In a spin, loving the spin I'm in
Our new auxiliary Bishop William P. Callahan takes a turn in the "Herald of Hope" column in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald. He tackles the priest child molestation scandal no more maladroitly than Archbishop Dolan. (Credit where it's due; I don't see the Chancery putting Bishop Sklba on this issue very often.) Bishop Callahan puts on the plus side,
A new way of reaching resolution - through an independent system designed by people outside the church structure - was put into place.
This is a system established by our Archdiocese. Constantly repeating the word "independent" won't change that.
In the midst of so much personal turmoil in the lives of so many human beings, much of it caused, God forbid, by her priests, the church responded humbly and apologetically, yet directly and strongly to do what was right and just for those most vulnerable and victimized.
If our bishops do say so themselves, and rather often.
This is a great archdiocese. We have wonderful and dedicated priests and prayerful and generous people. Our parishes are thriving.
That's news to me.
Sure, we are experiencing a little "belt-tightening" these days and some reconfiguration of our central offices.
The way Archbishop Dolan described it at the Black Catholic Summit, our Archdiocese has already had to sell the belt to pay clerical sexual abuse settlements.
I have hope that these things will be resolved with some promising ideas and some wonderfully inventive thinking.
What is the reason for that hope?
My hope is that people of good will remember that it is the church who works on behalf of victims.
Here he gives reasons.
Who, besides the church, has gone through such elaborate measures to protect children - not just minors, but the unborn?
First, bringing in the unborn is equivocating on the issue at hand. Second, who else needed to do more to protect children? Third, they're protecting, but who? Fourth, on the unborn, sometimes we wonder [but see Update, below].
Who else but the church preaches, teaches, and promotes on all levels, a consistent life ethic?
Consistency can work both ways, such as when rather than take parishioner flak for preaching on the death penalty, a pastor won't preach on life issues at all.
Who looks after the elderly - the most systematically abused group of people in our society - more consistently than the Roman Catholic Church?
Seems to be changing the subject again. Back on topic, how about a a follow-up report in "our" Milwaukee Catholic Herald on whether Bishop Sklba eventually did complete his promised calls to victims?
Who has hospitals that struggle to keep their doors open in some of the poorest areas of society?
Is there an Archdiocesan charity hospital in Milwaukee's inner city?
Even experts like Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University tells us that, today no one does more to prevent sexual abuse of minors than the Catholic Church.
Today? Better late than never. Somehow reminds me of The Onion's world atlas, "Germany: Genocide-Free Since April 11, 1946".
Much has been rightly and justly paid to victims. Still, we face a barrage of legal maneuvers that target the church; fail to acknowledge what has been accomplished; seem to serve some trial attorneys more than victims; and whose motives seem to be to undo the good work of the church in our community.
And, after all, it's not as if when the positions were reversed, our Archdiocese fought hard in court.
Then it seems like the public relations intern went home for the day with two paragraphs to go.
Nonetheless, we must remain focused. The church has been humbled. We do now only what we should be doing and should have done a long time ago. We don't ask for sympathy; in this horrible mess, we don't deserve any.
Bishop Callahan ends, perhaps where he should have begun.
In all things, however, as a new bishop, I ask for your prayers. I am hopeful for the church. I share the enthusiasm I've gained from working with young people and for the good things that will be accomplished in the future. I am basically an optimistic man with strong faith and reliance on the promise and hope of Jesus Christ to be with his church. The Gospel doesn't change. Hope does not disappoint. The church endures.
Update: Wisconsin Catholic Conference: Letter to Wisconsin Legislature re: AB 377 February 25, 2008