Saturday, May 3, 2003

Rod Dreher, now of the the Dallas Morning News, has some words for his new bishops:

The pain and suffering that Bishop Grahmann has inflicted on this diocese with his mismanagement of sexually abusive priests – most especially in the Rudy Kos case – would have made a priest with the barest hint of a conscience retire to a monastery to do penance for the rest of his days. Bishop Grahmann, whose motto might be, with apologies to Louis XIV, "L'Eglise, c'est moi" (I am the church), has carried on with a royal disregard for the good of the diocese and its people. Given the disastrous blow to diocesan morale, credibility and finances caused by his leadership, it was clear even to those of us who followed this story from afar that Dallas Catholics needed a fresh start. Bishop Galante would have given us that. Bishop Grahmann wouldn't have it.

Though he is incomparably more diplomatic than Bishop Grahmann, it must be said that Bishop Galante hasn't distinguished himself as a man of vision here, even in his limited role. He had to be prodded by media revelations into dealing responsibly with Cliff Garner, the local priest who participated in a pornographic and salacious Web site for gay Catholic clerics. As a designated point man for the U.S. bishops' conference on the priest abuse scandal, Bishop Galante has talked a lot about the problem but hasn't forthrightly addressed the root causes of the systemic corruption. (To be fair, he isn't alone among the bishops.)

Though Bishop Galante did us all a service in revealing how Bishop Grahmann thwarted him as he tried to remove alleged genital groper Ramon Alvarez from the cathedral, the coadjutor is seen as an ambitious time server by knowledgeable clerics, both here and in Rome. Be that as it may, Bishop Galante deserved a chance; Bishop Grahmann refused him and got away with it.

That the Vatican has allowed Bishop Grahmann to persist in his obstinacy suggests that he has a protector in Rome. Who in the Holy See is looking out for the laity in Dallas?

Surely somewhere in the Catholic hierarchy, there must be a bishop or two who see the episcopate as a form of service, not as personal property of the sitting bishop, to be defended no matter what the cost.