Sunday, December 31, 1989

Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church

by Thomas J. Reese, S.J., (1989), republished in America Magazine

In Chapter 8: Beyond the Archdiocese
The hardest part of my job is to be sandwiched between Roman orders and my people and priests' hopes and ideals.
Archbishop Weakland

After claiming victory in Seattle ["Hunthausen Case"] and Newark ["Gerety Case"], conservative Catholic organizations like CUF [Catholics United for the Faith] targeted Archbishop Weakland as their next victim. He was especially vulnerable in Rome because, in what he thought was an off the record talk to the Milwaukee press, he had described the newly elected pope.
I had watched him once in Czestochowa with 200,000 people in the crowd. I said, he works that crowd better than any ham actor could. And I said, he's very bright, catches on fast, but he is stubborn. The press the next day had, "Archbishop says `Pope ham actor who is stubborn.'"

Despite CUF and the press, Rome has not moved against Archbishop Weakland. Having worked in Rome as abbot primate of the Benedictines, he knows Roman ways and has Roman friends. In addition, he is widely respected by the other American bishops who elected him one of their delegates to the 1987 synod. Many observers consider him the brightest member of the American hierarchy. If Rome tried to discipline him, the Seattle controversy would look, in contrast, like a tempest in a teapot.