Saturday, March 28, 2009

What the Notre Dame Controversy is Really About and What’s Really at Stake

By Michael J. Bayly

Over the past week or so a number of thoughtful responses have been written and shared in relation to the controversy that has erupted over President Barack Obama’s invitation to give this year’s commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, the country’s second largest Roman Catholic university.

Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at graduation. Jimmy Carter spoke in 1977, Ronald Reagan in 1981, and George W. Bush in 2001. Yet Obama’s invitation has triggered a furor in some Catholic quarters. And important questions have to be asked: Why is this such an issue? What is this controversy really about? And what’s really at stake for Catholic education and the wider Church?


Chicago Sun Times columnist Carol Marin notes that the heated debate over Notre Dame’s Obama decision stems from the fact that the pro-choice Obama, in the first weeks of his presidency, “reversed Bush administration policy by restoring funding to international family planning groups that provide abortion services and by removing limits on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.”

Various Roman Catholic bishops have voiced their “disappointment” over the decision by Notre Dame’s president Rev. John I. Jenkins’ invitation to Obama. Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, for instance, has accused Jenkins of committing “a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States.”

Renowned Catholic commentator Thomas J. Reese (pictured at left) disagrees. In a piece in the Washington Post he writes:

How do I know that Notre Dame is not violating [the U.S. Bishops’ statement] “Catholics in Political Life?” Because Notre Dame is doing nothing more than what has already been done by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, who taught canon law and worked as a judge in the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota, a church court based in the Vatican.

If Cardinal Egan can invite Obama to speak at the Al Smith dinner in October of 2008 when he was only a presidential candidate, then there is certainly nothing wrong with Notre Dame having the President speak at a commencement. Other pro-choice speakers at Al Smith dinners included Al Gore and Tony Blair (a Catholic). What is OK for a cardinal archbishop is certainly OK for a university. Or are bishops exempt from “Catholics in Political Life”?


A national protest of Notre Dame’s decision is building – one that is seemingly determined to have the university’s invitation to Obama rescinded. Perhaps the most vocal leader within this protest movement is Patrick Reilly (pictured at right), the president of the Cardinal Newman Society.

Writes Reilly: “It is an outrage and a scandal (emphasis his) that ‘Our Lady’s University,’ one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage.”

Yet other Catholics are supportive of the decision to invite Obama. What concerns many of these Catholics is how the issue of abortion has become the trump card of every moral discussion both within and beyond the Church.

On her blog Enlightened Catholicism, Colleen Kochivar-Baker observes that:

There is absolutely no way this insanity would have occurred thirty years ago. None. That it is happening today is nothing short of embarrassing for American Catholicism. In my opinion our political battles surrounding abortion have made the American Catholic Church a cancerous node in the global Catholic union. The vast majority of abortions are the result of other social problems which President Obama is willing to address. That doesn’t make him a baby killer.

Kochivar-Baker no doubt expresses the view of many Catholics when she declares that she is “really tired of abortion politics.” She goes on to write:

But what I am most tired of is the notion that the only solution to the abortion issue is the criminalization of abortion. This strategy does not stop abortion. Providing women with the resources to raise their children stops abortion. Insisting males take responsibility for their sexual activity impacts abortion, something President Obama has been quite willing to repeatedly and forcefully state. Something I personally have never heard stated in a sermon.

She requests a simple explanation from the bishops: “Why [is it] gravely sinful to operate from the understanding that abortion law in this country isn’t going to change, and that other strategies must be pursued?”

According to Kochivar-Baker, such an explanation is not forthcoming because “the Notre Dame controversy isn’t about abortion. It’s about sabotaging President Obama for the crime of being a victorious Democrat. It’s about fomenting Catholic Republicans to keep flexing their muscle to keep the donations coming, to keep Republican activists in charge of Catholic opinion.”

What’s really going on

Meanwhile, National Catholic Reporter publisher, Joe Feuerherd (pictured at left), pulls no punches when he likens Patrick Reilly, the president of the Cardinal Newman Society, to an “academic ayatollah.” Feuerherd also makes the following observation:

Reilly and the Society, however, were strangely silent when then-Vice President Cheney spoke at the Catholic University of America in January 2005. Cheney (like Obama) opposes a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and has some questionable views on the “intrinsic evil” of state-sponsored torture, but that was apparently of no concern to Reilly. The Society did not protest the vice president’s appearance.

Here’s what is really going on. Ayatollah Reilly searches for hot button issues on Catholic campuses – anything that has to do with gays gets them excited, as do performances of “The Vagina Monologues” and, of course, pro-choice speakers (few of whom actually even discuss abortion in their presentations) - that will energize their base of donors and activists. Then they highlight these offenses on the Web and through direct mail to generate revenue.

Columnist David Gibson notes that “Reilly also didn’t protest when Bush was invited to give the commencement address at St. Vincent College in Pennsylvania, despite Reilly’s admission to Feuerhard that Bush was at odds with the church on some life issues – and, I would add, just about precept of Catholic social teaching.”

What’s really at stake

In her March 28 column, Carol Marin interviews Dick Meister (pictured at right) , the former provost of DePaul University – the nation’s largest Catholic university. It’s an insightful exchange.

“The role of a Catholic university,” says Meister, is to “espouse academic freedom where people are allowed to research, teach and hear many voices on campus . . . at the same time manifesting the gospel of Christ and the beatitudes to serve the poor, be the bridge between the haves and the have-nots.”

What about the fear that Notre Dame is compromising its Catholic identity [by inviting President Obama to speak]?

“It epitomizes Notre Dame’s Catholic identity,” he argued. “Hearing many voices is its strength, not its weakness.”

Thomas J, Reese agrees, noting that:

People need to recognize that Catholic universities have to be places where freedom of speech and discussion is recognized and valued. Not to allow a diversity of speakers on campus is to put Catholic universities into a ghetto.

When I was a student in the 1960’s, Jesuit-run Santa Clara University was attacked for performing “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” and for having a Marxist speak on campus. Now we are fighting over the “Vagina Monologue” and pro-choice politicians. If Catholic universities are afraid to have people on campus who challenge our views, then we are not training students to listen and think critically. We are admitting that our arguments are not convincing.

A test of strength

Carol Marin concludes her column by acknowledging that “[Roman] Catholic bishops vehemently disagree” with Notre Dame’s Obama decision.

“Chief among them,” she writes, “is Bishop John D’Arcy [pictured at left] of the South Bend diocese, which includes Notre Dame. He will not attend, saying, ‘A bishop must teach the Catholic faith “in season and out of season,” and he teaches not by his words – but by his actions.’”

It’s a statement that elicits the following response from Marin:

If only Catholic bishops were consistent in their own actions. Haven’t they allowed Cardinal Bernard Law, formerly of Boston, and the prelate who obstructed justice in the investigation of the horrific pedophilia scandal in his own diocese, to remain a member in good standing? Law wasn’t sanctioned but rewarded: He now runs the third largest basilica in Rome.

Does that outrageous Vatican decision mean we shouldn’t listen to what else they have to say? No. Bishops aren’t one-dimensional. And neither is Barack Obama. Commencement will be a testament to Notre Dame’s strength and Rev. Jenkins’ courage.

To view and sign a petition stating your support for Notre Dame and its invitation to President Obama, visit

Michael Bayly is the executive coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities and the editor of The Progressive Catholic Voice. This article can also be read on his weblog, The Wild Reed. For his November 9, 2007, Wild Reed article, “What Does it Mean to Be a Catholic University?”, click here.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Why Notre Dame Should Welcome Obama - Kenneth L. Woodward (Washington Post, March 30, 2009).
Pro-Life Tempest Over Obama’s Notre Dame Speech - Mary E. Hunt (Religious Dispatches, March 30, 2009).
Moving Up the Spiritual Food Chain: Notre Dame Disappoints Cardinal DiNardo - Colleen Kochivar-Baker (Enlightened Catholicism, March 29, 2009).
I Voted for Obama. Will I Go Straight to . . . ? - Joe Feuerherd (
Washington Post, February 24, 2009).

Do Seminaries Discriminate?

By Ed Kohler

For its size, the Twin Cities may be unique nationally in housing four seminaries. Two are in St. Paul – Luther Seminary (Lutheran) and St. Paul Seminary (Roman Catholic). Two are in the northern suburbs – Bethel Seminary (Baptist) in Arden Hills, and United Theological Seminary (United Church of Christ) in New Brighton.

I decided recently to compare the human rights/anti-discrimination policies of these four institutions. The motivation was supplied by a press interview given last October by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education. His office supervises Catholic seminaries throughout the world.

The Cardinal focused his remarks on the Vatican policy that men with a “deeply seated tendency” toward homosexuality were categorically unqualified for priesthood. He maintained that even if they live chaste lives and commit themselves to lifelong celibacy, homosexuals may not be ordained Roman Catholic priests.

Because St. Paul Seminary is subject to Vatican policies, I wanted to learn if this local Catholic institution had integrated the Vatican homosexual mandate into its admission policies. Specifically, I was anxious to see in written form how the Seminary formulated a directive to discriminate against one class of persons while repudiating discrimination against other classes.

So I asked St. Paul Seminary for a copy of their admissions/ human rights/anti-discrimination policy. The admissions office sent me this statement:

The University of St. Thomas does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or physical disability in the employment of faculty or staff, the admission or treatment of students, or in the operation of its education programs and activities, with the exception of observance of ecclesiastical conditions for preparation for ordination as permitted by applicable statutes and regulations.

The statement reveals that St. Paul Seminary does not have its own anti-discrimination statement and that no class of applicants can feel free of discrimination from this Roman Catholic institution. The statement is meaningless as regards the Seminary because the Seminary is affiliated with but is not part of the University of St. Thomas.

From Luther and Bethel, I received statements which say they do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, national or ethnic origin, or disability. Bethel adds age.

United’s statement includes the above categories, but stands alone by protecting from discrimination two additional classes not found in the statements from Luther or Bethel, denominational preference and sexual orientation.

It is 2009 and the clock is ticking. How long will it be before the local Baptist, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran seminaries join United Theological Seminary in proclaiming that sexual orientation will not be a factor in processing qualified applicants for their respective Christian ministries?

Ed Kohler was ordained from St. Paul Seminary for the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul in 1957, served as academic dean, admissions committee member, and Social Justice instructor at Nazareth Hall prep seminary for ten years. He had been National Chaplain of the Christian Family Movement (CFM) when he married in 1972.

See also the previous Progressive Catholic Voice posts:
“Spiritual Paternity”: Why Homosexual Men Cannot Be Ordained Catholic Priests - Paula Ruddy (Progressive Catholic Voice, January 13, 2009).
Homosexual Priests and Spiritual Paternity - Ed Kohler (Progressive Catholic Voice, January 26, 2009).
Ministry, Not Maleness, is the Theological Starting Point for a Priest - James Moudry (Progressive Catholic Voice, February 18, 2009).
“We Are All the Rock”: An Interview with Roman Catholic Womanpriest Judith McKloskey - Michael Bayly (Progressive Catholic Voice, August 2008).

Image: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Action Alert

U.S. Finally Signs U.N. Declaration on
Human Rights, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity;
Vatican Still Holds Out

On Wednesday, March 18, President Obama reversed a Bush policy by formally endorsing a United Nations draft statement calling for the recognition of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide. The Vatican opposes the declaration.

In December 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 66 of the U.N.’s 192 members in General Assembly voted to endorse the declaration. All the European Union nations voted to endorse - as did Japan, Australia, and Mexico. In opposition were 70 members in whose jurisdictions homosexuality is outlawed, including some in which homosexual acts are punishable by death.

The Vatican, which has a Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, has no vote but it voiced its opposition through Archbishop Celestino Migliore, papal nuncio to the Mission. According to the Catholic News Service report of December 12, 2008, the Archbishop said the declaration was “sad and outrageous” and represented “modern savagery that will dismantle our society from the inside out.”

What does the Declaration say that warrants that kind of language from the Vatican? The draft statement has 13 propositions. They reaffirm the principle of the universality of human rights; they include sexual orientation and gender identity in the categories of human rights; they condemn violations of human rights, violence, “extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions,” torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Certainly the Vatican can’t be opposed to those provisions. We have reproduced the statement in its entirety below.

The Nuncio said the Vatican fears that “states that do not recognize same-sex union as ‘marriage’ will be pilloried and put under pressure to do so.” Weighed against the evils perpetrated by societies against homosexuals, the Vatican explanation for its opposition is, in our view, not just lame but perverse and immoral.

As Catholics, we are calling on the Vatican to stand with Western democratic nations against injustice toward our LGBT brothers and sisters.

We urge you to write your views to Archbishop Celestino Migliore at:

25 East 39th Street
New York, NY 10016-0903
or fax him at (212) 370-9622.

The Holy See’s United Nation web address is but it has no email address.


Following is the English language text of the UN’s statement.

The United Nations Statement
on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation
and Gender Identity

We have the honour to make this statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity on behalf of [. . . ]

1. We reaffirm the principle of universality of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary is celebrated this year, Article 1 of which proclaims that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”;

2. We reaffirm that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, as set out in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as in article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

3. We reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity;

4. We are deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity;

5. We are also disturbed that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that these practices undermine the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses;

6. We condemn the human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health;

7. We recall the statement in 2006 before the Human Rights Council by fifty-four countries requesting the President of the Council to provide an opportunity, at an appropriate future session of the Council, for discussing these violations;

8. We commend the attention paid to these issues by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies and encourage them to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity within their relevant mandates;

9. We welcome the adoption of Resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity” by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States during its 38th session in 3 June 2008;

10. We call upon all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity;

11.We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention.

12. We urge States to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice;

13. We urge States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.

Recommended Off-site Link:
Vatican and UN on Decriminalization of Gays - Joseph O’Leary, December 2, 2008.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Announcing a Great Gathering in the Local Church!

Kick-off: April 18, 2009

A message from the editorial team of the PCV:

For some time now, many of us have felt our consciences prodding us. We can no longer ignore the questions.

Does the Roman Catholic institutional church practice the Gospel message?

Does it walk the talk?

As lay Catholics, what is our place and role in determining and responding to the answers to these questions?

We have learned from the Church’s preaching that Jesus stood for the good news that God is about love for the whole of creation, and that humanity is destined for fulfillment in God. Jesus said the model was a kingdom where all people are equally loved and all thrive. He also showed us that it is in the material world and in the human spirit that God is manifest.

To practice what it preaches, wouldn’t the Roman Catholic Church have to support the full human development of its members so that they in turn could model a community of mutual love and cooperation to the world? We take this modeling to be the mission of all Christian churches.

We are deeply grateful to our ancestors in the Church for bringing the Gospel message down through the centuries, and we are as grateful to our brothers and sisters who have dedicated their lives to maintaining the institution for that purpose. But when we see inconsistencies between the message and the practices and policies, is it our moral obligation as lay Catholics to raise the questions and insist on discussion? Or is that the job of priests and bishops? Our ecclesiology, our vision of church, says it is a job for all of us.

The Progressive Catholic Voice is joining forces with other Catholic organizations in the Archdiocese to think about these questions together. We are asking what changes need to be made in the Roman Catholic institution to make it more supportive of human development on which grace builds. The other organizations that, to date, have committed themselves to raise and discuss these important questions are: the Association for Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC), Call To Action-MN (CTA-MN), the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), Corpus, and Roman Catholic WomenPriests.

We are calling ourselves a Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), and we are planning our first working session or “synod of the baptized” for 2010.

You are invited to come to the Metropolitan Ballroom, at 5418 Wayzata Blvd., in Golden Valley, on Saturday morning, April 18, in Easter Week. Registration is from 8:30 to 9:00. We will pray and sing and eat breakfast. Then, in order to prepare for the 2010 synod, we will also sign up for working groups in the areas of institutional life that we are concerned about.

Finally, we will learn from our guest keynote speaker, Janet Hauter, about the plans for an American Catholic Council, a national coalition of organizations that is considering the same questions. Janet is the vice-president of Voice of the Faithful and the co-chair of the American Catholic Council.

For a map and directions to the Metropolitan Ballroom, click here.

For a registration form you can print out and mail to us, click here.

See also the previous PCV posts:
Save This Date!
American Catholic Council Issues “Declaration of Reform and Renewal”

Monday, March 16, 2009

"A Bit of a Stretch"

In the February 19, 2009, issue of The Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Fr. John Paul Erickson, director of the archdiocesan Worship Office, offered an explanation of the church’s teachings on indulgences.

At one point, Erickson offers an analogy in which humanity is represented by “Tommy,” a young boy who accidentally breaks a window belonging to “Mrs Mulcahy,” who represents God.

Writes Erickson:

Mrs. Mulcahy . . . kindly forgives [Tommy]. She also makes it clear, “But, Tommy, you still have to pay for my window.”

Well, it’s similar in the spiritual life. When we sin, complete reconciliation with God and neighbor requires not only the forgiveness of God, ordinarily given in sacramental confession, but also some kind of “making up” for the offense.

This “making up” for our offenses is what we call “temporal punishment” due to sin. It ordinarily is experienced either through acts of penance here on earth or in the afterlife in what we call “purgatory.”

An indulgence is an act of the church by means of which this temporal punishment is remitted through some act of devotion or piety, that is, some act of love. Some actions carry “plenary” indulgences, as they alleviate all temporal punishment. A partial indulgence alleviates some portion of temporal punishment.

In explaining where the idea for indulgences came from, Erickson asserts that “it began right in Scripture itself when Jesus gave to Peter and to the church the keys to the Kingdom (Matthew 16:19), and the authority to bind and loose. (see also John 20:23)”

The following letter by Florence Steichen, CSJ, was one of three published by The Catholic Spirit in response to Erickson’s explanation of indulgences. (All three letters, according to the paper, were the result of their respective writers’ “struggle” to understand what the church teaches on this particular matter.)


Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the article on indulgences in The Catholic Spirit February 19.

With all due respect, I am quite certain God is not like Mrs. Mulcahy, who requires payment after forgiveness. It seems a bit of a stretch to find support for indulgences in the New Testament when Jesus gave His disciples the power to forgive sins, to bind and loose.

What I find in the New Testament is forgiveness without mention of punishment.

Your sins are forgiven ... take up your mat and go home (Mark 2).

Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on, do not sin again (John 8).

In the last judgment scene, (Matthew 25), the righteous will go into eternal life. No mention of temporal punishment due to sin.

In Luke’s account of the crucifixion, Jesus assured the thief who admitted his guilt: Today you will be with me in paradise. No mention of Purgatory.

In The Mystery of Death, Ladislas Boros imagines the moment of death something like this.

When we are in the presence of infinite love, seeing God face-to-face, so to speak, we will experience excruciating sorrow, deep pain, intense regret for our sins. In a timeless moment we are purified. Then without interval – for there is no time in the afterlife – the forgiven one enters into the joy of eternal life.

Florence Steichen, CSJ - retired educator


In response to those who, like Steichen, question the concept of indulgences, a follow-up article was published by The Catholic Spirit in which Erickson expressed gratitude for the “chance to elaborate and clarify the church’s teaching on indulgences.” This response can be viewed here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"I Like McDonald's, Too; But Dioceses Are Not Franchises"

Fr. Michael Tegeder examines the traditional understanding of the local church as an autonomous entity, and the related ancient tradition of “reception.”

From the earliest years of the church, there has been a profound appreciation of the local church. Each diocese is seen as representing the fullness of the church in its locality. There was no other church structure over and above it. Rather, dioceses were said to be in communion with one another.

Due to the presence of the early church leaders, Peter and Paul, the local church of Rome, was given the special status of “first among equals.” The bishop of Rome was seen to have a special ministry of maintaining communion among the other local churches. This primacy was seen to be a primacy of service and not juridical.

One of the real abuses that has occurred since the Reformation has been a creeping centralization of the church with the loss of the local churches’ autonomy. A sign of this is the way that bishops or local church leaders are selected. Traditionally, bishops were chosen by the local church.

As a bishop in the year 200, St Cyprian spoke of the need for the consent of the people in choosing their bishop. One hundred years later, St. Celestine, the bishop of Rome, stated that bishops should not be given to those who do not accept them. Another pope, St Gregory, in the 5th century, said that the one who is to govern over all (as bishop), should be chosen by all. Indeed, the first bishop of the United States, John Carroll, was elected by his fellow priests.

Although the Church still retains the “election” of the bishop of Rome, the pope, we now tend to take for granted that the pope appoints other bishops. In reality this is a fairly recent innovation in church practice. Sadly, this alteration from tradition distorts the reality of being a communion of churches. All dioceses are now seemingly franchises of Rome. Nevertheless, the tradition still has echoes. At every installation of a bishop, the people, as required by the ritual, are to show some sign of acceptance or “reception.” This refers to the local church community approving those who are to lead them.

In extreme cases, this reception by the people is withheld. Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Rev. Gerhard Maria Wagner as auxiliary bishop of Linz, Austria. Rev. Wagner had stirred controversy by saying that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for the sins of New Orleanians and that homosexuality was curable. Austrian Catholics strongly protested his selection. In the face of mounting opposition, i.e., non-reception, the Pope formally withdrew the appointment of this priest on March 2.

Nevertheless, Roman control reigns. And to aid this there are “king maker” bishops and cardinals who have special connections with Rome (including raising contributions for the Vatican) and therefore have special influence in the selection of local bishops. For instance, the former Archbishop of Detroit, Cardinal Maida, has quite a track record. A conservative church commentator calls him the American Church’s primary “bishop scout and trainer.”

The following Detroit priests/bishops have taken control in other dioceses around the country since Cardinal Maida became Archbishop of Detroit in 1990:

Bishop Alexander Brunette, of Helena, MT, 1994-1997
Bishop Dale Melczek, of Gary, IN, 1996
Archbishop Alexander Brunette, of Seattle, WA, 1997
Bishop Bernard Harrington, of Winona, MN, 1998
Bishop John Nienstedt, of New Ulm, MN, 2001-2007
Bishop Alan Vigneron, of Oakland, CA, 2003
Bishop Leonard Blair, of Toledo, OH, 2003
Bishop Walter Hurley, of Grand Rapids, MI, 2005
Archbishop John Nienstedt, St Paul and Minneapolis, MN, 2008
Bishop Earl Boyea, of Lansing, MI, 2008
Coadjutor Bishop John Quinn, of Winona, MN, 2008
Archbishop Alan Vigneron, of Detroit, MI, 2009

In raising these questions, I am not without some sympathy for the bishops. They are sent to dioceses of which they often have no knowledge especially of the local culture. The local church has had no say in their appointments. Once appointed, Rome expects unquestioning acceptance of all Vatican pronouncements and regular reports back to the home office. We are far removed from the “collegiality” promised by Vatican II.

Rev. Michael V. Tegeder is the pastor at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Bloomington, MN.