Monday, December 29, 2003

Banning VOTF Archbishop Donoghue is getting press for refusing to permit Voice Of The Faithful meetings on church property or VOTF advertisements in the diocesan newspaper. Though I've heard he seems to be a decent bishop, I guess I just have to add him to the list of prelates who Still Don't Get It. Banning VOTF seems to be a knee-jerk reaction from somebody who gets all nervous over the notion of lay people having a say in church governance. "Structural change" becomes an under-the-bed monster in the episcopal sleeping chambers. Imagine! Adding lay people to priest-personnel boards. Having lay people interview prospective pastors and help a bishop make some good assignments. Forwarding the names of good parish priests for consideration when the Church needs a bishop. Why, the very foundation of St Peter's would turn to skim milk and run down the Tiber. What bishops such as Donoghue and Myers (of Newark) say publicly is that they don't want ordinary Catholics confused because some VOTF members advocate women priests or married clergy or local selection of bishops. They criticize VOTF by their association with individuals or groups who support such efforts, even when VOTF takes the high road by saying it will not take stands on such controversial issues that are not germane to their stated mission. Still not enough, though. If the USCCB were to be held to the same standards as opponents hold VOTF, there shouldn't be a bishop left standing from 2001. Donoghue and Myers, among others, have stood with bishops such as Law who have perverted the sacrament of orders by their cover-up of scandal and protection of predators. They are in the same organization with hit-and-run felons, liars, settlement hardballers, and a few other people with shady histories. Even so, I tend to be open-minded, especially with my own bishop. I like my present bishop and I trust him. I really admire my previous bishop in Dubuque. I trust him too and admire him as a good pastor and leader. Granted, there is little precedent for a bishop to call out another bishop publicly on such matters of governance or personal scandal. But if VOTF-phobes in the episcopacy expect a repudiation of VOTF members who hold individual positions contrary to Church dogma or discipline, they are being naive at best, and sinfully hypocritical at worst. Take a poll. Ask Catholics who is more tainted with guilt by association: VOTF with CTA or generic Joe Bishop with McCormack, Law, Daily, Grahmann, O'Brien, etc.? Then if you want to talk scandal and confusion and banishment, tell a bishop to look in the mirror. Some of these guys still don't get it.

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