Friday, April 30, 2010

Walking the Walk

In all areas of life, it is a principle crucial for being effective, either as an organization, an individual or a universal church, as discussed in this article from Catholic Culture.

An excerpt.

“In addition to raising questions about Church-State relations with respect to ecclesiastical persons who have committed crimes (see When Should a Bishop Expose a Priest to Civil Authority), the Castrillon Hoyos affair demonstrates the degree to which the episcopal culture around the world reflects the curial culture in Rome. One step down, the same principle—that the rest of the Church largely reflects the episcopal culture—is demonstrated by Bishop Lawrence Brandt’s exceptional refusal to allow dissident nuns to advertise for vocations in his diocesan media. The sad truth is that, over the past generation or so, ecclesiastical culture from the very top down has been strong on talking the talk. But as for walking the walk, well, not so much.

“When I refer to “walking the walk” I am talking about effective administrative discipline, which is the primary means any organization uses to ensure that it properly reflects its mission at every level. In my past commentaries on the need for discipline in the Church, I have frequently mentioned that Pope John Paul was not an effective administrative disciplinarian. I don’t expect great men—even saintly great men—to be good at everything, and it does seem clear that John Paul II left Benedict XVI with a considerably larger number of bishops around the world who are likely to respond properly to disciplinary instructions in the future. God alone can judge whether John Paul II did all he could have done. But the fact remains that administrative discipline was seldom effectively utilized during his pontificate….

“Slowly, ever so slowly, the culture of saying the right thing at the highest levels in the Church is being replaced by a culture of doing the right thing. This is evidenced most often now by the increasing number of positive disciplinary steps taken by various bishops in their own dioceses, steps which mirror the new culture higher up. Unfortunately, things are tougher outside the diocesan structure. Many religious orders are so far gone that it is uncertain whether they can be brought back or will have to be jettisoned. What Rome will do about women religious in the United States, or the Jesuits internationally, or any number of other religious groups which possess their own internal hierarchical authority, remains to be seen. But it is clear that the ecclesiastical culture is beginning to change.

“It is unquestionable that the great achievements of John Paul II—his ability to project a remarkably attractive personality through the mass media, his tireless teaching on every subject imaginable, his generally superior episcopal appointments (compared with his predecessors), his inspiration of an increasingly militant laity as well as a new cadre of committed young priests—all established a firmer foundation for this transformation from talk to action. But for whatever combination of reasons, John Paul was not generally able to make the transition himself. It is somewhat ironic that the elderly and supremely professorial Joseph Ratzinger is now emerging as the first pope in fifty years to move beyond talking the talk and actually begin to walk the administrative walk. The two high profile areas in which this progress is most evident are the handling of sexual abuse and the liturgy.”