"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

There he goes again

While some of the poor (especially poor women of childbearing age) suffer from iron deficiency, a far worse affliction is irony-deficiency. One of the most egregious examples of that outside the Episcopal Church is Bishop William Skylstad, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. I've remarked on this problem before regarding the issue of homosexual priests, but now he's offered up an even funnier example.

In a letter to the Speaker of the House criticizing the recent House-Senate conference-committee budget cuts in social programs—the bulk of which merely reduce their funding's rate of increase—he says: "... we urge you to reject the conference agreement and work for policies that put poor children and families first." Geez. I can understand a rational, cost-benefit argument that such programs are good investments and should thus be better funded. Since I am not qualified to judge the details about the programs at issue, I keep an open mind. But Skylstad's advice is just knee-jerking, the sort that once got the USCCB dubbed "the Democratic Party at prayer." What makes it worse now is that he expects it to be taken seriously.

Skylstad's diocese operates under federal bankruptcy protection because of civil-damage awards made in virtue of its failure for many years to protect minors, mostly teenage boys, from traumatic sexual abuse at the hands of mostly homosexual priests. Vocations in the diocese hover near zero and some parish churches are being closed for consolidation. Admittedly, Skylstad did not cause such problems originally, but neither has he done much to ameliorate them. Given the dire situation on his home turf, only a serious irony-deficiency, coupled with a blithe assumption of Congressional ignorance, can explain how he expects his budgetary advice on behalf of the victimized poor to be taken seriously. Once again, it's clear that the leadership of the American episcopate just doesn't get it.

Of course, neither did Senator Kerry, the rabidly pro-abortion Presidential candidate whose bishop, struggling with the worst scandal-related problems in the American Church, refused to excommunicate him for that. Too many of these guys live in a twilight zone of their own making. It's time for archbishops with realism and backbone, such as Burke of St. Louis and Chaput of Denver, to set these guys straight.
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