Archbishop Wilton?

Archbishop Wilton?

I’ve heard a rumor that Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Illinois, the former president of the US bishops conference who last spring assured us that the Scandal is “history,” is being considered for the office of Archbishop of Atlanta. Another nugget of wisdom from Bishop Gregory last spring was that the bishops’ “progress has been nothing short of a miracle.” Yes, there has been so much miraculous progress. Notice how many bishops who sheltered, shuffled, and enabled molesters of our boys and girls have suffered the consequences through the loss of their offices and standing in the Church? Yeah, I can count them on less than half the fingers of one hand. I don’t call that progress,and neither do I call the denial and buck-passing we going on progress either.

Now, the Atlanta rumor has apparently been floating around for a while. So what’s happening? One reading is that while this is being pushed from the US (say, by a high-ranking pal of Gregory’s on the East Coast) the Vatican is balking. That would be the best-case scenario. The not-so-good case is that this will happen and it will prove that the Barque of St. Peter has no one at the helm.

Atlanta is one of the fastest growing dioceses in the US with a generally orthodox bent to it. It would be a shame to see that ruined.

  • You are no different than the people at the National Catholic Reporter. You are an ideolouge first and a Catholic second. In one entry today you laud the pope;but if he promotes a bishop you dislike, then, he is a fool or impaired or MIA. Over all, Bishop Gregory did a good job at the height of the Scandal frenzy.

  • Ah yes, the voice of reason: begin with insults and then proceed to your “arguments”. Did I say the Pope would be a fool or impaired or MIA? I used a metaphorical image to convey an impression.

    Tell me, using specific examples, of how Bishop Gregory did a good job? Was it the appointment of rabidly pro-abortion political types to the National Review Board? Perhaps it was his all-clear to the troops that the Scandal is history and that the bishops are doing just fine now. What did Bishop Gregory do in his “good job” that he wasn’t either forced to do by circumstance, i.e. PR or legal pressure, or that wasn’t simply covering the bishops’ collective butt?

  • So would that mean that Bp. Gregory is ‘history’ in Belleville…?

    And would the ‘high-ranking pal’ be a certain hierarch noted for his inventive epistolary exegesis…?

    Just thinking out loud here…

  • <objectionable, Dom. “Prove?”

    Oh, sure, I know it’s now stylish—and has been for at least a year or so—to hint (that’s what I hate most…the “hinting”) that the Holy Father is a basket-case. (EG: “the Pope will write another poem,” etc.)

    <i>Did I say the Pope would be a fool or impaired or MIA?</i>

    Uh…yeah, you did. “Nobody at the helm” pretty much implies MIA. Actually, worse. “Nobody at the helm” (I’m a sailor) means the post has been deserted. “MIA” implies that at least the one given the post went down fighting. (Think “action.”

    I used a metaphorical image to convey an impression.



  • “The not-so-good case is that this will happen and it will prove that the Barque of St. Peter has no one at the helm.” No less a Catholic luminary than Flannery O’Connor (who died in 1964) used to say that she thought the Church’s motto is “The Wrong Man for the Job”.

  • What bishop in +Gregory’s position would have done a better job? Do you think being the head of the USSCB really gave him the authority to clean house? Is it not possible that he truly believes the USCCB has done a good job handling the mess?

    Bishop Gregory was a man thrust in to a terrible situation during his tenure. We can argue whether or not he did all that you want, we can criticize certain things that he did, until the cows come home. But the fact of the matter is that his episcopacy shouldn’t be on trial for perceived failures he had very little control over, and certainly didn’t have a direct hand in.

    That having been said, who here has problems with the way Bishop Gregory has handled Belleville? I’ve heard nothing but good things from folks who know him rather well. His performance in Belleville is what should really be on trial, if anything at all, because that’s what’ll matter when it comes to shepherding in Atlanta.

    Being a bishop is hard. I never, ever want to be one.  And I certainly can’t say that I would have handled the situation any better than +Gregory.

  • If he really believes the USCCB has done a good job, then he doesn’t have the judgment to be a bishop. Simple enough. Criticize certain things? You mean like appointing rabidly pro-abortion Catholic political-types to the most visible role for Catholic laity in the country? Don’t you think that’s more than a little lapse in judgement?

    He had a direct hand in that. He also had a direct hand in his pollyanna denial of reality in confidently stating that the Scandal is over and the crisis is past when hardly anything has even been done to address it. That’s really dangerous because as the head of the conference, he sets the tone, others will follow his lead, and so we go off whistling into the night without having a single thing actually fixed.

    Saying that being a bishop is hard so we can’t offer critical analysis is a cop-out. Being president is hard, too, so does it mean we can never criticize foreign policy or Social Security reform or cabinet appointments?

    As for my metaphot, let me clarify: When I said no one is at the helm, I did not mean the Pope specifically, but everyone in leadership positions in the Vatican. Certainly, because of the Pope’s advanced age and obvious illnesses, it has become apparent to anyone who watches closely that he does not have as firm control over the Curia as he might once have. I’m sure someone will dispute it, but that is my analysis.

  • First of all (it’s all about me) why are my posts so screwed up? My last one was pretty good but it came out like an idiot wrote it.

    (Shut up, critics…I mean the format, not the content! <g>)

    Secondly, “USCCB” and “good job” is—in my opinion only!—an oxymoron.

    Trying to format again:

    Certainly, because of the Pope4-12-09 03:30:09
    Dom, what about the newly adopted zero tolerance policy? Has the USCCB not effectively ended the crucial problem behind the Scandal (i.e. abuser shuffling)? Hasn’t that “fixed” anything? What, exactly, do you call for? The laity and certain bishops called for a continuation of the auditing process, which costs millions. That idea got pushed through, too, in the name of keeping things honest and open.

    You’re free to offer a critical analysis; I do it all the time myself. What I dislike, and what I’m reacting against, is the tone of your posts/comments, in which +Gregory is presented as a failed bishop and leader. Criticize him all you want; I’m sure he appreciates it. But casting him off as a failed shepherd because of his handling of the Scandal disregards the good he has done, and the experience he can bring, to the people of Atlanta.

    I certainly agree, by the way, that Bishop Gregory should have avoided making those appointments. Perhaps he didn’t know, but anymore that shouldn’t be much of an excuse.

    One more thought: Is it not Bishop Gregory’s responsibility to present an optimistic, upbeat hope for the future? Certainly, talk will go on concerning the Scandal, as it’s been the primary issue on the USCCB agenda for years. But the fact of the matter is that we can only move on and work towards reconcilliation if we’ve decided to let old wounds heal. That’s the greatest failing of groups like Call to Action, who won’t let things die. For some – and I am not necesarily pointing the finger at you, Dom, since I agree with you 99.999% of the time and love this blog – moving on seems like an impossibility; they’ll only be satisfied when everything they think should be done, has been done. That’s never the reality of any reform.

    In the end, perhaps we should all just pray for our priests and bishops instead of finding and exploiting their weaknesses. I doubt that Bishop Gregory, should he be appointed to Atlanta, will seek to destroy the good, orthodox Archdiocese.

  • I believe, based on the appearances I have seen of Bishop Gregory, that he has already risen to his level of incompetance, and should go no further.

  • Dom, what about the newly adopted zero tolerance policy? Has the USCCB not effectively ended the crucial problem behind the Scandal (i.e. abuser shuffling)? Hasnwith the Scandal? What policy or mechanism is now in place to ensure that a bishop can’t simply do tomorrow what so many did before?

    What about the plenary council addressing the root causes of the Scandal? What about the apostolic visitation of the seminaries that the Holy Father called for almost three years ago?

    I would love to let old wounds heal and move on toward reconciliation, but that doesn’t come about by pretending that the problem is fixed.

    If I break my arm, I don’t walk out of the doctor’s office without the bone set and no cast presenting an optimistic and upbeat hope that my arm will be healthy. Before you can move on, you actually have to address the problem and try to fix it. What Bishop Gregory and the rest of the USCCB have done is the episcopal equivalent of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

    In any case, this is all moot now: The Vatican announced Bishop Gregory’s appointment to Atlanta this morning.

  • Oh yeah, as a priest I know once said, optimism is not the virtue of hope.

    Good rationalization for not giving him the benefit of the doubt.  He’s not even in Atlanta yet, and you’re already writing him off.  I’m sorry, but perhaps the USCCB was not a good fit for him.  I appreciate all of the issues in his track record that you have brought up, but they are not necessarily predictions of the future.  Surely he has done some good work as well, or he would not have been appointed.  None of the recent bishop appointments have been bad, and I doubt that this one was purely political either. 

  • Sorry, Bryan, there’s not a lot of doubt here.  Bp. Gregory has a record in Belleville quite apart from his USCCB stint and his performance on the abuse scandal.  I used to hear stories from conservative-Catholic folks residing there, and it seemed that those who abused the liturgy and church doctrine had nothing to fear from the kindly bishop.

  • Surely he has done some good work as well, or he would not have been appointed.

    And the basis for your conclusion is what? The track record of the awesome American bishops we’ve had over the past few decades?

  • I don’t have time to respond right now, but will do so later if it is still relevant.  Right now, I’m heading up to Harrisburg for the consecratino of bishop-elect Kevin C. Rhoades.  Although, <sarcasm>, I’m not sure why I’m even bothering, since nobody’s at the helm.  I mean really, if you just keep looking back at the horrible track record of the past, when can anything ever hold promise for the future?  Before I pass judgment on Bishop Gregory, I’d like to at least see what kind of choices he makes in his new position.  I’ve thought some of the same thoughts as you, but it seems hasty to express them at this point, which is why I’m being so critical of your criticisms.  I’ll check back in later.

  • Here I go again, jumping into the middle of an already heated discussion, but what the heck?  The Belleville diocese is right across the river from St. Louis.  The priests and deacons that I’ve talked to from over there seem to like the Archbishop-elect a lot.  I’ve only met him once, but he seemed to be very pastoral and in touch with the people.  Of course, this was before he got stuck with the UCCB job.

    The sexual abuse scandal hit Belleville several years before it made national news and before the Abp-elect arrived.  It appears to have been cleared up under his watch.  I have not heard of a current abuse case over there in a long time.  And, believe me, if one happened, Pravda West (St. L P-D) and my mother-in-law who lives near Belleville, would be all over it.

    Remember, there is no such thing as the “American Catholic Church”.  We’re Roman Catholics who happen to live in the US.  The UCCB really doesn’t have that much power. 

    Let’s be realistic.  The Archbishop-elect did a good job cleaning house in Belleville and his fellow-bishops rewarded (?) him with the presidency of the UCCB.  He got through the two-year term, handled himself pretty well, got some changes put into place, made nice with the media and with the politicians. 

    If I’m the Vatican, I have to reward him some way.  So let’s move him to Atlanta.  It’s a promotion, but not historically a path to a red hat.  As a bonus, we have an intelligent, articulate, black Archbishop in a large southern city.  Face it, whether you like him or not, he’s too valuable a commodity to leave in Belleville, IL.  (sorry, mom)

  • “The UCCB really doesn many of the faithful have latched on to. The fact that these men work tirelessly for their dioceses, and have given their lives to Christ through the priesthood, never enters in to consideration. The local press in my diocese, Joliet, hounds my bishop constantly in this regard, and it makes me both angry and sick at the same time.

    What about the plenary council addressing the root causes of the Scandal? What about the apostolic visitation of the seminaries that the Holy Father called for almost three years ago?

    But Dom, we know what the root cause of the scandal was, don’t we? Priests abused, bishops covered it up. What more is there to say? As far as seminaries go, I was told by a priest who works directly with seminaries that in the United States those apostolic visitations were carried out years ago by American bishops, with the consent of the Vatican. Things are starting to tighten up in seminaries, as I know from my own personal experience; candidates with issues making them less likely to lead a healthy, fruitful priesthood won’t make it to ordination. It makes me hopeful for a better future, but I realize my “inside” experience doesn’t translate very well to folks who don’t know anything about seminary life.

    I think we’re just coming from two different places. I look at my contemporaries and see an abundance of orthodox men ready to move the Church in to a new era, and that encourages me. I’ve seen positive changes everywhere in the aftermath of the Scandal, and more are to come. In the end, I think it’s way too early to condemn the actions of the bishops. But should shielding ever be a problem in the near-future, you can guarantee I’ll be prepared to declare that we’ve failed.

  • The Marriage Tribunal “Ministry” is chaired by a hospital sister turned cannon lawyer that loathes men. Bp. Gregory, just how much funding is allocated for Sister Boneparte’s rubber stamp expenses?

    In the last five years, five men were scheduled for ordination. Three were ordained.  One left the priesthood after 8 months to marry his high school girlfriend. Two others have postponed their ordination for ‘discernment’. You now have seminarians sign a contract that demands tuition and expenses reimbursement if they leave their vows within five years of ordination. Three young men in my Latin Mass community, which you have graciously allowed, are in formation at St John Cantius. Others are considering Lincoln Nebraska. Why have they eschewed the diocese? Would you have been willing to place them in the diocese? If not, why? What’s up with our vocations director that he misses these good men?

    It sounds like a gripe and it is. However, I do believe Bp. Gregory to be a good, holy man. His favorite hiding place is at the Poor Clare’s monastery. Could he do better? I hope he does. This guy’s personality is infectuous. With an orthodox approach he could make vocations soar. The politics and the teflon prevent that occurence, as evidenced by the above. Still, it wouldn’t suprise me one bit to hear twenty years from now that he retired to a monastery.

  • Dear KMac,

    One of those five candidates for ordination was thrown out by Bp Gregory, in spite of being recommended for ordination unanimously by the seminary faculty, where he had spent 6 yrs. Bp Gregory called him in, learned what he believed, and then told the man that he would never ordain him under any condition. This former candidate is now a priest serving a parish in the Covington Diocese, under her faithfully Catholic Bp Foys, who snatched him up. I’m not privy to the content of that final conversation, but the fact that Bp Foys was not deterred is telling of something.

  • The same is true currently, when the Church is on high alert; what bishop is going to stick his head in a noose by shielding an abuser after what happened to Cardinal Law? Yes, they did it before. But now, what bishop would even think of such an act? And furthermore, donhey do earn it back, I will appreciate them for it.

    I agree with you 100%, and for that reason I think we should at least give Abp-elect Gregory the benefit of the doubt.  If it becomes obvious that he isn’t doing things any differently in Atlanta, then I will be the first to admit it.  Here is what a friend of mine had to say to me today about the situation:

    I think that when you are the president of the conference, you feel the necessity to speak for all of the bishops in unison.  Since there is such division, that leads to watered down statements and such.  But, the problem is when you start down that slippery slope of mediocrity, it’s very hard to stop.

    But, we have to be fair and at least see how he does before we make a judgement.

    For my part, I would like to think that perhaps Bishop Gregory inherited a bad situation in his diocese and that the USCCB thing wasn’t a good fit for his talents.  Maybe Atlanta will be better for him.  Based on his track record, we could speculate all kinds of things.  But just as Christ gives us all many second chances, I think we should all at least keep quiet about it until we see that he is not doing any better there.

    Another thought I had, Atlanta has a solid base of good priests and a large number of good seminarians.  Just as KAP was making a comment about the strength of southerners in another thread (KAP, by the way, is in my diocese I think), so too I woudln’t underestimate the strength of a good presbyterate in keeping their bishop on track.  But we’ll see.  That’s all I have to say about the issue.

    The consecration of Bishop Rhoades in Harrisburg was beautiful today.  He is an excellent priest and will make a good bishop.  I think we can look to Harrisburg for the next vocations boon.

  • Dom,

    You’re quite right about how blogs operate; I’ve found myself blogging only on negative issues before, so I’m with you there.

    I’m also with you in regard to the need for bishops to earn the trust of the faithful again. I guess what I’m reacting against is a kind of knee-jerk reaction against them that doesn’t seem to allow anything to get anywhere. And I don’t think that you’ve displayed that here.

    So, sorry it took us a couple of posts to get somewhere, but I truly appreciate it smile

  • It doesn’t sound like Gregory can manage a diocese, by the sounds of KMac’s description, a first hand account.
    The whole situation smells, frankly. 

    I have read that the USCCB is having to cut back on expenditures because of lower donations.  Really cut back.  What a great thing that is—I think we’d ought to help them cut back even further.  =) 
    Til they can’t write any more things like “Always Our Children,” til they don’t have time to harass the Congregations in Rome about inclusive language, and til they don’t have the cash to spend time wondering whether we need to convert Jews or not.

    It’s not like the NCCB and many of its members are exactly helping us much at the moment.  They might as well not be hurting us, eh? 

    There’ve been a lot of new ex-Catholics made in the last couple of years.  For that, the bishops are eventually going to answer, I would imagine.  The downsizing of the NCCB and hopefully of various diocesan machines can only help to prevent more of this carnage.

  • <scription, a first hand account. </i>

    With all due respect to KMac, this is not in the least a “first hand account.”

    Today, Kelly Clark, deliberately jay walked across the intersection of Dartmouth Street and Columbus Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts, at approximately 4:23 PM ET. Kelly Clark lives at 27 Whiting Street, Boston, Massachusetts.

    THAT is a “first hand account.”

    I realize, I guess, the need for for folks to use aliases. But please do not call their reports “first hand accounts.” They are most emphatically not.

  • printed bi-monthly now, from weekly
    (bi-monthly means every other month;
    bi-weekly=every other week,,I think)
    God bless you

  • Bimonthly is every second month. The prefix comes from the Latin “bis,” for two. (Maybe the origin goes even further back to Greek)

    Semimonthly is every half month. The prefix comes from the Latin “semi,” for half.

    Years ago I learned that these two terms are so often confused that you should just use the English phrases “Every other month” and “Twice a month.”

  • Contrary to Thomas, the bishops’ conference has had its wings clipped pretty definitively, and a slow process of reform is underway.

    [ Dom, correct me on this if I get it wrong: ]

    The Vatican directed a couple of years ago that statements issued in the name of a bishops’ conference needed to be voted on by all the bishops, not just some committee, and they could not be considered binding as teaching unless the statement were unanimous or approved by the Pope.

    Bishops have been acknowledging publicly during USCCB meetings that many of the statements they have issued are a waste: unread by the clergy and even by many bishops themselves.  The group as a whole has acknowledged the need to be involved in fewer nice-sounding projects. 

    The very fact that an orthodox reform-minded bishop such as Cardinal George is going to become the President of the conference (sooner or later) is a sign of change.

  • RC, then using the same logic, what does the election of Bp. Trautperson as head of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy signify?? 

    You’re making excuses for other people.  We can’t make excuses for others when we don’t know why they did what they did!  Stop.  Let it be.  Maybe they did what they wanted to do!  Would that shock you?