Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Missing Backbone

I was just looking over one of my news sources (CWN), and one article quotes Bishop Lynch of my old diocese (thankfully), St. Petersburg. I met him once; seemed like a nice guy. Nice is not the main attribute we need in our bishops. Regarding Obama's record (in the context of the Notre Dame scandal), Bp. Lynch says:

Early “markers” are not encouraging in this regard but hope needs to spring eternal and while Notre Dame may have acted way too early and too generously, I am more alarmed that the rhetoric being employed is so uncivil and venomous that it weakens the case we place before our fellow citizens, alienates young college-age students who believe the older generation is behaving like an angry child and they do not wish to be any part of that, and ill-serves the cause of life.

I really love it (what's the sarcasm emoticon again?) when old people try to foist their perceptions of how we think on us young folk. Okay, I'm not a spring chicken (tipped the 30yr mark last August), but I kinda think I'm a little more in tune with the young folk than our grandparents. What I see in this statement is more likely a reflection of how Bp. Lynch remembers thinking when he was that age than how we young'uns think today (not to mention it's a sweeping generalization in any case).

It strikes me that Bp. Lynch is of the hippie generation--those who cut their teeth during the cultural revolution and, as far as the Church is concerned, are largely responsible for the mess the Church is in today in terms of poor catechesis, drooping religious practice, and lack of Catholic identity. I'm not saying the Bishop is personally responsible but that his "pastoral" approach seems very in tune with that which put us where we are today. This seems borne out by the immediately following headline:

An analysis of Gallup surveys conducted in 2006, 2007, and 2008 has found that Catholics are more likely to believe that abortion, sexual relations between unmarried people, divorce, embryonic stem cell research, and homosexual relations are morally acceptable than are non-Catholics [who attend church, i.e., Protestants].

Bishops being nice is a nice to have. What we need--what is a must have--for our bishops is backbone, backbone to stand up uncompromisingly in the public square (and in the pulpit!) and defend and proclaim the Faith. Bishops like Archbishop Chaput of Denver, Bishop Martino of Scranton, Bishop D'Arcy of South Bend, Bishop Tobin of Providence, and actually quite a few more who've stepped up in recent times. (And let's not forget the Holy Father himself!)

So what if it doesn't make sense to "the world" (or your perception of college-age kids)? I mean, didn't St. Paul say that the Cross is foolishness to the world all the way back in the first century? That has not changed. You think that stopped him from proclaiming the Gospel in full fidelity? As he might say, God forbid! And as Bp. Tobin recently pointed out, our Lord wasn't exactly "apologetic" when confronting moral failure, either.

I'm not saying some folks don't go overboard on the other side, but really the line is not that fine. Proclaim the Truth in season and out of season. Period.

P.S. (Update) I forgot to mention that several student organizations at ND have voiced their own objections to the situation created by President Jenkins. So that, too, made Bp. Lynch's comments seem even more off base than just my own perceptions...

P.P.S. (Update 6 April 2009) I feel there's something off about this post, mainly just the tone, and I don't like to seem like I'm attacking anyone. This isn't meant as a personal affront against Bp. Lynch. I was mainly just using what he wrote as an example of what I think is too conciliatory an approach in this and other matters, and, specifically, I think he's off base in his perception of what youth think or want to hear (or, for that matter, need to hear). I approach the missing backbone topic in a more positive light in this post.