Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ecclesial Backbone Award 2011 — Time's running out to vote!

Just as a little reminder, folks: Sunday is your last day to vote for the recipient of the Ecclesial Backbone Award for 2011!

Also, you can start sending in your nominations for 2012.  Here are the parameters I look at:
  • The nominee must be an active bishop of the Church (not including the Pope): the ordinary of a non-titular diocese or the major superior of a religious order.  Bishops emeritus and cardinal prefects of the Roman Curia should not be considered ... unless their actions really cause a flap!  And since the goal is to celebrate episcopal leadership, lay people and other priests or religious are not concerned.
  • Ideally, the bishop has performed an act of leadership that is in defense of Catholic orthodox tradition, on a matter of internal discipline or catechesis, such as (mirabile dictu!) excommunicating a prominent pro-abortion politician or making a positive rule within his diocese requiring a particular set of actions or denying Catholic status to some dissident group.
  • Ideally, the action has not only drawn media attention but has caused a prominent organ of Catholic dissent (e.g., National Catholic Distorter, USCatholic, Commonweal) to froth at the mouth.
  • While the above two parameters are the ideal, I'm open to considering other acts that are timely, firmly orthodox, and directed towards the Catholic faithful on matters of faith and morals, provided those actions show moral courage (for instance, if they take place in a potentially hostile context) and call for Catholic solidarity, authentic witness and/or authentic practice of the Faith (e.g., frequent confession, observing holy days of obligation, chastity, etc.).
The nominees for 2011 are:

  • Cdl. Francis H. George of Chicago:  For going all the way and suspending the wayward Fr. Michael Pfleger after the latter, the controversial pastor of St. Sabina, refused transfer to Leo High School, forgetting that obedience to the bishop was one of his priestly vows.
  • Cdl. George Pell of Sydney: For delivering a timely slap in the face to an Irish audience: "People are saying to me the same things they were saying to me back in 1998; we need this, we need that, nobody is doing anything — well, if nobody else is doing anything then you have to get it started yourself and if help comes, as it might or might not, at least you’re doing things."  Read the post to see the rest of that paragraph, which is a definite challenge to the people of the Catholic Church in Ireland to quit feeling sorry for themselves and get to work on their problems.
  • Abp. Allen H. Vigneron: For taking a loud, public stance against the meeting of the American Catholic Council meeting, warning them that the meeting was taking place without his approval, and advising his priests and deacons that participation in an illicitly concelebrated Mass was grounds for canonical action up to and including dismissal from the clerical state.  While the meeting was still held, drawing a crowd of about 2,000, Abp. Vigneron didn't pretend that it didn't exist, or that nothing was wrong with it.
  • Abp. John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis: For "outing" Catholics for Marriage Equality MN as having "no recognition from nor affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church".  Abp. Nienstedt has done some other things worthy of mention; but since I'm limiting it to matters of internal discipline and doctrine, this is the matter that matters.
  • Bp. Joseph D. Foys of Covington: For getting both the Fishwrap and USCatholic in a rip-roaring rage over his decision to proscribe the orans position and hand-holding by the laity during the "Our Father".  If Commonweal or America had pontificated on his decision, he would have pulled off a hat trick.