The biggest fear on the progressives' side is the way the Holy Father is doing an "end-run" on them by appointing conservative bishops the world over to replace the more liberal ones as they reach retirement age. The progressive American bishops also have accused the Roman curia and the Pope of working in concert to centralize power back where it belongs - with the supreme pontiff. They stand guilty as charged for that is as it should be. Why? Because Holy Mother Church always has been and shall ever remain a hierarchy, not a democracy. Sadly the American bishops have been too "Americanized" with the democracy issue. It may work fine for our country but not for our Church. After all, one is only in its infancy at 200 years and counting while the Church founded by the Son of God is going on 2000. In the test of time we'll put our faith on the latter, especially in light of the United States' present administration; one puts an emphasis on the culture of death; the other places all faith, hope and love on the culture of life. Yet, led by Archbishop Quinn, the liberals have drawn up a document accusing the Pope and curia of reinterpreting the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The problems are the progressives have been making up their own interpretations from day one and the Holy Father's adherence to what was truly discerned and decided at Vatican II does not fit the mold to which they have become accustomed. Also, the liberals have deliberately not carried out the implementation of all that was decreed and that has become the inherent problem today. They quote documents out of context, or worse, liturgical commissions, bishops' conference documents, and committee reports have superseded Vatican II official documents and the fine-line between what was decreed by the council fathers has become blurred. They have purposely manipulated it that way, taking great pains not to educate the people too much on what was proclaimed so that they could steer their agendas into the channel of modern thought in the faithfuls' mindset. Confuse and clarify in their own way to win them over was their game plan. This is evident today in many of the bogus lay commissions, conflicting agendas, and intellectual lay leaders that exist at the diocesan level and which have been given too much power and influence by the bishops in setting policy. At times it worked out and bamboozled many, other times they got caught up in their own lies and were embarrassed, such as the time Archbishop Quinn demanded the people stand during the Consecration of the Mass and two little old nuns came forward in front of the Sanctuary and prostrated themselves in full reverence before the altar. Quinn was dumbstruck. Speaking of dumbstruck, Quinn has also made the accusation, possibly out of petty jealousy as is customary for someone whose ordinary suffered greatly under his regime, that the Roman Curia acts superior to the rest of the world's body of bishops. Since the Curia is made up of men, that is always possible, but highly improbable because of the excellent entourage John Paul has assembled especially when you consider the solid Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
Yet Ratzinger is an anvil to the hopes of the progressives so they will do all they can to undermine this traditional prelate and one way is to cry "favoritism" and "too much power!" Naturally their logical retort is to give the bishops more power. Sure, just like we should give teachers power over the principals and superintendants, or children power over their parents! The ironic twist here is that the progressives are careful not to go so far as granting power to all bishops but rather the episcopal conferences and those who control them. One reason for this is the bishops' conferences and associations are basically the brain-child of the progressives who, rather than being obedient to the Holy Father and carrying out their duties as shepherds of their respective dioceses, opt instead to cluster together to compare notes to make sure their progressive agenda is on track and they can control. Ah, there's the key word: control. With the bishops' conferences they can control by putting up the facade of "majoritizing" the bishops through some well-placed high officials on the conference committee. This was masterfully manipulated for years by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin of Chicago and Arbishop Daniel Pilarczyk from the Cincinnati diocese. The recent addition of conservative prelates Archbishop Francis George and Archbishop Charles Chaput in high-profile archdioceses like Chicago and Denver respectively have added to the woes of the liberals who continue to cry "foul" at the Holy Father's expert chess game with the progressives' mind-set.
Their tactics are to push more and more for legislative bodies and councils where the hope is the power will be in the councils and tie-up the Holy Father's actions by countering his moves. They hope to push their candidates into prime positions within the various committees of the bishops conferences and from these perches attempt to establish policy for the entire Church and curb whatever actions the Roman Curia and the Pope would make. They take their cue from governmental legislature in the U.S. where, as Russel Shaw quotes liberal Jesuit advocate Father Thomas Reese, that this system within the Church "might well learn from modern secular legislative bodies the role of legislatures in controlling bureacacies and the abuse of executive power." Reese and the other radicals forget we are talking about an institution that is not dictated on the whims of man but on the charism of the Holy Spirit, but they misinterpret that also. They use the Holy Spirit to further their own goals with tremendous myopia when it comes to obedience and striving to adhere to God's Will through His chosen Vicar on earth Pope John Paul II.
In the next installment we will continue to address this same concept when we discuss the ninth and final mandate launched by the radicals that deals with involving all the bishops directly in the election of the Pope.
Past Installments in this series
Back to Front Page of this issue of A CALL TO PEACE