March 17, 2019

Papal Elections Have Consequences (even in small midwestern dioceses)

The Columbus Dispatch is going after the yet-to-be-installed bishop (Robert J. Brennan) of Columbus already. I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt given Brennan already has one strike against him (being appointed by Francis).

But the Dispatch seemed a tad overeager in the latest piece, saying he contradicted himself when he said he had nothing to do with abuse cases back in his old diocese whereupon it was learned he had talked to victims of abuse.  The paper considered that involvement, while he figured that wasn’t official involvement but pretty much business as usual given the level of abuse in that diocese.  I lean towards his side on that question.

But there are other reasons I’m uneasy. Just five years after ordination he was appointed secretary to the bishop, which certainly seems a good career move if you’re ambitious to be bishop. And there’s no better barometer on whether you should be bishop than if you don’t want to be one.

Reading between the lines, one can see that the appointment to a bigger assignment for Brennan was a fait accompli given the timing of the Francis pontificate and former Bishop Campbell turning 75 during it. Certainly didn’t help that the new U.S. apostolic nuncio appointed by Francis in 2016 - who has a decisive impact on who gets recommended to the pope - advocates for illegal immigrants and joined demonstrations and meetings with Texas-Mexico border bishops. You can’t get a better fit for that nuncio than Brennan, who took it upon himself to learn Spanish to better minister to legals and illegals in New York. In the Francis era it's surely more useful to know Spanish than theology.  On the other hand, Brennan was made auxiliary bishop by Pope Benedict (although I suspect mere auxiliary bishops get scant attention from the pope).

So color me not super excited/enthused by the prospect of the bishop fund drive this year.


mandamum said...

Boy, this was confusing to me - We have an auxiliary bishop out here in LA named Brennan, who has just been appointed bishop to.... FRESNO. Not what I think of when I think "small midwestern diocese". And our Bp. Brennan is the first (nonfictional) one to come up when I google "Bishop Brennan". But I see we actually have at least 2 Bishop Brennans in this country, both of whom are moving from auxiliary to bishop this spring. Huh.

Come Holy Spirit.

TS said...

Good points! I will update this post for clarity.