Friday, September 09, 2005

Selection Processes

Our good friend Todd enters into a very salient discussion about red hats and the qualifications thereof. It’s something I wrote about allll the way back in June, but as usual, Todd’s got some really good points. Check it out:

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.

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.
Hmmmmm... In the Ratzinger mind, bellicose + divisive = disaster... So much for a cappa in every cathedral, snowflakes.



Blogger Jeff said...

Not a bad analysis, in large part.

Still, "bellicose + divisive" are exactly the adjectives many people would use to describe Cardinal Ratzinger. And they would be just as sure of themselves as others would be about, say, Pell. And no question that Ratzinger WAS divisive in his way. People had VERY divided opinions about him and still do. And it wasn't just his position either; his books stake out very strong and sometimes unpopular traditions.

Benedict and John Paul basically (not completely) want (wanted) to go to the places that the "cons" want to go. Much more than the places, I would guess, a Rocco or a Todd want to take us. But they want to do it with large measures of persuasion, carefully, with patience, and they're willing to make accomodations along the way to get there. Which is why I'm glad Ratzinger is Pope and not me! But I LOVE his approach and it teaches me patience and fortitude as well.

9/9/05 21:35  
Blogger Jeff said...

BTW, Jan Gijsen was appointed by Paul VI, not JPII (a rare John Allen goof! Or is that a Todd goof? Not so rare.) And he started up an orthodox seminary in Roermond that is responsible for a whole new generation of orthodox Dutch priests. The landscape is changed utterly from the days of the old Dutch catechism. (When was the last time anyone read THAT junkie old thing!) Cardinal Simonis couldn't have done the wonderful, and less divisive, job he's done without the groundwork laid by the heroic Gijsen.

Moreover, he is NOT retired; he is now the bishop of Rejkyavik, Iceland (= the entire country.) He learned Icelandic and is a dynamic and well-loved bishop there. Just look at his marvellous website!

Haas is an unattractive seeming character, but he seems to be doing okay in Liechtenstein now, despite a lot of initial opposition. And the new bishop of Chur has retained many of the changes he made.

All these things are more complicated than the "crunchy cons" want them to be. But--guess what?--they're a lot more complicated than the Rocco and Todd show would have us believe, too!

9/9/05 21:48  
Blogger Todd said...

Jeff, read more carefully, paying attention to blog customs of quoting, indentation, etc..

"Bellicose" and "divisive" would not be adjectives I'd use in describing the pope. He is a strong intellect and has strong opinions, but even pre-election reports noted his pastoral side. A more than suitable man for the job of Bishop of Rome. "Unorthodox," one might even say.

And yes, the Church, not to mention the world, is indeed a complex place. All the more reason you need good liberals to help the crunchy cons find the way.

9/9/05 23:50  
Blogger Jeff said...


I was reading VERY carefully. That's why I gathered the Gijsen error was probably Allen's, not yours. Is that what your snarky suggestion refers to? WRITING more carefully would allow people to follow your references without guessing.

Alas, I think it's YOU, Todd, who need to read more carefully. I never suggested that either you or Rocco claimed that Ratzinger was "bellicose + divisive." It's quite clear that Rocco at least admires him.

What I pointed out was that most of the "liberals" you advert to have in the main found him "bellicose" and that he IN FACT divided and has continued to divide people in the Church, despite his "pastoral side," which is why people like Fr. McBrien have such a hysterical reaction to him. He wasn't the "unity" candidate for the Papacy, was he now? But as usual, you don't engage with the debate, but sort of sidle around it, hoping that no one will notice your observations don't bear on the point.

The point was--to take you by the hand--that, though Rocco may notice Ratzinger's complexity better than many of your confreres, there is some complexity to Gijsen and even Haas that he overlooks.

Sounds like you're the one that needs the guide to "find the way." I can suggest a good one for you. Peter! He can help you out with some of your confusions on women's ordination and dissent in general.

10/9/05 04:38  
Blogger Sam Martini said...

Bellicose and divisive are hardly words I'd apply to Ratzinger/B16 - those with more than a passing knowledge of him and his work over the years would agree I think. Some might differ from him on theological or other points and disagree or be unhappy with decisions of CDF, but even his critics do not ever - and I have been "Ratzinger watching and reading" for decades - use words such as bellicose and divisive to describe him. In fact just the opposite; he is described as gentle in persona, respectful and collegial. He is a complex man - obviously at his age and education/experience with a deeper and broader knowledge of the faith and theology than anyone that I have read commentating in the "cyber-blog-forum" world. A thorough reader of his actual writings (as opposed to out of context and just plain wrong press interpretations) will note this.

10/9/05 08:38  
Blogger Todd said...

A bit touchy, eh, Jeff?

"That's why I gathered the Gijsen error was probably Allen's, not yours."

Though you took the opportunity to express a public doubt, to drop an insult, or likely, both. In any event, you missed.

" ... your snarky suggestion ..."

My suggestion is actually that you're projecting, but that's off topic.

"I never suggested that either you or Rocco claimed that Ratzinger was 'bellicose + divisive.'"

I never said you did.

"What I pointed out was that most of the "liberals" you advert to have in the main found him "bellicose" ..."

I'm not inclined to take your word for it. And besides, who the man is and what he does is more germane than what others think he is or does.

" ... which is why people like Fr. McBrien have such a hysterical reaction to him."

I seem to recall McBrien writing, "wait and see," or something to that effect. Regarding hysteria, that's a human malady, not a liberal one. Consider McCarrick & CWN and ponder.

"The point was--to take you by the hand--that, though Rocco may notice Ratzinger's complexity better than many of your confreres ..."

No thanks; I prefer holding my wife's or daughter's hand. But I've already beaten you to the observation that unexpected people always have more to them than what one gathers at a first glance. But complexity under the surface isn't always a measure of appropriateness for leadership.

10/9/05 11:42  
Blogger patrick said...

Ratzinger in fact was never bellicose though he was accused as such by his mortal enemies and by a hostile press who enjoyed employing cliches like "thunder from the Vatican" at every opportunity. If one can't recognize the difference between the pastoral styles of Kurt Krenn versus Benedict XVI, then one is pretty blind.

10/9/05 12:38  

Post a Comment

<< Home