I recently noted that columnist/blogger Andrew Sullivan seemed to be reaching a point of realizing that the Roman Catholic Church is not only incapable of change, but seems headed on an anti-gay jihad as gay church employees are fired and married gays are denied the sacraments and told that they must divorce their legally wed spouses if they wish ti return to the fold. Yet there remain those who continue to cling to the misbegotten hope that Pope Francis will usher in change and halt the Church's slide into irrelevance with more and more American Catholics even though officially NOTHING has changed to date doctrinally and Francis has yet to fire some of the reactionaries in the Church hierarchy. A case in point is a column in the Washington Post which wants to believe that the appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich as the new archbishop of Chicago is the harbinger of needed change. Sadly, I think the column is little more than a lot of wishful thinking. Here are excerpts:
Leaders can make decisions that signal big changes in the political, religious and ethical landscape. In naming Bishop Blase Cupich the new archbishop of Chicago, Pope Francis did just that.Cupich, now the bishop of Spokane, Wash., has been described in media accounts as a “moderate” within the Catholic Church. Temperamentally, this is exactly what he is, an advocate of dialogue and civility. He’s also wise about rejecting labels.
He has been a courageous voice inside the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops against a culture-war approach to evangelization and politics that pushes so many away from the Gospel.
He has also been as tough as any prelate in his candor about the church’s profound failures during the sex abuse crisis. “Catholics have been hurt by the moral failings of some priests,” Cupich wrote in 2010, “but they have been hurt and angered even more by bishops who failed to put children first.” He knows the church will never get beyond this scandal until it’s obvious to the faithful that the hierarchy understands how deeply Catholicism was marred by institutional sin, not only by individual crimes.
His appointment will have an impact beyond the Catholic Church because it tells us a great deal about the role Pope Francis wants the church to play in American life. Cupich played this down, too. “I think he sent a pastor, not a message,” he told reporters.But in his case, the pastor is the message. Because of appointments made by Pope John Paul II and, to a lesser degree, Pope Benedict XVI, the bishops’ conference has moved to the right over the past quarter-century. Many conservative bishops have expressed uneasiness or even skepticism about Francis’s leadership — notably his rejection of the idea that issues such as abortion and homosexuality take precedence over economic justice and care for the marginalized. Francis has also caused discomfort by insisting on a church that accompanies people on their journeys rather than expending most of its energy condemning and judging them.
Of the four most politically potent posts in the American hierarchy — the archbishops of Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington — Chicago was the first to come open since Francis’s election. In naming Cupich, the pope sent the strongest possible hint that he wants the American church to move in his direction.
There is more to the column and I truly would like to believe that the author is correct, but I will not be holding my breath. The only thing that will bring real change to Catholicism is the massive exit of Catholics who are fed up with the Church's hypocrisy and the sexual obsession of neurotic old men in dresses.