The words I am about to share with you have been on my mind and heart ever since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was released. I find myself writing about it today because I just watched an incredible homily from a good friend. Over the past days, I have found myself confused, angry and betrayed. We were told that these scandals and problems that we endured in the early part of the century were no longer with us. Things had been cleared up. There are new procedures in place. It won’t happen again. That simply was, and is, a complete falsehood.
As I have been reading articles as well as comments on online via social media, I found myself thinking about the book that I read some time ago written by George Weigel. His book, The Courage to Be Catholic, has always stuck with me in different ways. Published in 2002, it explains what the crisis is, what the crisis is not, how the crisis happened, why the Bishops failed, Rome and the Crisis, ways to reform seminaries and novitiates, the priesthood, the Bishops and the Vatican, and where we to do go from here. Within these larger categories, he also focuses on the importance of the laity and how we must play a part in these essential reforms.
Although his points on how the laity are important and should be discussed, I want to focus on my main point and title of this article. As I stated above, elements of the aforementioned book written by Weigel have stayed with me ever since I first read it. One of the parts I remember the most and one that I want to focus on today is that in times of crisis (and reform), the appointment of younger bishops is needed, because when dark times have the hit the Church in the past, this is how the Church answered that darkness.
In the chapter 8, under the heading – “The Selection of Bishops”, Weigel explains the standard of how an individual is assessed to become a Bishop, and that only when the individual has reached the age of 50 will he then be able to join the episcopate. Although we have some younger bishops in the Church today, if we are to see true reform in these dark times, we need our Bishops be to younger men, strong men, like the individuals stated below. Weigel says in the same chapter,
“Those most capable of leading the reform of the Church in the United States in the decades ahead will often be men who are now in their forties, and even late thirties…their age should not be held against them as potential bishops, if they have proven themselves effective pastors or seminary educators to the criteria listed above… (author’s note: see pages 205-206).
“There is a strong historical precedent for appointing younger men as bishops in times of crisis and needed reform. Saint Cyril of Alexandria was a bishop at thirty-six. Saint Ambrose was thirty-four when he was ordained bishop of Milan; his protégé, the great Augustine, was forty-one when became bishop of Hippo. Two of the great reformer bishops of the post-Reformation period, Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Charles Borromeo, were bishops in their mid-thirties…Men of like caliber are available in the Church in America today.”
These are the type of individuals that we need to step-up if the Church is to be reformed in these times of dark crisis. These men would not have allowed the cesspool that exists today in so many places. They were strong, faithful, and true Apostles. They were men of prayer and theological power houses. They didn’t care if they offended someone with their words because the Truth who is Jesus Christ was more important than being “pastoral.”
We all know priests like this right now – pray, pray, pray, pray! – that they are elevated to the episcopacy and can bring true reform and healing to the Catholic Church.
Saints Cyril of Alexandria, Ambrose, Augustine, Francis de Sales, Charles Borromeo,
and the many others…Pray for Us.
Tom, I love your point on this. What deep insight. Almost all the priests (I emphasize almost) I see who are radical about change are younger. There are a few on the older side, but they are still “young” to be a bishop. Thanks for sharing!
George Weigel, and like scholars and proclaimed intellectuals, are enablers. They helped contribute to the current crisis because of their fear to report the truth about the criminal priests and conspiratorial cover-ups, the lavender mafia, homosexual culture in the seminary, the effete bishops with their pink ribbons, beanies and capes The scholars motto is “you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Instead GW writes these incomprehensible pieces about world youth day. World youth day? A turning point? Are you kidding me?
Not sure you can call him an enabler if you haven’t read the book I quoted. He states everything that you mention in your comment and how it has endangered the Church.
In regards to world youth day, it was 25 years ago and significant event in the life of the US Church at the time. I can understand what he means when he says it was a turning point.
If a person had knowledge that these things were happening, and said person was a published author, Catholic scholar, political analyst, social activist and distinguished senior fellow of an ethics center, one book in 2002 is inadequate. As we now see, it didn’t make a difference.
Sounds like you just don’t like the man. So I guess you won’t be reading the book.
I do not feel that the “younger man theory” will work now. One reason is that the younger men of today are not the younger men of even 2002 when Mr. Weigel whom I have great respect for wrote his book. Men today in their thirties and forties are products of a permissive secular society they are much more likely to be sympathetic to gay marriage and even abortion even if raised in the Church and even if they want to be priests. This is part of our crisis, there are no men who can fill those shoes they were not grown and cultivated they were raised by people who have looked the other way while millions of babies were aborted and gay marriage was approved. We all share in the blame. Until abortion is stopped nothing will ever be right . If we can not do right by the unborn what can we do right? Half of Catholics voted for people who support abortion.We need to look deep within ourselves not outward towards others.
I get what you are saying to some part, but it also has to do with the formation these young men receive in seminary. The places where we send our young men in this diocese are orthodox and faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. The men that I know who are “young” and could take on the responsibility of being a Bishop are not influenced by that stuff, actually they are complete rebel against it. I can say this because my Pastor is 33 years old and my former Pastor is 36 years old. And yes, although that’s only two guys, I could list off many more.
I agree that Abortion needs to be corrected. Catholics who vote for pro-abortion candidates are not really Catholics.
I wonder also how Mr. Weigel thinks about his suggestion now 16 to 18 years later. He was barely 50 at the time and is now 67. I am around the same age and have changed my mind several times since fifty. I wonder also if some of those forty something priests at the time of the writting did not become leaders and men of influence and bear some responsiblity for where we are now. I can’t help thinking also looking at the names of the Saints mentioned and the age they became Bishop that to believe there are men like that today may be something that is to be more ardently hoped for than reasonably expected.
I wish all the young people the best, you are the only hope. May God continue to give you wisdom and strength. Your blog is very encouraging, Thank you.
We need men who fear God, who desire to serve Him. Who strive to live Holy and moral lives. And are not afraid to call people even fellow clergy that they are not Catholic when they reject any of Our Lord’s teachings.