Saturday, April 01, 2006

Braxton On Confirmations: "Niente Foto"

Forgive me for saying this, but the circus of the absurd continues down in Belleville....

In a confirmation mindset a few weeks back, I asked readers' thoughts on the Confirmation Mass, and things they've seen over the years which have made it special and memorable both for the confirmandi and the congregation.

In that space, I noted that confirmation is the one time that most Catholics ever get to interact one-on-one with the bishop (except in those places where, regrettably, they're spun off to vicars forane, etc.). This is usually accomplished after Mass, in the sanctuary or in the parish hall, when the confirmands get a photo with the prelate.

Such a moment gives the bishop a chance to be personal, relaxed and somewhat whimsical with the young members of his flock and their families. It often makes for prized memories and, more often than not, the photo is often kept in a prominent place at home as a reminder of the day. Simply put, it's good for ecclesiastical cred.

Well, according to a columnist at the St Louis Post-Dispatch, Braxton's put the kibosh on that:
[P]arents at my church, St. Joseph in Freeburg, and other parishes felt unsettled by some of the "guidelines" coming down this spring from the diocese under Braxton's command. Other than a group photo, Braxton would not pose for pictures with the individual children. There would be limited photos during the Mass. "It is important to remember that the assembly is gathered for prayer," the guidelines said.
None of us should doubt that the priority of the Mass proper is to be given to prayer and not the strobe-light effect of cameras. But if paparazzi-parents (and, being Italian, I know well what they're like) are given ample opportunity to pop their flashbulbs outside the context of the Mass, it lessens their imperative to get trigger-happy during it, no?
[At a confirmation] Braxton even touched on the discontent over the photo policies. "This isn't a photo opportunity, it's a prayer opportunity," he said. Parents should use confirmation as a chance to pray with their children.
See above point.

The vicar-general's been called in to do damage-control, comparing the current bishop with his camera-friendly, high-fiving predecessor....
"A lot of times Bishop Gregory would stand against a curtain and that was his whole experience in meeting people, as a photo op. I think that Bishop Braxton prefers to meet the families, talk with them. He doesn't feel comfortable just posing for pictures," McEvilly said.
OK, so the winning strategy is to accuse Wilton of ministry by photo-op? That's rich.

Look, I want to like Braxton, I really do; he's a brilliant, urbane prelate (we don't have many of those) and I see where he's coming from when it comes to the insurrection among his priests. However, at the same time, it's things like keeping cameras at bay which drive parents downright kooky. And, to an extent, rightfully so.

That said, I'd love to see a copy of the confirmation guidelines.... Anyone wanna beam 'em my way?