Skip to comments.Eight Habits of Highly Effective Bishops
Posted on 10/25/2005 6:37:35 AM PDT by NYer
Notwithstanding the sex-abuse scandal that has buffeted the Catholic Church in the United States, Catholics genuinely admire bishops whose courage and dedication have made a difference in their dioceses. Adversity tends to sharpen the contrast and clarify the picture of Catholicism in America. And the recent presidential election added another dimension to any reflection on the American Catholic identity, as many of the most crucial issues intersected Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, sex, and marriage.
Never before have Catholic Americans watched more closely what happens in their chanceries. They want to know what sort of man their shepherd is, this "successor to the apostles" who comes down to us from St. Peter. How does he discharge his responsibility? Is he an example of personal holiness? Is he courageous? Increasingly, Catholic commentators locate the mission of the contemporary Church at the epicenter of a global culture of death. And while it is true that bishops have pastoral care over the "portion of the people of God assigned to them" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 886), they also work for the good of the universal Church. The Church in America is undeniably free enough to function without persecution or legal impediment. But is it prepared for the fight?
"We need a thorough cleansing in house if we are to battle the culture of death right outside our doors. It's up to the bishop to set the example, to lead us in the fight beginning with public prayer. Nothing short of a bishop who is willing to publicly confront evil will inspire us to take on the world," wrote one university chaplain. "Seen as a battle, each bishop leads a division."
His observation echoes Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who noted that the most pressing enemy of the Faith is the militant secularism that has engulfed much of the Western world. French Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, decries the loss of a Christian culture a casualty of the virulent secularism of which Cardinal Ratzinger warns. The cultural patrimony of Christians must be re-taught to Christians, "For without it, how can they appreciate the full value of Bach's St. John Passion, Handel's Messiah, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, or Michelangelo's Pieta?" asked Poupard. European correspondents, stung by the rejection of Christianity in their Parliament, frequently warn American Catholics to guard their own Christian history.
Pope John Paul II himself has raised an alarm, calling all the faithful to defend the Church from those powerful forces that seek to privatize religious practice. Metaphorical wolves abortion, euthanasia, cloning threaten Christ's flock. Now is the time for the shepherds to make their stand.
What qualities best equip today's bishops to fight the culture war? That's the question I posed in a survey of Catholic authors and activists, priests and scholars. It brought a flurry of thoughtful responses. Correspondents were quick to note that each diocese like each family has its strengths and weaknesses. One may be strong on liturgy but lag on catechesis. Another operates in the black, its fiscal house in order, but lacks vocations. Renewal fostering a Catholic renaissance is a long-term process, and our own impatience shouldn't ignore sure but gradual progress.
A review of the responses revealed eight basic good habits that were cited often by respondents. If we as lay people are to exhort our shepherds, we must have a clear idea what we're exhorting them to do. This list offers a point of reference for that effort.
One important note: This survey was strictly informal more concerned with identifying strengths and qualities than with specific bishops or dioceses. But names inevitably arose; they offer helpful, concrete examples of these habits. There are many other examples of bishops who exercise their office faithfully and are deserving of recognition, but space and the boundaries of the article limit a listing of all of them. Readers should make no assumption about a bishop simply because his name is not included in this piece.
1. A bishop must be personally holy.
David Tennessen, author of Dave's Digest, a pro-life news summary, identified several important qualities that serve a bishop at the crossroads of the culture war. One stood at the forefront, however: "The first and most fundamental quality any bishop must have is personal holiness." Tennessen believes that bishops who pray the Divine Office, make regular retreats, and schedule regular confessions for themselves are better equipped to serve as Christ's emissaries.
In fact, it could be argued that the other habits of an effective bishop flow from this first habit. "The second quality is necessary to be a good bishop," Tennessen offered, "is the ability to teach, which is his primary obligation . . . [and] reading the lives of the saints has shown me that the bishops who are holy make the best teachers."
And so, holiness must be the foundation of any successful bishopric. "If a bishop has personal holiness," Tennessen concluded, "God will fill in anything else that might be missing."
Tennessen wasn't the only one to observe that a bishop is most effective when his commitment to personal prayer is strong. One Atlanta priest noted, "How does one follow Christ if one is not on his knees? Think of Christ on his knees in Gethsemane. The Catechism is clear, 'Although Christ's ministers act in communion with one anther they also act in a personal way.'" The citation continues, "Each one is called personally: 'You follow Me' in order to be a personal witness . . . to bear personal responsibility . . ."
2. A bishop must promote and defend the authentic Catholic Faith.
One frequently mentioned quality of a strong bishop is his willingness to stand up for the truth, no matter the cost (often paid in media uproar). Indeed, for 2,000 years, bishops have been among the chief defenders of the Faith from the early Church, through the Reformation, and to the modern era. Our contemporary shepherds must continue that venerable tradition.
Happily, respondents offered some excellent examples. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago was often praised for his "devastating" and repeated critiques of dissent. Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame observed that Cardinal George is also "extraordinary and exemplary for his untiring and fearless and unblinking intellectual engagement with the challenge of militant secularism."
Many others recalled Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz's refusal to permit Catholics in his diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, to be members of Planned Parenthood, the dissident Catholic organization Call to Action, or to maintain any Masonic affiliation and still be considered in good standing with the Church.
"What I find most admirable in him," said Phil Lawler of the Catholic World Report, "is his willingness directly to acknowledge and confront the most serious problem in the Church in America today: the manifest failure of the bishops, as a group, to provide pastoral leadership."
Maintaining doctrinal fidelity must occur not just among Catholics in general but also among those who work in the parishes themselves. Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, Oregon, was mentioned often for his strong example in this area. Last April, the bishop issued "Giving Testimony to the Truth," a document addressed to the lay ministers of his diocese. Included was an oath of fidelity, "Affirmation of Personal Faith." The affirmation is required of any position catechist, teacher, liturgical reader, cantor, minister of Holy Communion, director of youth activities, and others "which entail a presumption of orthodoxy," because the Church "teaches that anyone commissioned to lay apostolate in the Church should be fully accepting of all Catholic teachings." Bishop Vasa notes that "it is ultimately the Bishop, as chief shepherd of a Diocese, who commissions persons to exercise these works. It is also the Bishop's responsibility to establish clear qualifying or disqualifying criteria of who may serve."
3. A bishop must be committed to Catholic education.
A bishop is, first and foremost, a teacher. As such, a truly effective bishop must be committed to faithful Catholic education. Kevin Schmiesing of the Acton Institute pointed to Archbishop Elden Curtis of Omaha as an exemplar of this conviction and noted, "He compelled Creighton University to comply with the mandatum."
Ronald J. Rychlak, law professor at the University of Mississippi, likewise observed, "While Ex Corde Ecclesiae undoubtedly causes certain difficulties for some faculties and administrators, it is not a violation of academic freedom for the Catholic Church to make demands of any entity that professes to be Catholic. These schools contribute to the diversity of America's higher education by filling their role as Catholic institutions in an excellent manner. They should embrace that identity."
One particularly exciting method for handing on the Faith to young adults as well as seasoned laity is illustrated by the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought under the leadership of Bishop David L. Ricken of Cheyenne. Intense concern for the future of the Church in an ever-more secular society drives many to look for a deeper understanding of their faith. The Wyoming annual retreat is designed for "current Church leaders and future leaders . . . to learn and reflect on the most important truths of faith and reason. This will help them prepare for their leadership roles in Wyoming as they participate in the future restoration of Catholic culture, which is the mission of the School."
Bishop Ricken, taking John Cardinal Newman as his inspiration, wrote, "It is my fondest hope that, after reflection and prayer, Catholics in Wyoming will accept my invitation to enroll in this School. Here, they will be formed both spiritually and intellectually, which will enable them to play their part in a new Catholic Renaissance. This must come if the secular world is to be transformed into the image of Christ through evangelization as Vatican II prescribed."
Catechists often pointed to Archbishop Daniel Buechlein (Indianapolis) and Archbishop Alfred Hughes (New Orleans) as model defenders of a more faithful presentation of Catholic teaching. "Both did an excellent job of pointing out the flaws in the modern religion textbooks," wrote Margaret Whitehead, director of religious education at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale, Virginia. She also praised Arlington, Virginia, Bishop Paul Loverde for ensuring that local retreats sponsor speakers faithful to Church teaching. "It seems obvious, but few do this kind of thing. [Furthermore,] he is very pro-life and prays every month at a different abortion clinic. He reads and teaches from Vatican documents, he put in place a child protection program which is respectful of parents and children and based on Catholic teaching."
4. A bishop must work to strengthen the Catholic family.
One Catholic TV personality who asked to remain anonymous suggested that the fault line in the culture war cuts through the family. She found the actions taken by a bishop in this area to be more persuasive than his pastoral letters or instructions. "Sick families breed sick societies," she said. "The cost in human misery is incalculable. You cannot convert the culture unless you first defend families."
"Our bishops must foster authentic marriage and family life. In the heart of the family the dignity of the human person is taught and the future is nurtured. Healthy families are the source of a moral people, ethical citizens, and vocations," she concluded.
One bishop who does just that is Robert J. Baker of Charleston (which encompasses all of South Carolina). The shepherd of one of the oldest dioceses in the United States, Bishop Baker drew praise for his determination to build visibly Catholic families through programs such as Family Honor, which originated with laity in his diocese.
He outlined Family Honor as a program that helps to "form in young people a proper Christian perspective to human sexuality and family life. A wrong turn early in life in this area will have major consequences later for marriage and family life. Family Honor emphasizes parental involvement in the process of sex education, a critical component lacking in many programs."
Archbishop John F. Donoghue of Atlanta and Bishop Victor Galeone of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, also promote the Family Honor programs. Bishop Galeone is the episcopal moderator for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning. His recent pastoral letter, "Marriage: A Communion of Life and Love," was also praised highly by pro-family educators.
5. A bishop must foster vocations.
Seminarians the priests of tomorrow are the future of the Church. For this reason, one of the primary responsibilities of a bishop is to encourage vocations in his diocese, so that tomorrow's Catholics have pastors to lead them.
It's no exaggeration to say that the health of a diocese is often reflected in the number and quality of its seminarians. In fact, it appears to be the case that when a diocese is faithful to Church teaching, vocations arise naturally. One clear example of this is the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, where Bishop Bruskewitz serves only 85,000 Catholics and yet has more than 40 men studying for the priesthood. To underscore that success, the diocese had to respond to the crush of vocations by building Saint Gregory the Great Seminary in 1998.
Similar good news for priestly vocations can be found in Arlington, Virginia (Bishop Loverde); Omaha, Nebraska (Archbishop Curtis); Denver (where Archbishop Chaput lives on campus with his seminarians), and Atlanta (Bishop Donoghue).
Andrew Yuengurt of Pepperdine University raised provocative questions about the relationship of the bishop as a leader to the health of his diocesan vocations program. His article, "Do Bishops Matter? A Cross-sectional Study of Ordinations to the U.S. Catholic Diocesan Priesthood," was published in a 2001 issue of the Review of Religious Research. By using a business model measuring the effect of leadership on personnel, Yuengurt concluded, "An effective leader not only influences the goals and strategies of an organization . . . but also influences the identity and the culture of the organization, as well as the commitment of its members to it . . . If leadership matters in other organizations, where the required commitments are less stringent, it must matter at least as much in the priesthood . . . A potential recruit to the priesthood will be more likely to make such a costly commitment if the vision presented to him is clear, and stated in such a way that the benefits are unique to the priesthood. Visions of the priesthood that are ambiguous, in which the value and leadership role of priest [are] unclear, may be less successful . . ." One bishop often mentioned for his strong mentoring relationship with priests was William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Archbishop Curtis is noted for his rebuttal of the vocation "crisis." He has written that "religious life loyal to the Magisterium" is part of the formula for a thriving vocations program. Omaha has more than 35 seminarians, and the diocese expects an upward trend in the near future. Archbishop Curtis, himself a former seminary rector, explained, "Young people do not want to commit themselves to dioceses or communities which permit or simply ignore dissent from Church doctrine."
American bishops can take comfort from this truth vocations flourish where a sacrificial commitment is expected.
6. A bishop must love the Mass.
As with Habit No. 1, a love for the Mass and the Eucharist is a sign of and means to personal holiness. Sadly, much of today's liturgy is faddish or downright irreverent. The fruit of this is clear for all to see: declining Mass attendance, increased dissent, and a migration out of the Church. When liturgy looks more like a gimmick than a transcendent experience, people lose interest.
For this reason, a reverence for and love of beautiful liturgy ranked among the top qualities for many respondents. (Some, like Janet Smith of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, also mentioned for the promotion of Eucharistic Adoration as an important characteristic.) While liturgical mediocrity is still much too common, the number of exceptions to this rule is growing: "Francis Cardinal George deserves our gratitude for returning sanity to liturgical practice," according to one Chicago-area priest. "Justin Cardinal Rigali [of Philadelphia] is another whose attention to the liturgy is making a difference it is the old truth, 'lex orandi, lex credendi' [as we pray, so we believe]." The priest insisted, "Wherever the liturgy is made to serve the trend du jour, you can bet that most everything else in that diocese is off by 90 degrees."
7. A bishop must be willing and able to start from scratch.
The simple reality is that there are some dioceses in the United States that are in difficult straits. Any bishop who takes on that challenge must be willing and able to rebuild, virtually from the ground up. This is a tremendously difficult task, as it requires several unique attributes.
One New York City pastor offered a list: "A preacher who can convert souls; a prudent administrator and disciplinarian, shrewd in finances and not governed by human respect; honest; experienced as a parish priest not symbolic, but real, lifelong pastors; highly intelligent and learned in theology and scripture, fluent in Latin; familiar with secular culture and able to address it in its terms, like St. Ambrose; and effective with, and not intimidated by the media."
A tall task to find such men. But we're not without examples. Rev. Phillip De Vous wrote, "Two Bishops here in Kentucky deserve to be profiled in a big way Bishops Roger J. Foys of Covington and Ronald Gainer of Lexington. Both have done much to re-Catholicize their Dioceses. Bishop Foys has focused heavily on the reform of the liturgy and vocations, yielding positive results . . . Bishop Gainer . . . has taught Catholic orthodoxy clearly . . . Because these men are off the beaten path, they may not be recognized . . . Bishops going to rural dioceses off the beaten path have often had to create something out of nothing."
8. A bishop must be vocal in the public square.
The bishop's role as a teacher is generally a public one. And as such, his office frequently requires him to take a public role sometimes in the political arena. We saw this in the 2004 election.
Recall the example set by William Weigand, bishop of Sacramento, who did battle with the media over the status of Catholic pro-abortion politicians. Weigand stood his ground when former California governor Gray Davis sought to make a political point at the expense of the bishop's teaching office. Bishop Sheridan also refused to be intimidated by CNN's Anderson Cooper over the matter of the worthiness of pro-abortion politicians to receive the Eucharist. When a hostile Cooper suggested that Bishop Sheridan's stance pushed Catholics away from the Church, the bishop replied, "[A]s a bishop I have the mandate to speak the truth."
There were many other examples of this kind of public episcopal leadership. Dorothy Walker, a Florida catechist, cited Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis "for his courage and the extremely well-thought-out defense in his recent pastoral letter that Catholics must vote" for the sake of their contribution to the common good. Walker reserved special praise for the newly installed bishop of Orlando, Thomas A. Wenski, whose editorial in the Orlando Sentinel was refreshingly blunt: "Today, some self-identified Catholic politicians prefer to emulate Pontius Pilate's 'personally opposed but unwilling to impose' stance . . . You cannot have your 'waffle' and your 'wafer' too."
Similar challenges to the culture are standard fare from Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop John Myers of Newark, Walker said. Phil Brennan of Newsmax admired Archbishop Myers and Archbishop Burke for their promotion of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life in the public square. Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo was also honored for his courageous public comments.
Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, the Eleonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History at Emory University, had her own favorite examples of episcopal leadership in the public arena: "My candidate, who may not have occurred to others, is Archbishop John Francis Donoghue, who, together with Bishop Robert J. Baker of Charleston and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte, issued a statement in August, 'Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion.'"
It's noteworthy that faithful Catholics are especially concerned with their bishops' upholding the pro-life teachings of the Church. Perhaps this is due to a new awareness that our votes really do matter. The American Life League estimates that 70 percent of the Catholic members of Congress cast pro-abortion votes. If the bishops of the United States fearlessly preach and teach the truth to Catholics in the pews and to the nation that watches what the Church does, that number could change dramatically. And so could the face of America.
Witness the domino effect: Those who vote for abortion will vote for other anti-life measures embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, and euthanasia. Furthermore, the attack on marriage by the homosexual lobby counts pro-abortion politicians as their most reliable allies. These realities are operative already in Europe. If Catholic Americans led by their shepherds confront that death march on the political and cultural battleground, a culture of life can be rebuilt.
The stakes have never been higher.
Already in Europe a "soft" persecution of the Church has begun. It will waste little time jumping the Atlantic if Catholicism in America is weak-kneed and accommodation-minded. Sadly, it's hardly unknown for bishops to choose the easy path recall the bishops of France just prior to the Revolution.
Yet there is hope. A renewing breath is blowing through the Church in the United States the indications are everywhere. And a number of the bishops ordained in the last ten years joined by some of their faithful elders see clearly their obligation to challenge the lay faithful to holiness. They also know and live this fact: The transformation of culture and society must begin first in their own sees.
In Loretto High School, a Catholic high school in Sacramento, California, there is student rebellion of sorts. A teacher who had served as a Planned Parenthood volunteer and publicly written in favor of facilitating abortion for students was terminated, thanks to William K, Wiegand, Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento.
At a recent open-house at the school, some parents sensed that something was very wrong. For example:
A drama teacher at a Catholic high school in Sacramento was fired Thursday after church officials learned she had previously volunteered at an abortion clinic, school officials said Friday.Let there not be any confusion: the Catholic Church is not tolerant of abortion or those who facilitate and promote it because abortion is gravely sinful.
What is tragic, if the Sacramento Bee article is accurate, is that the Catholic high school principal and other faculty at the school saw nothing wrong with hiring and retaining a pro-abortion Planned Parenthood activist to teach at a Catholic girls' school.
Thank God for Bishop Wiegand.
The good bishop was absolutely right to terminate an employee who promotes and facilitates abortion and publicly wrote in favor of facilitating abortions for students.
What is most disconcerting is the report that it required the intercession of the good bishop to end Ms. Bain's employment by a Catholic high school. Photographic evidence of Ms. Bain's active participation at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Sacramento reportedly did not cause the school principal to take the necessary action.
When the same evidence reached the good bishop, he did not flinch. He did what needed to be done. Now perhaps the Catholic high school principal needs an extended leave of absence to go on retreat and pray.
The Bishop should fire her, too.
And Sister Helen Timothy sounds like she needs a good retraining program in the teachings of the Church. The teacher may have been popular, but that certainly doesn't justify something so flagrantly immoral as escorting young women into a "clinic" to have their babies killed.
well I'm from the Philadelphia Archdiocese and I still see the "happy clappy" masses all the time. It still happens at St. Titus in East Norriton. They still have the guitar and drum masses every satruday night. To top it off, before giving the final blessing, Father Wetzel will ask all of those who have birthdays to stand up and sing happy birthday. That is why I attend the local Tridentine Indult.
The last 11 years worth of bishops of the St. Louis archdiocese are mentioned in this article and there are a number of this sort of Mass still happening around town. Separating the people from the "heritage" of being the birthplace of Jesuit folk music is proving difficult.
Thank God for strong Bishops!!! Send us more Lord!
Now I think he should close the school until they can hire a principal and faculty better equipt to provide a genuinely Catholic education for these girls.
And Sister Helen Timothy as well!
"Like it or not, teens get pregnant," the letter stated. "And the most important issue is keeping them safe. Safe means access to reliable health care, not gut-wrenching red tape."
So that's what safe means, huh? Gosh, my definition is something completely different. I thought it meant security from harm and danger.
Does this woman think she is really helping pregnant teenagers to be safe from harm and danger by escorting them to an abortion facility, a place where they will be completely lied to about the effects on them physically, emotionally, and spiritually from obtaining an abortion? I'd like to write this woman a letter. She does more harm than she realizes. Good job, Bishop Weigand! We need more like you!
Archbishop Curtiss is known for other things, too:
Nebraska prelate rebukes Catholics for critical letters to newspaper
By TERESA MALCOLM
Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha, Neb., sent written rebukes to two Catholics who in letters to the local newspaper had criticized his decision to reassign a priest accused of viewing Internet child pornography.
To Jeanne Bast, an 80-year-old mother of 11 and a retired teacher at Catholic grade schools, Curtiss wrote: I am surprised that a woman your age and with your background would write such a negative letter in the secular press against me without any previous dialogue. You should be ashamed of yourself! Basts letter appeared in the March 13 issue of the Omaha World-Herald.
The archbishop also told Bast, The church has enough trouble defending herself against non-Catholic attacks without having to contend with disloyal Catholics.
In a letter to Frank Ayers, 58, whose letter was published in the March 9 World-Herald, Curtiss said, Any Catholic who uses the secular media to air complaints against the leadership of the church, without any dialogue with that leadership, is a disgrace to the church.
The archbishop concluded both of his letters by instructing the recipient to say a Hail Mary for him for your penance. The letters were copied to Basts and Ayers pastors.
The Omaha World-Herald learned of the letters and contacted Bast and Ayers, who confirmed the contents.
The letters that provoked Curtiss admonishments had criticized his handling of the case of Fr. Robert Allgaier, who has been charged with attempted possession of child pornography. According to the World-Herald, Allgaier was sent for counseling and removed from high school teaching duties in early 2001 after the archbishop learned he had viewed child pornography on an office computer at a Norfolk, Neb., parish where he was assistant pastor. Then in June 2001, Allgaier was transferred to St. Gerald Parish in Ralston, where he taught religion at St. Joan of Arc-St. Gerald Middle School.
The archbishop removed Allgaier from St. Gerald in February just before authorities brought charges against the priest, who has pleaded not guilty. In a statement, Curtiss said that psychologists and counselors had indicated that Allgaier was no threat to children.
In his letter to the World-Herald, Ayers, a parishioner at St. Gerald, questioned the assertion that children of the parish were in no danger, and called on the archdiocese to be forthcoming with the information it has about priests accused of deviant behavior. Archbishop Curtiss should realize that these are our children, he said. We will decide whether we want to take the chance.
Curtiss wrote to Ayers that he would be willing to discuss the contents of Ayers public letter and told him to make an appointment with his secretary. However, Ayers -- who at first thought the letter was a hoax -- told NCR that he hasnt yet followed up on that offer. He said he would prefer the archbishop meet with the parishioners of St. Gerald Parish, who expressed this desire to an archdiocesan representative who met with them March 12.
I dont think he owes me a personal apology, but he does need to meet with people, Ayers said, because he seems totally out of touch with people in the archdiocese.
In her letter, Bast said that Curtiss had shown bad judgment and that Allgaier should have been relieved of both his priestly and teaching duties immediately. Archbishop Curtiss did a disservice to the people of the archdiocese and owes them a public apology for not being truthful and forthright about this problem from the very beginning, she wrote.
Bast told NCR she sent the letter to the World-Herald because she didnt expect any results from sending it to Curtiss. She said she felt sympathy for Allgaier, whose actions were wrong, but who has not been accused of any misconduct with children. My issue is with the archbishop, Bast said. Hes another one of these bishops who just doesnt get it.
As for Curtiss response to her letter, Bast called it very childish for a man in his position. Hes got more important things to do I think.
Teresa Malcolm is NCR news editor. Her e-mail address is email@example.com
National Catholic Reporter, March 29, 2002
To read later.
I agree that this is an "A" list article.
One statement bears repeating again and again: "It's no exaggeration to say that the health of a diocese is often reflected in the number and quality of its seminarians. In fact, it appears to be the case that when a diocese is faithful to Church teaching, vocations arise naturally."
If our churches provide leadership, inspiration, and are faithful to Church teachings, vocations sprout like flowers in spring.
It isn't the celibacy, folks. It's whether you inspire men and women to do and be something more. The Diocese of Arlington, Omaha and Lincoln are living proof.
A Bishop is a sucessor to the Apostles. As such, he has a primary obligation to be Apostolic, and seek the conversion of non-Catholics within his diocese.
Sadly, this whole notion is entirely absent from that article.
This notion seems to have fallen by the wayside and replaced with 'ecumenism'. I was absolutely shocked to hear several of Marcus Grodi's guests (EWTN's The Journey Home) relate that when they approached a catholic priest seeking more information on the Catholic Church, they were told - "There's no need to convert. Just be the best (Anglican, Jew, Baptist, etc) you can be. Roy Schoeman, a Jew, knocked on several rectory doors before one finally opened up and admitted him into RCIA.
In my (reprobate) diocese, not only does the bishop not follow any of the 8 habits listed above, he is actively involved in 'ecumenism' by participating at other faith services and inviting them to write articles in the diocesan newspaper about their religious beliefs. It's no wonder so many catholics here feel right at home in the Evangelical Churches that are growing in leaps and bounds.
What? You actually saw some Catholics in Albany? Are you sure they weren't Old Catholics or High Church Lutherans?
Lol! They still call themselves catholics. Frankly, I can't fault them, given 28 years of heterodox teaching, and watching their parishes shut down by the bishop.
In nearby Watervliet, the bishop has closed 6 of the 7 parishes. Our parish is across the river in the City of Troy. Father acquired an old boarded up Episcopal/Methodist Church in Watervliet, for a good price (the RC Diocese will not part with any of its boarded up churches). With limited funds, Father and a small group of volunteers, have been working for the past 3 years, fixing up the EM Church and adjacent rectory, while we work industriously to raise the funds necessary to complete the project. You'll always find Father digging up tree stumps, scaling ladders or ripping down walls, dressed in clericals. Last month, several Watervliet residents approached him to inquire if this would be a Catholic Church. Father pointed to his Roman collar and assured them that it would be.
His heart truly goes out to these catholics who have lost their parishes. Being bi-ritual, along with the Maronite Divine Liturgy, Father plans to also offer the Latin Mass in both English and Spanish. Aside from his responsibilities to the Maronite Eparchy, he has been asked by the Albany Diocese to help out as Chaplain at a local hospital and to say Mass during the week at some of the priestless parishes, in order to consecrate a sufficient number of hosts for their priestless weekend liturgies. All of this on top of restoring the old church into which he plans to one day move his congregation. He also felt bad for the Watervliet K of C, which has been without a Chaplain for more than 2 years and took on that challenge. Father does not have a home of his own but rents rooms at a local rectory. Please keep him in your prayers. He needs them.
My Bishop fits, pretty much.
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