Friday, September 02, 2005

My comment boxes are now in high demand! My first commenter says that he has a 'quite the affection for the saintly Archbishop Burke,' and asks if having such a great admiration for prelates is 'contrary to the Catholic faith. ' I have to admit I am taken a bit off-guard by this question. Well, I hope you understand that we, as bishops, rarely run into this problem these days. I mean, back in the old days (long before I was bishop, I'll have you know), fending off hyperdulia was a workaday affair for a bishop: you hardly ever had to polish your ring, if you know what I mean! But, these days, it's hard enough getting the faithful not to call you by your first name. So, I suppose a little excessive reverence is the least of our worries.

That being said, there is a concern among many of my brother bishops of the 'pendulum swinging too far the other way', as the saying goes, especially among the younger generation. While we successors of the apostles certainly don't mind a bit of respect, I don't think 'episcopal hero worship' is really in order.

Now, as for Archbishop Burke, well, how do I put this lightly? Let's just say there are a lot of other bishops out there working really hard for the Church. Look at my good friend Bishop Skylstad, who has taken on the burdensome and thankless task of presiding over the USCCB. And look at Archbishop Flynn, who has successfully chaired the Ad Hoc Committee for Sexual Abuse for several years, through some of the most painful times for the Church. Or Archbishop Hughes, who is currently a refugee down in New Orleans. These men are your heroes.

Now, listen closely, I have nothing against Archbishop Burke. He is certainly doing a fine job over there in St. Louis, although (and I have to say this) he has some big shoes to fill, following in good old Justin Rigali's footsteps. Going from such a backwoods diocese as La Crosse to a See as prestigious as St. Louis, well, let's just say it's a hard jump to make, and takes a lot of humility and personal restraint. And, I don't know how to say this, but, not all of my brother bishops have been entirely happy with the way that Archbishop Burke handled some of the matters which came his way. In fact, there has been a lot of talk in the Bishops' Conference about how to avoid some of the problems that arose from the way these were handled. In fact, good old Bishop Wuerl up in Pittsburgh recently published some ideas that have been circulated among bishops on this subject (to tell the truth, a couple of bishops, not including myself, helped to draft his statement, but he was asked to publish it to avoid the appearance of a 'conspiracy'). So, I hope this doesn't dampen your enthusiasm for Archbishop Burke. Instead, I hope it helps you to understand the challenges that all bishops face in serving the Church in a context of collegiality!

As for myself, well, I don't know how well-known I am outside of my own humble diocese. Since I don't do a lot of media grand-standing, I haven't become a household name like other bishops have. (I wasn't meaning to imply any particular bishops by that last comment, just a general statement.) But I hope that this blog allows for some young readers out there to get to know me, and, who knows, maybe become fans!

Thank you for your comment!