Thursday, November 11, 2010


This is a brief excerpt of what the National Catholic Register, a conservative Catholic newspaper is saying about the possible election of Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson as the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Journalist warns against election of Bishop Kicanas as USCCB president
November 11, 2010

Tim Drake, senior writer for the National Catholic Register, is warning that the election of Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) would be a public relations disaster for the Church.

Bishop Kicanas is currently the conference’s vice president, and the vice president is typically elected president. The USCCB will elect a new president at its November 15-18 meeting; the ten candidates include Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.

Drake writes:

Bishop Kicanas’ election is a potential powder keg. In his story, “Sex Abuse Lurks Behind Catholic Election,” Chip Mitchell [of WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio] tells the horrific story of Father Daniel McCormack, who molested at least 23 boys. The story demonstrates that Bishop Kicanas, while rector of Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary, was aware of accusations of sexual misconduct against McCormack, but chose to ordain him anyway.

Asked about it, Bishop Kicanas essentially said that he would do it again.

“It would have been grossly unfair not to have ordained him,” Bishop Kicanas said shortly after being elected as vice president of the USCCB, in a quote that appears in the deposition of Cardinal Francis George. “There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process and that he had learned from the experience,” continued Bishop Kicanas. “I was more concerned about his drinking. We sent him to counseling for that.”

My comment: The cold, clinical, crassness of the bishop in the last paragraph above in a nutshell is the reason why we are in the crisis of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church that is comparable to attitudes about other rampant anomalies that existed in the Church at the time of the Protestant Reformation. The convoluted thinking of the bishop and his concern that the problem with the priest mentioned in the article was a "developmental" problem that led him to sexually abuse teenagers was less grave than his drinking problem which to Bishop Kicanas was of more concern. For these bishops of this mindset, therapy for the abuser is the cure, damn the victims and the would-be victims! It is outrageous, but this was the thinking of not a few bishops back in the 1970's and forward until 2002. Evidently the good bishop hasn't caught up with the times and if he is elected president of the USCCB, neither have the bishops who would vote for him. Just my opinion.


Robert Kumpel said...

Father, do we really need the USCCB?

Aside from the fact that they meet at a four star hotel twice a year on our dime and have more committees than the House of Representatives, what good do they do?

I am convinced that there are some very good bishops in the United States. Their very membership in the USCCB tarnishes their good name. The whole is worse than the sum of its parts.

What are some of the great achievements of the USCCB?

1. Stalling the English translations of the liturgy

2) CCHD debacle

3) The "Always Our Children" debacle

4) "Environment and Art in Catholic Worship", a non-authoritative document invoked to destroy churches (and build hideous ones), replaced with "Built of Living Stones" which is not much better

5) CNS movie reviews, which praise films like "Brokeback Mountain"

6) National Review Board, filled with pro-abort "Catholics" whose lay leader resigned in disgust when he saw (his words) the "cosa nostra" tactics of some bishops.

7) "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship", a document so ambiguous that it was used to excuse voting for the most pro-abort administration in U.S. History.

These are just a few of the "gifts" the USCCB has given us. I honestly thought the USCCB was showing hopeful signs a couple of years ago by electing Cardinal George as their leader. If they elect Bishop Kicanas as their president, it will be a show of contempt for the Vatican, the laity and those who have been abused. The USCCB needs credibility now more than ever. It is unbelievable that they are even considering electing a bishop like Kicanas as their leader at this time.

Gene said...

One would think, given recent history and the negative press regatding the Church, that the level of scrutiny and the demand for absolute integrity...not to mention good judgement..would be at the peak. Has everyone in the USCCB completely lost their (expletive deleted) mind?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The Catholic Church in this country, from national, to diocesan to local parish has become very bureaucratically tilted. I do think it is wise for the bishops of a region and of the country to get together. It is wise to make national statements on national issues. I think we might be better served by a "Primate" of the United States rather than a bureaucratic body that has so many polarizing influences in it. Just my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I have had to deal decisions exactly like this before. It comes from people being promoted based on their abilities as administrators and not leaders. It may be that the Bishop could not generate the strength to deliver the bad news that this young man was not fit for his desired position. If that is the case, then this is not an isolated incident and there will be similar examples in the Bishop's record.

I suspect the decision derived from a desire among several people, the Bishop included, to correct previous bad decisions with the same person. The young man was allowed to continue to the next step in hopes he would be 'cured' or controlled rather than released and his activities, and the cover ups associated with them made public.

The irony is how this same mindset is preventing people from delivering the same bad news to this Bishop.


Henry said...

"I do think it is wise for the bishops of a region and of the country to get together."

I heard a wise and bureacratically experienced priest say "It's dangerous to allow the bishops of this country to get together in the same place at the same time. There's just too much chance for mischief, if not worse."

Seriously, we have numerous bishops who are excellent individually. However, the USCCB diminishes them all. Truly, this is a case where the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Gene said...

I bite my nails to the quick every time I hear the USCCB is meeting. My Catholic friend in another state says he wears the beads down on his rosary when he hears they are meeting. LOL!

Minucius Felix said...

Yes, the USCCB is needed. Ask any bishop who has needed 1) assistance with expanding or amalgamating parochial schools; 2) assistance with ecumenical dialogues with Orthodox Churches; 3) assistance in complex canonical matters; 4) assistance in developing a workable pastoral plan for home missions; 5) assistance in caring for refugees and migrants in his diocese; etc.

Many (most ?) dioceses such as our own do not have and cannot afford the staff needed to provide such support for necessary ministry and work. Many among the USCCB staff also hold appointments to Vatican Congragations and Committees, providing service to the universal Church. They have the approval from the Cardinals under whom they serve in these capacities.

Ask any Retired Nun or Brother if the USCCB is needed - but ask after the December Collection for the Retirement of Religious.

Templar said...

With respect Felix, NONE of the things you have listed as benefits offset the damages listed by Robert in the first post. In fact your entire list of benefits doesn't offset even one of the damages listed by Robert. Everything you list as benefits of the USCCB wouldn't even be issues if the Bishops who compose it hadn't had a hand in destroying the faith over the past decades, each Diocese alone could handle those matters were they as healthy as they once were.

Anonymous said...

I concur with Templar.

How would that argument be different than an abuse of indulgences?


Adlai said...

I agree with Robert. What a waste of time and energy the USCCB is. I have always thought it to be an excuse for bishops when they don't want to make a tough decision to hide behind the skirt of the USCCB or to send it to committee and have them study it until people forget about it. In my opinion it's just another bloated American bureaucracy that accomplishes very little and doesn't help souls get to heaven.

If only the bishops would be true and independent shepherds, then the Church could sell the USCCB campus in Washington, give the proceeds to charity (or to pay off lawsuits), and let the bishops focus on leading us to heaven rather than attempting to create some utopia in this world.

I also think that Minucious Felix is our old friend, Pater Ignotus, given his love affair with the Church as a bureaucracy. I'll never forget his raving about how the next bishop of Savannah should be a good CEO. What a twisted vision of the Church! One would hope that a bishop, priest, or a collection of bishops and their minions like the USCCB would strive to be good and faithful servants of Christ and His Church rather than mimicing the American corporate way of doing business.

And by the way, Minucious Felix/Pater Ignotus, I'm still prepared until Hell freezes over to wait for your response to my question about whether or not you allow the TLM in your parish. (If there are faithful in your parish who want it and you won't provide it, then "CEO" Benedict XVI and the "bureaucracy" in Rome won't be too happy!)

M. Felix said...

Templar, it seems to me that you do not appreciate the it is the Bishops, not you, who have been gifted with the responsibility and the charism to teach in the name of the Church. They have been called to the office, not you, not I.

I'm not giving them a pass here - they have not always done the best job. At the same time, the job is theirs to do.

This is a common weakness in some of the "Catholic" blogs I keep an eye on. It is easy to take pot-shots and to mischaracterize their actions and decisions. But I still believe, as all Catholics MUST believe, that they, not you nor I, hold the divine call to be teachers, whether we agree with them or not.

Some people bear a grudge against a particular bishop. They then see bishops in general through the lens of that grudge, which is unhealthy at best and seriously sinful at worst.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I do think a distinction should be made between the authority that a bishop has in his own diocese and the authority of the USCCB. Certainly the USCCB is an important national body, but it can't usurp the authority or replace the authority of the local bishop. But I suspect some bishops might defer to the USCCB and its policies rather than just say, this is what I want. The same thing happens on the parish level, pastors often shift blame/responsiblity to their pastoral council when in fact the pastoral council can do nothing except with the approval of the pastor. But consultative bodies are important on the parish, diocesan and national levels. But we can't give the USCCB an authority with the Catechism itself does not give them or give them an obedience that only the bishop should be accorded in a particular diocese.

Robert Kumpel said...

Miniucius Felix is right. Our bishops have a teaching charism that we as laity do not have. He is also right that they have not always done the best job, but it is their job, not ours.

My gripe is not with the individual bishops, as there are the good, the bad and the so-so. I simply think that the USCCB as a body has taken on a life of its own and I question whether we really need this corporate body of bishops to continue as they have.

M. Felix said...

Adlai - You want bishops to be "independent shepherds" which is nothing short of congregationalism on the diocesan level. There is nothing "independent" about how a bishop functions. He is bound to 1) the Sacred Scriptures, 2) the Sacred Tradition, and 3) the authority of the Holy Father.

I have noticed this "creeping individualism" taking on a new life in the Church as it has in secular society. It is nothing new, we struggled with it earlier in this country under the rubric of Trusteeism. It is a result, in my estimation, of the same American/Western psychosis that gave us the Roe v Wade decision. To wit, I cam make my independent decisions with little or no regard for the larger community to which I beloing and of which I am only a part.

To desire a bishop to act or teach "independently" is, God help me, one of the aspects of the "heresy" of Americanism that has been condemned.

No, they are not independent shepherds. If that is what you truly want, join another church. Our bishops are, from start to finish, not independent.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

M. Felix, what you say is true, and it is in this context that the bishop is a "vicar of Christ" in his own diocese. But he is responsible to Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Canon Law and obedience directly to the pope. He does not have to, though, follow every "dictate" of the USCCB. For example he could issue his own document on liturgy, music, architecture and forgo documents offered over the years by sub committees of the USCCB on the same. He could also write documents about war and peace and in some ways take exception to documents written by the USCCB. I don't think though he could take exception to Humanae Vitae or requests of the Holy Father to all bishops of the world. But with that said, I'm not opposed to the USCCB for it functions in a very important capacity nationally, but it is not on the same level of authority as the local bishop and his relationship to all of the above and the Holy Father.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I also think that what Felix and Adali say is true too about congregationalism. When it comes to Summorum Pontificum a pastor must allow for its celebration in his parish if the faithful request it. He doesn't have to do it, but should provide a priest who will. Barring this, the bishop should intervene and make the pastor provide someone or provide the priest himself. This would be a good antidote to the congregationalism that Felix rightfully decries either on the diocesan level or the parish level. The Holy Father's Summorum Pontificum has greater force than any document from the USCCB upon local bishops and priests. Interesting no?

Gene said...

It seems to me that "independent action and thinking" on the part of many Bishops is, indeed, the origin of the problem. It is not some "American/Western" psychosis. It seems to me that a number of loose tongued and independently thinking Bishops, with their pronouncements on homosexuality, ordination, and other issues that run counter to Church teaching was the beginning of the problem. Of course it is a Western pheneomenon...the Church is, after all, the Roman Catholic Church. This also is not new. It has been going on since, at least, the Borgias.

M. Felix said...

Fr. McDonald, the USCCB does not offer "dictates" and your characterization of their work as such is misleading. And many bishops have written their own documents on war and peace, liturgy, etc. You are building a straw man.

Nothing stopped any bishop who disagreed with "Environment and Art in Catholic Worship" from writing his own treatise on liturgy.

For national issues I think the USCCB plays a crucial role. When the President of the Conference responds to some issue, he is going to get coverage from the national press, whereas the same press is not, and should not, actually, give that kind of coverage to, say, the bishop of Sioux Falls.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

M. Felix, just to reiterate once again, I'm in favor of the USCCB and even the documents they wish to offer, but that all understand the nature of their authority and their limit. Certainly having a national spokesbishop for the country is of benefit for national issues. That's why I said that either the president of this organization could do that or in lieu of this body, a Primate for the USA. No straw men in my debate.

Gene said...

Ah, Felix is Ignotus. He was always whining about "straw men" under his former alias.

M. Felix said...

The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.

You distorted the work of the USCCB by calling them "dictates" which they simply are not.

There's your Straw Man.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't believe these to be dictates buy many in the church especially in liturgy and social justice specifics think these are dictates to be followed. How many follow usccb "dictates" srupulosly in terms of liturgy, music, environment and social justice like funding all that CHD proposes?

Gene said...

Gee, Felix, thanks for the Logic 101 lesson. I always thought a Straw Man was what danced with Dorothy on the yellow brick road...

Actually, I believe you are looking for the word, "misnomer." Perhaps you view the USCCB's dictates as mere "recommendations," however, coming from such an august body, recomendations may be interpreted as dictates by the passive and compliant. Sometimes it is a fine line.

Adlai said...

Minucius Felix/Pater Ignotus please see and prayerfully read His Holiness, Pope Benedict's recent statement to the regional Brazilian bishops conference. I got it right about the true role of the bishops conferences and the role of an individual bishop according to the Vicar of Christ, the Head of the Church on Earth.

I hope you will swallow your pride and be obedient to His Holiness on this matter.

I'm still waiting after all these months......