Monday, November 10, 2008

Meet the Press, Prelates Edition

For a group not usually renowned for flocking to places where reporters abound, it was quite the surprise to find an all-star turnout of bishops at this afternoon's first press conference... just to sit in the pews.

No, they're not actually pews, but you get the idea; the spectator-bishops were so interested in what'd transpire, they even missed their lunch.

Anyways, the half-hour session dominated by questions on the balance of the US church's hoped-for stance with the new administration and the imperatives of the Magisterium in response to it, fullvideo of the presser is available on-demand: on the dais were the conference president, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Divine Worship chair Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson and Communications chair Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco.

While the latter two were tapped for the panel given their respective committee portfolios, both just so happened to likewise find themselves at the center of the campaign maelstrom: Serratelli for an impactful letter on the Democratic platform's support of the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, and Niederauer as the ordinary whose fold includes the Speaker of the House, whose Meet the Press debacle on abortion he addressed in a meticulously-crafted September column.

Its result: pull-quotes won't do it justice, so just watch.

Back in his discipline of concentration, Serratelli said he was "hopeful" that tomorrow's vote on the Proper of Seasons would reverse June's surprise result and garner the requisite two-thirds assent of the Latin-rite prelates.

Speaking of North Jersey, a much larger-than-usual contingent of seniores -- retired bishops -- are in attendance, but one absence among the group (especially given this meeting's overarching topic of concern) is particularly conspicuous: the retired archbishop of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Never one to willingly skip the November Classic, the Great Traveler finds himself instead in Budapest this week, taking part in an international Catholic-Jewish dialogue... just days after taking part in the inaugural Catholic-Muslim forum at the Vatican.

As if we needed further proof of Uncle Ted's ability to bridge seemingly-interminable divides... or, for that matter, further reminder of how especially missed he is at this November Meeting.

About to head into regional meetings on the five national priorities, the day's public agenda is now closed... but even so, more to come.

PHOTO: AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack