Rude Awakening for Progressive Catholics

Here’s what was supposed to happen, according to Fr. Thomas Reese:

At the end of their meeting in Baltimore on November 18, the USCCB presidency will transfer from Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, one of the largest archdioceses in the U.S., to Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, one of the smaller dioceses.


On substance, Kicanas will not stray from the middle of the bishops’ conference. He is opposed to abortion, but he does not support banning pro-choice politicians from Communion. During the controversy over President Obama’s visit to Notre Dame University, he called for the bishops and university presidents “to sit down and talk this through to come to some better understanding.”

And while he supported an Arizona ballot initiative banning gay marriage, he instituted a conversation in his diocese on how to minister to gays when he was criticized by gay rights supporters. Although he would not step back from church teaching on homosexuality, he did affirm that “we must challenge any attitudes, language or actions in the church and in society that demean people of same-sex orientation.”

Like Bernardin, Kicanas is committed to the full range of Catholic social teaching on justice and peace. On economic issues, like the pope, he would be to the left of the Obama administration. Unlike the tea party, he has no problem with a robust role for the government in supporting the common good. He supports comprehensive immigration reform and strongly condemned the Arizona law instructing police to go after undocumented immigrants. He has visited the Holy Land seven times and spoken in support of Christians there as well as for an end to violence.

Timothy Dolan

But it didn’t. This, according to champion Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo, is what actually happened:

For the first time in the history of the US bishops, a vice-president standing for the presidency has been denied the top post, losing a stunning election to the archbishop of New York.

CNN thinks it knows the reason for this upset: the abuse scandal.

Grant Gallicho at dotCommonweal makes things plain: politics.

Nathan Schneider is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about religion, reason, and violence for a variety of publications. He is also a founding editor of Waging Nonviolence. His first two books, published by University of California Press in 2013, are God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. Visit his website at The Row Boat.