Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Bishop Bruskewitz is not the problem

Yesterday at www.cuf.org , I received this question from a deacon in Southern California:

“I notice that the Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska is on your advisory board. As I understand it, he has declined to cooperate with the audit concerning the steps being taken to protect our children. Could you explain his refusal and why he remains on your advisory board?”

After some initial pleasantries concerning Southern California, which for many years was my home, I gave the deacon the following reply:

Yes, we do have a sizable episcopal advisory council (btw, it’s a council, not a board with juridical authority, in case that matters to anyone), and in fact we just welcomed three more bishops to this council: Bishops Finn (KC), Yanta (Amarillo), and Jugis (Charlotte). If we were so inclined, we could probably add dozens more, as most bishops are genuinely appreciative and supportive of our efforts.

In fact, I received over forty letters from bishops thanking me for publishing Fr. Thomas Acklin’s The Unchanging Heart of the Priesthood, which sets forth a compelling, positive image of the priesthood despite contemporary challenges and scandals. Here’s a link to our book publishing arm: http://www.emmausroad.org/The-Unchanging-Heart-of-the-Priesthood-P3396C483.aspx

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz is generally considered an exemplary prelate. Just one indication as to how highly he’s thought of by the universal Church is the fact that despite the relative insignificance of Lincoln, Nebraska, several of his priests have gone on to serve as fine bishops elsewhere (e.g., Bishops Vasa and Jackels spring immediately to mind) and others fill important posts in the Vatican Curia.

More specifically, in relation to the scandals, note that there hasn't been a priest scandal in Lincoln. Rather, there has been an explosion of wonderful vocations to the priesthood and religious life under his watch and under the watch of his predecessor, Bishop Flavin. The main reason, in my estimation, is that Bishop Bruskewitz through word and example has had the courage to teach the faith and encourage young men and women to be saints. I also know that he will not admit a young man with same-sex attractions to the priesthood. Of course, in doing that, he is simply following the commonsense wisdom and practice of the Church. Yet, in recent decades, though not so much now, there has been some fudging on this in some other dioceses and seminaries, with unhappy if not scandalous results.

Should Bishop Bruskewitz have been more “polite” in his lack of cooperation with the Review Board’s audit? Maybe. Could he have managed all this with more political correctness? Probably. But he wasn't legally or canonically bound to cooperate, and he legitimately thinks that the whole process is at best a waste of time.

By way of example, the “safe environment” programs called for by the Review Board by their very nature infringe upon parental rights and violate the Church's pedagogy in the area of chastity education, as set forth most recently in The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality (Pontifical Council for the Family, 1996). And not only that, the way they operate suggests that parents, not predatory homosexual priests, are the problem here.

I don't mean to come off unduly harsh here, but that's the point isn't it? Bishop Bruskewitz is a straight shooter who, because of his heroic fidelity, is often made a target in more “liberal” Catholic publications and associations. Yet, the faithful in Lincoln in overwhelming numbers love and support their bishop. For my part, I’ve interacted with him many times over the years, and I have always found him to be a very fine and holy bishop who, as Vatican II emphasizes, makes teaching the faith in its fullness a top priority (see e.g., Lumen Gentium, no. 25, Christus Dominus, nos. 11-14).

We are proud to number him among the friends and advisors of this apostolate.

It’s fitting that this question should come up on the feast of the Apostle Thomas who, despite his initial doubt, became one of the great apostolic witnesses to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

The first Eucharistic Prayer refers to “all who hold and teach the Catholic faith that comes to us through the Apostles.” Bishop Bruskewitz is a worthy successor of the Apostles who has been nothing less than a champion of the Catholic faith in his fruitful, dedicated service to the teaching Church.