Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Credibility Problem for Bishops?

At the same time bishops are attempting to bolster their authority over their “sheep”, Catholics are having a harder time finding their Shepherd’s words and actions credible.

In Phoenix, the Bishop Olmsted criticized a Catholic hospital’s efforts to save a mother’s life. He then excommunicated the hospital administrator, Sr. Margaret McBride, and declared St. Joseph hospital no longer “Catholic.” In a recent poll, 71% of Catholics in Phoenix felt the hospital was still Catholic, and most (79%) sided with the Nun and not the Bishop (16%) in the dispute.

Reacting to some bishops complaints about a 2007 book by Fordham University Professor, Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine summarily condemned it as being erroneous and damaging to the faithful – without ever discussing the issue with Sr. Johnson. The condemnation was then questioned by the two main organizations of Catholic theologians, the Catholic Theological Society of American (CTSA) and the College Theology Society, as well as from Johnson’s own religious community, the Sisters of St. Joseph. Will Elizabeth Johnson's accusers please step forward?

In Chicago, Cardinal George sent a message to controversial Fr. Mike Pfleger and the press simultaneously that Pfleger was being suspended. He then ducked out to the Vatican and then to a bishops meeting in Arizona, rather than be available for conversation with Pfleger or comment to the media. This controversy has ramifications not only for an individual priest, but for black Catholics in Chicago. A Good Week for the Church of JPII

Now the US bishops have released their own analysis of the Sex Abuse Scandal. It blames the sexy 1960s, and priest’s poor sex education, social isolation and stress at that time for the crisis. The abuse is seen as an aberration in the Church and since relegated to the dust bin of history. Bishops largely exonerated themselves from the mess by blaming others. (Ironically, seminaries are becoming more closed communities with less interaction with the “real world”, and priests are increasingly isolated and stressed by large one-man parishes.). Authors defend their report on sex abuse…

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