Just as many have suggested I'm being overly political for criticizing George Bush (when really what I'm talking about is criticism of incompetence) let me say that a less than conservative hardliner is objectionable because -- news flash yet again! -- maybe some Catholics just don't want their consciences pricked. After all, if you toe the line on contraception, abortion, obedience, and genuflection, why wouldn't you want your ear-time on Sunday taken up with a hellfire critique of sins you avoid. Talk about spiritual creature comforts!
"In that case, let's save everybody the trouble and just appoint the episcopalian 'bishop' of Washington to McCarrick's seat, shall we? And let's not bother with another red hat in Washington. Let's send it back to St. Louis where it belongs."
I see. This is a solution? (I've yet to see, by the way, the use of "bishop" in regard to Fellay, Williamson, etc., but that's fair game for another post.) Let's talk red hat since a reader was kind enough to bring it up.
Are certain cities naturally deserving of cardinals? Cardinals were intended to be advisors to the Bishop of Rome, and electors for that office. Who is to say that a city or see with somewhat more Catholics, San Antonio for example, is less deserving of a red hat bishop than St Louis? Does Washington get a red hat because it is the US capital? Because the bishop has proved himself by a fair and known standard? Because the Church wants influence in such cities?
Perhaps choosing cardinals might take into account other factors. Suppose the Bishop of Baton Rouge or Biloxi proved himself to be an outstanding spiritual leader in a time of crisis. Suppose in spite of many difficulties, he was able to lead his people in an extraordinary way that made the presence of Christ and the mission of the Church more evident? Would there be a problem with making a cardinal in Mississippi or Louisiana? Or would a transfer be really necessary? Unorthodox, you might say? That was Rome's witness in the first centuries: steadfast faith in the face of extreme persecution and suffering.
And for everyone who thinks that the USCCB is about to become some flying circus of Burkes, Bruskewiczes and Pells (oh, my!), think again. In my research, I came across this tres fabu nugget from John Allen, written even before the conclave opened:
Some [John Paul appointments] have been spectacularly bad, such as Wolfgang Haas in Switzerland, Hans Hermann Gröer and Kurt Krenn in Austria, and Jan Gijsen in Holland. Bellicose and divisive, these bishops destabilized their respective dioceses, countries and bishops’ conferences. Krenn, for example, recently resigned in disgrace following sexual scandals in his seminary in Sankt Pölten.Hmmmmm... In the Ratzinger mind, bellicose + divisive = disaster... So much for a cappa in every cathedral, snowflakes.
In 1985, the pope’s personal secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz, a friend of Krenn, told the Congregation for Bishops that the pope had Krenn in mind as the new archbishop of Vienna. Ratzinger actually blocked Krenn’s appointment. Ratzinger knew that Krenn would be a disaster in a high-profile forum such as Vienna.