Saturday, October 21, 2006

Until the fax come out

Bought the latest Milwaukee Magazine for the Catholics in Crisis cover story. Among those interviewed for the story were Bishop Richard Sklba and Father Javier Bustos. The article recounts how Bishop Sklba chaired a Catholic Biblical Association of America task force that produced a 1979 report suggesting there is "no historical reason not to ordain women." If that's not enough, here's more historical revisionism via the article's interview with Fr. Bustos, who came here in 1995.
But by the time the report was published, John Paul II had become pope and the church was moving in a different direction. Sklba, then still a priest, says he was pressured to tone down the report. He refused, and almost wasn't appointed a bishop, says Bustos. (Sklba confirms that he refused to tone down the report but would not discuss almost being denied an appointment.) In his office, as a bittersweet reminder, Sklba keeps a statue of the prophet St. Jeremiah shown in stocks and "punished for saying the truth." [p.55]

Thus nicely exemplifying that combination of self-pity and disingenuousness so commonly encountered among our local clergy.

Here's Archbishop Weakland's account, from The Education of an Archbishop (1992), by Paul Wilkes, pp. 58-59.
"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."

Think "truth arbitrage". It's not a new or uniquely Catholic phenomenon. Here's an example from The Long Shadows of Lambeth X (1969) by James B. Simpson and Edward M. Story, their account of the 1968 meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion.
The unauthorized addition of two words, and women, in the bound proceedings of Lambeth X made it appear that the bishops recommended the ordination of women to the diaconate--thus implying that they would be in line for advancement to the priesthood.

That was decidedly not the case and subsequent investigation brought to light one of the greatest ironies of all Lambeth Conferences--that the Archbishop of York, who as head of the Ministry Section had suggested that the misleading words be removed at the time the Resolution was on the floor, was, by his own admission, responsible for later reinserting them when the approved Resolution was put in the hands of the printers. [p. 171]

I note those who say they want to advocate the ordination of women want to decide what arguments the other side can use. Compare Bishop Sklba's CBA report to this from Lambeth X.
Of the five resolutions (Nos. 34-38), the first was of basic importance because in a single sentence it swept away a longtime barrier: the belief that since Christ chose only male apostles those who followed in apostolic succession should be male. The Archbishop of York and his party consistently sought to downgrade the argument as "silly" and "insulting". [p. 188]

Certainly easier than showing that it's wrong.

3 comments:

  1. Given the woman deacons, woman apostles, and woman heads of local churches that populate the New Testament, it's no surrise that the non-ordination of women can't be proved from the Scriptures. However, we don't have to prove our teachings from Scripture. We are Catholics, not members of a sols-scriptura sect, and we can trust the Church.

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  2. At St. Al's, we occasionally get even airier generalities on women's ordination "from the pulpit" on Sunday morning. Then on Sunday evening they'll have me teaching the opposite, except that as a mere catechist I have to cite specifics.

    Any thoughts on how to convince tenth graders that it's important to spend Sunday evenings learning Church teachings that they may have seen or heard their auxiliary bishop, pastor, or a deacon contradict?

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  3. Virgil10:47 AM

    How to convince 10th graders that learning Church teaching is worth their time?

    Not an easy task!

    However, I have found it helpful to use the resources in the Catechism itself. Not just to quote the Catechism, but to use it as the groundwork for showing how Scripture, Tradition, and Reason work together to advance Truth.

    The pap you hear from the pulpit at Saint Al's isn't intolerable if you take it in that context. Your pastor can spout some of the Scripture, some of the Tradition, and (too often solely) some of the Reason arguments CONTRA the official teaching of the Church.

    It's important that we understand an struggle with these contra lines of thinking. Ever read Saint Thomas Aquinas? He was a master at laying out competing arguments. Not just as straw men to knock down, but as real things to chew on.

    Trouble with many in the pews and pulpits today is that they take either side at face value without questioning. Either we follow the standard line of "social justice demands that..." or we follow that "the magisterium teaches ergo." Instead, our duty as Catholics is to let our consciences be well informed of the WHY behind Truth.

    So,... back to the 10th graders. I have found that kids respond very well if given the opportunity to look at both sides of a question. I try to respect their ability to think critically.

    (1) State the question. e.g. Can women be ordained priest?

    (2) Explore the opposing arguments. e.g. What is priest in Scripture? Why might sex be important to the office? What has Tradition done? What does Reason tell us?

    (3) Let them bat it around for a while.

    (4) Lay out clearly what the Catechism teaches and why. By this time, the kids (or adults) should have a grasp of what's important. That way, they have a hook to hang the teaching on.

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