Thursday, July 30, 2015

Our Next Archbishop: What Would You Ask a Candidate If You Knew Your Voice Would Be Heard?

The following is from the leadership of the Twin Cities-based Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR).

We are currently seeking an opportunity to express our needs and desires to those who are appointing our next Archbishop, with the hope that they care what we – and, indeed, all Catholics in the local church – need and desire.

Can you imagine an organization that depends for its bread and butter on people’s voluntary contributions not caring what those people think?

Can you imagine an organization that preaches loudly that Jesus is its Lord ignoring the people it is its mission to serve?

Let’s hope that the Papal Nuncio who is the organization’s man in the U.S. and Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, the temporary administrator, will accept CCCR’s offer to set up an open and broad consultation process before the appointment of the new Archbishop.

In the meantime . . .

If you had a seat on the selection committee in Rome, making a recommendation to the Pope for appointment, what would you look for in a candidate for St. Paul and Minneapolis?

Please let us know by sending as e-mail to PCV editor Michael Bayly at

Michael is continually adding to this post the feedback he receives on what local Catholics are looking for in their next archbishop.

Listed below (in most recent to earliest order) are the comments received to date.

I would like to see a rare presence - one who doesn't have the spirit of timidity in speaking about the deep misogyny in the Church, and exposing it as not of Christ.

– Elizabeth Rainsford-McMahon

Many critical attributes have already been offered and I agree with all of them. Most importantly, I think, is someone who has a welcoming attitude to all Catholics as well as the greater community. Someone who recognizes that many of the faithful have been hurt, disenfranchised, condemned, and turned away from the Church they love. Someone who embraces all, recognizes the beauty and value of diversity, and listens carefully and respectfully. And someone who has the intellect and courage to lead us (at both the local level as well as within the world Church) to a Church more fully embracing of gospel values for all God’s people.

– Kathy Andrus

I would like to see the next bishop (whether male or female) be one who acts first to help the victim of abuse rather than trying to protect the person causing harm; I would like to see the next bishop work as a pastor - spending a month (from time to time) serving as a parish priest in different places in the archdiocese.

I would like to see the next bishop:

• address changes in the formation of candidates for the priesthood by revising the curriculum; hiring lay
couples to teach courses; to require extensive hands on internships in social justice agencies

• establish ministries by and for LGBT people, homeless people, and non-Catholic/former Catholic people

• open discussion on the elimination of celibacy rules

• rent a "double wide" trailer for a residence and donate the bishop's throne at the Cathedral to the Pentecostal church in Brooklyn Center ( the current priests residence would make a great emergency shelter and short term rooms for homeless teenagers.

– Art Stoeberl

At the risk of replicating some of the qualities that others have suggested, I offer my thoughts on the ideal person for the position. He (I suppose it has to be a male) should be someone whom the majority of people respect because of his proven record of trying to create a community of the faithful. To this end, he needs to actively listen and respond with compassion to what he hears. He needs to identify with the real concerns of the people and to interpret the teachings of the church in light of the 21st society in which we live. To this end, he will need to understand that the findings of scientists and psychologists mean we must change our understanding of the environment and human behavior. Finally, he will need courage to take a position that may sometimes be opposed to those of higher standing in the church.

– Patricia Mulrooney Eldred

After reading the comments and suggestions already offered concerning the next Archbishop and the qualities people would like to see, I concur with what has been said. The quality I want to raise up is looking to the possibility of the next archbishop being from here. I think part of the difficulties encountered by the two previous archbishops – Flynn and Nienstedt – were that they were outsiders. I don’t know if they ever caught up with this culture. There was an article in the NCR a few weeks ago that spoke about the Old Boys’ Network that was/is involved in how men become archbishops. Nienstedt was used an example in how he ended up here.

With this in mind, I strongly urge the powers-that-be to name a local person to be the next Archbishop – either a bishop elsewhere whose roots are here or someone is not yet a bishop. I believe we need someone whose roots are here and knows our culture.

– Mark Scannell

For too long, our archdiocese has suffered from a "small tent" mentality. An atmosphere of exclusion has alienated large numbers of Catholic who experience their faith in ways different from the archbishop. This has created polarization and caused a fragmented and divided local Church.

Our new archbishop must be someone who welcomes all Catholics. He must create forums whereby he can dialog with and listen to Catholics with diverse lived experiences. He must be a bridge builder who leads our local Church into an atmosphere of diverse conversations, loving inclusion, and Christ-like welcome. Our next archbishop must create a tent large enough for all!

– Mary Beth Stein

Give us one who is transparent, accountable, and responsive to the needs of the people, acting with Love and Compassion as Jesus lived and taught; doctrine and dogma be d----d.

– John Chuchman

It would be great if the new Archbishop knew how the laity has longed for dialog with him and longed for his visibility to all of us; how we have been saddened and alienated by our leader traveling constantly away from his people; and how we are discouraged by the Catholic flock diminishing before our eyes. And he needs to know that there is a great need for healing - and it has not begun for many of us.

– Bonnie Strand

Yes to what has been previously presented, and . . . a bishop who fulfills Pope Francis's "missionary option" as expressed in #27 of The Joy of the Gospel. "...a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the churches customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today's world rather than for her self preservation.... To make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with him."

– Don Conroy

I would look for a man with the Christian vision "Here comes everybody!" All are welcome. We are on the move to co-create the Kingdom of God, so let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.

– Paula Ruddy

I'd like to see as our next archbishop an educated person who is generally perceived to be mature, stable and pastoral in style. Someone familiar with the spectrum of theological thought, but who relates well to young people and disenfranchised people, and has an understanding of the economic, social, psychological, and technological challenges they face today. Someone who might aspire to soothing the hearts and souls of people living in a wounded culture. Someone who might represent Church as a beacon of hope in an increasingly hopeless world. Leadership, kindness, empathy, intelligence, and humility might be good starting points. A very big order.

– Mary Lynn Murphy

The next archbishop should have compassion, and mercy. He should be familiar to this area, the culture and history. It is important that the new leader listen to the many voices that love their church. The archbishop must be skilled in healing and at the same time progressive in stimulating new growth.

– Nancy Gotto

I think we’d all be looking for someone from our region that knows the people and their outlook.

I would want someone willing to talk to their own staff, interact with both ordained and lay people, and have open forums throughout the diocese from time to time so they would always have their finger on the pulse of the community.

Someone willing to be open about structure, budget items, costs, income, and expenditures of the diocese.

Someone aware that the ordained are not above the people, but were ordained to serve the people.

Someone willing to make the changes and adjustments necessary to see that abuse is never again ignored

Someone willing to agree with the pope that we are not called to judge people, that God can handle that all alone.

– Frank Meuers

What we desperately need in a new bishop is someone who can relate to our young people. It has been brought to my attention that very few weddings are taking place in church, that young people see Confirmation as a graduation from having to learn anything more about their faith, and that anyone who attended Easter Vigils were made painfully aware of how few people joined the church

I think it is absolutely necessary to convene a panel of young people, teenagers as well as 20-30 year-olds to seriously listen to them and heed their concerns. If we do not do something soon, I don't see much hope for the future of the church. What is desperately needed is visionary leadership - the time is ripe, let's take advantage of it.

– Mary Beckfeld

Share your thoughts by e-mailing a comment to


  1. I'd ask if you would be a shepherd in the spirit of Pope Francis?

    Do you see any blind spots in the vision of Pope Francis? What would you do to somehow make room in the church for people who are excluded and cut off from communion because of those blind spots?

    Finally what would you do to renounce clericalism in all its forms in the Roman Catholic Church?

    Blessing in your search.

  2. Thank you, wild hair. Renouncing clericalism, what a new world that would be! Let us pray.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Instead of some bogus, made up "ism" like clericalism, why not renounce heretics and frauds -- like you, Paula.

      The sooner the Catholic Church is fumigated from liberal feminist filth like you, the better.

  3. Why you left-wing radicals think YOU are entitled to change the Catholic Church to suit your left-wing demands is beyond me.

    Paula, why don't you and your group just become Anglicans or Episcopalians ? We don't want your vision for the Church.

  4. I second your notion, James. The Catholic Church needs to be fumigated from the liberal stench of these "social justice" garbage Leftists.

    Personally, I'd pay $$$ to get them to leave the Catholic Church and join the Unitarians or some losers like that.