Friday, June 19, 2015

When bishops resign

As I said yesterday, I had planned on saying a word or two this week about Archbishop Nienstedt’s resignation.  What I had planned to say, just briefly, was this: that it does no conservative Catholic any good to insist that Nienstedt was being “punished” for being doctrinally orthodox, politically conservative, and liturgically traditional.  This was not true; it was spin.  What Archbishop Nienstedt did in his diocese to shelter at least one abuser was egregiously wrong, and to see his resignation as “the Pope is coming after the good guys and ignoring liberal bishops who do X and Y!” is to diminish the gravity of what happened in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

I’m glad now that I didn’t write that post, because Rod Dreher not only links today to a piece that summarizes what has been going on all this time in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but also has some pertinent comments himself:
This is the kind of thing — gay men in authority in seminaries forcing those who resist out — documented in Michael S. Rose’s book Goodbye, Good Men. I have heard that this is a thing of a past generation of seminary rectors, but I honestly don’t know. What seems hard to deny, at least in Archbishop Nienstedt’s case, is that the past is not even past — that his alleged homosexuality probably conditioned his behavior towards abusive priests. Whether it was a matter of him going easy on these bad priests because he hoped for, or was receiving, sexual attention, or out of a twisted sense of solidarity, or because he feared blackmail, nobody can say at this point.

What boggles the mind is that Nienstedt, knowing all of these things about himself, would not simply resign for the good of the Church, and of his reputation. He not only caused the archdiocese to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of the faithful’s tithes to investigate him, he caused it to spend even more on a separate investigation it looks like, from the reporting, that he hoped to manipulate to clear him. And for whatever reason, the pope’s representative in Washington backed Nienstedt on this.

All I can say is that this is an object lesson in not letting religious partisanship cause you to insist that a bishop who resigns is, if he is orthodox or traditional or conservative or all three, necessarily the victim of some sort of biased witch hunt.  The sad truth is that orthodox and traditional and conservative bishops, priests, and lay people sin all the time, just like our liberal counterparts do. Both St. Peter and Judas betrayed Christ; the only difference is that St. Peter repented of it, while Judas added the sin of despair and suicide to his act of betrayal.  We should pray that all of St. Peter’s successors avoid evil and repent with true contrition for their sins--just like we should pray for the same grace for ourselves and all our fellow men.


bill bannon said...

. Correct and talking conservative is a way of advancing careerwise as a priest. Cardinal Law did it and Cardinal Groer in Austria did it...the former was permissive to deviant priests and the latter abused earlier in his career and left much later. Both talked conservative sexual mores. Macial Maciel Degollado of the Legion of Christ...ditto....talked conservative but was bisexually active plus other things.

Elizabeth said...

Interesting response to the resignation from a RC writer here. The headline says it all:
'Clear' conscience? Even in resignation, Nienstedt fails once more