Saturday, September 15, 2012


Whispers in the Logia reports on Lincoln, Nebraska's new bishop who succeeds Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

In the first Stateside appointment of the new "Vatican year," at Roman Noon today the Pope named Bishop James Conley – since 2008, the lone auxiliary of Denver – as bishop of Lincoln.

This is a portion of what Rocco Palmo writes:

In the southern Nebraska diocese of 100,000, the 57 year-old prelate – a longtime staffer at the Congregation for Bishops with a notable global cult following – succeeds the oldest active American prelate, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, whose retirement comes a week after his 77th birthday, two years past the canonical age. (The duo are shown above this morning at the local announcement.)

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz the "godfather" of a cadre of outspoken bishops who've firmly shifted the US hierarchy's center of gravity rightward over the last two decades, the Milwaukee native led the Lincoln church since 1992.

Aided by the departing ordinary's flair for the combative, under Bruskewitz the church in Cornhusker Country has become widely known in the Catholic world as a lodestar of an unabashed theological conservatism whose results have sometimes flown in the face of wider trends. Not only did a sudden bumper crop of priestly vocations prod the diocese to open its own minor seminary early in his tenure, but since 1998, Lincoln has likewise been home to the nation's lone formation house for the traditionalist Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), whose apostolates make exclusive use of the 1962 ritual books. (According to its website, the diocese currently has 44 seminarians, a figure on a par with several of the nation's largest Catholic outposts.)

Conversely, however, what arguably remains Bruskewitz's emblematic act in the spotlight – a 1996 decree excommunicating those of his faithful who, with "contumacious persistence," belonged to any of 12 groups whose purposes he deemed as running afoul of church teaching, including Planned Parenthood, the Masons, Call to Action and Catholics for a Free Choice – likewise saw the same sanctions levied against local adherents of the Society of St Pius X and another traditionalist chapel.

Years later, the Holy See upheld the controversial move. The Lincoln prelate has likewise taken significant heat for his refusal to fully implement the US bishops' Dallas Norms on clergy sex-abuse cases, which Rome has confirmed as particular law for the American church.

I cannot name any diocese in this country or anywhere else that is center or left of center that is in any way doing as well as Lincoln, Nebraska. Keep in mind that this diocese only has 100,000 people and has 44 seminarians, yes, 44!

Shouldn't the hierarchy of the Catholic Church wake up and smell the coffee and recognize that the progressive meme that so many dioceses have embarked, and this means not only the bishop, but his personnel, both clergy and laity, has had a deleterious effect on conserving the Catholic Faith and conversely, Catholic identity?

Our new Bishop, Bishop Gregory Hartmayer recognizes that one of the biggest deficits in our diocese concerning the conservation of the Catholic Faith is poor catechesis from parents on down to children. He is right!

But that is not the only problem. We have in too many places a sloppy, casual liturgy sometimes improvised with sloppy, poor liturgical music and a lack of adherence to scrupulously following the rubrics of the Church and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. There is also often a failure to even follow canon law in minor and major ways.

Cathechesis is only one piece of the pie to re-establishing Catholic identity and I believe the smaller piece of the pie. The larger piece of the pie is authentic Catholic spirituality and morality.

It is true that under the umbrella of Catholic Spirituality are many "smaller" spiritualities. But these should all be Catholic, profoundly so and flow from the Sacraments and doctrines of the Catholic Church. Tied into this is also appropriate use of traditional devotional practices, the premier of which should be the recitation of the Holy Rosary.

But also a bigger piece of the Catholic identity pie is Catholic morality and there is no room for a left-leaning approach to that as the left leaning approach is immorality at worse or amorality at least. Think of Catholics for Choice--what an oxymoron!

If only more priests and laity in our diocese desired the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the spiritualities of a strong Catholic identity that flows from it, I think all the other problems with conserving the Catholic faith would dissipate and there would be a very strong gravitation pull on the Ordinary Form of things in the Catholic Church making them more extraordinary. We would have strong Catholic families, leading to strong Catholic parishes, where Catholic families see children as a gift from God to be embraced not contracepted and we will see more social justice and caring for the poor and the promotion of the culture of life. We will see more vocations to the priesthood and religious life and there will be a need for more seminaries and houses of formation for religious. Are you on board?


Joseph Johnson said...

I couldn't agree more! As to the larger problem, the whole pie, if you will, we must, as a part of any program for authentic renewal, look to the source and summit of who we are as Catholics--the Mass and the Eucharist. All else flows from our attitudes and beliefs in relation to the Mass and the Eucharist.

This is why the EF Mass cannot simply be regarded as a limited and rare option for a few who are interested--no, it MUST be an integral and ESSENTIAL part of a Diocesan (and Churchwide) program of renewal. Bishop Bruskewitz has shown that he knows this. He has been a strong supporter of the EF and of strong, unabashed Roman Catholic identity and teaching. There are many photos of his participation in FSSP Masses and liturgical events (he consecrated their Seminary chapel, for example). He is not reluctant about or ashamed of these things.

"By their fruits you shall know them." Say what you want about simply teaching the Catholic Faith but only using the OF Mass and ignoring the EF being all we need. On this fifth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, I think it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the overall benefits the EF has to offer the Church (as to building it back up). The level of priestly vocations in a Diocese is a key vital sign as the to catechetical and spiritual health of that Diocese. There is very strong evidence that the EF promotes priestly vocations in the places where it is emphasized (or in the communities where it is exclusively celebrated). Bishop Bruskewitz's Diocese has been one of these places.

The renewal of our Church requires a multi-faceted approach but Bishops are being deliberately deaf and blind (to the detriment of their own souls as well as the souls of their people) if they persist in ignoring the KEY place that the EF Mass has in any plan to rebuild the Church. I've said it before and I'll say it again, we need a Diocesan training program or seminar (it's not that hard to set one up) for our priests to learn the EF. It must then be made reasonably available(less than an hour's drive on a Sunday) to all Catholics in our Diocese. Summorum Pontificum doesn't make the use of the EF dependent on requests from a stable group of laity (although that's one way to get it). No, it also allows for bishops and priests to offer it of their own volition and I believe that it is in this way that people will slowly come to know the EF. We need to quit talking about these things so much and "just do it!" It won't happen, however if bishops and priests won't "just do it."

David L Alexander said...

Reverend Sir:

I have no other way to reach you, so I would just as soon this not be published.

It was recommended by Mr Ryan Ellis of Arlington, Virginia, that you would be interested in either reading or linking to a piece I have written. I would submit that no one else, to my knowledge, has dealt with the subject in this amount of depth:

Thank you for your consideration, and do stay in touch.

man with black hat:
the daily musings
of faith and culture
of fun and games
of life and love
of a song and dance man
who is keeping his day job.

Pater Ignotus said...

Congratualtions to my seminary classmate, Jim Conley! See what a long walk in Spain will get you!

Unknown said...

I am not (officially) a Catholic of the Latin Church but don't you think that Perpetual Adoration is the "premiere" Catholic devotion given its obvious link to the Eucharist? I have seen and see profound positive effects in parishes where this is done.

Anonymous 5 said...

I have to object to Rocco Palmo's use of the terms "conservative," "liberal," "right,", left," etc. Those are political terms that are inapplicable to the Church and at the same time color our thinking about it.

If Bishop Bruskewitz were really "conservative" or "right" or whatever, he likely wouldn't have taken action against SSPX, so Palmo's model is obviously deficient.

Much simpler, more accurate, and more descrptive of facts to use those out-of-fashion terms "truth" and "falsehood" (or even "heresy/schism").

Joe Shlabotnick said...

I too think it's unfair to label Bishop Bruskewitz a "conservative". I have a better label for him:

The single best bishop America has had for the last 30 years. May the Lord send us more like him.

rcg said...

Today's Mass at St Michael's Church in Tennessee had substitute priest for the conservative one who encourages kneeling for communion. This fellow was from Kentucky and had a lot to say about Purgatory in his sermon. What a cool little church.

Anonymous said...

I am onboard!