A more contemporary article shows how little Donald Wuerl has changed in these past twenty-three years. Please read: Huffington Post.
The first article should be of interest not only to Roman Catholics but also to the bishops of the Orthodox and Anglican Churches. Wuerl personifies their greatest concerns and fears regarding the role of the Papacy vis a vis other bishops. This remains the greatest roadblock to Ecumenical dialogue and possible reunion into the “Great Universal Church” of which St. Augustine spoke in the fifth century. The preemption of Hunthausen’s authority as the local Archbishop of Seattle serves as a chilling reminder that there is no real collegiality among bishops in the Roman Catholic Church. They are merely office managers who had better obey the wishes of the current Bishop of Rome and of the Roman Curia (Vatican bureaucracy), or else.
The action in the Hunthausen matter constitutes a reversal of the principle of collegiality articulated at the Second Vatican Council. Collegiality is the principle that the bishops collectively discuss theological and social issues and jointly come to agreement on official teachings and policy. Instead, Ratzinger is a returning to a highly centralized Roman Church, which does not tolerate any open questioning of theological or policy matters. In his book “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church”, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson states the theological/pastoral deficiency of such an arrangement. He states on page 236:
Far too often the Catholic Church has believed that it had such a level of divine guidance that it did not need the right to be wrong. As a result, both theologically and psychologically it can be bound to decisions of the past. It can be unable to move forwards, even when clear evidence emerges that earlier decisions were conditioned by their own time and that the arguments for them are not as strong as they were once thought to be. It has not been able to face the idea that on important issues and for centuries of time it might have been wrong.
The leadership of the Roman Catholic Church uses brute power, to force bishops, clergy and laity to publicly comply and agree to formulations, which they utter. Anyone who questions, as Archbishop Hunthausen rudely discovered is silenced mercilessly. In its treatment of “truth”, Rome more closely resembles the former pre-Glasnost Soviet Union than it does the rabbinical style of debate and discussion found in the Sacred Scriptures. This serves as a roadblock to any Ecumenical discussions with other Churches.
This mentality is also increasingly offensive and unacceptable to thinking adults who live in democratic societies. Perhaps this is why most of Europe’s Roman Catholic churches are empty on Sundays and have been reduced to museums and quaint tourist attractions. In the United States of America, Roman Catholicism maintains its number of members by the migration of economic refugees from Latin American countries.
Like most economic émigrés the majority of these people struggle with poverty, discrimination and are handicapped by limited educations. They find themselves in an alien and unwelcoming host culture and the Roman Catholic Church is the one institution, which they recognize and turn to in their plight.
In one or two generations as these immigrants and their children attain university educations, this relationship will radically change. In the interim, the Vatican and their local managers will utilize these immigrants as a voting block to attain their political objectives in America. There was a joke in the seminary that the role of the laity was to “Pay, pray and obey” with an emphasis on the first and last words of the adage. Increasingly, educated Catholics are saying no with their checkbooks and their personal lives.
I will attend a march in Washington D.C. this weekend, which demands basic civil rights for LGBT people. Archbishop Wuerl has ordered that the Eucharist be denied to any LGBT person who wears the colors of our community’s flag. Essentially, he wants LGBT Catholics, their families and those who support us to be invisible and silent. You can almost hear him shout “Shut-up and sit in the back of the bus!” We will not be silent and we will not remain invisible any longer.
For more information regarding the March in Washington D.C. please read MSNBC