"In causis translationis applicentur praescripta canonis 1747, servata aequitate canonica et prae oculis habita salute animarum, quae in Ecclesia suprema semper lex esse debet."
"In cases of transfer the prescripts of canon 1747 are to be applied, canonical equity is to be observed, and the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one's eyes."
(Code of Canon Law, 1752)
+ + +
Over at the Closed Cafeteria, Gerald Augustinus comments on the situation in the Twin Cities, citing Dom Bettinelli's report of same. The focus is on one priest in particular, who gets reassigned to what could be construed as an undesirable assignment, after (coincidentally???) commenting publicly on a rather explicit "family life education" program for children in diocesan schools. This, in a diocese where one parish, St Joan of Arc, is able to maintain objectionable, even heretical practices, without interference.
Now some people want to know, why do the good guys get a raw deal, while nut cases get to run around loose? Many of the pundits in the Catholic blogosphere can't seem to figure this out, but it's not that hard, really.
In both cases, it's the path of least resistance.
Father Altier is an obedient, faithful priest. He will stand on his head in the corner if his bishop wants him to, and offer it up for the Poor Souls. Archbishop Flynn is a first-class weenie, afraid of his own shadow, but he's not stupid. He knows this about Father Altier.
And that's not all. Archbishop Weenie could conceivably assign a priest to Joan of Arc who's halfway orthodox, but who will spend the first year doing nothing but fighting the staff, the parishioners, the lay preachers, the clowns and dancing girls and I-don't-know-what-all, the attention from the press every time they get tipped off, and calls from the chancery (probably a minion who's sympathetic with the parishioners and staff) wondering why their little problem in the suburbs isn't solved yet.
The "problem" is that faithful Catholics like to behave. If you're a bishop and you need to close a dissident parish to merge it with another to help pay for all the stupid things your predecessor let happen, the aging trust-fund hippies who run around loose in the place will throw a tantrum called a sit-in, because they know it will get bad publicity for the bishop, who will do anything to keep the peace. On the other hand, if you close a parish whose only mission is the Old Latin Mass and a few little old ladies, they'll complain, they'll get a write-up in The Wanderer. But in the end, they will leave quietly, kissing your ring (or whatever else you expose for veneration) on the way out. Because staging a sit-in just isn't their style, even if they COULD work it around their jobs.
In both cases, you keep the peace, and the money rolling in. (That sound about right, Your Immenseness?)
Now, some of these bishops may well wish to do the right thing and restore a sense of Catholic order. But they think it's hard. The truth is, it's easy. It's not what you do, it's what you STOP doing.
You have to stop trying to preserve the status quo.
Because, once you decide that being a suck-up artist is expendable, it's as easy as it would have been for the average bishop fifty years ago at the slightest hint of trouble. Guys like Bruskewitz, Finn, Vasa, and a few others -- they gave up caring what the world outside the Vatican walls thinks about them a long time ago. Bruskewitz has to let the jokes from fellow-bishops wash off his back like a duck at annual meetings. (As a guy with a press pass a few years ago, it wasn't hard to spot.)
He takes it like a man.
We'll get more, not fewer of them, in the years ahead. Don't expect them all at once, though. Just sit back and watch, because the opera's just beginning, and the fat lady's still in makeup.
(UPDATE: The Roamin' Roman wants to shed some light on the re-assignment in question, which could very well be routine. In fact, the priest in question may have asked for it. I probably would have too. Some guys actually want a backwater assignment when things downtown get bad enough; they get to be left alone! Meanwhile, I'd remind the would-be Voices of Reason, that many of our bishops used to have what one of them called "the benefit of the doubt" -- about one and a half billion dollars ago.)