Monday, March 28, 2005

"How Do You Solve a Problem Like Archbishop?"

First, a Blessed Easter to all. I'm still digesting all the lamb I ate yesterday. But for some reason, Italians have an obsession with ham on Easter, too. I don't know why.

There's so much going on everywhere but 50 pounds of amaranth silk wins the day. Ask yourself, "Did Jesus walk into the Last Supper in cappa magna?"

The Lord didn't, but Ray Burke did.

To the straints of Anton Bruckner's very loud "Ecce, Sacerdos Magnus" ("Behold, the Great Priest"), the archbishop of St. Louis replicated the wedding scene from "The Sound of Music" on Thursday night, turning the death vigil of Jesus, the suffering servant, into his own grandiose egofest, wearing the never-ever-used "great cape," 10 feet of train trailing behind.

Hoods were involved, to boot. According to one aghast witness, the train was being borne by what appeared to be "a young, blond boy." Just what we need, more smoke....

Look, I've heard that Burke is a wonderful person, gracious, very humble, kind, etc. I wouldn't believe it unless it came from people I respect, and it does. I'd love to meet Burke, have a coffee or some Sambuca, talk -- I love gracious people. But still, to be humble and then go and do something like THIS?! And to repeat it again on Easter morning? Like the hiring of Jamie Allman, it screams domination. And domination's not supposed to be our business.


In other Holy Week detritus, I took this year "off" from my favorite of the rituals, the Thursday morning Chrism Mass. Here, while the archbishop doesn't enter in a sea of ostentatious cape, it's still liturgy performed in a hyper-triumphant style. It's sad, but I just didn't want to be part of a self-congratulatory chest-thumping session when there's nothing this local church has done this past year to earn congratulations.

Deflecting abuse suits by hiding behind the statute of limitations is not cause for pride, gratitude, or congratulations. Being driven and focused by a concern for external stability is not cause for pride, gratitude, or congratulations. Pastoral ministry by photo-op is not cause for pride, gratitude, or congratulations.... I could go on, but this great observation will suffice:

"Experience shows that when priority is mainly given to outward stability, the impetus to personal conversion, ecclesial renewal and missionary zeal can be lost and a false sense of security can ensue."

Savonarola? Drinan? Granmick? No, John Paul II -- from an address given to the bishops of the Philadelphia province last year; a speech given with input, at the pope's invitation, from a priest of Philadelphia in this pope's direct service.

In an archdiocese which professes complete and utter obesiance to the bishop of Rome, his critique sent directly to the heart of the frivolous culture which sees itself as more Catholic (more Roman Catholic, Jamie Allman) than he hasn't been heeded in the least. The bosses here, who were spooked out like you wouldn't believe at hearing the structure get called out for what it is by THE POPE HIMSELF, have put the kibosh on his words out of fear that the new Know-Nothings (i.e. laypeople) will reflect and be outraged.

Ask about John Paul's words, and they'll look around puzzled and say "What ad limina speech?"

Pharaoh as a Cafeteria Catholic? Don't say never.....



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