America's Catholic bishops pulled a shocker Tuesday in picking their new president, disregarding tradition and precedent by rejecting the current vice president and instead choosing a man seen as more outspoken and conservative. [...]Notice that last, particularly. Kicanas wasn't rejected because of lingering concerns over his handling of a priest accused of molesting; he was really rejected because conservatives, who don't care about the Scandal ordinarily, thought he was a moderate instead of a hard-line snarling vicious Rottweiler-wanna be. Right. Anybody want to buy a bridge?
Kicanas faced a barrage of last-minute criticism in recent days over how he dealt with a priest who was accused of molesting more than a dozen boys and is now in jail. Victims' advocates spoke out against Kicanas, but the more significant opposition came from conservatives, who considered him too moderate in tone.
BALTIMORE — In a surprise move, the bishops that lead the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, elected Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York to be their president on Tuesday, rejecting the conference’s more liberal vice president. It was the first time in history that the bishops had not voted to elevate the vice president to the president’s post, affirming a conservative turn among the bishops.In other words, the Grey Lady tells us that those mean old assertively confrontational conservatives wouldn't choose a man noted for his ability to dialogue with both liberals and traditionalists, instead preferring a man who is good at the art of smiling and smiling whilst being a villan. Umm...sure. And newspapers are about to come back with a strong new business model, too.
The vote, which was close, cements Archbishop Dolan’s prominent profile in the leadership in the American church. He is already the prelate of the nation’s most visible diocese, is comfortable in the news media spotlight and was selected by the Vatican to help conduct an investigation of the church in Ireland, which has been devastated by a sexual abuse scandal.
The bishops passed over their vice president, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, who represents the more liberal “social justice” tradition of the American church and is known for advocating dialogue between Catholic liberals and traditionalists. Archbishop Dolan is a moderate conservative who is willing to put his affable and outgoing demeanor in service of a more assertively confrontational approach to the church’s critics.
And there's this:
Traditionalist Catholics led an upset victory in the choice of a new head of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. For the first time, a presumptive successor to the presidency was passed over in the voting. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops elected Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan over the current vice president Gerald Kicanas.I'll grant that this move by the USCCB was certainly a surprise--and a good one. It's not that Kicanas is really, as some of his supporters have alleged, in favor of either abortion or gay marriage; but his failure to respond adequately to President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame and the troubling cloud left by his handling of the case of accused molester Fr. Daniel McCormack, who was approved by Kicanas for ordination despite some significant warning signs during his seminary days, would not have inspired great confidence in a body that has, frankly, yet to inspire great confidence in many American Catholics.
Kicanas was a protege of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, who was known for his "common ground" approach and emphasis on a broad spectrum of Catholic social teaching. Dolan is closer to the traditionalist approach, defined not only by opposing abortion but also by publicly slamming Catholic politicians for pro-abortion rights votes. Veteran Church-watcher David Gibson, blogging at Disputations, called it "a shocker."
Still, it's funny to see the media spin on this--as if Kicanas is only as Catholic as, say, Joe Biden, and therefore the Right Sort of Catholic in their eyes. The palpable media discomfiture at the election to USCCB president of a man known more for a quiet sort of orthodoxy speaks volumes about the media's true desire for the Catholic Church in America: they'd like it to become a sort of pro-abortion, pro-gay "marriage" social club that pays frequent lip service to the right sort of environmental or social justice causes while not actually asking anyone to make real sacrifices or adopt real change--exactly like the Democratic Party, in fact.