Wednesday, March 16, 2005

He Had A Reason To Get Out of Lake Charles....

If anyone doesn't know where that title comes from, open iTunes and download Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. A magnum opus from a magnum artist.

Ed Braxton has always been the exception to the rule -- he'll tell you that himself. And so it is that in a time when vacancies are taking 12 to 18 months to fill, Justin Rigali's first auxiliary bishop came back home to take Wilton's place in Belleville (and be reunited with his beloved St. Louis Symphony and Opera Theatre) in three months flat.

Who wins? Well, prima di tutto, Braxton does -- he's been making noises for a year that Louisiana is not where he's felt at home. Wilton Gregory wins as his template of progressive and sophisticated ministry has, yet again, been validated by Rome (let's not forget that Gregory's predecessor, Jim Keleher, presided over a clergy "sex ring" in Belleville, got kicked up to an archdiocese then looked back and took credit for Wilton's extreme makeover). And Cardinal George wins as, yet again, he keeps his province safe from a rabble-rouser of the $25-million Marian shrine in cornfields kind.

Score two for George, actually: he gets Jerry Listecki to LaCrosse, where Listecki was acclaimed as the Messiah even before wheels down because he's Not Ray Burke; and now this.

Along those lines, the biggest winners of all in this move are the suffering people of Burke's personal fiefdom -- er, the archdiocese of St. Louis. The Rigali-Gregory arrangement of stylistic dichotomy across the Mississippi is continued. With this appointment, Montalvo has voiced: 1. his dissatisfaction with the Burke/Jamie Allman dream of ecclesiastical domination by means of sanctions and 2. that, given such dangerous delusions, there is a need for balance in the presentation of church teaching, a licit place for dialogue which, with Braxton in the market, will be highlighted in St. Louis media.

It is a valid belief that the damage Burke/Allman has caused led the nuncio to fast-track Belleville so that the nuclear arsenal on Lindell Blvd. would not be the sole Catholic voice in that region for long.

And Braxton will more than hold his own; nobody has ever called him camera-shy. According to the beloved Post-Dispatch, at yesterday's press conference -- where he was all cassock-ed out and couldn't hide a megawatt grin -- he noted the lectern covered with microphones and tape recorders and declared, "I will adapt."

You know he loved every second of it.

"In the land there is a hunger, in the land there is a need," the hymn goes. Yesterday, the Rome of the West's hunger -- a cry for episcopal sanity -- was heard.

Now this is gonna be fun. Buckle up.



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