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Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Crisis Magazine Plug, Part I.

A good article by Russell Shaw about responsible, orthodox lay involvement in the Church. It contains a nice overview of the development of the clericalist mindset in the U.S. over the past century and a half. It also illustrates the uphill battle orthodox Catholics are facing, and why Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz deserves a red hat:

Two incidents in Dallas last June at the time of the American bishops’ panicky, media-driven meeting on sex abuse illustrate this problem’s dual nature. First, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tapped two progressives—Margaret Steinfels of Commonweal and Scott Appleby of Notre Dame—to speak for the Catholic laity to the assembled hierarchy. In response, the incorrigible Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, remarked on EWTN, "I have better things to do with my time and money than to listen to Margaret Steinfels." Second, when conservative Catholics attempted to schedule a panel discussion of the bishops’ meeting at a parish in a nearby diocese, the chancery let it be known that the gathering wouldn’t be welcome on church property. Catholics United for the Faith moved the session to another diocese, where it took place in the auditorium of an independent Catholic school before a standing-room-only crowd of concerned, understandably angry laypeople.

Taken together, these incidents reflect two unpleasant facts relevant to the future of lay involvement in Church decision-making. One is that the clericalized bureaucracy controlling the administrative machinery of the Church seems to be partial—perhaps without even noticing it—to progressives and dissenters. The other is that these unself-consciously arrogant officeholders often give orthodox Catholics the back of their hand.

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Be reasonably civil. Ire alloyed with reason is fine. But slagging the host gets you the banhammer.