Tuesday, January 16, 2007

All The Pope's Men

Here is an interesting article from the Salt Lake Tribune. Rocco is quoted, as can be expected. lol!

I don't agree with everything in the article, but it does give something to think about.

Since becoming pope in April 2005, Benedict XVI has appointed about 30 U.S. bishops, and some see a pattern emerging that is different from John Paul II's, particularly in his later years.
Benedict is more involved in the process, observers say, poring over dossiers and case files, and he appears to value competence more than ideology.

Benedict's bishops tend to be "unflinchingly positive (men) who avoid conflict at all costs," said Rocco Palmo, a Philadelphia-based Vatican watcher who writes for the Tablet in London.

Such leaders show by example that the essence of the church is to uplift, not condemn. They are "open not only within the church but in public," Palmo said. "They are working for the good of all, Catholics and non."

The latest Benedict appointee who appears to bear this out is Bishop John Wester, the newly chosen leader of Utah's 200,000 Catholics, who is viewed as a pragmatist and nurturer and not as an ideologue.
Archbishop George Niederauer, of San Francisco, Wester's boss and the former head of the Salt Lake diocese, called him "one of the kindest-hearted persons I have ever met. He's solicitous of people's welfare. He has a good sense of humor and sees the inherent silliness in things."

Observers say Wester likely will not threaten to excommunicate Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, or attack gay activists or academics who challenge doctrinal interpretations. They do not think he will be rigid or authoritarian, or impervious to the needs of abuse victims.

"Some bishops come with their own or someone else's agenda," said Monsignor Francis Mannion, pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Millcreek, Utah. "I don't think (Wester) is coming with any heavy agenda."

It is clear that Pope Benedict doesn't want "showboats as much as good, convincing men of integrity," said David Gibson, author of "The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle With the Modern Mind."

"It is part of a campaign for competency, especially after the sexual abuse crisis … (to find men) who can preach the Gospel and mind the store," he added.

Benedict has "actually disappointed people on the right who wanted a purge, and eased fears on the left," Gibson said. "He has not appointed crusaders, just good, strong orthodox bishops who can engage the culture without being flamboyant, without stirring divisions."
Niederauer, appointed by Benedict to be archbishop of San Francisco last year, is one such man.

He is gregarious, urbane, warm and witty. While he supports the church's positions, he is open-minded on such issues as gays in the seminary. Everyone, he argues, pledges celibacy whatever his attractions.

Niederauer "has been a hit," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at Georgetown's Woodstock Theological Center. "That was a great appointment."

Others see further evidence of Benedict's priorities in the choice of Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who took his place in June, for the Washington, D.C., diocese.

The Washington Post called the 65-year-old Wuerl a "poised, teacherly Pittsburgher … known as a behind-the-scenes bridge-builder, someone who preferred pressing quietly in private to making demands in public."

Wuerl is "thoughtful and well educated," Gibson said.

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