Yesterday, U.S. Catholic’s Bryan Cones pointed out the obvious in a blog on the election of NY archbishop Timothy Dolan as president of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops: This is a really big deal and, shockingly, some really good religion reporters seem to be missing that fact. Cones doesn’t mince words:
This is truly unbelievable. Catholic right-wing bloggers pull off nothing less than a coup, and the bishops claim it was all about the “election process,” that is, the assumption that the vice president would become president. There can be no doubt that the pastoral voices in the conference are now silenced, and the more confrontational figures appointed by Pope John Paul II are in the driver’s seat. The election of a conference president may seem like so much “inside baseball,” but it is of profound significance.
The person doing the best reporting and analysis of this is probably Rocco over at Whispers in the Loggia, a guy who was never trained professionally as a reporter but has access to inside sources in the Church that no one else seems to have and built his blog-for-three into one of the most respected sources on Catholic news around. (You have to love his headline for yesterday’s story and a latter post’s headline is equally funny.) So not only do we have a story about a religion story that isn’t being reported real well by the traditional press, we have a story about how a blogger is doing a better job than traditional reporters. Sigh.
And what about Dolan’s attitude in this whole thing? It smacks of arrogance – something no one would ever accuse Tucson’s bishop of having. (Maybe that’s the problem: Maybe Kicanas is just too dang nice. Too darn pastoral. Too thoughtful and not enough hellfire and damnation.) While Dolan said the vote came as a shock, the picture in the New York Times of him laughing with another bishop shows something a little other than shock – especially considering the apparent blogosphere campaign to keep Kicanas from being elected – especially reporting the Rainbow Sash Movement’s endorsement of Kicanas.
(Note to Rainbow Sash folks: You need a to hire a proof-reader before you send out a press release and, outside groups don’t endorse bishops to lead the conference.)
Then there’s the statement Dolan made about his standing in the election three year’s ago when Kicanas was elected VP:
When asked to accept a nomination as one of 10 candidates for president, (Dolan) said that “in all candor you automatically think in terms of being vice president. How to interpret that? I don’t know. I do know that the bishops hold Bishop Kicanas in the highest esteem. It was hardly like a landslide election.” Three years ago in the USCCB election for vice president, Bishop Kicanas “beat me by one vote,” he said, adding that nobody is “a shoo-in.”
Why would he add that last sentence? Who would even remember what happened three years ago – unless, of course, you’ve got a little bit more politician in you than you’d like the faithful to recognize. Then again, maybe Dolan’s going to be a great Church leader. We’ll have to wait and see, but one thing is for certain: As Cones said – this is a big deal.