|Here's a fine photo of Cardinal Wuerl swinging away and blowing a bunch of hot air.
Cardinal Wuerl has taken up his bat and tennis racket in order to defend the bishops' teaching authority against theologians the likes of Sr Elizabeth Johnson. That is, when he is not claiming the bishops are also the referees:
“In an sporting match, football, tennis, baseball, there are referees and umpires. The game can proceed with the supervision of a referee. In a tennis match, it is not the player who calls the ball ‘out of bounds’ but the referee. The player may object that it was not his or her intention to hit the ball out of bounds. He or she may even question whether the ball is out of bounds. But it is the referee who must make the call. Otherwise, there can be no coherent game, no enjoyent of the match, no sense of progress in learning the sport; in short, the ‘tennis game’ would devolve into a fruitless exchange of individuals hitting the ball.” (Real theologians use spell check.)
I hate to tell him this, but in tennis side judges make in/out of bounds calls, and players appeal to the referee to have them overturned. Sometimes these referees even use pesky instant replay to reverse a poor call. They do the same thing in baseball, hockey, basketball, and football. Maybe Wuerl is so busy writing letters on behalf of America's bishops he hasn't been able to keep current with modern refereeing. In any event, this was a really lousy analogy. I can see where he might have wanted to stay away from the Inquisition analogy even though this concept of refereeing is far closer to what Wuerl and company are actually engaged in.
This whole letter was kind of mind boggling to me. Wuerl maintains the bishops have to step in and make sure theologians whose books are used in classrooms are writing authentic Catholic theology--whatever that is. I suspect he means authentic Catholic catechetics because he blames the poor catechetics of Catholics since the 70's as being the reason the bishops need to be a little more Torquemada like, and quite a bit less Jesus like. Hmmmmm, but the problem is our bishops, most of them appointed during the wasteland time of catchesis were in charge of that wasteland of catechesis. Maybe Wuerl has been watching too much EWTN, since that's one of their favorite shiboleths. He really might be better off watching more ESPN. At least his sporting analogies might hold more water.
I wonder if Wuerl popped off on his own initiative or if he actually is speaking for bishops other than himself. I can see where this letter might appeal to a certain subset of bishops, bishops whose handle on their own authority is fragile. I don't think Wuerl fits into this category. After all this is the same man who accepted a Vatican approved set of knives to stick in Archbishop Hunthausen's back. This was back in the catechetical wasteland of the eighties when that kind of treatment of one's fellow bishop was apparently not only acceptable, but mandated by John Paul the Great Enabler--also under the guise of protecting the purity of SOME Catholic teaching. The teaching about the immorality of nuclear weapons was not one of those teachings. St Ronnie Reagan was not happy about Hunthausen preaching that particular teaching--an actual teaching of Hunthausen's fellow American bishops---and the Great Enabler was happy to oblige St Ronnie by sending in Wuerl and his knives, in exchange for a few million shekels for his Polish effort. This was an amount which was probably no where near the cost of one nuclear warhead.
It all did help communism though, so I guess this proves God can make lemonade out of a real lemon of a situation. Even the worst of Donald Wuerl can be used by God to accomplish great things. I wonder what God will make of Wuerl's latest foray into personal clerical advancement because that is what this letter really seems to be about. It sure doesn't carry believable justification for attacking a prominent American theologian from way 'out in left field'. But then nothing from our two most recent Cardinal appointees --Burke and Wuerl--surprises me anymore. Between the two of them they demonstrate virtually everything that's wrong with our current leadership--and there is so much wrong, it takes two to demonstrate it all. At least Benedict got that right.