The new bishops

The new bishops

A friend sends along the following thoughts on the new US bishops appointed by Pope Benedict this week. Bishop Walter Hurley will be going to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Bishop John Noonan will be an auxiliary in Miami.

Bishop Hurley was Cardinal Adam Maida’s point man on dealing with priests in Detroit who had to be removed for sexual misconduct. Check out this quote from the bishop during his ordination as auxiliary bishop for Detroit in 2003:

But the shadow of the year-long struggle to combat sexual abuse also hovered over the mass. At the end of the liturgy, newly ordained Auxiliary Bishop Walter Hurley spoke to the crowd on behalf of the three bishops and borrowed a page from Charles Dickens.

“While we recognize that the past year will be a defining moment in the history of the church, we are not prepared to acknowledge these are the worst of times,” he said. “We are, however, prepared to say without equivocation that these really are the best of times—for never have we been so aware of the need of the Lord and his presence in our lives.”

Over the past year, Hurley, 66, has served as Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida’s point man in dealing with abusive priests and was promoted recently, at least in part, because of his calm leadership in the midst of that crisis.

Ordained along with Hurley were Auxiliary Bishop John Quinn, 57, until recently Maida’s director of education.

Usually “director of education” is not a title that encourages my hope for someone’s orthodoxy, but Bishop Quinn is credited for bringing back a renewal of orthodoxy for Detroit’s seminary.

Bishop Noonan is also currently rector for a diocesan seminary, St. John Vianney in Miami. He, too, is considered to be orthodox.

We’re seeing an interesting trend where rectors of seminaries that have decent current reputations

The US bishops are concerned about the decline in the number of Catholic schools in the country and have issued a statement vowing to strengthen Catholic schools. Some of the problems include a lot of schools in urban areas where few Catholics live and they mainly serve poor people who can’t afford tuition and not enough schools in suburbs where middle-class Catholics now live; fewer Catholics choosing to send their kids to Catholic schools; the need to pay higher teacher salaries because laypeople need more money than religious; and so on.

But I think they only touch on part of the reason why so many Catholic schools are failing. While having to double-pay for their children’s education (through taxes that pay for public school and tuition for private school), parents may be a little miffed that the education they’re receiving at some Catholic schools is no better than what they get in public. For one thing, shoving Talking about Touching down their throats may be turning some parents back to public schools or homeschooling.

“Today only a small minority of our Catholic children have access to Catholic schools, due to geography and finance, and many Catholics do not see the need of sending their children to Catholic schools,” Bishop Earl Boyea of Detroit said during discussion of the statement on Friday. ‘‘We are failing now because of our limited resources.”

They are failing now because these Catholic schools aren’t as Catholic as they should be. I know my kids aren’t going to a Catholic or public school if I can help it. They’re going to be homeschooled, where I can rest assured they’ll get a solid grounding in the faith and a top notch and rigorous education without all the extraneous frou-frou that fills the day in most classrooms.