Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Toledo Dodges Another Bullet: It's Carlson, Not Blair, to St. Louis

I've feared for quite some time that we here in the Toledo Diocese may lose Bishop Blair to bigger and better things, such as an archdiocese somewhere. At first, I thought it would be to either Cincinnati or Detroit. When those vacancies were filled with other worthy candidates, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then, I began to receive some indications that Bishop Blair was moving up on the list of possible successors to Archbishop Burke in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. His recent visit to Rome, I thought, made this a distinct possibility.

Well, now we have word that Bishop Blair's visit to Rome had much to do with his recent appointment to oversee an inquiry into adherence to Catholic doctrine by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. That assignment, while indicating the Vatican's high regard for our Bishop, should at least keep him here in Toledo for the foreseeable future. And late last night (or early this morning) came word that the vacancy in St. Louis had been filled by Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw.

Tom Peters at American Papist provides some of the essentials in regard to Bishop Carlson:
... His episcopal motto is "Ante crucem nihil defensionis," or "Before the cross there is no defense" - I think that says a lot about how he views his episcopal ministry.

I have heard he enjoys a particularly close relationship with Pope Benedict. In 2006 when Carlson was in Rome and Pope Benedict heard about it - the pope cleared his schedule and sent a message to Carlson saying that he wanted to meet with him.

In 2003 Bp. Carlson told Tom Daschle he could no longer call himself Catholic, when he was his bishop.

He moves quickly: look at this seminarian post detailing his second year accomplishments in Saginaw.

He called a Eucharistic Congress in 2007 and has gradually been re-establishing sound liturgical practice in his formerly-liberal diocese of Saginaw.

He started a house of formation in the diocese of Saginaw so that it would not have to be farmed out. He has written four pastoral letters and four other documents. He has founded an order in Columbia which is very close to his heart. He chairs the well-regarded Institute for Priestly Formation.

This interview with Bp. Carlson presents his comments on his 2006 meeting with the pope, and gives a decent glimpse of his pastoral style. This story published just today also should prove useful.
Apparently, Bishop Carlson gets under the skin of all the right people:
TOM DASCHLE may no longer call himself a Catholic. [ED.: Truth in advertising, I suppose you could call it.] The Senate minority leader and the highest ranking Democrat in Washington has been sent a letter by his home diocese of Sioux Falls, sources in South Dakota have told The Weekly Standard, directing him to remove from his congressional biography and campaign documents all references to his standing as a member of the Catholic Church.

This isn't exactly excommunication--which is unnecessary, in any case, since Daschle made himself ineligible for communion almost 20 years ago with his divorce and remarriage to a Washington lobbyist. The directive from Sioux Falls' Bishop Robert Carlson is rather something less than excommunication--and, at the same time, something more: a declaration that Tom Daschle's religious identification constitutes, in technical Catholic vocabulary, a grave public scandal.
[ED.: Perhaps the Archbishop of San Francisco might want to take note, especially regarding a certain prominent member of the House of Representatives who recently proclaimed the killing of embryos for "scientific" research as "a gift from God".] He was brought up as a Catholic, and he may still be in some sort of genuine mental and spiritual relation to the Church. Who besides his confessor could say? But Daschle's consistent political opposition to Catholic teachings on moral issues--abortion, in particular--has made him such a problem for ordinary churchgoers that the Church must deny him the use of the word "Catholic."

Much of the discussion about Daschle's standing has gone on in private over the last few years, although Bishop Carlson and Senator Daschle had a very public spat about partial-birth abortion in 1997. During the run-up to a Senate vote on the issue, Daschle proposed what he called a "compromise," banning the procedure while allowing exemptions for any woman who claimed mental or physical health reasons for having such a late-term procedure. Pointing out the way the exemptions gutted the ban, Carlson called Daschle's proposed compromise a "smokescreen" designed solely to "provide cover for pro-abortion senators and President Clinton, who wanted to avoid a veto confrontation."
[ED.: Hmmmm. That sounds familiar ... much like the Kmiecian "abortion reduction" canard.]

Daschle, in turn, rose on the floor of the Senate in Washington to denounce his own bishop back in South Dakota for speaking in a way "more identified with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership." [ED.: No comment necessary, other than the fact that this is the sort of person - who makes a direct political attack on a Catholic Bishop - that one party thought an appropriate Senate Majority Leader and, but for his tax-cheating ways, an appropriate cabinet secretary as head of the Dept. of Health and Human Services.] Carlson later told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that he remains mystified by Daschle's position on abortion. "NARAL claims him as one of their number-one supporters. I don't understand how he can be in touch with South Dakotans as much as he is, and yet consistently have a pro-abortion record." ...
(emphasis and editorial commentary added)

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At 4/21/2009 9:49 AM, Blogger DP said...

I hope they get somebody good in Saginaw--the thaw there was very promising.

At 4/21/2009 1:46 PM, Blogger Matthew Siekierski said...

Agreed. He did wonders for the Saginaw diocese. It is always a joy to hear his messages on 1440AM when I'm up that way, especially his concentration on increasing vocations (he doesn't call men to be priests, but he can help them recognize when God is calling them).


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