Monday, August 14, 2006

USCC/NCCB: Soon to Be A Memory?

Pointed out by CWN with a HT to Amy:

The future Benedict XVI told me that among the unforeseen and contradictory effects of Vatican-II was the diminution in the importance of bishops, which on the contrary, the Council wished to re-emphasize. In fact, however, the autonomy and the freedom itself of a bishop over his own diocese were caged in and coopted by the establishment of national bishops' conferences.

These conferences, Ratzinger pointed out, have no theological basis; they are not part of the Church structure as are parishes, dioceses and the papacy. They are simply institutions, of recent origin, which were created for practical reasons but which have gradually created a weighty structure of their own, becoming in effect "little Vaticans." Because these conferences are governed by majority rule, with the inevitable compromises, pressure groups and maneuverings in the 'corridors of power' associated with what amounts to 'parliamentary democracy'!

This has ended up suffocating the power of the individual bishop, who, from teacher of the Faith and pastor of his flock, has been reduced to membership in commissions and participation in discussions which end up being dominated by organized and powerful lobbies. From this point of view, if I understood Ratzinger well, a 'revolution' was necessary, which consists simply in returning to Tradition: to the universal Church, as an organic union and agreement of bishops, therefore of responsible autonomous individuals, rather than a federation of 'states' as constituted by the national bishops' conferences.

Not an easy task, Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out, in view of the expected resistance from powerful clerical groups who subscribe to political correctness, namely, elections, referenda, majority rule (to make decisions). However, such a 'revolution' is considered necessary by Joseph Ratzinger, and therefore, by his faithful collaborator. Who has the advantages of a character that is both cordial and firm, the DNA of a tough Piedmontese and the persuasive tenacity of a Salesian, trained to wield, if necessary, an iron fist in a velvet glove. [This reference is to the incoming Secretary of State, Cdl. Bertone.]

This is not exactly "news;" the original quotation was published in The Ratzinger Report several years ago. And, in fact, Bp. Bruskewitz of Lincoln demonstrated that the competent territorial authority (the Bishop of a Diocese) can ignore silly 'mandates' of silly 'conferences' (e.g., altar "girls" or invasive witch-hunts led by invasive witches; Rome approves.

But it will lead to interesting consequences, because some US Bishops have forgotten their proper munus: to teach, preach, and rule in the Name of Christ.


Anonymous said...

Excellent....I am sick and tired of having to live under the personalities and pet projects of some of these Bishops

Dad29 said...

The "pet projects" of some of those Bishops will, unfortunately, continue.

They just won't have the USCC/NCCB to fall back on as "justification."

M.Z. said...

It is difficult to say what a change like this would produce. How is that penetrating analysis?

I'm not as convinced as the author of the article that there is a high degree of disatisfaction with the conferences. Ratzinger cited them as a western positive when he was dialoging with the East. In all liklihood, a change would push national commentary to Abp Wuerl in Washington. Abp Wuerl doesn't seem to have an interest in high level diplomacy though.

At the local level I think it will be more of the expectation game. The expectation is that many of the bishops are far more political than they presently present themselves. (A lot of talk is given to not embarrassing fellow bishops.) The bishops will continue to provide plenty of fire for idealogues on both sides of the aisle.

M.Z. said...

s/b How is that for penetrating analysis?