Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The New Virtual Ecclesiology

Ann Rodgers, back from Cologne, on Donald Wuerl's statement about collaboration among bishops....

Concerned about open divisiveness, Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh has proposed that his fellow U.S. Catholic bishops consult one another before speaking out on divisive national issues -- particularly whether prominent Catholic politicians who support legal abortion should be denied communion.

Though couched in polite, theological language, Wuerl's proposal is an attempt to muffle loose cannons in the hierarchy. The proposal appeared in the Pittsburgh Catholic and was carried nationally through Catholic News Service.

"The issue of a national politician's reception of Holy Communion and public stance on moral issues is a concern that affects not just the local church wherein the politician lives, but also considerably affects the church throughout the nation, as was evidenced in last year's election and the controversy surrounding Sen. John Kerry," Wuerl wrote.

Yup, it was a damn messy time, and Wuerl -- a delegate to the October Synod on the Eucharist who's been invited to lecture at this fall's annual "New Bishop School" given in Rome by the Congregation for Bishops -- is, as ever, a genius to tackle the difficulties that technology and schismatic EWTN fans present to a cohesive ecclesial life.

Think about it: As a consequence of last year, we still have people around the country ignoring their proper bishops and seeking alternative episcopal oversight in St. Louis, like polygamist Mormons exiled to Utah. Some orthodoxy that is....

As I've always said, Rowan Williams (a spiritual son of Carmel) is more Catholic than many Catholics, and the Cafeteria Trads are more Episcopalian than most Episcopalians. But that's what happens when symbolism trumps substance.



Blogger John Hearn said...


It would be indeed be an education for us all if you would give us some actual proof that EWTN was fomenting a schism within the Church. All I have seen them do is take the Faith seriously, how is that schismatic?

31/8/05 11:59  
Blogger Todd said...

Vatican II said it: "From the very first centuries of the Church bishops, as rulers of individual churches, were deeply moved by the communion of fraternal charity and zeal for the universal mission entrusted to the Apostles. And so they pooled their abilities and their wills for the common good and for the welfare of the individual churches. ... This sacred ecumenical synod earnestly desires that the venerable institution of synods and councils flourish with fresh vigor. In such a way faith will be deepened and discipline preserved more fittingly and efficaciously in the various churches, as the needs of the times require."

Christus Dominus 36

EWTN is emotive and enthusiastic; that does not guarantee orthodoxy, only earnestness.

31/8/05 13:00  
Blogger Jason C. said...


That can be said about anyone, even Bishops.

John asked a specific question.

31/8/05 13:12  
Blogger the Savage said...

I'm not sure if Pope Benedict would agree with Wuerl's attempt to rein in the "loose canons". As he said in the Ratzinger Report, "the really powerful documents against National Socialism were those that came from individual courageous bishops. The documents of the conference, on the contrary, were often rather wan and too weak by comparison to what the tragedy called for."

31/8/05 14:37  
Blogger John Hearn said...

So is the USCCB is useless exercise in worthlessness or a worthless exercise in uselessness?

31/8/05 14:44  
Blogger Jeff said...


No, the USCCB is a very good thing, within its modest limits. And sometimes, Bishops working in concert can be of immense assistance to individual bishops and serve to restrain others.

But to the extenet that it smothers the initiative of individual bishops or encourages a herd mentality, then a standing Conference is a bad thing, of course. Nothing can take the place of individual bishops.

31/8/05 14:52  
Blogger Pro Ecclesia said...

"... schismatic EWTN fans ..."

Cardinal Mahony, is that you?

31/8/05 15:29  
Blogger Gene O'Grady said...

Regular Mormons live in Utah. Polygamous Mormons tend to be exiled to the Arizona strip. (I think there are actually a couple polygamous sites in the parts of Utah that no one has ever been to.)

By the way, I'm hardly a defender of EWTN (although I don't think about them that much) but I would prefer to have the "word" schism retired. And much as I admire Rowan Williams he doesn't seem very Catholic on justification by faith.

31/8/05 16:02  
Blogger RC said...

I hope His Excellency the Bishop of Pittsburgh didn't forget to consult with Bp. Olmsted, Bp. Sheridan, and Abp. Burke before offering his recommendation.

But seriously, with 200-plus bishops in the country, forget about trying to reach consensus on some of these pastoral-disciplinary issues. Consulting within the province is about right.

1/9/05 01:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This proposal of Wuerl's is just a power grab by a desperate group of progressives.

The USCCB has no juridical authority except for that which the Holy See gives it, article by article, and they know it. This is sheer smoke and mirrors. But hey, they've bullcrapped everyone before....

The days when this will work are over. =)

2/9/05 17:19  

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