Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bishop Paprocki Rocks the Vote

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, who is in charge of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, has written an editorial in this week's diocesan newspaper in which he sends not-so-subliminal messages about which presidential ticket he wants Catholics to vote for.

Photo from the Seattle Star

Of course, Paprocki does say, "My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote."  Nice of him to add that line. Need to make sure the Church's tax exemption does not get yanked, of course.  (He's a lawyer on the side.) Plus, you know, he wouldn't want Catholics to feel like their democratic rights were being trampled.  Or their intelligence insulted.

Later, he adds:  "Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against..."  But of course he is--without saying so flat-out. He tears apart the Democratic Party and says that Republicans' neglect of the poor is, well, just a matter of "prudential judgment."  He wants you to vote for the Republicans and against the Democrats.  He just doesn't want to cost the diocese its tax-exempt status.  Any bishop who messes up that one probably won't get promoted.

No doubt some Catholics--conservative Catholics especially, and far-right Republican Catholics in particular--will defend Bishop Paprocki's decision to walk right up to the line of telling Catholics for whom they must vote.  Yet the bishop knows that Raymond Burke (formerly of St. Louis) took just such a stance in 2004 and guess what?  Burke now heads up the Vatican's equivalent of the Supreme Court.  Burke also was elevated from archbishop to cardinal--which means, yes, that he has a chance of becoming the next pope.

Politics outside of the Church--Obama and Biden and Romney and Ryan.  Politics inside the Church as well.  And sometimes the two dramas intersect.  Yes, the bishop certainly does want your vote: vote for the candidates he favors, or you are supporting evil. Take down the flag, throw the Constitution in the trash; let the bishop walk into the voting booth, essentially, several thousand times on your behalf. Give him the opportunity to determine your vote. What a shepherd. What a clever man. A guy with a real career ahead of him in the church. Lovely, just lovely.

Friday, September 07, 2012

A Bishop Gets Probation: Just a Start, That's All

Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was convicted this week of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report a child-abusing priest to the authorities.  (Details of the abuse from which this charge arises can be found in this previous post.)

The bishop was given probation.  That's what you would expect, I guess.  It's only a misdemeanor charge, right?  I'm being ironic, obviously.  Knowing that the priest was abusing children--multiple children, it looks like--and failing to report it was not enough to earn the bishop anything worse than probation.

Here's an idea.  Why doesn't the bishop model true repentance by resigning?  This was not the first case of child abuse to which the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese turned a blind eye.  After previous cases of abuse were publicized by the media (not the diocese), Bishop Finn promised that the diocese would shape up.  However, when the new case arose, Finn failed to notify police as well as the diocesan review board, the agency that was created in the wake of the earlier scandal:  the agency charged with unearthing accusations of abuse and forwarding those accusations in an expeditious manner to the police and prosecutors.  Now, of course, in September 2012, Bishop Finn no doubt intends to reassure his flock that he next time that which he was supposed to do this time and which he in fact failed to do.

Here's a bishop who has an opportunity to show the faithful what true repentance looks like.  He can resign.  He can make of himself an example to which other bishops would have to pay attention.  He has the power to do that...even if the judge said that nothing more than probation was warranted.  The Church has got to have higher standards than that--right?  Especially when kids' welfare is at stake.