I keep rereading Cardinal George's interview and one of the things which has struck me really forcefully is that he never discusses the role of a bishop in any terms other than that of governance. The idea of servant leader never passes his lips. When I think back on the last year or so, the idea of servant leader never passes the lips of any out spoken bishop. Bishop Martino is probably the most perfect example of someone who saw themselves as unilaterally governing a Roman province rather than serving his people as Jesus called for repeatedly in living His own ministry. Bishop Martino lived from the Imperial Pontius Pilate school of leadership, rather than the Jesus Christ school of leadership.
One of the really major differences between Native American tribes (which see themselves as a cultural/spiritual communion) and the Roman Catholic church is precisely in the separation of the roles of tribal governance and spiritual leadership. Rarely are both forms of leadership held by the same individual. Spiritual leaders are not prone to be political agents, although they can influence the political process by reminding the political leadership of how the central concepts of their native spirituality should be reflected in their governance decisions.
It isn't always a smooth dialogue, as functioning well in the greater American society sometimes involves more compromise and capitulation than traditional spiritual leaders appreciate. The prime example of this kind of dialogue in tension is over gambling and casino revenues. Some tribes have found remarkable ways to handle this tension, and some have failed miserably.
It could be the USCCB fails at both governance and spiritual leadership because they are mandated to do both roles and there fore do justice to neither role. They failed horribly in their governance role regarding the sexual abuse scandal because they chose to protect the spiritual legitimacy of the ordained as their primary obligation. Had they been free to operate solely from a spiritual role, they would have had an easier time seeing their primary obligation as servant leaders was to alleviate the suffering of the victims.
The role of a separate governance agent would not have been encumbered by notions of protecting the spiritual legitimacy of any priest or bishop because that wouldn't have been that agents primary role. His/her role would have been to handle these situations as per the dictates of civil and Canon law, exactly as a Native political leader must handle situations according to both federal and tribal law. He/she is not so much concerned with spiritual legitimacy as with the health of the community.
Diocesan governance and spiritual leadership are two distinct and very different roles, especially in modern times when American Catholicism is handling billions of dollars and holds billions of dollars of assets. Cardinal George himself admitted that the model for leadership amongst today's bishops is that of the businessman-- which in America means our dioceses are acting more and more like rogue corporations than centers for spiritual development.
These ecclesiastical corporations have gotten to the point where they are now attempting to use the legal separation of Church and State to give them even more freedom to act as rogue corporations completely outside any over site agency. They seem to want the legal protections of both corporate and religious law. (Perhaps they are jealous of Native reservation status and desire to turn their Cathedral complexes into casinos.)
Jesus was very careful to separate notions of spiritual leadership from civic or political leadership. He said one can not serve both God and mammon. He said one must separate the things of Caesar from the things of God. It is too easy to sacrifice the spiritual mission for the sake of mammon, secular power and community prestige. We American Catholics have certainly paid the price for the consequences of our spiritual leadership losing sight of their spiritual mission.
I really believe that in the coming Emerging Church we will see definitive lines being drawn between the spheres of spiritual leadership and community governance. Ideally this will allow our spiritual leadership to focus exclusively on developing their spiritual gifts while allowing the governance issues to be handled by people whose gifts and training are actually in governance.
This is not a new ideal. It's a return to a very traditional ideal, one embodied by Peter who did not have responsibility for the actual governing of the Jerusalem Church. James did. Unfortunately Cardinal George's models for bishops didn't go that far back in the Tradition. Not surprising I guess, given the amount of mammon, power, and prestige the current bishops enjoy. Better we all become 'simply Catholics' and let them keep it, even though we pay for it and our own spiritual needs go largely unmet.