Monday, May 28, 2012

The Tuesday Line

Fresh off the unofficial start of summer, the news-docket heats up in the morning as three major stories step into high gear....
  • First, tomorrow brings the beginning of the much-anticipated Washington board meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, at which the umbrella-group representing the superiors of some 80 percent of the nation's sisters is expected to address last month's CDF order for a sweeping "renewal" of its mission. In the wake of the wildly controversial Vatican move -- which saw protests in a number of US cities last week -- LCWR has refrained from comment on the outcome of the four-year Doctrinal Assessment until this week's gathering, which runs through Friday. During a trip to Rome last month, however, members of the conference's leadership team reportedly held an initial meeting with the prelate tapped to oversee the process, Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, whose well-honed tendencies toward conciliation and dialogue (along with high regard in a famously progressive diocese) has had little bearing on a widespread media portrayal of the as a cataclysmic bust-up. In the run-up to their meeting, LCWR released a prayer calling on "God's Spirit" to aid its discernment, asking that "all who are called to engage in prayer and conversation" on the group's future "come to the table with hearts that are open, transparent, and faith-filled."
  • Second, Msgr William Lynn is expected to take the stand for a third day of cross-examination by the prosecution in the Philadelphia trial where the longtime diocesan clergy chief has become the first US church official to be charged with facilitating a cover-up. As the proceeding wrapped its ninth week, the lead defendant's face remained solidly red through most of the scathing eight hours of questions lobbed at him so far by Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, his argument drawn from a litany of cases of Philadelphia priests who were shuffled to new assignments following abuse reports over Lynn's 12-year tenure as head of personnel (none of the cited cases, however, pertain to the child-endangerment charge for which he's being tried). While Lynn's defense has leaned principally on citing his twin tiers of superiors -- the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and his lead deputies -- as the architects of archdiocesan policy on accused priests (who, he said, could only be removed from ministry on either admitting an abuse claim or a diagnosis of pedophilia or ephebophilia), the 61 year-old monsignor admitted on the stand to never having called police with an allegation, adding that he had been "reprimanded" by his bosses for offering counseling to every victim who came forward. The testimony has drawn the Philly trial's largest crowd since its March opening; closing arguments could be underway by week's end.
  • And lastly, more than two months since B16's last appointments of new heads for US dioceses, several nods are said to be on-deck for Roman Noon, topped by the "crown jewel" of the current Stateside docket: the 600,000-member archdiocese of Denver, vacant since last July's transfer of Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap. to the great Northeastern "supertanker." Already, reliable word has emerged that, following the standard 10am MT presser, the Mile High archbishop-elect is to celebrate an evening Mass in the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, with his installation reportedly set for July 18th. (In the interim, despite having yet to take possession of the Northern Colorado church, the nominee would be expected to receive his pallium from the Pope at next month's Roman celebration of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.) Beyond the Rockies, five other Latin-church dioceses are currently vacant, with another nine led by bishops serving past the retirement age of 75. The latter figure increases by one on Wednesday of this week as Bishop Walter Hurley of Grand Rapids marks the milestone.
As ever, more as the butler allows. See you at 6.