Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Brief Summary of "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop"...

The book begins with a prologue devoted to the public revelation of his relationship with Paul Marcoux in 2002. Chapter 1 he devotes to his family heritage and early childhood. Chapter 2 covers his years in Latrobe, Penn. at St. Vincent Abbey as he went through high school and began college. Chapter 3 covers his education in Rome, the taking of his final vows, and his ordination. Chapter 4 is devoted to his years at Julliard and Columbia University and his first parish assignments. Chapter 5: his years as a priest at St. Vincent. Chapter 6: He is elected abbot of St. Vincent after the current abbot is seen as too harsh and uncompromising. Chapters 7-10 cover his years as Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Order in Rome beginning at the age of 40. Weakland was involved in liturgical reform and protecting his Order from some in the curia who want to create uniformity in a culturaly diverse Order with various forms of ministry. He also travelled A LOT. He tried to bring male and female Benedictine communities up-to-date. Especially with many female communities, he pushed for education in scripture and doctrine. Pope Paul would aid his effort in this when curia members tried to stop him. It was soon understood that Paul would always lend an ear to Weakland. Weakland points out that Paul always attempted to keep the peace between the traditionalists and progressives by appointing both groups within the curia and as bishops and cardinals.

Chapters 11-15: In 1977, Paul VI asks Weakland to go to Milwaukee. Weakland decides to follow the pope's wishes, partly because he is led to understand that being a bishop doesn't mean he needs to always keep his mouth shut. While rumors abound, it seems false to conclude that Paul was trying to get rid of Weakland. With the election of John Paul II in 1978, Weakland comes to understand keeping opinions to oneself is the preference of JPII. Weakland devotes time to the Economic pastoral, which he chaired and is obviously proud of (for good reason), and his numerous confrontations with curia officials. Their problem is not so much with his doctrine as it is with his attitude; they want his attitude to be one of total permissiveness to the papacy; there is no room for disagreement or dialogue. Weakland also spends a lot of time on the idea of collegiality among bishops from Vatican II that JPII has basically destroyed single-handedly (he carefully explains how JP II did this). JPII has basically made all bishops representives for the pope and prevented national bishops conferences from publishing pastoral letters without aggressive meddling from Rome.

He spends about 40 pages on the sexual-abuse scandal, but I wish he would have said more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have just finished the tome. Besides the subject that gets most of the press, (unfortunate that people focus on that topic) the book is truly an important work on the history of the inner workings of the Universal Church and the important work that AB Weakland offered to his community and to the renewal of the liturgy in the post Vat II period.

He was/is a leader in a very human way.