Friday, August 26, 2005

The sorrow of a war-torn world

This Herald of Hope column by Bishop Richard J. Sklba appeared in the in the Catholic Herald of August 11, 2005. He begins with the Second Vatican Council, especially its "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World" (Gaudium et spes), and particularly Part II, Chapter V on "The fostering of peace and the promotion of a community or nations."

He then cites the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Though debated over the years, the vast majority of Catholic theologians have concluded that the use by the United States of those nuclear bombs was morally wrong, no matter what the intention may have been. The end never justifies the means.

Let's apply that principle to the following.
"Take the appointment of Bishop Sklba. The Wisconsin province had recommended Father Richard Sklba as an auxilary bishop for the Milwaukee archdiocese, and in 1979 the word came down that he was about to be named. ...
Then, between the time of the announcement and the date of his consecration, I got a phone call: The Vatican was going to cancel the appointment.

"Not long before, Sklba had chaired a Catholic Biblical Association committee that was charged with examining whether Holy Scripture precluded the ordination of women. In his rather lengthy report was a line or two stating that Scripture in fact did not preclude women priests, and pointing out that the fact that the Apostles were all men couldn't in itself be used to defend an all-male clergy. ...

"I couldn't let that [cancelation] happen. ...
Cardinal Casaroli, [Pope John Paul II's] secretary of state ...
asked us to draft some sort of statement, acceptable to the Pope, that would in essence have Sklba back down from his position. We drafted something -- not a backing down but an attempt to put Sklba's statement in the context of church teaching -- and the word came back that the Pope said no. We drafted another statement and waited. Dick was to be consecrated on a Wednesday. ...
Finally, late Saturday night, we got word that the Pope had approved, but with the stipulation that the statement appear in the Milwaukee papers on Tuesday, the day before Sklba's consecration. Well, the papers not only didn't play the statement as Sklba backing down but gave it the angle that he stood behind what he had originally written. We sent the articles on to Rome, but, fortunately, it being the pre-fax era, they didn't arrive in time for Rome to respond. So, while Sklba's career was certainly stalemated right off the bat, he was consecrated a bishop."

--Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, quoted in The Education of an Archbishop (1992), by Paul Wilkes, pp. 58-59

Archbishop Weakland and Father Sklba used the means of misleading the Vatican to achieve the end of Sklba being made a bishop. It might enhance Bishop Sklba's episcopal pronouncements on ends and means if he'd revisit the circumstances of his elevation.

He raises the following as, apparently, relevant the morality of the current hostilities in Iraq.

The very fact that Pentagon officials admit that they do not keep count of Iraqi casualties suggests to many observers that we cannot bear facing the full impact of the human damage being caused.

I assumed this was because the Pentagon does not have enemy casualties, in themselves, as a goal. Odd that Bishop Sklba claims he can discern otherwise. He conspicuously failed to telephone victims of clerical sexual abuse. Perhaps its his omissions which ought to be attributed to an inability to "bear facing the full impact of the human damage being caused."


  1. Anonymous10:18 PM

    My parents subscribed to the Herald for many years, but that's one family tradition I don't have the slightest desire to continue. If I want to read op-eds filled with liberal Conventional Wisdom(which I don't, particularly), I can always turn to the Journal-Sentinel and the NY Times.

    Perhaps Bishop Skiba needs to ruminate less on world politics - I personally prefer Peggy Noonan - and focus more on the very real problems facing the Milwaukee Archdiocese - things he is conceivably in a position to help remedy.

    Glad you enjoyed your vacation!

  2. The Auxiliary of Milwaukee is the principal cross borne by our current Archbishop--and thus, by Catholics of this Diocese.

    The auto-da-fe was discarded prematurely...

  3. It's hard to understand Bishop Sklba's difficulty calling clerical sexual abuse victims, given he was able to go out of his way for a juvenile convicted killer. With the former, he cannot explain his inaction. With the latter, he can discern the sub-par motives of politicians and public, much as he thought he could with the Pentagon. It's as if he knows what's in every heart but his own.

    But Archbishop Dolan has called him A St. Joseph in our midst.