Friday, October 14, 2005

They Don't Get It!

It seems the Voice of the Faithful are at it in northern California now. They want to vote for SF's new archbishop.

The meeting probably began with one of the vaticanisti's favorite examples of bad "new" liturgical music (do pieces composed in the 70's and early 80's still count as "new"?), "Sing a New Church into Being." It's pretty telling that the article begins by mentioning that the meeting was populated by "gray-haired Roman Catholics." These are the same people who were radical in the late 60's and 70's and conceived of the Second Vatican Council as a "reworking" of the Church: a far cry from the future of the Church, the crowds of young people devoted to the Magisterium and our Holy Father, who gathered at WYD in Cologne!

They don't get it: we're not talking about a political entity that will be changed by well-mobilized political action, but rather the Church, the Bride of Christ.

The issue is not changing structures in the Church--picking the archbishop won't do anything. The issue is changing hearts--true conversion of the heart and the mind through authentic renewal of our committment to Christ, the sacraments, prayer, and catechesis. This will not only produce better shepherds, but also better sheep . . . .


Blogger DilexitPrior said...

"a far cry from the future of the Church, the crowds of young people devoted to the Magisterium and our Holy Father who gathered at WYD in Cologne!"



7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The religious radicals didn't get all they wanted, to be sure. But that the Church was "reworked" before Vatican II, at Vatican II, or afterwards can hardly be doubted. The 20th century was the watershed period. The new conservatism, as you rightly say, is "devoted to the Magesterium and our Holy Father." But the old Church was dedicated to the salvation of souls. The "excited" young people you talk about don't know anything about that. But they'll get in line and empty their pocket books when needed, and that's what counts. And like good docile little followers they won't raise a stink about the Church's conservative moral teachings or its lifeless infideility to Christian tradition. They are perfect Catholics. And, boy, can they party!

8:55 AM  
Anonymous orthodox observer said...

I'm sure dilexitprior has more in common with "Voice of the Faithful" than either have with the religious viewpoint of St. Ignatius or the rest. Get a clue.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Church is not sine macula, but rather semper reformanda. Which American bishop has spoken out against the sexual abuse crisis or the infidelity "winking" ?

The apostolic mandate of bishops will be better understood if authentic, loyal lay voices are heard in financial and appointment councils.

VOTF has many well-meaning people and others who have axes to grand. What a description of the contemporary or the historical Church!

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that the Holy Father appoints Williamson. Both he and that archdiocese would deserve each other.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Marco, Trumphalistic Papist said...

they won't raise a stink about the Church's conservative moral teachings or its lifeless infideility to Christian tradition.

Hmmm, sounds like someone would be more comfortable in a Protestant sect. How about the Episcopal Church? You don't even need to believe in God, at least if you're a bishop anyway!

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you find it so offensive that a few well-seasoned SF Bay Area Catholics gathered in prayerful reflection to discuss the transition of episcopal leadership in their own diocese???

What? Does one need to be wearing red watermark crimson and strange little hats to engage in such radical "political action"?

What? The sinister and suspect ritual of gathering in a sacred place to express one's desire for a better day for a battered and ailing Church is the sole perogative of a 115 frightened men deliberating under seal of of silence within the confines of the Holy See?

Your snide assumptions concerning VOTF Nor Cal's choice of music (about which you know nothing since you neither planned nor attended the gathering) betray a lack of maturity and charity.

Stick to gay monsignori, French cuffs and fancy frocks. Yet again, you've demonstrated that real stuff concerning the life of the Church is a bit out of your league.

Paul - SF

2:43 AM  
Blogger Sainte Chopin said...

Write down "Paul's" remarks, kids. At least his last summary is as apro po as the previous Paul 2,000 yrs. ago...though I'd say that Paul missed a few marks, I digress.

Insanity sanctified by The Church...


8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

retire the blog. cease to care about episcopal appointments, anticipated changes in the liturgy, ecclesiastical regalia and attire, interminable theological controversies. be at peace, be resigned, focus on the family.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop coming back if you don't like

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My karma ran over your dogma?

11:07 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Nice blog, really. Ugly trolls, though. Yuck!

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Paul-SF: Here is the keynote address of the gathering of those "religious radicals" who "just don't get it..." A word of caution. Have that second cup of coffee and put on your thinking cap before you attempt to consume what follows:

It is very fitting that we meet only two days before the 43rd anniversary of the happy jolt that Good Pope John sent through the institutional church in his opening speech before the Second Vatican Council. That "jolt" has become axiomatic.  "The substance of the ancient doctrine of the faith is one thing and the way it is expressed is another." One of the best ways to think of this axiom is as a corrective. That is surely how Pope John thought of it.  It is a tool used to discern whether or not a teaching, practice, institutional form, properly portrays the "substance." We are here because we are convinced that the current process for the selection of bishops does not appropriately reflect the substance of the faith.  How is that the case?  A process that ignores the community of believers, and thus ignores the long-standing and foundationally catholic notion of reception, cannot be reconciled with Christianity's constitutive doctrine: the doctrine of the Incarnation. I am convinced that until we recognize that the current crisis is a crisis at the level of theology, that is, at the level of critical reflection upon our personal experience of God, the institutional Church will continue to view this situation as an historical anomaly.  As horrific as this will sound to victims, their abuse is a symptom of a much deeper problem that goes to the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Christianity's truth claims about reality. That Gospel proclaims God's commitment to the human community at the most basic level: our creation as human persons.  All human persons possess God's in-dwelling presence as Holy Spirit. We all cooperate in the work of God's Spirit.  All Catholics can share in the ministry of the Church; the lay community as a body possesses a gift of the Holy Spirit that the Church has recognized in the past.  This gift of lay judgment and juridical participation is crucial for this present moment in the Church; it is critical for the Church's on-going identity as we move forward. The doctrine of the Incarnation says that any gift of the Holy Spirit, (as all calls to ministry are) does not replace our concrete, historical selves. Instead, we cooperate with God's indwelling presence, with God's grace.


       Ponder this theology with me so that we can see how it illuminates the current crisis. The Incarnation is displayed on the individual level and on the corporate, the community level.  On the personal, individual level, the divine is united with the human in every person; every member of the Church has a mission and many members will experience a call to ministry. On the corporate level, the Church is the community of persons who live their lives differently because of Jesus' Gospel. Because they are convinced through Jesus of their ultimate relationship with God, they form a community that proclaims that truth, witnesses to that truth, worships the God who is the source of that truth and the serves the human community whom God loves. They perform these activities in and through the structure we call the Church.  The institutional, juridical offices in the Church are only one aspect of the Church; they are not identical with it.  Ministry is service to the Church for the sake of its mission. The Church requires a kaleidoscope of ministries.  Thomas O'Meara makes the connection between the Incarnation and ministry this way: "Christian ministry is the public activity of a baptized follower of Jesus Christ flowing from the Spirit's charism and an individual personality on behalf of a Christian community to proclaim, serve, and realize the kingdom of God." Notice the relationship between the Spirit's gift and the actual human person.  The Spirit acts in real, actual, concrete, historical persons; the Spirit does not come as an impersonal power that takes over and substitutes for the human and thus the historical. Were that the case then the Spirit would be no different than a magical, impersonal force that humans seek to control and manipulate.  Indeed, Catholicism emphasizes God's availability to us in and through all of reality. However, that availability is our foundational principle of sacramentality; it is not magic. By "magic" I mean overly super-naturalizing the way God acts in the world. In classic Catholic language, "grace", or the point of contact between the human and the divine, builds upon "nature"; it does not negate or replace the "natural", that is, the human, the created.

       In Catholic history there have been various moments when a magical notion of God's presence was ascendant. The Church eventually resists this tendency towards magic.

       Let us return to Good Pope John's axiom.  Our Great Catholic Tradition has always meant sustaining an essential tension between those things that are central to the truth claim that Jesus' Gospel disclosed about all of reality and to the various expressions and applications of that truth claim.  Contrary to the negative connotations that the word "tension" has for us, this theological tension animates dynamism; it signals activity, growth, health and well-being.  As such, it keeps the Catholic tradition healthy and vibrantly alive. Our tradition is like an enormous web that is flexible and yet very strong. Two forces sustain a web: the central anchor and the foundational pattern that is maintained even to the outer reaches of the web. The center is easy to recognize; it is the truth claim that there is a personal God who loves the human community and who is committed to everlasting life with this same community; the doctrine of the Incarnation is one of the central ways that we describe this truth claim.  Our relationship with God is everlasting and all other relationships of love we have with others are everlasting.  The character of our loving God has been disclosed to us in the creative and sustaining love of the Father, in the life, mission, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the in-dwelling presence of the Spirit of God that animates each and every human person.  This cluster is the anchor at the center of the web.

         I am convinced that the failure to give juridical, and truly powerful roles to lay people flows from a distortion and, sometime confusion, about the ultimate source of this dynamic tension. The Incarnation is its source. Its source is the disclosure of the unity between the human and the divine.  There has been a tendency to over super-naturalize ordained persons and to over naturalize lay people. I am using the categories of "supernatural" and "natural" for clarity's sake.  These are just another set of names for the classic pair: nature and grace. Both sets of terms seek to describe the relationship between the finite human creature and the infinite divine God. The Incarnation of Jesus, like the Jewish notion of the human person as imago Dei, discloses the essential Christian insight about God's relationship to human persons: God is united with each human person in the very structure of our personhood. We are the "places" where the human and the divine come together.  This unity stabilizes Catholicism at the center of the web and it also functions as a central feature of the pattern displayed in the threads in the web.  When that pattern is missing, that particular expression, that particular collection of threads will not long remain in the web.  Over and over again the Church has resisted any teaching, practice, or spirituality that overemphasizes the human over divine or vice versa.  Perhaps the greatest wisdom of Pope John's Council (where the Church began to apply his axiom) is demonstrated in how it describes the Church; its first and therefore signal characterization of the Church is as a mystery. The Catholic notion of mystery is another recognition of the unity between the human and the divine.  The Church is the place where God is united with the human community in great intimacy while at the same time God remains God, the divine, the infinite; therein lies the mystery. The term mystery does not describe incomplete knowledge; it describes the incarnational insight that we can draw intimately close to the divine even as we remain human.

       Any notion of ministry that exists in our Catholic web must always thread back to this understanding of mystery.  Ministry is the meeting place between a human person (or persons) and God's in-dwelling presence.  Election to hierarchical office does not confer magical powers; that would violate the center of our Catholic web. You simply cannot trace threads back to the center that do not maintain the balance between the human and the divine. That pattern must be maintained if we are to call that collection of threads "Christian." Such offices mark and validate a particular human person's ministry and her or his competence to exercise that ministry. The divine presence belongs to all human persons; it saturates the actual human beings.  It is time to apply the corrective vision of Pope John's axiom to institutional ministry.

     There is another corrective that needs to happen and that is to re-invigorate our understanding of the various charisms that are exercised by lay people, especially as the gathered community.  If the clergy were overly "super-naturalized", we have been overly "naturalized." Our gifts have been distilled into those that are mostly easily linked to our physicality, our biology. Here is a case in point: the hierarchy makes a great deal about parenthood as it is related to sexual intimacy and expression but it has done very little to affirm, (and in many cases even acknowledge), the deeper realities of parenthood that go far beyond the mechanics of giving birth and providing for the material needs of our children.  Who knows more about the development of children than the community who raises them?  And yet, the insights of this community, we parents, are almost as invisible as the victims of assault themselves.  The ministry of parenthood that Lumen gentium called the "domestic church" (echoing the Acts of the Apostles) has been deeply bruised by the bishops' deceit.  Parents and bishops are both authority figures in the transmission of the Gospel and the bishops have yet to display that they actually understand how they have harmed all parents.  They continue to give the impression that the assault on children, while tragic, is something that is easily healed.  So it is urgent that we select bishops who will recognize our great competence with regard to children's needs; we need bishops who recognize that one of the sources of the crisis is the diminution of the inner lives of children. We need to select bishops who have the wisdom to recognize our competent judgment about children and the "domestic Church." The institutional Church needs to listen to our insights about the Church that we minister to in our homes and they need to incorporate our judgment into their teachings. Our children too are overly "naturalized"; the physical assault is acknowledged but the spiritual bruising is much less so and sometimes not at all. At the rotten root of what Thomas Doyle has so eloquently called "soul murder" is this flaw in the theology of the human person.  All human persons exist in the same matrix of their "natural" human personhood; no one possesses any magical power that gives them greater access to or control over the divine.  The divine comes to all of us, in a personal act of in-dwelling presence

     Lumen gentium echoes the dynamism of the entire tradition. It moves from its description of the Church as a mystery, to a description of the Church as a sacrament, to the people of God and then on to descriptions of a pilgrim people who are all called to holiness.  This was another corrective at Vatican II: all are called to holiness—not only the ordained.  And further, holiness is not "supernatural" but is displayed in any and all service to Jesus' Gospel. God works through our human nature and calls us to make use of our gifts for the sake of the Church.  There are competencies that we possess as committed members of the community. As a matter of fact, we are all here because we have done what Vatican II asked the laity to do in Chapter VI of The Decree of the Apostolate of the Laity. We have become well educated; well trained in our ministries. We are widely read and theologically aware; many of us are theologically trained. However, it is clear from the official response that many of the people in power do not view us as important or as competent. The center of the Catholic web is not power but relationship.  Power does not trump the Gospel.  Whenever it has tried, it is eventually defeated.

       In his essay on the lessons from The Voice of the Faithful in Stephen Pope's edited volume, Common Calling: the Laity and Governance in the Catholic Church, Voice of the Faithful president James Post described the letter calling for Cardinal Law's resignation that was signed by fifty-eight Boston area priests, "an unprecedented act, less an act of revolution than a cry of pain."  Our act today is like and unlike that act. It is indeed a cry of pain.  All three of VOTF's goals begin in pain. Those who were abused were harmed by both assault and by the lying that followed; we cry in pain for them. Priests of integrity have been smeared with suspicion; their pain is sharp and often lonely.  The Church we love is battered and bruised; we weep for it.  This act today has its roots in deep and searing pain.  We continue to be in pain because we are being treated as though we were invisible, ignorant and incompetent.  However, it is also unlike the Boston letter; it is not unprecedented; in fact, there is a long and theologically deep history of lay governance in the Catholic Church. Today I ask that we ponder together the theology and the history of lay participation. I shall ground it in theology because, in true Catholic fashion, history is never just a catalog of events.  Because we have tried over the centuries to remain catholic, that is to maintain a center that guides and anchors all of Catholic belief and practice, the events will always cash out in theology; they will always disclose what we were thinking at the time about the human community's relationship with God.

       Lay competence and judgment was not invisible or ignored during the first millennium of the Church; it was exalted. It was involved in the most central and crucial moments in the life of the Church.  In our Church's earliest documents, the selection of the bishop is described as the very serious responsibility of the local Church.  Cyprian, the great bishop/theologian whose work is foundational for Catholic ecclesiology, insisted that the clergy, laity and neighboring bishops, (in other words those the most competent to judge a person's pastoral gifts), should participate in the selection of their bishops. In the first millennium, and at various points up into the early Middle Ages, lay judgment and voting was characterized as "essential." Indeed, Francis Sullivan points out that the judgment and vote of the lay community was an essential aspect of Church life in all the areas that had an impact on Church identity and life at the time: the election of a bishop, appointments of clergy, in conciliar decisions and in the reconciliation of repentant sinners so they could come back into active participation in the community. This last was an issue of identity for the early Church because peoples' lives had been threatened during a particularly vicious persecution.  The identity of the community was at stake; the way that these "apostates" were welcomed back had an impact on the Church's self-understanding. In other words, when the decision was of central importance, when it sat at the center of the web of teaching and practice, lay people were involved in the process.

       In addition to these insights about the importance of lay people, the Church also expressed another point of wisdom in the first millennium.  Bishops should be appointed for life; to do otherwise creates two problems that go to the very meaning of the episcopal ministry.  The first is that the bishop is a pastor and thus should have a long-term and deep relationship with his diocese; this relationship between a bishop and his Church is regularly compared to the commitment one makes at marriage.  (Would that the institutional Church were as careful about regulating and inspecting and commenting upon a bishop's faithfulness to his commitment as it has been about married peoples' commitments.)  Second, moving bishops around creates a culture of ambition to an office rather than openness to service.  To use the language of the day, cronyism undermines competence.  A slogan for our time might be Leo the Great's (5th century) principle (which he took from Pope Celestine who stated it a century earlier) "Let the one who is going to rule over all be elected by all."  The selection of bishops has become a process of cultivating favor with a distant office that encourages lobbying, favors and the development of the skills of ambition. The skills of a good pastor are rarely honed while one is learning how to maneuver in circles of power.  Practice at ambition does not cultivate humble servants.

     We must finally take Lumen gentium seriously if we are going to effect structural change in the Church. What I mean is that as an institution the Church must inspect all its structures and make sure that they instantiate the notion of mystery, the notion of incarnation, the notion of the unity between the human and the divine.  We must look for the places where power has over taken service, where the balanced tension has been replaced by a magical, privileged notion of access to the divine activity and will. We must remember our theology; when the human and divine are out of balance it is not just ineffective it is heretical.

       A case in point: there are not two churches, a hierarchical one and a lay one.  There is one Church and God saturates all of it with personal presence.  There is no Church without the lay faithful.  As Lumen gentium says in Chapter IV, "Everything that has been said of the people of God is addressed equally to laity, religious and clergy." We are also here because we are convinced that there is such a disconnection between the substance, that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the way authority is exercised in the institutional Church so that the form itself has actually damaged the Gospel.  We should be clear about this; we are not here to tinker with the institutional structure; we are here because we are convinced that essential structural change is necessary for the very sake of the truth claims that the Catholic Church makes.      

       40 years after Pope John's Council was closed, we find ourselves in a crisis regarding one expression of "ancient doctrine of the faith": teaching authority. Notice I placed teaching authority in the category of an expression. That it is; it is not the most central aspect of Christian theology and practice.  Let us be wary that we not imagine Catholicism as a monolithic set of teachings as some of our Christian brothers and sisters would have us imagine the Ten Commandments, easily codified and set into stone, easily configured in a static list. Catholicism is not so and those who would argue that it is, know little of either Catholic Theology or History.  Catholicism has endured not so much because of its monumental character but instead because of its web-like structure. Pope John's insight obtains; and so we find ourselves asking the question: how shall authority be exercised in this new Church that Vatican II ushered in?  That is the fundamental issue before us. The bishops' deceit crisis and the assault of children by ministers of the Gospel are actually secondary. Vatican II's documents possess the highest valence of Catholic teaching there is.  The institutional Church is stalled in its application of the teachings of the Council with regard to the ministry of lay people in the Church; the crisis has disclosed this failure of the institutional Church; it has disclosed the inadequacy of the current "expressions" of the role of lay people. By gathering today and giving voice and action to our own ministry in the Church, we are inviting the Church to embrace this particular expression. 

       The failure of leadership we are experiencing has its roots in a bankrupt theology of ministry.  We will not begin to repair this damage until we deliberately inspect the underlying theology that nourished the bishops' distorted theology of ministry. That distortion is this: they possess supernatural power as a result of their episcopacy.  This is incorrect. Any efficacy that their ministry has belongs to the Church and not to them.  Ordination labels the activity of a charism; it does not change the person into a different category of human person.  The unity between the human and the divine obtains for all human persons; the distinct charisms belong to a variety of human persons and they happen where the horizon of the human person's personality and gifts converge with the needs of the Church and the God's personal call. But no call is superior or more saturated with God's personal presence at the level of being than any other call. The ordained ministries in the Church might be seen as intensifications of God's presence but it is a category mistake to collapse that reality into the notion that the ordained become something other than a human persons. The horizon upon which authoritative leaders emerges must be one where true competence for leadership has been formed. The current process of selecting bishops on a horizon of ambition and privilege must go the way of previous ineffective and anti-incarnational expressions in the web.  It must be re-knit using the pattern of the Incarnation and the Spirit's indwelling presence.  The lay community's competence to judge and help select Church leadership is a specific charism, that the Church calls forth, that is exercised in public and that serves a specific need of the Church.  This makes it a ministry.

       The bishops who protected pedophiles and ephebophiles did not exercise authority; they exercised power. The bishops who protected the institution with deceit exercised power; they did not exercise service to the Gospel.  Authority exists for the purpose of service and derives from competence.  In their rejection of the competent expertise with regard to abuse and the effects of abuse, they displayed one of the results of their flawed notion of ministry.  They functioned as though the victims, their families and indeed the entire Church were of less value than those who were ordained. They took actions that reflected the view that priests and bishops with them, and in turn the institutional form of the Church, all have some higher supernatural valence.  They functioned as though the institution was more important than the children.  And in the Church, more than in any other mystery of tradition, function displays theology.  In their continued refusal to recognize that lay people exercise their own ministry, that they have their own areas of competence and thus of authority, the institutional Church continues to apply this flawed theology of ministry

       The local church is essential to the universal Church; there is no universal Church without the local Churches. The theological insight of this structure is profound; it recognizes and instantiates the very mystery of the Church. The judgment of the local church displays the interaction between the human and the divine.  Confidence in the judgment made by people of faith about who will most competently exercise authority discloses the Catholic teaching on the relationship between nature and grace. The human mind at work is an intense location of the Incarnation.  Our acts of judgment are animated by the personal presence of the Holy Spirit.  Our capacity to judge, to decide what is good and what is bad, what helps human life to flourish and what decays it is enabled by God's presence. We are made human by that divine presence.  In our earliest communities, the local Church embedded this consciousness of the Incarnation in the institutional selection of bishops just as it also embedded that same consciousness in the way it called forth and recognized other charisms. 

       Let me close with a story. My parish, St. Ignatius in San Francisco had a liturgy in sorrow for the victims shortly after the crisis broke.  Bishop Wester presided. I arrived early and as I sat and waited three women arrived.  I could tell that they were related; they were three generations of the same family.  The matriarch was rather infirm and it was an effort for her to walk; it was clear that they had also arrived early because her children were used to the fact that it took longer to get settled because of her infirmity. This family was clearly making an effort to come to this service.  This made me wonder if a loved one from their family had been abused.  I thought and prayed about this all through the liturgy and was both haunted and nagged by the thought. So when they waited for the Church to clear so that they could move at a comfortable pace, I went up to the three of them and said, "I do not mean to intrude, but I have to ask.  Are you here because someone in your family was abused? I could not leave without asking." It was the matriarch who responded.  "No," she said. "We are just here because of the Church; the Church we love has been abused and we wanted to pray about it." 

3:08 AM  
Blogger Dennis said...

I suppose the faithful catholics over at this site.. would be in agreement with votf. [Hint scroll down and open the link to "visioning the church women and men desire"

10:21 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Popular election of bishops certainly has precedent in the Church's history.

The difficulty here whether one could actually secure in the SF archdiocese a substantial percentage of the elgible votaries that would not be heresy-saturated dissenters for whom "sentire cum ecclesia" is strictly optional - and improbable where anything regarding sexual morality is concerned.

Certainly not in places like this VOTF meeting - alas. I am sure there are well-meaning, faithful and orthodox Catholics in VOTF. But on all evidence, they seem to be in the minority.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Levada signals diocese post will be filled
Vatican official expects archbishop to be named by 2006
Julian Guthrie, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

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A new archbishop of San Francisco is likely to be named by the end of the year, and insiders say three men have emerged as leading contenders.

The Rev. Monsignor Harry Schlitt, head of administration for the San Francisco Archdiocese, received an e-mail from William Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco who is now the second in command at the Vatican, saying an archbishop will be named by the end of December and installed in January. Levada did not list candidates, as the process is highly involved and confidential. Instead, the names are circulating within clerical circles, Schlitt said.

Schlitt said Monday that the rumored top candidates for the job of ninth archbishop of San Francisco were Bishop Stephen Blaire of the Diocese of Stockton; Bishop Daniel Walsh of the Diocese of Santa Rosa; and Bishop George Niederauer of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

The next archbishop of San Francisco will preside over the most liberal diocese in the nation, which serves more than 425,000 Roman Catholics in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties.

The post has been vacant since August, when the 69-year-old Levada left for the Vatican to serve as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Levada is the highest-ranking American in church history and a member of the Congregation for Bishops, which helps make diocesan appointments. The ultimate decision on San Francisco's next archbishop will be made by Pope Benedict XVI.

George Wesolek, director of public policy for the San Francisco archdiocese, said that he too had heard that the list of candidates had been winnowed to three names.

However, he cautioned, "While there are the basic three, this is like a game that people play. There is a lot of speculation. And there can always be surprises."

Wesolek, who has been with the archdiocese since 1985, said he hoped the next archbishop would "hold Christlike behavior, be very pastoral and clear about church doctrine." He believes this is especially important, as certain Catholic views are in the minority in San Francisco.

"I think one of the basic issues the new archbishop will face will be the declining number of families in San Francisco," Wesolek said. "There is an atmosphere that is almost unfriendly to families, with the lack of affordable housing and the difficulties in the public school system. That is a big challenge."

Bishop Daniel Walsh, who heads the Santa Rosa diocese with some 140,000 Catholics, laughed out loud when asked whether he was considered a candidate for San Francisco's top Catholic post.

"Oh the gossip is great," said Walsh, 68, a native San Franciscan who took the helm of the troubled Santa Rosa diocese in May of 2000. "I don't know if I'm a candidate. At this point, no one knows but God."

Walsh said he knew he wanted to be a priest when he was in second grade at St. Anne's in San Francisco. Today, he is "an obedient soldier" who goes where he is sent. He is in San Francisco frequently, he said, to visit his 101-year-old mother.

Sister Terry Davis, director of communications for the diocese of Stockton, returned a call placed to Bishop Blaire. She said that she would be saddened to lose him but said he had "great vision" and was known for bringing together people of different faiths. Blaire, who is 64 years old, was named head of the Stockton diocese in 1999. The diocese has more than 216,000 Catholics.

"This selection is done with a great amount of secrecy," Davis said. "The bishop doesn't know. We don't know."

Bishop Niederauer, who is 69 and said to be a longtime friend of Levada's, could not be reached for comment. He became the eighth bishop of Salt Lake City in November, 1994. The diocese serves more than 100,000 Catholics. In 2004, he received the Gandhi Peace Award from the Gandhi Alliance for Peace.

E-mail Julian Guthrie at

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like Vaticanisti has finally gone belly up. Thank God.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I question all of this about "liberal" catholics and so called conservative catholics, either you are catholic or not. But what I do see and find amusing, just like in politics is how the liberals are always more accepted, and paint this "nasty" picture of those that are conservative, while just the opposite is true.

One just has to look at the church where liberal catholic theologians are all over the front pages, always shown as the so called "voice" or spokesperson for the church.

The same goes for ecumenism, which is being forced down our throats, especially by JPII "the great", when those that aspire to uphold the teachings of the church for the past 1960 years are shunned and called all kinds of nasty names, but now after Hans Kung, Rahner, John XXIII and Father Ratzinger somehow thought in their infinite wisdom that the message of a One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic church was old and not "Modern" enough, and needed to be changed are the ones who call the shots, and it is their brand of catholicism, not that of St Justin, St Jerpme, St Gregory, St Pope Pius V, St Pope Pius X and so one are no longer accepted. One has to question where these "shepherds" are leading the flock, and if they would lay down their lives for their sheep as Our Lord asked and warned us about "wolves in sheeps clothing"

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



WASHINGTON (December 14, 2005)--Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop George H. Niederauer of Salt Lake City to be the Archbishop of San Francisco.

Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment.

Archbishop-designate Niederauer succeeds the Most Reverend William J. Levada who is now Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Curia.

George Hugh Niederauer was born June 14, 1936, in Los Angeles, California. After attending Catholic elementary and high schools, he entered St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, California. He was ordained a priest of the Los Angles Archdiocese on April 30, 1962.

After parish assignments, Father Niederauer was appointed professor of English at St. John’s Seminary College where he also served as spiritual director.

In 1979, he became spiritual director at St. John’s Theologate. He became rector there in 1987 and served in that post until 1992. From 1992 to 1994, he was co-director of the Cardinal Manning House of Prayer for Priests.

Named a Chaplain to the Holy Father in 1984, with the title “monsignor,” and a Prelate of Honor in 1988, Monsignor Niederauer was appointed eighth Bishop of Salt Lake City on November 3, 1994. He was ordained a bishop on January 25, 1995.

Archbishop-designate Niederauer holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Southern California. He is the author of Precious as Silver: Imagining Your Life with God, published by Ave Maria Press. In 2004 he received the Gandhi Peace Award from the Gandhi Alliance for Peace.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco is comprised of 3 counties in northern California. It has a Catholic population of about 422,000 within a total population of nearly 1.7 million.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Bishop Niederauer: Passion for people

By Doug Robinson
Deseret News senior writer
Bishop George Niederauer thinks someone (wink, wink) must be trying to get him. The leader of the Catholic Church in Utah was meeting with priests in his office one day when a large bookshelf collapsed and nearly fell on him without even being touched. Then last month, a couple of years after the first incident, it happened again as he placed a book on the shelf.
Johanna Workman, Deseret NewsBishop George Niederauer sits in the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The bishop, a prolific reader, loves humor and stays abreast of current issues. "The second assassination attempt," says the bishop, laughing. "Whoever is doing it is not very imaginative, using a bookcase twice. They should try an exploding pen or something."
Actually, booby-trapping the bookshelf is the perfect scheme, because this is hitting the bishop where he lives. He is, after all, a literary scholar. (So it's someone who knows him?)
On the other hand, why would anyone want to get rid of a man who has won communitywide affection with his warmth and wisdom, and his remarkable grasp of literature and humor? (See above, and just try to name another bishop who has taught a college course in literary humor and satire).
After the bookshelf collapsed a second time and assistants came to his aid, Bishop Niederauer launched into a quote from Shakespeare's "Othello."
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice; then must you speak
Of one that lov'd not wisely, but too well . . . .

It was vintage Bishop Niederauer. Hollywood tends to portray Catholic leaders — and all religious leaders, for that matter — as cold and remote, but that wouldn't begin to describe the bishop. Maybe he has undertaken the most serious profession on the planet, but he maintains a light side.
When his secretary, Shirley Mares, wondered aloud what she would tell a reporter who was coming to interview her about the bishop, the bishop told her, "Just remember your children and your husband and your job, and let your conscience be the guide."
When asked to recommend people to interview who knew him well, this was the bishop's response: "Well, if they know me real well, I'm not sure I'd want you to talk to them."
Even on the formal occasion of his ordination as bishop, while wearing robes decorated with the new insignias of his office, the first words out of his mouth were, "I hope none of this falls off."
"I can always tell when his New Yorker (magazine) has come," says Dan John, director of religious education at the Utah Catholic diocese. "He'll call me and say, 'Dan, come down here a moment.' It'll be to show me cartoons he's marked in the magazine."

Good news/bad news
For his part, the 65-year-old bishop finds wisdom in humor. "There are dark sides to everything," he says, "and there is a dark side to humor. It can be sarcastic, hurtful and angry. But it can also be gentle. You can give things a sense of proportion and help keep things in perspective if you can make a joke about it. One of the devastating things you can do is take yourself too seriously."
Bishop Niederauer probably needed all of his humor, not to mention his faith, when he was called to lead the diocese nearly eight years ago. He was 58 1/2 years old and had lived outside of his native California a total of one year. His calling to Utah sounded like the old good news/bad news joke for a Catholic leader.
The good news: "You've received a phone call from God."
The bad news: "He's calling from Salt Lake City."
Bishop Niederauer was called to direct the Catholic Church in the middle of "Mormon country." To add to the challenge, well over half of the Catholics in the Utah diocese are Hispanic. When given his new assignment, the bishop read books to learn more about the LDS faith and listened to cassette tapes in his car to gain a limited knowledge of Spanish. (He delivers his homilies to Hispanic congregations in Spanish.)
"This is a wonderful place to live, and I feel very welcome by all the people in Utah and certainly the LDS leaders," he says. "President (Thomas) Monson was one of the three people who spoke at my official welcome. There are difficulties that come up from time to time. Whenever there is such a large majority, there is a special challenge to being in the minority. The challenge is to do it in a graceful and gracious way. We need to be that way whether we're the majority or the minority."

Photo courtesy of the Catholic DiocesePope John Paul II with Bishop George H. Niederauer during the pope's visit to Baltimore in 1995. The bishop has served in Utah for eight years. And on that note, he quickly urges compassion and understanding for another Utah minority — Hispanics, most of whom are Catholic. "This is the second wave of immigration in this country, and the first major immigration where people didn't have to cross an ocean," he says. "They are recently arrived, and no one speaks their language. They are far from home and families, seeking work. They get lonely and very homesick. We have to be aware of that.
"I think for us in this city to be bigoted toward newcomers, it's a failure of the heart. And imagination. What about our ancestors?"
Strong reviews
All of the above notwithstanding, a big part of the bishop's hold on people is the bishop himself — "his personality," as one church official noted. Take in the reviews:

"He oozes warmth," says Chris Hill, the University of Utah athletic director who has interacted with the bishop in community and church affairs. "He's very comfortable to be around, and he's got a great personality."

"He is a very pleasant, intelligent individual," says Deacon Silvio Mayo. "Very personable. Very accommodating. He's really down to earth. He treats everyone the same. He just loves to be with people."

"I love to be in his presence; you're always learning something," says Dr. Dominic Albo, a Salt Lake Catholic who has developed a friendship with the bishop. "It's valuable time you spend with him."

Dee Rowland, who chaired the peace and justice commission for the diocese under Bishop Niederauer and his predecessor, William Wiegand, says, "I had planned to resign. I thought I should give him a chance to hire his own staff. Then I met him, and I thought, 'I don't want to quit this job.' "

"From a clergy point of view, he is a priest's bishop," says Monsignor Robert Survatius. "He is very loved by the priests of the diocese. He approaches things from a light-hearted point of view, but he is very diligent and serious about leading a diocese. He combines the qualities of a good overseer with being a warm friend."

The priesthood
Bishop Niederauer grew up in the Los Angeles area. He was a sickly child and missed school frequently in his early years — a thyroid condition cost him a year of grade school, forcing him to repeat a grade — but he had an unusual love for studying and learning. He was an avid reader, a devoted student with a special fondness for European history, a stamp collector and member of the school band. ("I was a very bad trombonist. When there were four trombones, I was fourth; when there were five, I was fifth.")
"I was an indoors kind of kid," says the bishop. "My poor father wanted a third baseman, and he got an English teacher."
The only child of George, a banker and real estate businessman, and Elaine Niederauer, a homemaker, his parents sent him to a boarding school at St. Catherine's Military School in Anaheim when he was 10, reasoning he would benefit from being with other children and receive better instruction. He remained there four years, coming home on weekends and holidays, then returned home permanently to attend St. Anthony's High School. He graduated second in his class.
Religion was always a strong presence in his life. He attended Catholic schools, his high school friends planned to attend seminary and undertake a life in the ministry — seven of them would go on to the seminary — and then there was his home life.
"We were a devout Catholic family," he says. "We had religious art in our home, and there was a St. Christopher medal in the car, and my father carried a rosary. We went to Mass on Sunday. We would keep the seasons of the year, especially Lent. My poor father would give up smoking every Lent, and my mother and I would pray for Easter to come so he would be human again."
During his high school years, impressed by the sisters and fathers who taught his classes, he began to consider the priesthood. "They gave us a sense of how religion is not just a Sunday affair," he said. "They were an example of people who lived that life, and they were happy and at peace with themselves. They had a sense of purpose."
George Niederauer at his 1962 ordination. But when he graduated from high school, he chose to attend Stanford while his friends chose seminary. After completing the fall semester at Stanford, he returned home for Christmas break and met with his old friends.
They were excited about seminary, he says. "I had been thinking about it, and praying about it." He finished his freshman year at Stanford and transferred to St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, Calif., which led to a life in the ministry.
"I'm glad I did go" to Stanford, he says. "I was still undecided" about the ministry. "If I hadn't gone to Stanford, I would have always wondered."
A literary passion
It was during his year at Stanford that he developed a passion for literature. It was later, during a class at St. John's, that he discovered its compatibility with the ministry.
He heard a lecture on the value of literature and the valuable insights into human experience it can provide. Not only did it complement the ministry perfectly, providing insights into human experience and, hence, compassion, but it also provided rich material with which to augment his sermons.
After graduating from St. John's, he took advanced degrees in English literature — a master's from Loyola University and a doctorate from USC. For 13 years, while serving as rector (or president) and spiritual director at St. John's, he also taught English literature.
Bishop Niederauer favors Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, C.S. Lewis, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O'Connor (the bishop was a guest speaker at a BYU symposium on the subject of O'Connor), William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Williams and Henry James, among others.
Taking his seminary mentor's advice, he sows literary allusions and quotes throughout sermons and conversations to illuminate a point. During the course of a casual conversation, he will quote from a wide variety of sources, from Thomas Jefferson to St. Thomas Aquinas to Jesus Christ to any figure in the Bible to Calvin Coolidge to Chaucer to Shakespeare. . . . All of which has helped him gain a wide reputation for meeting the greatest challenge for all men behind the pulpit: Not being boring.
"I love his sermons," says Irene Sweeney, president of the Catholic Foundation of Utah. "He is very entertaining and refers a lot to his reading. He keeps your attention. He makes you think. Everybody loves his homilies."
The story of the collapsing bookshelves might say more about the bishop's reading habits than a conspiracy. As Dan John notes, "If you're going to sit with the bishop, you better go read up."
One day John was in Bishop Niederauer's office anguishing over an administrative decision. John was hoping the bishop would make the decision for him, but the bishop wanted John to do it. Finally, the bishop leaned over to John and said, "Dan, I'm not going to command the tides to stop." John, a fellow bookworm, understood the obscure 1,000-year-old reference to the English King Canute, who once commanded the tides to stop and ended up getting wet.
"He has a quote for everything," says John. "He has amazing recall. He can quote Othello for five minutes."
The bishop shrugs. "Reading is very helpful for me," he says. "It's not a matter of getting to the last word. I'll stop and think about what I read. Of course, you have to remember that a lot of what I quote is what I taught."

A people person
Heaven help the man who draws Bishop Niederauer into a debate, given the literary weapons and vast knowledge he has at his disposal. A few years ago, he took exception with the Los Angeles Times' review of a book by Gore Vidal and wrote a letter to the editor in which he scorched the author and the reviewer. To wit:

Jonathan Raban's review of Gore Vidal's "United States: Essays 1952-1992" (May 23) struck me as an uncritical endorsement of Vidal as the voice of not-so-sweet reason in a world of hypocrisy. In particular I challenge the apparent agreement with Vidal's portrayal of monotheistic religion as "the greatest unmentionable evil at the center of our culture. . . ."
Raban describes Vidal as "cogent" in this regard. Not so. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are human religious institutions as well as popularly held beliefs. As such, they are flawed, often seriously, as are human systems of civil government. But they are not therefore evil incarnate. To damn Christianity, for instance, is to write off the hospitals, the schools, the care for the poor, the art and the music along with the Grand Inquisitors.
And "the past (Vidal) appeals to" won't wash either: it is disingenuous to praise "the sexy, literate, secular society of Rome before the later Caesars corrupted it with their tyranny." At best, this is warmed-over Edward Gibbon. That society led to and brought about that tyranny, a truth both Vidal and Raban ignore because of its inconvenience.
Intellectual shame on both of them. — George Niederauer, West Hollywood

Bishop Niederauer still collects stamps, owns season tickets to the symphony and likes to play bridge, listen to classical music — especially baroque — and see plays and movies. He is still an indoors kind of kid. The demands of his job — the endless committee meetings, luncheons, meetings with various church organizations, social gatherings, office appointments and the responsibility for overseeing the state's 200,000-plus Catholics — only feed his other joy in life.
"I am a people person," he says. "Extroverts are energized by being with people."

On the go
That much is clear one afternoon at a Salt Lake hotel, where Bishop Niederauer has the crowd in the palm of his hand. He is addressing the Rotary Club about faith-based initiatives. He gives several such speeches every week on a variety of subjects to community and church groups. As Monsignor Terry Fitzgerald notes, "He likes to be on the go."
He opens with an anecdote about Calvin Coolidge being a man of few words, which brings loud laughter. In the middle of his speech, he casually notes, "The government has set aside a nice fat pot of money for religious charities." (Long pause.) "Not." More laughter. On the pitfalls of interest groups accepting government money, he notes dryly, "It takes about three seconds to get used to public money . . . that's on a slow day." Near the end of his talk, he goes for his favorite humor — the self-deprecating type. "Unlike President Coolidge, I was not a man of few words. (Pause.) But they're over."
During his speech, Bishop Niederauer mentions something he learned just that morning while watching TV "during my shave." This is a man who moves through the world with his antenna up. He keeps abreast of social and political issues, as well as monitors the pulse of his religion.
In a wide-ranging Deseret News interview, the bishop expressed his concern for "the casual selfishness that comes with affluence," breezed through nearly verbatim quotes from Thomas Aquinas about beauty, artistry and prudence, noted several stories and passages from the Bible, offered insights into the nature of man's prayers, quoted C.S. Lewis' views of theology and did all of the above with no more effort that it takes to recite a grocery list.
"The thing that amazes me about him is that his mind can grab onto something that you missed, and it'll turn out to be the important thing," says John.
All of which calls to mind something Hill said: "I'm really very proud that he's our bishop. When I hear him speak, I'm proud that he's representing our church."


10:23 AM  
Blogger hilary said...

They don't have anything to worry about at VOTF in San Francisco. They're getting Niederauer. They'll love him.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did our Lady not say the church would become corrupt from within? And B16 is supposed to be a "Bulldog for the faith", he is more like a poodle

Anyone who saw his pictures in laymens clothes at Vatican II hobnobbing with Rahner and Kung knew the real deal , and Levada and now Niderhouser is just some more icing

Archbishop Lefebvre you will be a saint yet for your stance

10:23 AM  
Anonymous JMC said...

Here's a tip for the "Anonymous" who posted the keynote address and analyzed it. I'm focusing on the area of the selection process. The address, in short, accuses it of being anachronistic. I'm assuming they call it that because it's monarchic and not democratic. Well, if you notice, Christ did not establish a democracy when He established His Church; He established a monarchy. He had His reasons for that. Remembering that the Pope is guided by the Holy Ghost, if the Church were no longer supposed to be a monarchy, don't you think some Pope since Vatican II would have "defined and declared" it? In point of fact, no Pope has done so. That tells me something. The Church avoids democratic selection by the parishioners simply because of the phenomenon of "Peter" vs "Paul." You remember the story: This bunch said they belonged to Peter; another said they belonged to Paul. Paul himself put a stop to that in his epistle. If parishoners get to choose their pastors, bishops, or whatever, they're going to become so devoted to them that Christ Himself will become secondary. That's just human nature. It's also human nature to want to control everything. In that light, the fairly new saying that has already become an old saw, definitely applies here: "Let go and let God."

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