At Catholic Culture Dr. Jeff Mirus speculates on the reasons behind the current decision by the Vatican to ‘visit’ Bishop Robert Finn’s Kansas City Diocese:
We cannot get inside Bishop Finn’s head to see what God sees, but we would be foolish not to note that there is at least one other major fact about Bishop Finn’s leadership which is likely to generate a significant number of negative reviews: He set out from the first, and very vigorously, to change the rather lackadaisical Catholic culture of his diocese. We need to keep in mind that, very often, the person who goes in to reform a bad situation serves only a short time because he must make so many enemies. But having effected the shift, it becomes far easier for somebody else to come in and continue the work.
You can read the details of this cultural shift in my initial commentary. Essentially, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph had been a leader in promoting and training lay pastoral ministers as substitutes for priests. It was a diocese which seemed to embrace the priest shortage, perhaps interpreting its causes as a justification for creating a FutureChurch characterized by ever-growing secularism. There was clearly a worldly attitude at work, and this was manifest in the administration of the diocese, the university faculties the diocese used to train people, and even the authors published in the diocesan newspaper. Finn pitted himself directly against this classic “progressive Catholic” culture of accommodation.
Dr. Mirus concludes:
It would be foolish, of course, to praise Finn’s leadership ability just because I respect his orthodoxy. Too many people on all sides of every question make this fundamental category mistake. Still, I find myself willing to put up with at least some shortcomings in a man who can say things like the following:
Forty years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, we are in a time of a more mature self-understanding in the Church, than the period immediately following the Council. More than ever, the Council documents deserve careful reading and study. They have been used at times to justify experimentation that was interpolated on what has been sometimes called the “spirit of the Council.” Now we must allow ourselves to see how they are an incentive for renewal in continuity with the Church’s tradition.
Now: If such words inspire me, how many do they frighten?