Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If only we could clone bishops...

Neuhaus reflects in his most recent First Things column reflects as follows:
Of course cloning is morally prohibited, but just imagine the difference it would make if there were, say, two dozen or more Archbishop Chaputs.
Chaput is indeed "good stuff", but I found myself thinking exactly the same thing about another bishop whom I had the extreme pleasure of encountering during the catechesis at Watson's Bay in Sydney for World Youth Day: Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon.



His taught with the skill of a great orator and the gift of a true evangelist, and what he taught was soundest of Catholic doctrine. He had the young people hanging on every word, and used images that effectively communicated his points. And it all came from such an abosolute conviction that you knew that this guy believed what he was teaching with all his heart, and that his dearest wish was that you believe it too. Yep, I thought, another 25 of this guy would do a lot of good for the Church.



If you want to check out his reputation, I suggest having a look at the website of the Diocese of Baker. You might also want to read some of his articles, which you will find here. They give you a good measure of the man.

Of particular interest on the Diocesan Website are the "Pastoral Guidelines" - the complete handbook of the Diocese on just about every aspect of their pastoral life and mission. One can only imagine what pastoral life in Australia would be like, let alone America, if all Dioceses used this as their model. Among those pages is this:
AFFIRMATION OF PERSONAL FAITH
The Church requires the making of a Profession of Faith by various persons when they undertake specific duties related to Church administration and teaching. (cf. Canon 833) In the Diocese of Baker this has been expanded to include those who take on the ecclesial duties of Catechist, Liturgical Reader, Cantor, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and other Church positions which entail a presumption of orthodoxy.

“I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God.” In particular:

I affirm and believe the Church’s teaching about the inviolability of human life. In accord with that teaching I affirm that human life is sacred and must be protected and respected from the moment of conception until natural death. I affirm that I reject direct, intentional abortion and I do not recognize the legitimacy of anyone’s claim to a moral right to form their own conscience in this matter. I am not pro-choice. I further attest that I am not affiliated with, nor supportive of, any organization which supports, encourages, provides or otherwise endorses abortion or euthanasia. (cf. CCC 2270-2283)

I affirm and believe the Church’s teaching about the sinfulness of contraception. I affirm, in accord with the teachings of the Church that “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil. (CCC 2370)

I affirm and believe that every person is called to chastity in accord with their present state of life and that it is only in marriage between man and woman that the intimacy of spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. (CCC 2337—2365) I accept the Church’s teaching that any extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include pre-marital relations, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations.

I affirm and believe the teaching of the Church about the evil of homosexual acts. I accept the formulation in the Catechism which states: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (CCC 2357)

I affirm and believe all that the Church teaches about the Reality and Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Specifically I believe that Jesus is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under each of the forms of bread and wine and that receiving either one is Communion with the whole Christ. I recognize that worship and adoration are appropriate, not only during Mass but also outside of Mass and that the Most Holy Eucharist must always be handled with the utmost care and devotion. (CCC 1373-1381)

I affirm and believe the teachings of the Church regarding Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. I accept with the Church that it is fitting and proper to honor the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. (CCC 963-975)

I affirm and believe that it is possible for a person to choose to remain separated from God for all eternity and that “This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”” (CCC 1033)

I affirm and believe that those who die in God’s grace and friendship but are still imperfectly purified undergo additional purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joys of heaven. I affirm that the Church’s name for this final purification is Purgatory. (CCC 1030-1032)

I affirm and believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and embrace the teachings about that Church as enunciated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (cf. CCC 748-962)

I affirm and believe that the Church teaches with God-given authority and that the promise of Christ to remain with His Church always, until the end of time is a reality. I further acknowledge that those teachings pronounced in a definitive manner, even though not as an infallible definition, are binding on the consciences
of the faithful and are to be adhered to with religious assent. (CCC 892)

To these and to all the teaching of the Catholic Church I give my assent. I attest that I believe these things and, while I am aware of my own sinfulness and shortcomings, I strive in my beliefs and life style to conform to this Affirmation of Personal of Faith.
Maybe we could make an exception to our prohibition on cloning?

9 Comments:

At Tuesday, July 29, 2008 11:12:00 am , Anonymous Mike said...

There is, however, no prohibition on imitation.

 
At Tuesday, July 29, 2008 12:06:00 pm , Blogger Fraser Pearce said...

Well, you're back blogging with a vengeance!

Does this mean that your back is better?

 
At Tuesday, July 29, 2008 3:03:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

No, I'm blogging from bed on my lap top in a semi reclined position. You can't keep a good man down even when he is down!

 
At Wednesday, July 30, 2008 3:08:00 am , Blogger eulogos said...

How I wish my diocese had this pledge. I remember the news when this was first instituted. I never heard much about the reaction in the diocese, if people quit rather than sign it, etc. I would think that in my poorly taught diocese, a lot would quit rather than sign it. The priests wouldn't sign it.

The people of Baker, Oregon, must be in pretty good shape by now. I think I know a diocese that should take a turn with this bishop!

But from what I have heard, out of fear of mass revolt, what they will send us is someone "moderate" who will move the diocese in the right direction by slow and nearly imperceptible steps. So I probably won't live to see the day when Catholics in my diocese would sign a pledge like this. Alas.
Susan Peterson

 
At Wednesday, July 30, 2008 10:47:00 am , Anonymous Paul in the GNW said...

Go BAKER! Go Bishop Vasa!

Glad you noticed. We here in SW Washington and Portland, OR treasure the little jewel of the Diocese of Baker and the amazing Bishops that have graced that diocese the past decade or so.

I am truly surprised that anyone outside of the geographic area took notice, but thank you and God Bless

Paul

 
At Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:53:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Paul, I count it as a divine blessing to have met Bishop Vasa and to have made my aquaintance with his diocese. It shows you what can happen.

I do wonder though, whether part of the problem is that our dioceses have become too big. Melbourne is the largest in Australia, and perhaps a lot larger than most, with more than 300 parishes and (statistically at least) about a million Catholics. Baker has 35 parishes. We have about 20 seminarians, they have two (roughly same). But in a smaller diocese it is much easier for a bishop to have a hands-on approach. The big ones just force the bishops into becoming administrators and figureheads.

 
At Wednesday, July 30, 2008 3:19:00 pm , Anonymous Paul in the GNW said...

Schütz

I generally agree, even Denver really qualifies as a 'small diocese' in terms of Catholic population and institutions. At least at a gut level I am inclined towards more and smaller diocese, partly for the reasons you mention. Also, I really prefer Bishops who are taking their teaching role most seriously versus administration. I think smaller diocese could be helpful in 'freeing them up.'

On the other hand, I generally find smaller diocese to be as bad or worse than larger diocese. Part of the problem, in my experience is that if a small diocese is blessed with an excellent Bishop (Like Vasa) generally they get 'promoted' to an archdiocese within 5 years. If they are 'uninspiring' or worse, the small diocese is stuck with them until they retire! Generally, the inertia of the chancery runs the diocese. This is especially true in more rural and remote areas. For example, the two diocese in Montana (Helena and Great Falls - Billings) have collectively donated at least 10 Bishops to other diocese in the past 20 years! This includes Bishop Eldon Curtis who was in Helena for too short a time to have any significant impact. At least informally, it seems these two diocese are treated at 'entry level' training grounds and the Church there suffers for it, believe me.

There are of course the few wonderful exceptions. Wyoming (Diocese of Cheyenne) is one, but they just lost their Bishop!

One you might want to check out is the Diocese of Yakima!!! Spectacular in a very quiet way. Look at the vocations.

God Bless

Paul

 
At Friday, August 01, 2008 12:07:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Wow!

And I wish we could clone the Pope! I just love that Affirmation.

 
At Sunday, August 03, 2008 7:11:00 am , Anonymous Paul in the GNW said...

Schütz

I was discussing the Diocese of Baker, and your kind comments with a good friend from the Diocese of Yakima. He pointed out that both the Diocese of Baker, and the Diocese of Yakima are very young dioceses created by carving off pieces of larger diocese.

My friend and I agreed that the youth of these diocese is imprtant. They had the opportunity to start with a fresh and vibrant chancery in the late 80's and have long been free of the institutionalized 'spirit of Vatican II' bureaucrats.

Paul

 

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