Sunday, March 5, 2006

Milwaukee's Archbishop Timothy Dolan

John L. Allen, Jr., in his National Catholic Reporter column assesses his recent host.
When Dolan was installed as archbishop of Milwaukee in August 2002, there was much speculation that he was sent from Rome to turn the archdiocese on its ear after the relatively liberal leadership of former Archbishop Rembert Weakland. In fact, most local observers say there has been little ideological tumult, even though the tone and direction set by Dolan are clearly different.

"Direction" can be ambiguous, meaning your way forward, or the way you are facing as you slide backward.
One looming decision, for example, involves the fate of St. Francis Seminary, the oldest continually operating seminary on the same site in the United States. On one level, the problem is financial; the mammoth stone seminary, erected in an era of plentiful vocations, costs almost $2 million to operate annually. Given financial pressures, it's not clear the archdiocese can sustain the expense. Given Dolan's passion for seminary formation, any decision to downsize or send priestly candidates elsewhere would be painful.

If this means he's going to conspicuously resist other closings, as well, maybe he'll get the people to cooperate in the effort to keep it open.
There's also a political dimension to the situation, since under Weakland St. Francis mixed seminarians, candidates for the diaconate, and aspiring lay ministers in the same academic program. (The seminary is actually called a "center for ministerial formation"). It's an approach that has never gone down well with some Catholics worried about fuzziness on priestly identity. If a restructuring plan separates the seminarians from lay students, some will therefore see it as part of a "restorationist" agenda.

The new priestly identity isn't exactly fuzzy, more warm and fuzzy: married, house, commute to work; Ward Cleaver instead of St. John Vianney.

Or maybe not quite Ward Cleaver. When I say married, I once had the impression priests wanted to be able to marry women. Maybe not, judging by the local priests union's December 13, 2005 minutes.


Blogger Dad29 said...


The 'approach that has never gone down well with some' is a cute line.

It's never "gone down well" with ROME, which has specifically forbidden "co-formation" programs with women studying for some sort of non-kitchen/diapers "ministry."

The chairperson of the Diocesan Sem-study committee is none other than (Fr.) Dan Pakenham, ex-Rector of the Sem, and not a particularly successful fellow in that assignment.

But he was successful at St. Mary's/Elm Grove, in driving out a number of Catholic families from the parish and school. The vast majority of those families now occupy places at THREE "non-Catholic" Catholic grade schools formed in the last 10 years. least one of which the Archbishop has never bothered to visit...

7:06 PM  

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