Thursday, June 24, 2010

Catholic Dissident Father McBrien Gives List of Favorite American Catholic Bishops!! (Ex Louisiana Bishop Makes the List)

Oh boy Father Z has a great post on this with the infamous list at Richard McBrien’s favorite bishops! Make popcorn.

Father Z makes a good observation why Pope John Paul the II had to move slowly in appointing lets say Orthodox Bishops.

Father McBrien though seems not to be pleased with John Paul the II and needless to say Pope Benedict's choices:

McBrien says that the bishops appointed by Pope Benedict, and John Paul before him are "ciphers at best, hopeless reactionaries at worst".

Well there!! I am amazed McBrien named Weakland even after we have discovered everything we wished we did not know about Weakland puts him on the list. As the Lazy Disciple notes:

Rembert Weakland? The disgraced homosexual embezzler of archdiocesan funds? I really don't begrudge anyone the right to a political agenda - even an ecclesiastical one: but, geez! Has Fr. McBrien entirely abandoned even the most basic tenets of human decency? .

Father Mcbrien gives this note according to Father Z:

He adds a caveat: perhaps from his "innocence or ignorance" he might have included a bishop who didn’t belong… in other words a bishop who was perhaps not liberal enough.

I don't know every Bishop on this list but I recognize enough to see many were unqualified disasters.

However let me examine one. He only names one Louisiana Bishop. That Bishop was mine. His name was William Friend. So since I knew him the best a few observations.

William Friend was until recently the first Bishop of the one of the more younger Dioceses in the nation. That is the Diocese of Shreveport.

The Diocese of Shreveport was canonically erected on June 16, 1986 when Pope John Paul II split the former diocese of Alexandria-Shreveport into the Diocese of Alexandria and the Diocese of Shreveport. Friend has been appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria Shreveport in 1982. So a good bit of his time there was spent preparing for the painful split.

In the end Shreveport got William Friend and Alexandria got Bishop Jacobs who is now Bishop of Houma Thibodaux.

Bishop Jacobs in Alexandria had to deal with a very strong Pentecostal presence in his Diocese. Needless to say it helped that Jacobs was a Catholic charismatic so he was a logical fit there. The Diocese of Alexandria while having a somewhat south Louisiana feel in parts of it is in reality like the Diocese Shreveport a very North Louisiana Diocese that is in Protestant land.

It has a current Catholic population of 44,003 out of a population of 387,579 . Over the years the number of vocations in a Diocese that has suffered some of the worse of Louisiana economics bouts has been steady and healthy. In fact over the years compared to its population pretty darn robust. Currently they have 9 Seminarians which for them seems kinda of low but still not bad. For comparison the Diocese of Shreveport has a Catholic Population of 39,951 with a slightly higher overall population basis

First the negative.

In the view of many of us here Alexandria got the much better deal. That can be seen by the very healthy Vocation numbers that occurred during this period and robust growth in certain areas . Something that continues to this day.

Some of us looking back in hindsight wish we have never split.

The situation in the Diocese of Shreveport gets more irritating during Bishop Friend's reign looking at the two other Dioceses that border us. First the youngest Diocese in the United States that being the very small Diocese of Tyler Texas. It was created just months after the Diocese of Shreveport. This Diocese is growing but it is in perhaps the most Baptist areas of Texas. It's Catholic population is not really huge. As of 2007 it had 61,000 Catholics that comprise less than 4 percent of the East Texas population.

Now get this. According to the this report in 2007

The diocese boasts an astounding number of 21 men currently enrolled in seminaries, one who has been accepted as a seminarian and is finishing up his undergraduate work, another who has been accepted as an aspirant, and two transitional deacons active in full-time parish ministry and awaiting ordination to the priesthood.A third transitional deacon, Paul Key, was ordained a priest Sept. 1.In addition to priestly vocations, the diocese has some 40 men nearing ordination to the permanent diaconate and 13 young women beginning a yearlong process of discernment for the religious life. Six young women from East Texas have entered various religious communities over the past couple of years, according to Father Nevares.

It appears the current number for 2010 is 15 seminarians.

This in freakin Baptist East Texas!! If you are just across the border in the Diocese of Shreveport where we had an absolute drought in vocations you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Vocations of course indicate an alive and on fire Catholic community.

This year we saw this

New US bishop was one of nation’s most successful vocation directors
Pope Benedict XVI has named Father Eduardo Nevares, the vice-rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum, as Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix. Father Nevares served as co-vocations director of the Diocese of Tyler (Texas) from 2001 to 2008.
A 2007 Catholic World Report analysis found that in three of the previous four years, the Diocese of Tyler was one of the nation’s dozen most vocation-rich dioceses– that is, dioceses with the highest ratios of seminarians to Catholics. Father Nevares attributed the diocese’s success in attracting seminarians to Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio, SJ., who, he said,
has called all of the pastors to follow the newest directives from Rome concerning the renewal of the liturgy so that our faithful Catholics may enjoy the beauty of the Catholic liturgy in all of its fullness. He has called all of the faithful to be as faithful to their individual vocation . . . Bishop Corrada hopes that this new awareness and love for the truths and beauty of our Catholic faith will lead to a new evangelization . . . showing forth the splendor of truth found in the Catholic Church

Then we look at the the Diocese to the north . That is the Diocese of Little Rock which is basically the whole state of Arkansas. It also has a small Catholic population. It has a population of 122, 842 Catholics out of a total 2009 estimated Arkansas population of 2,889,450 .

As the Stats show they have 27 Seminarians and needless to say a whole much of Deacons. They do things like have Seminarian Signing Days which is pretty cool to go with the traditional College signing days for High School Athletes.

So we see in Dioceses that border the Diocese of Shreveport and share much of the ethos and culture Dioceses that are holding their own in difficult times or just going gangbusters!!

Now like in many Dioceses Catholics have no clue what is going on next door. If you told a Catholic in Shreveport what was happening just down the road in Tyler they their jaw would drop.

Which brings us to the Diocese of Shreveport and Bishop Friend one of McBrien's favorites.

The Positive

Bishop Friend was recently replaced By Bishop Duca. One can already tell a difference in outlook. I for one am thrilled.

Now no doubt Friend was a liberal but he was not a outspoken one. He did not bash the hierarchy or was in the Catholic public square raising the banner of Catholic progressive thought. This was both in the political and theological realm.

Still I think there was tension between him and the more lets say Orthodox voices in the Diocese both as to Priests and laity.

I always like Friend and he was indeed very very smart. He was also a good business manager. There is no doubt that he set the Diocese of Shreveport on a good financial footing. We were also blessed not to have any Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse scandals and for that we are blessed. Still as a Spiritual leader to his flock? Well he never really struck me as Pastoral. Also it did seem the more Orthodox crowd was on the outs during his tenure. HOWEVER he was not hostile and trust me we could have done far worse. Though we differed on things no doubt he was a good man. There were positives. However it does seem for about 20 years we just stagnant.

Still I am a tad shocked he was McBrien's list because I cannot figure out what exactly made him so outstanding in his eyes. Which goes to show perhaps he was much more progressive behind the scenes than we were aware of at the time.

Regradless I find it fascianting that it appears the Bishops and past Bishops of the Other Dioceses I mentioned did not seem to make McBrien's list. Perhaps they can be thankful for that.

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