Sunday, July 5, 2009
Bishops are to be loving shepherds...
The pope recently spoke these words to newly installed archbishops visiting Rome. Although these are good words in and of themselves, maybe the situation of Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho is in the background. Sobrinho was the archbishop of Recife and Olinda Brazil. He was sent there in 1979 to replace Dom Helder Camara and his witness of loving compassion as well as his support of liberation theology.
Sobrinho has been in the news because he publically reminded a 9 year old, who had been repeatedly rapedy by her step-father for years, that the abortion she had meant that she was excommunicated per canon law. There was an uproar in Brazil for Sobrinho's callous response to the situation and even Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Acadamy for Life stated that the church's first reaction should have been to minister to the girl.
Pope Benedict offically accepted Sobrinho's resignation on July 1st. Sobrinho is now 76. His resignation could have been accepted a year ago, when he turned 75. Bishops who are in the pope's favor often do not have their resignation accepted for years after turning 75. I'm guessing that Sobrinho's conduct did not please the pope. It is also a reminder that perhaps Archbishop Burke, formerly of St. Louis was really demoted when he received his Vatican post. I view this all as good news: callous bishops that were popular with JPII are perhaps not popular with Benedict.
A Faithful Catholic