Catholic Church

More on the upset at the U.S. Bishop’s Conference

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.


13 thoughts on “More on the upset at the U.S. Bishop’s Conference

  1. You’re working pretty hard to find insincerity here…
    N.B. Rocco’s approach is better (as you say) because he tries (for the most part successfully) A. to assume good intentions on the part of those he’s reporting on, and B. to remain unattached to any specific political slant.

    1. I’m not trying to find insincerity. What I’m pointing out is that this decision, sadly, smacks of a political move that seemed to be brought about by pressure in a certain “wing” of the Church. Yes, the bishops have been getting more “conservative” for lack of a better term, for awhile. This, as the commenter below says, isn’t news. But the fact that there appears to be more politicing this time around (despite Dolan’s statements to the contrary) and that there was obviously reluctance (fear?) of having Kicanas as prez when he’s qualified and an awfully good example of pastoral leadership, IS news. Why did the bishops decided to break tradition THIS year, not any other, with THIS vice president of the conference?

  2. I think that it has been reported on quite well. It’s just that US Bishops being politically involved and moving to the extreme right isn’t really news – it’s been going on for quite a while.

  3. Your note to the Rainbow Sash Movement sounded a little much. They did not send out a Press Release. They posted it to their web site. I realize that crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s is very important to  journalistic types none the less it got noticed, and just perhaps has done more show lay people it is not just about the bishops. I personally was amazed at the coverage this group got. It went literally viral. Perhaps a better approach would be suggest more proofing, but a good job non the less.
    If I was gay I would probably join the group.

  4. Kicanas and other like him have recruited,protected and promoted homosexual men in the priesthood for years. He alone was responsible for ordaining a known actively gay priest while rector at Mundelien Seminary. That person went on to abuse ten young males in Chicago and he is now in prison. Who speaks for those ten ruined lives,not Kicanas he said he would do the same again.  The Catholic Church in the United States is approaching two billion dollars paid out to victims of abuse. Money that could have be used doing the work of Jesus Christ  not ,as Pope John Paul II said,dealing with this “filth”  New ballgame,Faithful priests 1- lavender mafia 0

    1. John: You are making a leap that actively gay males are all pedophiles. As I said above, I don’t think a man who has been found violating the practice of celibacy (which is required of seminarians and is a vow priests take before ordination) should be ordained – especially if the violations are multiple. But an adult male who has sexual relations with another adult male is not automatically a pedophile.
      As for Kicanas recruiting, protecting and promoting homosexual men in the priesthood – do you have facts to back up that statement. Yes, you have the Mundelien incident, but one mistake doesn’t seem to add up to “recruiting, protecthing, and promoting” homosexual men in the priesthood.

  5. I have been involved in the Catholic church in Tucson for 12 years.  I am a God fearing man and read the Bible.  I am involved and informed of what is going on in my community and what the leaders of the church here have said and done to instigate political agitation.  Kicanas has been very political in this last year and has upset many people in the church with his views.  One would wonder as to how we haven’t lost the federal tax shelter because of his political opinions.  Tucson’s Catholic church is rich in political diversity and has thrived in spite of Kicanas.

    1. The only “political” opinions I’ve know the bishop here to speak have to do with proclaiming the Church’s social justice statements regarding immigration. Is that what you are speaking of, or is there something else?

  6. So… what exactly is wrong with the Catholic Church being “conservative”?

    They believe in core life values like no abortion…  no homosexuality… a belief in God… and marriage between one man and one woman.

    What am I missing here? There needs to be SANITY in this world!

  7. The Catholic Church has witnessed a  slow but sure creep into the political camp ground of right wing politics. And I do mean politics not theology.  My take on this trend is  a simple biblical one; you cannot serve two masters.

    These are his words to our US congress:

    Specifically, my testimony recommends that Congress—
    Enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation which provides a legalization program (path to permanent residency) for undocumented workers in our nation; reforms the employment-based immigration system so that low-skilled workers can enter and work in a safe, legal, orderly, and humane manner; and reduces waiting times in the family preference system for families to be reunited.  Examine the “push” factors of migration such as international economic policies and enact policies which encourage sustainable economic development, especially in sending communities; Enact in reform legislation the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2009 and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM); Adopt immigration enforcement policies that ensures our nation’s borders are secure at the same time that the abuse and deaths of migrants are prevented and their basic human rights and dignity are protected;
    Include the necessary elements in any legislation to efficiently implement any new immigration program, including taking actions to prepare the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to implement any new program and to properly fund such implementation.

    This is not seperation of church and state.
    Also, the cities of Sodom and Gohmorrah started out as God fearing people as did the Benjamites. But through self-justification and minimizing actions such as, only some gays are pediphiles, created gangs of unmoral men running around raping what ever they wanted.  Also minimizing the requirments of men becoming priests has been conterversial lately with priest pedophiles cropping up all over, do you condone pediphile priests or don’t you.  Should their be a screening process?   There is no middle ground with God.  That is one of the reasons why our fore fathers made seperation between church and state. 




  9. In my opinion, I think that the Bishops are reacting out of fear to the present climate in the Church. They are taking a very defensive posture to what is called the climate of secularism. When fear becomes a destination rather than a motivating factor the question  than becomes how effective is that style of leadership.
    What I have noticed in the press coverage between now and years past is that there really was no significant coverage on the Bishops Conference outside of the controversy surrounding the election of Archbishop Dolan .
    ETWN was allowed to cover the Conference  but was not allowed to do any commentary on it, and that is a whole other ball of wax. All is definitely not well in the world of the Bishops. I am going to check out the “World Over Broadcast” tonight to hear their take on the conference it should be interesting.
    I think the whole Health Care Issue has torpedoed the Bishops credibility to speak for Catholics, clearly the Catholic Health Association position and its leadership of  religious nuns is more in line with the Catholic voters than are the Bishops. There is a real question in my mind just how influential the bishops will be on the immigration legislation if they continue to look for purity in the legislation rather than its practical need.
    Catholic voters appear to be focusing on the “Primacy of Conscience” when it comes to moral issues another troubling situation for the Bishops.  One wonders just how connected to parish life are catholic voters and visa versa.
    I think the definition of what it means to be a Catholic is in flux, and the Bishops appear not to be having much influence in the development of  that definition. The larger question for them is how can they reengage the Catholic laity without given in to compromise that will be a real slight of hand.
    Please forgive me for rattling on.

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