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Radical reform needed at USCCB August 9, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.

That is, radical reform, or complete dissolution.  I, for one, would be happy to see a return to the Church’s traditional model of Authority – Pope – Bishop – Laity, without the muddled compromises and separate agendas of national (and state, and regional) conferences.  Louie Verrecchio, writing at Catholic Exchange, lists some of the numerous problematic statements and agendas that have eminated from the USCCB in just the last year or so, and then concludes that the USCCB should be radically reformed:

 trust the picture has been sufficiently brought into focus, so allow me to conclude by saying that I do not necessarily believe that the majority of American bishops share their bureaucratic namesake’s leftwing orientation. I am afraid, however, that too many of those bishops who share the concerns articulated herein appear, with all due respect, to be unduly influenced by group-think as it seems that the majority are largely unwilling to speak out as clearly as their exalted office might demand for fear of offending, or perhaps just embarrassing, their misguided brothers.

As a result, the assault against human dignity in America rages practically unabated, all too frequently with the active cooperation of those who march openly under a Catholic banner. Clearly Archbishop Chaput was correct when he said, “A quieter approach to these things has not been effective” (ibid).

We therefore implore you, good shepherds, to take the USCCB bull by the horns and drag it, kicking and screaming if necessary, away from the influence of liberal partisan politics so it can effectively carry out its critically important mission of building a culture of life; collectively and clearly sanctifying, teaching and governing the people of God in the name of Christ.

No, it won’t be easy, but please know that the lay faithful (or perhaps better stated, faithful laity) are prepared to do whatever it takes according to the demands of their own exalted vocation to support you and encourage you in the work that needs to be done

Obviously, I agree that something needs to be done regarding USCCB and many of its attendant bureaucracies.  I am tired of being lectured that I must be a socialist in order to be a good Catholic.

Another point. Earlier in the article, Verrecchio stated that we don’t hear much criticism of the USCCB, because to do so can be very career-limiting for a writer at major Catholic publications.  He later went on to state that some bishops were outraged when the whitewash John Jay report was released, stating that adult male priests abusing almost exclusively teen boys was not due to homosexuality in the priesthood.  Well they were to be outraged, because the findings were nonsense, and Verrecchio alludes that John Jay College may have been chosen to write the report because they refused to find a link between homosexuality and the abuse.  That prompted me to remember back to that time, and certain writers at Catholic blogs doing cartwheels of logic trying to explain how the John Jay report’s conclusions made perfect sense.  Those authors doing the most mental gymnastics typically have the closest associations with……the USCCB.  

You should read the entire article.  Bear in mind, these are just the most egregious examples from the last year or so.  I would argue that the USCCB has been, in toto, a strongly negative influence on the faith of Catholics in this country, by giving seeming ‘official’ cover to all kinds of heterodox views and left wing viewpoints.   

BTW, have you been to Sacred Heart bookstore lately?  You should really go, they have great Catholic books, artwork, prayer cards, etc!


1. Catechist Kevin - August 10, 2011

Radically reformed?

Um, not convinced that this can happen in the next century or so.

Given the fact that any document coming from the USCCB has no canonically binding status (according to the great Bp. Fabian Bruskewitz) – why in the world does it exist at all?

Good grief, there are “gay friendly” parishes (and priests) out there who claim to use “Always Our Children” as their model for ministering to those with same-se* attraction. Never mind the fact that is was never voted on by the body of bishops to get the 2/3rds majority as an “authentic” document actually *from* the bishops!

It actually came from a “sub-committee” who took the initiative to publish on their own – under the auspices as being an authentic USCCB document! This is outrageous. You cannot even find this “document” on the USCCB website now.

It is – I am sad to say – an organization that needs to be completely abolished (please God, soon!).

Catechist Kevin

2. Al Preston - August 10, 2011

One small problem with abolishing it altogether–Canon Law mandates national bishops’ conferences. That said, the only required committees (I believe) are Divine Worship and Doctrine. I’d keep those, along with pro-life, NFP, and the publishing arm that produces Vatican materials like the Catechism and the encyclicals.

The conference is only going to be as good as the body of bishops. It is quite bloated, and seems to enthusiastically jump on Democrat proposals like START and DREAM and government social spending (as long as it isn’t paying for intrinsic evil, they don’t seem to care about the budget or debt at all). Too many of the bishops like to use the weight of the USCCB and its committees to promote their pet issues. That said with the elections of Dolan and Kurtz as president and VP, and with a very strong contingent voting for Chaput on the first ballot (his votes swung to Dolan in the final round of voting), it seems that the body as a whole is improving. So while it’s not going anywhere, there are signs of hope.

tantamergo - August 10, 2011

Does canon law require, or permit? I thought the latter, but I’d have to go look it up.

3. Al Preston - August 11, 2011

These are the appropriate canons: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P1L.HTM

I had heard that Liturgy and Doctrine were required (as I said above), but didn’t see that specifically mentioned as I skimmed it. But it does appear pretty clear that the Holy See sets up the conferences canonically, and that all bishops in the territory of that conference are members. The problem is that some of the bishops take the leeway built into the law and run with it, much like the left has done with US law.

Still, I have faith that things are improving. Only 2 or 3 years until Hubbard retires! I really like a lot of the newer bishops, as well as a lot of the bishops that have been promoted to larger sees (Chaput comes to mind, of course). Also, I would recommend you check out the video from Abp. Dolan’s appearance on Fr. Groeschel’s show this past Sunday. It should be up on the EWTN site and youtube. He actually spoke to many of your concerns about the bishops wading into party politics and economics.

That’s not to say it isn’t going to be slow, but I think the trajectory, God willing, is in the right direction.

tantamergo - August 11, 2011

I still doubt the need of national conferences. When the first US conference was formed, the National Catholic Welfare Conference, back after WWI, the Holy See rejected its organization and aims as being contrary to the Faith. There were many good reasons for this. All bureaucracies have two inherent tendencies: to be concerned primarily with their own perceived benefit, and to be increasingly left wing as time goes on. The USCCB is no different. Too often, bad policies and practices that should not be tolerated are, and the local Ordinary will say “well, such and such is the policy of the USCCB.”

The fundamental point is that the Church existed at least as well, if not better, for 1900+ years without all these bureaucratic conferences. They are at best an unnecessary drain on resources that perhaps does some small good. At worst they are a leviathan that pursues its own agenda and actively undermines the Faith. I get what you’re saying, and I think things, too, are improving in slight degrees, but I wonder if we would not be better off without all these conferences and playing at politics.

I will look for the video, and possibly post it. Thank you for your thoughtful commentary.

God bless you!

4. Al Preston - August 12, 2011

I share a similar distaste for bureaucracies myself (I think it’s deeply embedded into the American psyche). It tends to be championed by Europeans, however, including the last two popes. Their concept of society tends to be much more top-down than ours, something that is exploited by Catholics on the left (“See, even the pope believes in health care reform,” etc.).

Still, I don’t think (and the Church doesn’t teach) there is anything intrinsically morally “wrong” with this type of organizational structure, it’s just not what I believe is prudent and and efficient. I guess my feeling is that if you can’t take down the bureaucracy, your next best option is to take it over (and with the surprise election of Dolan, it looks like they might have turned the corner.)

We’ve come a long way since Jean Jadot was nuncio, thank God. Sadly, the long winter did a lot of damage to our Church and our society. There is still a long way to go, and they still don’t go nearly far enough. But every time a subcommittee or even the entire body does something frustrating or wasteful, I am encouraged that there does appear to be something of (to steal a phrase) a springtime emerging in the American Church.

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