Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Long Term View Of The USCCB: Feeding The Fear

This is from a famous Cherokee parable.  The USCCB has made it's choice as to which wolf it will feed.

 Michael Sean Winters gives his take on yesterday's doings at the USCCB meeting.  Winters has always been a cheerleader for Archbishop Dolan so it's not surprising that his post is all aglow with praise for the Archbishop. The following excerpt is from the end of his article:

When Archbishop Dolan was appointed to New York, I noted that he had written his doctoral dissertation of the late Archbishop Edwin O’Hara, a pre-Vatican II bishop known as a reformer. O’Hara perceived the need to focus on the basics of the faith and was a prime mover in creating the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine and the Catholic Biblical Association. Dolan’s morning address and his comments at the CCHD reception were both, in their different ways, a call for the Church to focus on its core mission of evangelization and Christian witness. In his morning speech, Dolan quoted Henri deLubac, Dorothy Day and John Tracy Ellis, who are probably my three favorite 20th century Catholics, so I admit my bias. But, the point is this: Dolan understands that the Church’s struggle in the culture war issues of same sex marriage, contraception and immigration must all be tethered to the mast of fidelity to the Gospel. We evangelize and therefore we go out into the world to engage in the issues of the day, not the other way round. (Which Gospel is that?)

A wise man once gave me his take on Archbishop Dolan. He said he discerned three key features of Dolan’s personality. One side just got off the phone with a Catholic neo-con like Robbie George and is susceptible to those arguments. Another wise (side) believes evangelization is best undertaken at a backyard BBQ. And the third side is the student of John Tracy Ellis, someone who can take the long view of events and separate the core, animating concerns from the often unhelpful and even distorting rush of events which can actually obscure, rather than enlighten, those core concerns. We are beginning to see this third side of Dolan’s personality shine through and it augurs well for a profound tenure at the helm of the USCCB.


 If Dolan was actually animating the core concepts of Jesus teachings, he would put an end to the politics and call his USCCB brethren back to their CORE duty, which is the care of their flock.  He would be advocating with Rome for changes in priestly discipline so American parishes weren't forced to find a priest willing to serve their needs--such as this small rural parish in Iowa--who do not want to have their community sacrificed on the altar of the celibate priesthood.

If Dolan was really focused on the long view of events he would be more astute at reading polls regarding his flocks' major concerns and stop dumping millions of dollars in anti gay marriage campaigns and doomed to failure 'personhood' initiatives.  He might look at the plight of our younger generations who are correctly discerning they don't have much of an economic future and include their hopes and dreams in the same boat as immigrants migrating to the States for the same reasons. I suspect the reason he doesn't seem to see that particular connection is because our younger American generations are far from being the backbone of Dolan's view of a resurgent American Catholicism.  That hope lies with Hispanic immigration, which if Dolan was really capable of taking the long view, he would know is at best a one or two generation stop gap measure.  

All he need do is look at Catholic Brazil where in less than three generations the birth rate has gone from children by the soccer team to below replacement levels, which is lower than the US birthrate.  And this in spite of the fact the Brazilian Government offered no birth control program at the behest of Brazil's Roman Catholic bishops. If our bishops think twisting the US Constitution to give them the freedom to deny birth control to Catholic employees and college students is somehow going to work, they live in a male la la land. Or as one Brazilian woman put it, "Yes, we are women of faith, but in some matters the male clergy is perhaps not wholly equipped to discern the true will of God."  'Not wholly equipped', the irony is precious.

What is the long view that Archbishop Dolan and the USCCB are taking?  I suspect it's the one that focuses on the most fearful of Catholics and plays to their fears, because this is the group of Catholics which is least likely to question the clerical system.  This is the Catholic population which supports Bill Donohue, truly thinks gays are satan spawn, defends the indefensible behavior of clerics and bishops, thinks the Church is under attack by godless secularists, has a very magic mentality towards the Mass, and lives reacting to their fears rather than striving towards love.  In some respects we all have some of the above within in our psyches, but the majority of us are not willing to feed the fear over feeding the love.  The USCCB is betting they can survive by convincing people to feed their fears.  In one very important sense this is true.  The people who are most fearful are the ones who have the most to lose.  They will pay the most to have their fears soothed.  That would be the conservative wealthy.  I'm quite sure the USCCB under Dolan will be all about feeding that fear--because in a very profound way it's keeps their personal fears for their own survival at bay.


  1. Ecxellent observations and insights, Colleen. The Cherokee parable is very powerful . . . and so true!



  2. Michael the first time I heard that story it was from a Native Elder. I'm not really thrilled with how this picture tells the story, because in the telling I heard, the wolves were presented more starkly, more befitting the fact the parable is about a grandfather talking to his grandson, and making very clear points about how to be a man.

    In any event, it is a great story. Sorry about Archbishop Neinstedt being elected head of the USCCB Doctrinal Committee, but that's hardly a shocking turn of events. After all, the USCCB is becoming known for force feeding the dark wolf in all of us.

  3. There is always a choice open to live full of fear or to live full of love, Jesus chose perfect love which casts out all fear .

  4. I believe you are spot on in your assessment of Benny and his Jets' truly unfortunate use of Free Will in regards to the present direction of the RC Church.

    It's funny you should use that particular story, as I find it of constant value as a 'gentle nudge' that a good life is built by good habits which are, in turn, built by the choice to do one good thing today.

    Regarding the picture, you may find the ones I used here to be a bit more evocative.

  5. I was looking at the "Good" list and checking it twice and the bishops seem to have the knack for all that is good for themselves and their cronies, and for pedophile priests & their enablers.

    For the rest of us the bishops will give us the "Evil."

    Mother F.

  6. Am I the only one who is reminded of Fr Whatshis name's Good Dog/Bad Sheep dog website from this summer? And really how can these guys go into prayer or Mass without recalling what Jesus said about the religious authorities of his time. Hint, it was not a compliment.

  7. Good catch Sue, the pic does bring back some memories of a certain 'black sheepdog' now that you've mentioned it.