Thursday, June 13, 2002

Mark S, you can't mean this!

Mark Shea wrote on the HMS Blog, that "My bishop impacts my life a lot less than Osama bin Laden does," and "I couldn't tell you five words he's said."

Mark, Mark, you cannot mean this? Or have we really been so spoiled here? Yes, I have teased for many years about the trials the next archbishop will have living up to our expectations of bishops as we have become accustomed to expect in our last 25 years of blessing. But I _thought_ I was teasing.

I thought all good bishops taught soundly and regularly on all the Christian and Catholic basics, as convincingly as their personal gifts allow. (Many of us here set our alarm clocks so we can hear our bishop's homily on the radio on Sunday mornings.) Do not all bishops do themselves, insofar as it's possible, those things they are encouraging their pastors and priests to do? (Like live in groups for mutual prayer and support, and not in private personal dwellings) Do not all good bishops guide and encourage, chide and rubuke, as needed, while always treating us with love, care, dignity, and respect. Always. Don't all good bishops admit their errors and try to make the situation right, without looking to blame anybody else for them (like ours did when he fumbled the Effinger matter in 1978, discovered he had in 1992 when Effinger reoffended, handled it properly in 1992, and openly. And when the Wisconsin courts made the near-automatic judgements for suits out of the statutes that the law calls "frivolous" over the 1978 Effinger cases, the archdiocese made no effort to collect them, because that would not be right or just.)

If Mark is being serious about himself and his bishop, maybe this is why the blogworld seemed to have such a hard time understanding the behaviour of us Milwaukeans in our recent crisis. It was not the particular friendship that shocked us so much, because any of us who had ever heard our archbishop teach on chastity already knew, because he told us, that he had both success and failure on the chastity battlefront. (He taught that, no matter what, giving up the fight was not an option.) And we all knew that he'd had an absolutely horrible transition when he was torn from his community to come to us, we lived through it in 1978 and 1979 and the early part of 1980. For some of us, it was the money; what we could do with $450K! But for most of us, and what was so gut-wrenching about it all was: How could he have so much fear? Fear enough that he would pay off an extortioner? Why did he fail to trust us? How could he have so misjudged our love and care and good judgement; the love and care and good judgement he himself taught us?

While the blogworld was being indignant and scandalized, the real world of Milwaukee was mourning. Our archbishop is not only honored and respected for his office; he, personally, is beloved by his people, and he loves us and makes no secret of it. To watch our spiritual father be stripped of his last shreds of personal dignity in public still breaks our hearts.

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