I don’t especially need inspiring bishops
I didn’t become a Catholic because I said, “Wow! Look at those bishops! Cool!” Indeed, as much as I love and admire the Holy Father, he mostly wasn’t on the mental radar when I became convinced the Church was the Church Christ founded. (Actually, other, lesser occupants of the See of Peter were on my mind at the time: Borgia Popes and whatnot.)
In fact, I was received into the Church in the Archdiocese of Seattle right in the middle of the tenure of Abp. Raymond Hunthausen. The archdiocese was, by any measure, one of the nadir points of 80s AmChurch, riven by controversy and headed by a guy who would have been much happier as a parish priest in Montana, not as the victim of the Peter Principle he was.
However, for me, this archdiocese was a great sign of hope. Because I belonged to a small sectarian group that, for all its great virtues, had become more and more toxic, authoritarian, and Darwinian.
Darwinian? Yes. The problem with small groups dedicated to Starting The Church Over and Doing It Right This Time is that they tend to create a Darwinian atmosphere of stoic “holiness”. Are you *really* pure? Did you *really* repent? Are you *really* holy? If not, you are a cancer in the Body of Christ, etc. Not a healthy atmosphere for a neurotic like me.
Consequently, I really found the Catholic Church a great relief: this big mob of schleps just like me who start every Mass saying, “Lord, I screwed up again. Christ, I’m still a doofus. Lord, I’m a sinner” and then all pray for each other in their lumpy, human, imperfect way. And they were living out this lumpy humanness in the headlines of the Seattle Times.
A huge relief to me, who was exhausted from trying to be what I wasn’t. I much preferred to approach God on the basis of what I am: a failure.
So the Scandal, while appalling, has never really been shocking to me. Oh sure, I’m angry and I don’t think priests or bishops should be above the law. But I’m not *shocked*. I’ve never thought bishops were going to paragons of anything and I take the occasional paragon as a gift, not something I have coming to me. I’m content if a bishop is reasonably competent (that would include minimal job qualifications like “not protecting child rapists and endangering children”), but I regard “inspiring” as gravy. Indeed, I’m a bit suspicious of “inspiring” clerics since usually that means they are showboats who are trying to wrench the focus away from Christ and onto themselves.
Now and then, you do meet inspiring priests. We’ve got a number of them at Blessed Sacrament parish. But they do it by simply trying to be good priests. Perhaps bishops should focus on trying to be good priests too. Meanwhile, I will seek my inspiration from Jesus in the sacraments and in the saints he generously puts in my life. Most of them are not ordained, though some are. I’m grateful for them.
Oh, and I’m grateful for youse guys too.
Just some rambling thoughts.