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  #1  
Old 3rd September 2009, 04:55 PM
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Post The Anchoress: 'We need St. Benedict'

Two bishops have been much in the news this week, and for two different reasons: Bishop Joseph Martino, in the wake of his resignation, has been criticized for being too harsh in his leadership in Scranton; while Cardinal Sean O'Malley is catching flak for being too soft in his reaction to and participation in Senator Kennedy's funeral, which the cardinal blogged about yesterday.

As usual, the Anchoress has a keen insight here on the difficulties of leadership:
It seems like the whole world is at war; everyone is angry about something. The conservatives are beating up O’Malley, the progressives are beating up Martino. Both of these men have a hand in their beatings, because of their styles of leadership. Martino was too abrasive, too undiplomatic – he stepped on too many toes; he was completely unnuanced and had a true bull-in-a-china-shop approach. He was half Scary John the Baptist and half Peter-with-the-ear-slicing sword.
O’Malley on the other hand -whose work to repair the trust and standing of the church after the heartbreaking revelations of a systemic cover-up of abuse should never be shrugged off- can sometimes seem a bit too mild, a little too nuanced and diplomatic and angelic.

Both of these men are exemplary priests who work with devotion to Christ and fealty to the See of Peter, but for some the Bellicose Bishop is too much Justice without Mercy, and the Consoling Cardinal too much Mercy without Justice.
Thank heavens, she says, for Jesus -- who is perfect Mercy and Justice -- but what do we mortals do in the meantime? Follow St. Benedict, whose Rule lays out an ideal for leadership that seeks the right balance between them:
Let him love the brethren whilst he hates their vices. And in the very correction of the brethren let him act prudently and not go to excess, lest, seeking too vigorously to cleanse off the rust, he may break the vessel. Let him ever keep his own frailty before his eyes and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken. By this we do not mean that he should suffer vices to grow up, but that he could cut them off prudently and with charity, according as he shall see that it is best for each, as we have said; and let him seek rather to be loved than to be feared.
Go read the rest at the Anchoress's blog; it's an interesting prism through which to view the debate over what good leadership in the Church should look like.

And St. Benedict, pray for our bishops.
http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=The-Anchoress-We-need-St.-Benedict-.html&Itemid=127
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  #2  
Old 3rd September 2009, 05:20 PM
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The Rule of Benedict certainly sets forth a model of servant leadership that every church leader should aspire to emulate.

(Although I kinda think the consoling Cardinal has mastered that art quite a bit more successfully than the bellicose Bishop.)
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  #3  
Old 4th September 2009, 10:41 AM
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The Scranton bishop was loved... His leaving is very strange. What's he going to do now, I wonder.

I read an article that said he closed some schools. I wonder why, I would be far more comfortable making people travel a bit to go to mass than closing a school.

On the other hand, dying Churches can be very warm friendly places.

In Scranton, they had to do some stuff, even closing parishes, it seems. Sometimes, it seems like it would be better to just get another bishop after you had one that pruned the vine, even if the next one is no less a diligent keeper. In that case, the problem would not be the bishop, but the parishioners, that cause the problem.

Things are just not always as simple as they look.
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  #4  
Old 4th September 2009, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by fated View Post
The Scranton bishop was loved... His leaving is very strange. What's he going to do now, I wonder.

I read an article that said he closed some schools. I wonder why, I would be far more comfortable making people travel a bit to go to mass than closing a school.

On the other hand, dying Churches can be very warm friendly places.

In Scranton, they had to do some stuff, even closing parishes, it seems. Sometimes, it seems like it would be better to just get another bishop after you had one that pruned the vine, even if the next one is no less a diligent keeper. In that case, the problem would not be the bishop, but the parishioners, that cause the problem.

Things are just not always as simple as they look.
I read that he wanted to close HALF the parishes. That's not pruning, that's slashing and burning.

But what is more important is the process. How much did he consult other people? How much input did local parish councils and parishioners have? Was this a "top-down" decision or something that was part of a prayerful discernment process by clergy and laypeople working together.
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Old 4th September 2009, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Fantine View Post
I read that he wanted to close HALF the parishes. That's not pruning, that's slashing and burning.

But what is more important is the process. How much did he consult other people? How much input did local parish councils and parishioners have? Was this a "top-down" decision or something that was part of a prayerful discernment process by clergy and laypeople working together.
Why the fear mongering theorizing?

I bet you aren't even from Scranton and have some other beef with him, because you surely don't know enough about this situation to make such dramatic accusations.
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Old 4th September 2009, 11:46 AM
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It is complete mental incompetence to accuse the Church of being to conservative and unfeeling for the poor on the one hand, and then attack it for closing parishes on the other. That makes no sense, because parishes are expensive, and they take up money the Church would otherwise use for things including helping the poor.

I can understand disagreement to some extent, but blatant discriminatory, and prejudiced, and irrational, illogical viewpoint expressed... ridiculous.

If you want more money for the actual poor, you close parishes, or you increase income. Sometimes you don't have much choice in the second part, and sometimes closing parishes will merely result in not being in the red.

So, there you go, maybe he wanted to close parishes so he could care for the poor.
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Old 4th September 2009, 05:17 PM
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The chief cause of Martino's local problems was his controversial plan in 2007 to close and consolidate Catholic schools in the diocese, which have been struggling with declining attendance, and declining donations. Closing schools is never popular, yet the need to do something is a harsh fact of life for many bishops, especially in the Northeast. But Martino's peremptory style did not help matters, and growing protests were followed by still steeper declines in church attendance and donations, a dropoff clearly exacerbated by the recession, which has ravaged the Scranton area. Then in February of this year, Martino announced that he was closing 91 of the diocese's 209 parishes, cutting the number of Catholic churches in this storied Catholic community by almost half.
I apologize. When I did the Math, I realized that 91 out of 209 is only 43.5% of the parishes in the diocese, not half.

From the start of his six-year tenure in Scranton, Martino alienated many with his abrasive style. He clashed frequently with the local Catholic universities -- including the Jesuit-run University of Scranton -- and was dismissive of their ruling bodies, arguing that as bishop he would not heed their advice.
Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino, Biden's Nemesis, Resigns Under Cloud -- Politics Daily

I know that sometimes bishops must make difficult decisions, but WWJD?

Was Jesus ever called "abrasive and alienating?"
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Old 4th September 2009, 05:20 PM
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I hear simmering hatred. This is about and deep aching desire for voting for pro-aborts isn't it.
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Old 4th September 2009, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by fated View Post
I hear simmering hatred. This is about and deep aching desire for voting for pro-aborts isn't it.
I think Bishop Martino's personality caused most of his difficulties. He is described as having a "peremptory style," being "abrasive," "controversial," and "dismissive."

In other parts of the article, he is said to have made "intemperate blasts" and to be an "angry face."

He was said to have "an overweening administrative style that irritated the flock and even his brother bishops."

He was even said to have worn out his welcome with the Vatican.

I like leadership that is inclusive, collaborative, open-minded, and respectful to all, and so naturally I took issue (as did many others) with such a leadership style.

I have also noticed that in most dioceses long-standing inner city parishes are consolidated even while a diocese might be building brand new churches in the suburbs. Frequently the Catholic population has decreased in the inner city, but yet a church is a stabilizing influence in a neighborhood, and these parishes are located where the greatest human needs are...

In inner cities where many people use public transportation instead of cars, traveling a few miles to church can be a real hardship.

If, however, new Hispanic immigrants move into these inner cities, it might be necessary to reopen these parishes someday.
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Last edited by Fantine; 4th September 2009 at 11:46 PM.
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