Skip to comments.Suing the Church
Posted on 05/26/2010 8:30:03 AM PDT by markomalley
In the organizational structure of the Catholic Church in America, the Province of Denver includes the dioceses of Pueblo and Colorado Springs in Colorado, the Diocese of Cheyenne in Wyoming, and the provinces metropolitan (or senior) see, the Archdiocese of Denver. That makes Denvers bishop an archbishop. As that archbishop, I rarely see a year go by without at least two or three unhappy parishioners assuming I have the authority to straighten out their liturgists and principals and pastors or some other problem in their local parishwithin the province but outside my own diocese.
They tend to get even more annoyed when they learn that I have neither the authority nor the foolishness to meddle in the life of a sister diocese. Nor will I intrude on the ministry of a brother bishop. The title archbishop does entail some rights and duties in the life of a province, but these are strictly limited.
In reality, each diocese is a separate, autonomous community of believers. Each bishop in a province is an equal. Each is a successor of the apostles. And each is the chief teaching and governing authority in his own local church. Of course, the bishop of Rome, who is also the pope, is uniquely different: He is first among brothers, and yet he also has real authority as pastor of the whole Church. But he is not a global CEO, and Catholic bishops are notand never have beenhis agents or employees.
Its useful to remember this today as lawyers try ingeniously to draw the Vatican into Americas ongoing sex-abuse saga. In OBryan v. Holy See, currently being heard in the U.S. district court in Kentucky, plaintiffs attorneys are seeking to depose Vatican officialsincluding, potentially, the pope himselfto determine what they allegedly ignored or covered up about the handling of clergy sex-abuse cases by American bishops. The plaintiffs legal argument hinges on the premise that bishops are, in effect, Roman-controlled employees or officials.
That argument is not merely false in practice. It is also revolutionary in consequence. In effect, it would redefine the nature of the Church in a manner favorable to plaintiffs attorneys but alien to her actual structure and identity. To put it another way, plaintiffs attorneys want a federal court to tell the Church what she really is, whether she agrees or not, and then to penalize her for being what she isnt.
Every bishop in the United States has a filial love for the Holy Father and a fraternal respect for his brother bishops. But these familylike wordsfilial, fraternal, brotherare not simply window dressing. They go to the heart of how the Catholic community understands and organizes itselfand, more important, to how the Church actually conducts herself, guided by her own theology and canon law.
The Church is much closer to a confederation of families than a modern corporation. And this has real, everyday results. In practice, the influence of the Holy See on the daily life of theArchdiocese of Denver is strong in matters of faith and morals. Were deeply grateful for the leadership and wonderful teaching of the papacy. But in the operational decisions of our local Church, the Holy Sees influence is remote. In twenty-two years as a bishop, my problems have never included a controlling or intrusive Vatican.
We live in ironic times. Critics of the Catholic Church in the nineteenth century conjured up a monolithic Catholic Church, the better to frighten Americas Protestant masses. Today, when that Roman straw man is even less believable, they have revived the notion of the Catholic Church as a Vatican-controlled monolith, no matter how far that myth is from real Church lifebut this time, the better to sue her.
Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the archbishop of Denver.
I think family connections are out since the time of the Borgia's?
For some the test is a simple check to see how easily the spine can be removed.
IF that is process, then (unfortunately) the Vatican is in the loop, liability wise for bad choices = $ for lawyers and priest misconduct victims.
Make sure the Papal Nuncio is on your prayer lists.
The Papal Nuncio does have a say in it, he chooses three names and the Pope can choose one of those three, or choose someone else.
Pope Benedict has intervened directly in a few cases, however, and I could see why given some of the choices on Sambi’s watch, like picking Cardinal Wuerl for DC was a big mistake.
Here’s an interesting article from New Oxford Review that’s insightful about the process:
They're only following Obama's lead. He thinks he knows best how the Church should be run, and what she should teach. That was the point of his speech at Notre Dame last year.
He's a presumptuous twit.
The test for an "employee" is not how he's hired or who chooses him, but ** whether the superior controls the time, manner, and method of his performance of his work **
If the superior does not, then the subordinate is an "independent contractor" not an employee. That is black letter law.
Rome does not control the time, manner, or method of a bishop's work. At most the Vatican expects (as Bagehot put it in speaking of the British crown) "to be consulted, to encourage, to warn."
This is a "Hail Mary" play by a bunch of greedy plaintiffs' lawyers.
And if you know my posts on this forum, I make no bones about it; On this side of the Tiber, we have no room to throw rocks :^(
I’m not sure whose side of the Tiber these guys are on. They don’t have the same religion as the Catholics of the last 2000 years.
They actually have a stronger resemblance to Gnostics, don’t you think?
The old 'Kill them all, God will know his own' approach by the authorities seems wasteful. But it does ensure nothing will be available for further examination.
So I'm going to pass on any discussion of Gnostic's, at this time.
Quite apart from whether or not you agree that the revolutionary and pernicious Manicheans should have been dealt with, and apart from whether or not someone actually said the words of that oft repeated quote, Gnosticism is a heresy and its doctrines would be odious even to the most Baptist of the Baptists some of whom claim their spiritual descent from these heretics.
Actually, there is something to that. Anabaptists were often just as violent and destructive as the Manicheans.
"Manicheans" - Never heard that term before. I'll include in my further research.