Tuesday, June 25, 2002

At Last, Some Good News from Milwaukee

Catholics within and without the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have reason to hope in the the just-announced appointment of Bishop Timothy Dolan as the new Archbishop of Milwaukee.That his appointment was announced so quickly after Archbishop Weakland's resignation (it is common for sees to remain vacant for upwards of a year before successors are named) can be construed as evidence that Bishop Dolan, who has been an auxiliary bishop of St. Louis, was under consideration for the post for some time.

I had the good fortune of meeting Bishop Dolan while he was the Rector of the North American College. He extended the college's hospitality to me while I was in Rome studying Latin with Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD. He is a man of unswerving loyalty to the Magisterium and the Holy Father. I think we can expect him to begin rebuilding the wreckage left by his predecessor.

But before orthodox Catholics start dancing in the streets and waiting for the proverbial heads of the Milwaukee liberals to roll, a note of realism is in order. The Church in Milwaukee was not co-opted and decimated overnight, and neither will it be reconstructed overnight. Archbishop-elect Dolan has a task in front of him comparable to cleaning out the Augean Stables, and as much as I esteem him, he is not a Hercules. If he is Archbishop of Milwaukee for the next 25 years he may succeed in straightening out (both literally and figuratively) the mess that Weakland made of what was once a very Catholic city.

I have lived in Weakland-land, and my parents still do. I have endured the pain of attending a Sunday Mass at several parishes there, which were clearly cut from the Weakland mold. I know faithful priests there who have suffered mightily under the oppressive domination of the AmChurch establishment. They now have reason to hope for better days.

But Bishop Dolan will be obstructed and bitterly opposed within the Archdiocese the moment he tries to undo anything wrought by "Brother Rembert". He will be opposed by his priests, and by many laypeople who have been deceived and malformed by the AmChurch agenda. He will be denounced as "retrograde" and "divisive". Make no mistake, the battle in Milwaukee hasn't even begun yet.

If conservatives expect to see sweeping changes and purges within the Archdiocesan structure, I think they will be disappointed. Archbishop-elect Dolan is Rome-schooled and Rome-trained. Romanitaswill be his method. Dom Bettinelli over at BettNet has, I think, sounded the note of gloom prematurely by taking Dolan to task for "thanking" Archbishop Weakland. Just what did you expect him to say, Dom? "I'm glad I'm here to undo the damage done by my heretical and disobedient predeccesor, who, as we all know, is a Poofter"? I think Dom is reading too much into either the voicing of mundane civility or the exercise of Romanitas.

The exercise of Romanitasis sometimes amazing and sometimes frustrating to watch. It can be frustrating because it follows the motto Festina Lente, "Make haste slowly." To outward appearances those using Romanitascan seem to be moving with glacial speed, which will be certain to disappoint and frustrate angry conservatives waiting for the modernists to get their comeuppance. It can be amazing because when it works, one's enemies are sidetracked and obviated bloodlessly and almost gracefully. A recent and brilliant example of Romanitasat work is the creation of the new commission for English liturgical translations, Vox Clara. Romanitasunderstands that one's goals, with regard to "the enemy", are the following:

Convert your enemies whenever possible.

If you can't convert them, then render them harmless.

If you can't render them harmless, destroy them only as a last resort.

Let us conservatives, in and outside of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, remember that Archbishop Dolan's charge is to win souls over to Christ, not to win "battles".