Archbishop Weakland – the “after-article”

12 10 2009

Archbishop

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is my latest article for Inside Catholic that is a review of Archbishop Rembert Weakland’s autobiography, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church. As expected, this article has led to a minor “feeding frenzy” over there of “conservative” Catholics venting their ire against the fallen liberal prelate. One criticism of my article is that I did not take seriously enough the sexual dimension of Archbishop Weakland’s downfall, which for many commenters was the main driving force behind his progressive agenda. I wouldn’t want to get into it here, but I will only reiterate what I said in my one comment over there: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. We have the scandal of Fr. Maciel, who was apparently JPII’s best buddy, and then we have the traditionalists like Fr. Timothy Svea who fell into worse sins and crimes. What about that master of ceremonies of the current Papal court who got picked up by police in the red light district in Rome? I once knew an SSPX priest, Fr. Benedict Vander Putten, who I thought was on fire with the love of God. Turns out he was on fire for the love of underaged girls. Need I go on?

So here too I will steer clear of the “Fox News” culture of accusation and titillation and just argue the issues I set out to discuss in the essay. I think at times that I might have been too hard on the Archbishop, that maybe I have been guilty of the closed-mindedness that I accuse him of. But probing my own reading of the book, I really can’t say that the man has an ounce of real contrition for what he has done. As AG put it to me, the whole book could be summarized as, “yeah, I know I messed up on this one thing… but I am still a good person who did a lot of great things. And I could have done greater things if that darn John Paul II hadn’t persecuted me so much…” I did not get a sense from Weakland that the Church existed as something bigger than the walls of his head. It’s his ideas or the highway; the only reason he is staying Catholic is because he has a strong institutional tie to the Church. It’s all he really knows.
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