean of Duquesne U. Law School -- stepped aside.

But the more pointed news has been kept under wraps.

The bishops have invoked for themselves a "senatorial privilege," which allows for the diocesan bishop of a designated appointee to be notified of the selection of one of their faithful to serve on the NRB. If the bishop sees fit, he may veto the nomination.

Were this scenario in place three years back, Frank Keating would've never led the first charge against the culture of cover-up. Don't expect any board members from Lincoln, Baker, Manchester, etc. And don't expect that we'll know who gets vetoed -- the bishops are more likely to get wind of who's on-deck before the candidates themselves.

What is more, they say, a formal codification is in the pipeline emphasizing the authority of the conference and the individual bishops over the national board and its members. As I say, it's like putting the elephants in charge of the peanuts. You tell me the result.

These moves are an outgrowth of the board leaking its correspondence with bishops to NCR last year. The involved bishops were hopping mad to find egg on their faces, and now they've changed the rules of the game. Surprised?

Say what you will, but it's just further proof of the power of "behind closed doors." We know that all too well, and tragically, no?



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