Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Paradise, Mahony Style

Nine days and counting until US Catholicism's Western Super Bowl: the archdiocese of Los Angeles' annual Religious Education Conference.

As the REC -- held at an Anaheim arena and adjacent convention center -- isn't being put on by a bunch of lay-run parallel magisterium groups, but the Roman Catholic church in Los Angeles, the orthodoxy police are not happy at all.

But then again, when did they ever like an event they couldn't control? And as it's being put on by competent ecclesiastical authority, rest assured -- it's Catholic.... Wanna dissent from that?

Of course, the four-day festival will be presided over by Los Angeles' archbishop, Cardinal Roger Mahony, who holds an annual internet chat during it. There's been a lot of buzz about that; the questions are an absolute hoot.

Just in case he gets the vapors at seeing the words "Quo primum," however, I volunteer myself to be the Rog's stunt double for that portion of the festivities. I'd love to be there.

The REC is centered around two elements -- massive, John Paul-style liturgies in the arena, and a prolific roster of workshops in the convention center. Its Keynote Address will be given by Timothy Radcliffe, the well-regarded former Master-General of the Dominicans, who'll also give a workshop on something we could all use: "Healing Division in the Church." Lovely.

The list of presenters is impressive; here are some examples:
  • John Allen -- remember him? -- is giving two talks on "What We've Learned So Far" on Benedict XVI's pontificate and "The Rise of the South in Global Catholicism"
  • Tom Reese, S.J., returns to the well with a "Survivor's Guide for Thinking Catholics" and "The Election of Benedict XVI and What It Means for the Church";
  • Conservative favorite Fr Robert Barron of Mundelein Seminary in Chicago's offering a seminar on the "Evangelical Essentials";
  • This sounds interesting: "Benedict XV: the Papacy in a New Age" from a Thomas Weston, S.J.
  • A workshop on "contemporary liturgical issues" will be given by USCCB Committee on the Liturgy chair Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie;
  • Notre Dame's Scott Appleby will be presenting on Cardinal Avery Dulles' "Models of the Church";
  • Tom Groome, of Boston College, will be offering "Our Best Hopes" for the future of ministry in the church;
  • Jim Martin, S.J. on "Living With the Saints"
  • An English Dominican, Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham, on practical ecumenism;
  • Pro-life activist Sr Helen Prejean on "The Death of Innocents";
  • the superb scholar of liturgy Dr Paul Ford, of St. John's in Camarillo, on "The Theology of the Chronicles of Narnia";
  • The Jesuit president of Gonzaga University, Fr Robert Spitzer, will present on "Culture, Society and the Life Issues: Common Underpinnings of Pro-life Phil­osophy and Pro-life Encyclicals"
  • Two workshops which St. Blog's should be mandated to attend: "Humility: A Teaching from the Catholic Tradition" and "Teaching Our Students [Bloggers] to be Respectful in a Very Rude World"
  • and there are hundreds more....
Somebody tell me -- in a non-mouth-frothy-way, please -- what's so un-Catholic about this? I mean, it's not as if Roger their bishop was elected archbishop of Los Angeles -- and then elevated to the college of cardinals -- by a secret cabal of gays, liberals and journalists at a mountain ranch in Utah or anything.

As we all know -- and as the right loves reminding us, but only when it suits their interests -- the church isn't a democracy, but decisions are made according to the "governing Spirit" which belongs to those in orders and granted competent jurisdiction to do so, hence this conference. Period.

Despite all that, however, if anyone still feels the need to do a spleen-venting to the party responsible for Mahony's entrustment with the US' (by far) largest See and the red hat, this is the place you seek. Feel free to give him an earful.