Fr. McBrien of Notre Dame Says Long Arm of Bishops Can’t Reach Catholic Colleges
Many “progressive Catholics” remain in the Church only because they have found refuge on college campuses “where the long arms of a bishop cannot reach,” writes Fr. Richard McBrien, the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, in his latest screed against the Vatican and the U.S. bishops.
Father McBrien writes in The National Catholic Reporter that “ultra-conservatives” are staging a “wholesale assault” on nuns for the soul of the Church. And McBrien is also looking forward to the next pope who, he predicts, will lead the Church more in line with his own progressive vision for the Church.
Oh, and he compares himself to Moses.
“The nuns have been in the forefront of the struggle to keep the spirit and the letter of the Second Vatican Council alive” writes Father McBrien. “Unfortunately, LCWR is a scapegoat for everything the right wing in the Catholic [C]hurch loathes. One should recognize that ultra-conservatives exist in the highest ranks of the Vatican, excluding no ecclesiastical office in the [C]hurch.”
He writes that while “the nuns” celebrate Vatican II, ultra-conservatives have staged a “terrible backlash” on Vatican II and are currently waging a “wholesale assault” on the nuns in the United States.
He blames Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI of undermining the Council by appointing of bishops and archbishops “unfriendly” to it. Among those responsible for the “terrible backlash” McBrien includes:
Examples of such bishops are (with the diocese and year they were first ordained a bishop): Thomas Welsh, Arlington, Va., 1970 (now deceased); Thomas Daily, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1974 (now retired); Nicholas DiMarzio, Brooklyn, 1996; David Ricken, Green Bay, Wis., 2000; Richard Lennon, Cleveland, 2001.
Examples of such archbishops are: John Myers, Newark, N.J., 1987; Joseph Kurtz, Louisville, Ky.,1999; Jose Gomez, Los Angeles, 2001; Francis George, Chicago, 1990; Charles Chaput, Philadelphia, 1988; Edward Egan, New York, 1985 (now retired).
He says that many bishops “overemphasize the abortion issue” over social justice issues and the needs of the poor.
He also looks forward to a new pope. “A new pope will be elected who the electors think is only a seat-warmer (just as they once regarded John XXIII), and the pendulum will swing the other way,” he said. “It always has.”
McBrien does not have a great track record in predicting popes however. As George Weigel pointed out, McBrien declared Joseph Ratzinger’s chances of ascending to the papacy as electorally impossible a mere 24 hours before it happened.
And then he compares himself and his fellow naysayers to Moses. “Some of us will never see the change, like the saintly Moses, but it will come.”
Earlier this year, Fr. McBrien cast doubt on papal authority, saying it’s “an incorrect assumption” that “the Bishop of Rome is free, by the will of Christ, not only to appoint all bishops in the Roman Catholic church, but to dismiss them as well.”