Friday, March 26, 2004

Weakland's retirement After his retirement in disgrace, admitting to an affair with and a hush-money payoff to a younger man, Archbishop Rembert Weakland has made some appearances lately that have stirred the pot. He was set to celebrate confirmation at his former secretary's parish in suburban Milwaukee this spring. A vigorous protest of some parishioners ensued, prompting his withdrawal. This week, I've noticed a heap of disdain on the net for his nerve at setting up a home page. I find myself critical of him in some of these instances, and of those who protest his retirement activities. First, though I have respected him as a bishop, musician, and sensible voice in Catholicism, I do think his continued participation in the public life of the Church presents a problem. Sadly, his past, and the general perception of bishops these days make it impossible for his voice to be heard. Plus, there are people in active ministry who can say what he has to say, say it better, and say it with more authority than he. If an article needs to be written, let someone else write it. If a confirmation needs to be celebrated, let another bishop or the pastor lead it. As for his web site, while I don't plan on bookmarking it, I will probably surf there from time to time. If his friends and followers want to visit there and read, that's no bother to me. If his detractors need their daily dose of rage, I guess that's on their souls, not his or mine. However, I detect a little too much huffiness about all this. Nobody bats an eye when Cardinal Law ocean-hops, getting "noticed" in Rome by John Allen or by the international media. Maybe Law finds comfort in an element of church society that doesn't want to ring his neck, and might still think rather highly of him. The same people who want Weakland shut up in a monastery for the rest of his life seem to say very little when Law wanders from the Maryland convent which serves as his American home these days. I think caution is advised when getting sanctimonious about public sinners. Look where it got the elder son, or is this past Sunday too far back in the memory banks?

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