Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Window-dressing

You're only as good as your last envelope.
--Silvio Dante with advice to the laity

The U.S. Bishops work drafting a pastoral letter on the U.S. economy in the 1980s lead to the formation of "The Lay Commission" to write from a different perspective. Archbishop Rembert Weakland now recalls in his just-published memoirs,
In mid-July [1984] a few members, including [William] Simon and [Michael] Novak, flew into Milwaukee to meet personally with me to assure me that their document was to be seen as a contribution to our [Bishops'] committee's work. I could not object to this initiative since it represented the kind of dialogue we bishops had hoped for. (A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, p. 281)

He didn't describe it as the kind of meeting most people hope for in Paul Wilkes' 1992 book profiling him.
"I looked out the window," the Archbishop said, remembering the day that the group of neo-conservative Catholics was scheduled to arrive, "and up pulled these limousines with smoked windows, having whisked the occupants from their private planes, which had landed minutes before at the Milwaukee Airport. All I could think of was it looked very much like a meeting of high level Mafia leaders." (The Education of an Archbishop, p. 39)

In the ensuing "dialogue" he "listened patiently" to his visitors; his response included that "Vatican II clearly restated that the free-market economy is not the be-all and end-all." Somehow I doubt his visitors were making such a claim.

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