Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fr. Michael Ryan Changes His Tune

Over a year ago Seattle priest, Fr Michael Ryan, launched a project called, "What If We Just Said Wait?" The project, recommended a delay in use of the new translation of the missal because the word-for-word translation from Latin was "clumsy, awkward and alien to spoken English. Ryan’s web site, , has gathered over 22,000 signatures to-date.

Enter the new bishop for Seattle, J. Peter Sartain (formerly of the Joliet diocese of Illinois). The rumor was that Sartain called Ryan on the carpet and told him there would be no dissension in the ranks, particularly from the rector of St. James Cathedral. Now Ryan has publicly stated that the implementation of the new texts was inevitable and that his parish would cooperate in their use despite his personal reservations. Hmmm….

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stalag 13

Cardinal George has hit again on one of his recently favorite themes: the hierarchical authority to govern others. In his farewell address as Chairman of the USCCB, George said “bishops are more prepared to “take possession of their vocation,” not just as teachers and preachers, but as governors who exercise, however reluctantly, “the power to punish.”

Most recently, in breaking ground on a frat-house sized college seminary on the grounds of Loyola University he talked about priesthood as the authority to “govern” others.

The Archdiocesan paper, the “Catholic New World” provides a few highlights of the Cardinal’s speech.

* The Archdiocese of Chicago is building a new facility to educate and form priests, men who are entrusted with the governance of the church, the cardinal said.

* The need for governance as Jesus would have governed is so important that it is one of two things the cardinal said he asks seminarians to particularly consider — in addition to celibacy — as they discern whether they are called to the priesthood.

* For a generation, the cardinal said, some church leaders have declined to govern, falsely interpreting “pastoral” to mean approving of things that are not in accordance with God’s law. To be a true pastor, a priest must “love his people in Christ’s name. If he doesn’t, his governance is illegitimate. But in that love, the priest is to act in such a way that the people become holy because they follow his instructions.”

The Cardinal’s insistence on bishops’ and priests’ (not deacons?) authority to dictate to the “Church above” is vaguely reminiscent of Colonel Wilhelm Klink’s and General Burkhalter’s authority at Stalag 13 in the old Hogan Heroes TV series. Confident in their own leadership, they are largely oblivious to a whole range of activities and agendas that are going on unnoticed and underground. A whole society is productively humming along, while letting the powers-that-be pretend to be in charge.

While there are several Sargent Schultzes out there, many parishes, pastors and parishioners play the game of nodding assent to the hierarchy’s grand schemes and pretenses of authority, all the while knowing that the real love and work of Jesus is in the base faith communities – the Church as the People of God. They are the humble “Church Below”.

I even think that Francis George looks a little like Werner Klemperer. What do you think?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Chicago Seminaries – The Plan That Never Happened

The Chicago Archdiocese once boasted two high-school seminaries. The consolidated Quigley Seminary closed its doors in 2007. The property is now Archdiocesean office space. The College seminary has shrunk into the size of a frat house at Loyola’s Lakeshore Campus. The major seminary, St. Mary of the Lake, is still in the “enchanted forest” in Mundelein.

According to a former seminary rector, some innovative plans were discussed for the seminaries decades ago, but were never implemented…

The years were in the late 1960’s. The college years had already been transferred to Niles. (John) Gorman, (Gene) Lyons, (John) O’Donnell, and (John) Fahey were rectors of our four seminaries. I think that it was Gorman who suggested a seminary study to Cody. The Cardinal assigned Bishop Tom Grady to head the study. A management consulting firm was hired. The study took two years, many joint committee meetings, with each seminary faculty providing members. I never saw a print-out of the final report that was given to Cody. I know that it proposed a Chicago seminary that would be “ urban, university-centered, and ecumenical.”

In the end, a group of Mundelein faculty disagreed with the draft consensus. I think that they found a way to inform the cardinal of their dissent. The cardinal called a formal meeting of his consultors. The results of the study (with whatever data had been gathered) were shelved.

The implementation of the recommendations would have been startling. The proposed seminary would have been unique in American Catholic education, more like Louvain than Catholic University. I think that other bishops would have shrunk away from the idea. The proposal was still-born. But who knows? If the study itself were re-examined, it might be more feasible now.