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. http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2011/0227/5.aspx

* 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?

1 comment:

  1. Of course I’ve heard of WWJD (What would Jesus Do) before. But for priests and bishops “to govern as Jesus would govern” was a new one for me. The most famous governor in the New Testament was Pontius Pilate who puts an innocent man to death.
    Jesus commented on the religious “governors” of his time saying “they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' … or your “Excellency” or your “Eminence”?