Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

cardinal-egan

Outgoing Archbishop of New York Cardinal Egan demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.  In comments made to a radio program in Albany two days ago Cardinal Egan [may have] insinuated that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.  Cardinal Egan openly admitted it was his “greatest” failure in bringing in more seminarians.

[I am using the Cardinal's own words in describing the issue of raising the number of vocations]

In my opinion it is his lack of enforcing Catholic orthodoxy in catechesis and liturgy.  If Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz can have the largest seminarian classes in the country while still hosting the FSSP seminary (which is also bursting at the seems with 50 seminarians entering in 2008 alone) in his own diocese in the middle of a sparsely populated state like Nebraska, then Cardinal Egan should have been doing just the same if not better.  Especially when he is very orthodox in his faith.

[I am explaining a possible remedy to increasing the number of vocations by using Bishop Bruskewitz as an example]

As many good things that Cardinal Egan may have done, simply blaming his inability to bring in more priests because of the celibacy requirement is a tall-tell sign that this bishop is not enforcing orthodoxy in his diocese.  I have met a couple of married Catholic priests (Anglican Use) and their wives and without hesitation they categorically believe in priestly celibacy.  They understand full well the demands that are placed on priests and if they were to allowed to marry they would naturally have children adding an additional burden to their parish duties.

[I made the connection between the lack of vocations and the Cardinal's comments on priestly celibacy.  In fairness to the Cardinal, his excellency may or may have not meant to offer his comments to priestly celibacy as the problem to a lack of vocations]

The canard that if Eastern Rite Catholics are allowed to marry is not the issue.  Yes there are Catholic priests who are married, but those very same Eastern Rite Catholics are also suffering from a vocations crisis.  I won’t go into the merits of having a married priesthood because that isn’t the issue.  The issue is the lack of vocations, not a married priesthood.

Why does Bishop Bruskewitz have an (over) abundance of priests in his little diocese?  Probably because he actively leads by example and enforces Catholic teaching.  I know many good bishops who are as orthodox as they come, where they fail is in their utter disregard to bring in line dissident priests, parishes, and laymen.  Bishop Bruskewitz is the only bishop in the United States that still doesn’t allow female altar servers, has most of the tabernacles behind the altar (where they belong), keeps his priests in line in following the correct rubrics of the liturgy, crushes dissident when they rear their ugly head, and has strict guidelines for teaching catechesis.  Are there armies of mini-skirted extraordinary ministers giving Communion during Mass anywhere in his diocese?  I doubt it, rare if any.

If Cardinal Egan would have even bothered to visit many of his parishes would he have put his foot down on these many abuses?  Would he have disciplined priests who wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday and allow women to lead the homilies?  Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching?  No, no, and hell no.

[I am illustrating many of the issues that I witness around the country that go unaddressed by the local ordinaries.  I will admit that the very last line to the above paragraph was a bit much.]

I am sick and tired of meeting these wonderful bishops who are orthodox in their faith, but are too timid and diffident (or whatever their excuse is) to straighten out their diocese.  Enough is enough.  We need more St. Ambrose’s who aren’t afraid to enforce orthodoxy.  St. Ambrose  publicly rebuked Emperor Theodosius for indiscriminately killing thousands of rebels in Macedonia in the fourth century.  He didn’t cower behind the USCCB.  He didn’t sit to break bread and crack jokes with this murderer like Cardinal Egan did with then pro-abortion presidential candidate Barack Obama in the Al Smith dinner.  St. Ambrose did none of these things.  He risked death in order to discipline Emperor Theodosius.  All Cardinal Egan did was laugh at Obama’s jokes.  Too many bishops want to be everyone’s best friend and avoid responsibility to “get along and go along”.

Cardinal Egan has many positive attributes and successes, leading his flock is not one of them.  Remember what St. Athanasius said, “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops”.

For the article click here.

Update: I’ve clarified my comments regarding the actions of Cardinal Egan written in brackets ‘[ ]‘.  I was a bit over the top in one or two examples.  It shouldn’t take away from the point that I am making that we need true shepherds of the Church who lead and take action such as St. Ambrose.

Update #2: I have not altered any of the content of the post.  I’ve only added additional commentary in brackets.  Only the title has changed, which reflects the article very well, the fact that Cardinal Egan failed in raising vocations in the archdiocese.

23 Responses to Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

  • As a NY Catholic I have my own opinions on Cardinal Egan, but in all fairness if you actually listen to the interview, he DID NOT “that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.”

    First, he was asked about diminishing vocations across the nation (concurrent with the general decline of religion) and he noted that, while the visit of Benedict XVI did indeed provoke a rise within the diocese, overall the number is down.

    Secondly, he was asked about the matter of priestly celibacy and he stated that it was a perfectly legitimate discussion (it is) — since there are other rites which permit married priests he did not think an ‘across the board’ determination in one direction or the other was desirable. This is a perfectly legitimate point.

    He did NOT, however, tie his second opinion with the first, and I think you go too far in accusing him of such.

    (However, I’m more sympathetic to your basic point about catechesis and doctrinal orthodoxy).

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Christopher,

    That is why I used the word ‘insinuated’ in reference to connecting the lack of vocations to the discipline of celibacy in the priesthood.

    I sensed an escape valve that Cardinal Egan was trying to paint as a possible cause to his lack of success in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

  • “Insinuated” implies intent. My point is that I don’t think intent can be substantiated by listening to the interview.

    One question followed the other from the interviewer and Egan responded to both in succession. But in addressing the second question, he did not refer back to the first.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    The definition of “insinuated” is to suggest indirectly by allusion, hints, or innuendo.

    Why would Cardinal Egan bring up his inability to raise the number of vocations after the question of celibacy came up. So clearly the lack of vocations was on his mind when answering the celibacy question.

    Hence why I used the word “insinuated”.

  • Mark DeFrancisis says:

    Tito,

    If I were you (and I am not), I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. I see your concerns, but think you may have made a mistake here and read into his words.

    As Pope Benedict said yesterday, the Church is in too much danger of devouring itself within, in its hypercritical mode.

  • Mark DeFrancisis says:

    Egan? Please consider if you are being a tad bit harsh here. Again, I understand your alarm over the “vocations-crisis” and your desire for good shepherds to tend to the flock. But matters may be a bit more complex than you are leading on here.

    Remember, this is a brother in Christ who sacrificed his life in service to the Church, and is generally seen as pretty solid.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Mark,

    I understand where you are coming from.

    I was careful to criticize is lack of success in raising the number of vocations, not the man himself. He does a very difficult and time consuming job that most men would fold deep into this process.

    He is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.

  • Gerard E. says:

    The best we heard about him was- he balanced the books. And brought New York’s Hispanic community into full prominence within the diocese. Nice. My own problem with His Nibs was in the weeks following 9/11. When he spent quality time at the Vatican, no doubt enjoyin those lovely trattorias with his old buddies. While Rudy Giuliani- who His Nibs accurately called out for the multiple matrimonies- was hustling to two to three Funeral Masses daily for police officers and firefighters killed at WTC. In all fairness, most of the old skool sees have trouble bringing in young men to the seminaries. I quote the most faithful Father Shane Tharp in Oklahoma, schooled at our own St. Charles Seminary. That the local lads turned up noses as in ew you hayseed hick residing in our mansion. Sharp from Father Tharp- yeah and without guys like me your little mansion would be bulldozed and the property sold to build a shopping complex. Or something like that. In any event we pray new Archbishop Dolan makes the molding of Melchizideks a higher priority than outgoing His Nibs.

    (Oh, the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM- largely sponsored by NY Diocese- is pretty spiffy.)

  • Eric Brown says:

    I agree with Mark. It is certain that many of the Bishops may not enforce Catholic teaching as well as they could; we certainly don’t know the extent in which they try — all we see is end results and we look back in retrospect with criticism.

    I’m not sure of the criticism offered here is constructive.

    Why does Bishop Bruskewitz have an (over) abundance of priests in his little diocese? Probably because he actively leads by example and enforces Catholic teaching. I know many good bishops who are as orthodox as they come, where they fail is in their utter disregard to bring in line dissident priests, parishes, and laymen. Bishop Bruskewitz is the only bishop in the United States that still doesn’t allow female altar servers, has most of the tabernacles behind the altar (where they belong), keeps his priests in line in following the correct rubrics of the liturgy, crushes dissident when they rear their ugly head, and has strict guidelines for teaching catechesis. Are there armies of mini-skirted extraordinary ministers giving Communion during Mass anywhere in his diocese? I doubt it, rare if any.

    St. Paul himself wrote to several churches admonishing theological and ecclesial error. But the existence of errors doesn’t necessarily insinuate that Paul was not demanding orthodoxy to the Tradition or that there were no people of good faith in the communities trying to maintain that Tradition. I think it’s too simple to criticize someone and to the level of comparison to another Bishop as if the only factor influencing the difference in the two dioceses are the Bishops. I’m sure there’s a myriad of other factors and perhaps a lot of bad in the diocese that seemingly has less problems because we’re so far removed from the problems, cannot possibly know the ins and outs of every aspect of each parish in a diocese.

    This seems like a gloss over the principle of subsidiarity. It’s like saying the whole of economic prosperity during the Clinton years was solely the result of good leadership on behalf of President Clinton. Perhaps, God has graced the diocese with well-catechized, faithful priests who promote orthodoxy not just in their preaching, but by living good lives and many of the problems don’t reach the Bishop as one would think. I’d suppose from your reasoning that the Bishop is almost Superman, going everywhere in the diocese quelling the slightest problems. I know that’s hyperbolic, but that’s how, from my view, your wording presents itself.

    If Cardinal Egan would have even bothered to visit many of his parishes would he have put his foot down on these many abuses? Would he have disciplined priests who wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday and allow women to lead the homilies? Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.

    This comes across almost as an ad hominem attack. It is not so much the point that the Bishop should exert more effort in living out his vocation — and we all can heed that message — but it is the wording and the tone of it that seems very judgmental and presumptuous, as if this little bit would yield the almost perfect diocese described previously.

    In good charity, I’ve found lately that rather than expounding blatant criticism of someone else’s failures and shortcoming, not that they should never be expressed in good and charitable ways, but I took the opportunity to render some of my judgment on myself and observe my shortcomings and how they influence the Church and those outside of it and whether or not they are shown the light of the Gospel as preached by the Church through me. Now there is a clear role of a Shepherd, but I think in emotional frustration — especially given the widespread theological dissent in the Church right now — can easily lead us to blame much of the Church’s problems on a particular person, especially a Bishop. Not that I’m saying he does not have a pivotal role and a responsibility to promote and teach the faith; but I think your case here does not present itself well.

  • Mark DeFrancisis says:

    ‘Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.’

    Why the gratuitous homosexual slur?

  • Alan Phipps says:

    “I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. ”

    I absolutely agree. And the above comments are pertinent. Personally speaking, if this is the tone that American Catholic is going to take w/ regard to bishops, I will reconsider following this blog.

  • John Henry says:

    demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

    I think this is unfair to Cardinal Egan, as are the comparisons with other bishops. New York is a uniquely challenging diocese, and the population of Catholics in the Northeast as a whole has been shrinking. While there may be valid criticisms of the Cardinal, I think they should be offered in a gentler tone, and without the assumption that everything is his fault. Cardinal Egan comes in for a lot of criticism; but he was in a difficult diocese, and we should applaud him for being willing to serve as the bishop of New York even if we disagree with some of his decisions. There are Cardinals who are far more deserving of criticism than Cardinal Egan who, from all appearances, is a faithful bishop who was doing his best.

  • Alan Phipps says:

    “Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.”

    I found this post to be more of a spewing rant than an honest and thorough critique. But you are a blogger here, so it’s your prerogative what you choose to post. Peace be with you!

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Eric,

    Very eloquently put.

    Part of my post, or rant as Alan put it, was to explain the difference between an orthodox bishop who leads by example and an orthodox bishop who leads as well as takes action.

    Yes, I am personally frustrated by the rampant disregard to liturgy and catechesis. That is why I saw in Cardinal Egan’s comments an excellent example of someone choosing a straw man, priestly celibacy, as part of the problem to a lack of vocations, rather than the obvious solution so well exhibited by Bishop Bruskewitz of Nebraska.

    All,

    Again, where are the St. Ambrose’s of this country?

    I admit that I was a bit over the top on my criticism and I’ll rectify the situation on this particular column because hey, I don’t want Alan to be bored during his lunch break while boycotting AC ;~) .

    Thank you all for the constructive criticism.

  • [Egan] is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.

    [and]

    Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

    Seeing as you have sought to amend the content of the post, I would amend the title as well, which repeats the charge. IMHO.

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