America's Catholic Bishops

    Their insularity and myopia are becoming impossible to miss. This National Catholic Reporter editorial says it all - and so much more brutally than you'd find even on this blog. In a world of real, pressing questions, in a church reeling from decline and continuing sexual abuse scandals, at a time when the government has authorized torture, where war rages and social and economic inequality grows, the American bishops are still focusing almost entirely on the evil of condoms and why gays are now to be seen as having an "inclination" rather than an "orientation." Money quote from NCR:

    It is difficult to figure out how to approach these documents. They are products of some realm so removed from the real lives of the faithful one has to wonder why any group of busy men administering a church would bother. They ignore science, human experience and the groups they attempt to characterize. The documents are not only embarrassing but insulting and degrading to those the bishops are charged to lead. The saddest thing is that the valuable insights the bishops have into the deficiencies and influences of the wider culture get buried.

    Where is this all going?

    No one's come out with a program, but we'll venture yet one more hunch. It has become apparent in recent years that there’s been an upsurge in historical ecclesiastical finery and other goods. We've seen more birettas (those funny three-peak hats with the fuzzy ball on top that come in different colors depending on clerical rank) and cassocks (the kind with real buttons, no zippers for the purists) and ecclesiastically correct color shoes and socks, lots of lacy surplices and even the capa magna (yards and yards of silk, a cape long enough that it has to be attended by two altar boys or seminarians, also in full regalia). In some places they're even naming monsignors again.

    It's as if someone has discovered a props closet full of old stuff and they're putting it out all over the stage. ...

    Now that's order.

    Now that's the church.

    Bring up the lights a little higher so all can see.

    Before it all fades to irrelevance.

    And that, I fear, may be Benedict's chief legacy in America.