Catechesis: In, McBrien: Out
After a year as coadjutor, the new bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph has put the broom to the ground to bring things back to basics there. Immediately upon his ascent in May, Finn began the process by reshuffling his leadership team and commissioning what he called a "zero-base" study to renew, purify and enhance adult catechesis efforts.
And now the bishop is taking it to the pews. Check this from an interview with his diocesan paper, The Catholic Key:
"Jesus Christ is going to save us," he said. "Bishop Finn isn't going to save us. Salvation is going to be worked out in the context of the church. Jesus Christ established the church for us to know and love him, and ultimately to get to heaven."On politics and society:
Bishop Finn said that ordained ministers alone can't transform American culture.
"We are in a culture of death. Who is going to change that?" he said.
"I can stand up and preach about it, but that's only going to go so far," Bishop Finn said.
"We have to understand where the power of the laity is," he said. "It's in the family, the workplace, the marketplace. That's where it has to happen.
"We need lay people in church leadership. But only a very small percentage of lay people will be involved in that," he said. "Sometimes, we tend to focus on that very small percentage and forget about the rest of the flock.
"But if we are not serious about those laity who do not work in the church, then we are missing the whole thing. We have to keep broadening our vision.".....
But Bishop Finn noted that the polarization of the American political system is strong among lay Catholics...
"Go back to the pre-election (of 2004)," Bishop Finn said. "'Pro-life' became connected to the Republican Party and 'Peace and Justice' became connected to the Democratic Party. It's supposed to be a seamless garment. It should be one Gospel. There shouldn't be friction and animosity between them."
Bishop Finn said people in both camps who use their faith as another political weapon should realize that both major U.S. political parties are flawed when measured against the Gospel.
"We have to come up with one common understanding of the Gospel and reach out to people who are impassioned about either (pro-life or peace and justice) issues," he said.
"I support the complete freedom of every individual to choose their political parties," Bishop Finn said. "I hope we as Catholics do so as the leaven that is supposed to redirect both of those parties. We have to make them better. That is the vocation of the laity, to transform society and culture by bringing our faith into the midst of it."
Since the tenure of Bishop John Sullivan, KCSJ has used the "New Wine" catechesis platform -- a program widely seen as faulty, at best. Finn intends to phase out "New Wine" and has trimmed the budget of the Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry which runs it.
The three-year New Wine program, he noted, has graduated about 700 people in its 21 years.
"We might have 100 people taking it in the course of a year," he said. "The program has served the diocese well over its 21 years, but that's $5,000 a head from the diocese."
Bishop Finn did not rule out a new version of New Wine in the future for lay ministry formation. That depends on the results of the year-long study of adult education needs across the diocese that he commissioned his vice chancellor, Claude Sasso, to conduct.
"Could there be something like New Wine? There could be. But the problem with New Wine was the way it was set up. It required a big budget with a set staff that you were paying full-time," he said.
And the big story....
Bishop Finn said he wants The Catholic Key to be an important component of ongoing diocesan catechesis and evangelization, and an instrument of reconciliation.
For that reason, he said, he directed The Key to discontinue Father Richard McBrien's often controversial syndicated column.
"Father McBrien likes to stir the pot," Bishop Finn said. "He approaches things with a certain skepticism and cynicism. You can get that in a lot of places, so go get it somewhere else.
"We need clear expressions of the meaning of faith, why we believe and how we can inspire each other," he said. "We've got to give people hope and direction, and we don't have a lot of time and space (in the newspaper) to do that. I think we can do a whole lot better."
Yes, we can do better. What beautiful fightin' words!
And a note to the seditious KCSJ Diocesan webstaff: please take Bishop Boland's name off the bottom of the main homepage, where it's still plainly visible -- you lot have had two months to do this. (To brief, Ray Boland is still listed as the bishop at the foot of the site, but they've done a mock cover-up to be cheeky.) Do you people really think your website visitors are that illiterate or ill-informed?
Damn liberal chauvinism.