Monday, October 18, 2010

Milwaukee Catholics and the Next Phase

Interior view of the dome of the Basilica of Saint Josaphat, in Milwaukee

The much beleaguered Archdiocese of Milwaukee has yet another unique opportunity to begin anew, after decades of wandering aimlessly through a heavy fog. Visitors to this blog are well aware of my utter bewilderment by the decades-long theological and liturgical malaise that has persistently latched onto the archdiocese. The long-overdue retirement of Bishop Richard Sklba, a resolute ally of disgraced Archbishop Rembert Weakland represents, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor, the final gasp and last pillar of the ancien régime; a pillar that needed to be knocked down before substantive change can arrive in Milwaukee.

As a Milwaukee native, someone who lived through the reign of terror as a youth, my own advice to Archbishop Jerome Listecki is simple: look outside Milwaukee for an orthodox, fearless auxiliary bishop to replace Sklba. Then, the difficult and long-overdue task of cleaning house can begin in full force. This work will be much more difficult to accomplish with an entrenched insider filling Sklba's shoes in the role of auxiliary. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's sempiternal problem has been an incalcitrant, incestuous, closed-off inner circle that has stubbornly blocked the light of day from penetrating the dark corners and from dispelling the shadows of scandal and intrigue. This is not to suggest that there are no traces of fidelity in Milwaukee among the laity and priests, but their dire need of backup support is all the more reason for a rock-ribbed auxiliary bishop!

To Archbishop Listecki: Follow the example of Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput, who brought in an outsider, now-Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, to serve as his auxiliary. The final decision of course, rests with the Pope, but no doubt, Listecki can offer strong counsel and recommendations as to the next auxiliary.

In an age of the "dictatorship of relativism," now is not the time to send a mixed-message. Faithful Milwaukee Catholics simply cannot bear to see yet another generation of their own reared on milquetoast Catholicism in the schools and parishes as a direct result of poor, feckless leadership that trickles down to the local parishes, to the detriment of souls.

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