Monday, July 24, 2006

Candidates in Pittsburgh
It's probably one of the few ecclesiological aspects in which I trend toward traditionalism. Wouldn't you know the St Blog's con-commentariat trend modernist? Ann Rodgers vets her list of possible new bishops in the Steel City, and Amy picks up the link. My comment there:

Only problem with the list is that they're all bishops elsewhere. Careerism in the episcopacy is a problem worth addressing. It should be the rare bishop to get two dioceses and some today even have four. That's ridiculous.

The early popes and luminaries such as Augustine and John Chrysostom would be scandalized. Is it too much to expect that a few good priests in the diocese of Pittsburgh would be on the list?

Many of the following comments on that thread are instructive in that many of them betray more of an American corporate sensibility in looking at the office of bishop. You can read how a person is supposed to move up the "ladder," earn "qualifications" to return once he's been "seasoned" elsewhere. Talk like that. I'm sure Ann Rodgers, who has the rep for being a great religion reporter, isn't intentionally promoting modernism or American corporate training, so I hope her list isn't the real one being circulated where it counts. A few things to remember: Pittsburgh, though a fine, cultured, historic, and large city, with a good reputation in ecclesial circles, is not an archdiocesan see. The sitter in its cathedra does not pick popes. Considering the new bishops we've seen in Nashville and Upper Michigan, I'd be dismayed if Pittsburgh clergy (or even clergy in other dioceses) aren't on some lists to replace Wuerl. That's not to say some clergy wouldn't or don't benefit from experiences in management training, as it were. My own bishop was never the pastor of a parish. That's often quoted as being his most serious deficiency--a lack of pastoral experience. It would be easy enough for bishops to trade remarkable pastors if someone thought that out-of-area seasoning were a value. Clergy today serve as vicars general or chancellors--what other training ground is needed for the cathedra? Any why should small dioceses suffer a parade of long-serving mediocre bishops, interrupted by an occasional five-year squatting by an up-and-comer? Naturally, we should have outstanding bishops in every one of the world's dioceses. And if that were so, it shouldn't matter about moving guys around so much. That the current archbishop of Boston is on diocese number four. Two should be the max, and even that by way of exception, rather than the rule. I shouldn't need to point out that the current troubles in the episcopacy have been aggravated in part because bishops are less concerned with particular flocks they serve and more attentive to a system that reinforces loyalty to the clerical culture above adherence to Christ. Isn't it a time for the Barque to consider a course correction? Tradition and the modern approach: funny how the hats switch when a system gets comfy.

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