Monday, June 22, 2009

Women's Auxiliary

Talkin' 'bout your troubles an ya
ya never learn
Ride a painted pony,
Let the spinnin' wheel turn.
--David Clayton-Thomas

Archbishop Weakland's memoirs join the ongoing effort to rewrite the history of how Auxiliary Bishop Sklba was ordained a bishop in 1979. The Vatican had canceled his scheduled ordination because of what he had written on women's ordination. Archbishop Weakland and then-Father Sklba flew to Rome to try to get this decision reversed. They were denied a meeting with Pope John Paul II. In Paul Wilkes 1992 book The Education of an Archbishop, Archbishop Weakland gave this account of what happened next.
"Cardinal Casaroli, [Pope John Paul II's] secretary of state ... asked us to draft some sort of statement, acceptable to the Pope, that would in essence have Sklba back down from his position. We drafted something -- not a backing down but an attempt to put Sklba's statement in the context of church teaching -- and the word came back that the Pope said no. We drafted another statement and waited. Dick was to be consecrated on a Wednesday. ... Finally, late Saturday night, we got word that the Pope had approved, but with the stipulation that the statement appear in the Milwaukee papers on Tuesday, the day before Sklba's consecration. Well, the papers not only didn't play the statement as Sklba backing down but gave it the angle that he stood behind what he had originally written. We sent the articles on to Rome, but, fortunately, it being the pre-fax era, they didn't arrive in time for Rome to respond. So, while Sklba's career was certainly stalemated right off the bat, he was consecrated a bishop." (p. 59)

Something must have happened subsequently that forced the realization that this might not fit the legacy Archbishop Weakland and Bishop Sklba wanted. One might, for example, read this account and wonder if there was anything either of them wouldn't have done to get Sklba ordained a bishop, and what might have motivated that apparent desperation.

Here's Archbishop Weakland's revised version from A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, p. 247.
Several times Sklba was required to write up his position on the ordination of women, each draft of which was taken to the pope by Cardinal Casaroli. The pope kept rejecting these versions until late Saturday night when he finally gave in.

It wasn't Sklba backing down and the newspapers getting this wrong. On second thought, what really happened is Weakland and Sklba won a battle of wills with Karol Wojtyla.



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