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Monday, December 19, 2005

Interoffice Memos from the Department of Redundancy Department.

Greg ponders, and I respond.

Door Number 2. Ever and always. On very, very rare occasions, the American ecclesial bureaucracy issues something worthwhile or challenging, but invariably fails to follow up on it or runs like hell from it once the implications become apparent (Living the Gospel of Life comes to mind). Most of the time, they serve up gruel thin enough to raise salmon in (e.g., the "official" voter's guides).

It helps if you remember that there are two essential features for every official USCCB statement, both of which are closely-related:

(1) Giving the widest possible latitude for the in/actions of its individual members; and

(2) Being sufficiently malleable to function as a big-tent consensus statement, papering over the gulf between opposing camps.

The problem is, of course, that you end up with a mess of ambiguous pottage. Could be veal, could be headcheese--hard to say. Depends on the angle and the lighting. Either way, tastes like chicken.

The end result reflects the dictum that no one has ever been successfully called to arms by a committee. Which is why the Conference statements almost never have any positive impact, nor do they even sharpen the issues.

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