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Sunday, March 09, 2003

Some Thoughts About "Lightning Rod" Dreher's Latest.

As expected, much criticism of Rod's allegedly unrealistic take, some even going so far as to question the sincerity of his Catholicism. This post over at HMS Blog is typical of the genre. It also misses the point.

Yes, indeed, we've been well and truly pounded with (by?) Vatican II's teaching on collegiality. All bishops as brothers, each bishop a sovereign--the vicar of God in his own diocesan fief; the bishop is not the Pope's subaltern, etc. Odd that the Pope's primacy of jurisdiction tends to get lost in these tub-thumpings about collegiality, but the essential point is undeniable, and duly noted.

And it is completely, utterly irrelevant to Rod's point, as I understand it.

Actually, all of this talk about the limited power of the Pope with respect to his awful brother bishops ironically tends to emphasize, not diminish, Rod's comparison.

After all, Rod's thesis is that the Vatican has relatively little ability to affect the relevant parties with respect to war with Iraq, but is moving heaven and earth in sending clerics to remonstrate with the various parties, strongly stating the Church's moral positions on just war and war in general. Whereas, Rod notes, unlike the case of Saddam Hussein, the Pope does have the ability to do something about the internal governance of the Catholic Church. But the Vatican is mute with bishops who are backsliding already, seven months after Dallas and its increasingly empty promise of reform.

In reply, Rod's critics point out that Vatican II ecclesiology leaves the Pope with relatively little ability to affect the relevant bishops with respect to stonewalling, strong-arm tactics, and the harboring of perverts.

Uh...OK. Why the fire alarm for the former and the inertia for the latter?

Fine. So wholesale removal of mini-Borgias like Mahony, Adamec and Grahmann is not an option. The same facts obtain with respect to the Church's influence on the likes of the Iraqi regime and the U.S. government. So why not try the same cajoling fire brigade approach with the crisis in the American episcopacy? Why not send a Papal envoy to the respective bishops for at least a little "fraternal correction"? Or calling them on the carpet in Rome for the same?

Frankly, the "Romanitas" argument (which spins the passivity of waiting until the offending and offensive parties reach retirement age or die as a wise strategic maneuver) is getting old, thin, and phony.

And none of the Rod-bashers can explain how it is good for the Church.

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