Try a non-union monastery maybe

Try a non-union monastery maybe

The USCCB is in hot water because it is holding it’s biannual meeting at a non-union hotel in Baltimore, according to Religion News Service.

For the next five years, the nation’s Catholic bishops will hold their fall meetings at a non-union hotel in Baltimore, a break from the church’s historic support for labor that has irritated some observers. The move from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington D.C. to the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront will save money, church officials say. But a centurylong trail of papal pronouncements and Catholic social teaching says people should be put before profits, according to the Rev. Edward Boyle, director of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Institute of Industrial Relations. The bishops’ decision to meet at a non-union hotel follows two high-profile labor disputes that have pitted Catholic-owned businesses against workers.

First, nothing in the Church’s social teachings requires Catholics to support pinky-ringed union thugs and there’s no evidence that just because a worker is not in a union that he is being exploited or denied his rights. It may be Democrat dogma, but it’s not Catholic dogma.

Second, how quickly will the US bishops cave in to the union demands? For extra credit, measure it against the speed with which it pays attention to orthodox Catholic concerns about liturgical abuses, the teaching of heresy, et al.

Third, here’s an easy solution. Rather than acting like their biannual gathering is a meeting of the regional managers of Initech by meeting in some hotel’s conference room, maybe a more retreat-like setting would be helpful, say a monastery or retreat house somewhere. Yes, it wouldn’t have all the conveniences of a major business hotel in a downtown setting like high-speed Internet and high-class restaurants nearby, but it would send a very interesting message to the rest of us.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
9 comments
  • Dom, I think it’s a great idea.  Maybe suggesting a monastery to some of the more spiritual and humble bishops will cause change in this regard.

  • There may be an “example” coming: Pope Benedict going to attend the next CELAM meeting and have it held at the shrine at Aparecida in Brazil. 

    Still, the USCCB didn’t pick a bad location this time: it’s out of Washington, it’s in the primatial see Baltimore, and it’s near the recently restored Basilica of the Assumption, a magnificent church.  It might have been cheaper if the Conference had chosen a hotel away from the waterfront, but you can’t count on it: the economics of meetings aren’t always obvious.

    I wish the people who make the perennial complaint “why don’t they stay in some monastery?” would actually name a monastery or retreat house they know which is capable of hosting a group of 268 active bishops, their assistants, and the USCCB staff: likely around 500 people.  I don’t know any, so for now, I don’t believe it’s possible. 

    While we’re talking about the meeting’s politically incorrect location, I’m surprised no one’s complained yet about them meeting at a Marriott hotel: the Marriotts are a Mormon family and still own 20% of the company.  Maybe the location isn’t religiously correct!  grin

  • We have attended conferences at small and large colleges during the summer.  The food is good.  There is more than you can eat.  But, you don’t get tv and phones in your room and private baths are rare.  There are virtually no distractions. The surroundings are highly conducive to getting things done.  That is why we go there.

  • Part of the meeting (I think) was dedicated to business, and the rest to “prayer and reflection.”

    They can do that for the summer meeting because the fall meeting is more business-oriented. I think RC has hit the nail on the head with respect to the logistical needs of such a meeting. I expect some of them will indeed spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, as an Adoration Chapel is set up for them in one of the rooms. But contemplation is rightfully accomplished by action. This year may signal a major shift in their priorities, for the better.

  • With all the money spent on the USCCB headquarters and the Pope John Paul II cultural center and what not, the bishops couldn’t build a meeting hall near to, say, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception with a dormitory attached? It could double as traveler’s housing for bishops and priests traveling to and from the DC area on business or pleasure.

    How about one of the many empty seminaries across the country? Maybe there’s a monastery somewhere that would allow a building to be constructed on its grounds for this purpose.

    Heck, what about putting chairs in someone’s cathedral or basilica like they did at St. Peter’s for Vatican II?

    As Catholics you’d think we’d be aware by now of the value of symbols.

  • Dom:

    All the situations you mention have staff and services available, or would have to provide them from scratch. An empty seminary is closer to the latter.

    As to a dedicated “hostel” for traveling clerics, I’m wondering if that would be a favorable alternative for priests from out of town, as opposed to a local rectory or other religious house, where hospitality is already available, where they can help out with Sunday Mass, and most of all…. where no one would have to build a new building for it.

    You’ll find someone to complain about that too.

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