The fear of change

American Papist has news that Roger Cardinal Mahoney, archbishop of Los Angeles, has approved a coadjutor bishop to eventuelly succeed him. Interesting news for LA, of course.

What struck me was the following paragraph:

Some of the faculty at St. John’s Seminary – where new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are trained – have expressed concern that the new coadjutor bishop will lean more “conservative” than his predecessor, and some have even threatened to resign or retire if this turns out to be the case.

What would be the cause of such an enormous fear, which by no means is limited to Los Angeles? We’ve seen the same reactions very recently surrounding the appointment of Msgr. Léonard in Brussels, and here in the Netherlands, bishops like Msgr. van den Hende and Msgr. Eijk have also been cause for similar threats.

A new bishop – or any new ‘boss’, really – will do things differently and employees will notice changes. Some changes will be minor, some perhaps quite major. And sometimes these changes may be countered by such threats as quoted above. But the striking thing in this case is that the mere mention of a new bishop leads to the threats. It is as if people go from square one to square nine or something, missing a few steps in between.

Could the reason to fear conservatism or orthodoxy, which are often treated as the same (they really are not), possibly be an awareness, perhaps subconsciously, that the current situation has no hope to continue for all eternity? That eventually things must return to the condition they are supposed to be in?

For the Church, certainly in this country, that means that the empty churches, lack of priests and associated lack of knowledge about the faith, to mention but a few points, must end. And people know that their liberal course which relativises anything that even smells of faith has no hope of continuing. In the end this approach will kill itself.

So, yes, I fully understand why some people would fear an orthodox boss. He is the personification of the closed road they’re on. Let’s hope and pray that future appointments, in LA and elsewhere, will shows that there is no need for fear, even if there is need for change.


One thought on “The fear of change”

  1. While this might be part of my and others motivations, speaking for myself and the other ‘liberals’ I know this is not the main reason.

    Sure I am the last to suggests that the horizontal focus cannot impede the vertical focus (and most thoughts you have on it, including the above), but the worry is a turning away from modernity, anti-intellectualism, in- and outgroup effects, you catch the drift. Those do not have to coincide with a return to the sources of course, but I think this worry is understandable even if one feels it isn’t warranted.

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