New York’s next cardinal

In the New York Times: “New York’s next cardinal.”

“In our big cities, there are very often more coven groups than there are Catholic schools, parishes and rectories put together,” the Rev. Dennis D. McManus, the archdiocese’s special adviser on demonic possession, warned on a show broadcast one Thanksgiving.

“Good Lord, I’ve been to some of them for dinner,” the archbishop said. “But go ahead.”

(Fr. McManus is an advisor to Vox Clara.)



  1. What’s more embarrassing at Mass? Rose vestments or a Big Cheesehead? Only Archbishop Dolan can answer that one.

  2. I have yet to see rose vestments that were actually any shade of rose. Oh that they really were! They are always some horrid shade of pink, very often pepto-bismol pink, or pastel salmon. They are never anything that would be recognised as rose. But, we may take heart in that so long as there is something to be hoped for there is hope. (Oh, and why is it that the fabric of which these ‘rose’ vestments are made always looks cheap cheap cheap?)

  3. Because they are used twice a year, they are time consuming to make, and that makes them expensive, expensive, expensive.

  4. David Gibson More Roman, less ‘catholic’ gives the better perspective that B16 is not following up on the internationalization of the Curia by JP2 , but rather stacking it and the Curia with Italians and first world people in comparison to the soaring numbers of Catholics elsewhere.

    Gibson attributes this to B16’s years in the Curia, and his European centered orientation. Both probably have some influence, but I think there is more.

    Harvey Cox in The Future of Faith recounts his meeting with Ratizinger in 1988. Ratizinger made it clear that the primary theological problem was not European liberalism like Kung, or left wing political ideologies like Boff’s but the danger of syncretism, mainly in the non-western world:

    It was the fusing of Christian with indigenous local spiritual practices that, he said obscured the Christian content. The example he offered was the African custom of mixing Christian initiation rites such as Baptism and Confirmation with initiation into the tribe itself. When I asked how one could possibly sort out one from the other, he smiled shook his head and admitted it was not easy. But then he looked at me calmly and added “We handle it by working closely with the bishops”.

    It looks like African and Asian Catholics, including cardinals and bishops, may be second class citizens of the Church for awhile until Rome is sure they have left all danger of syncretism behind.

    1. Good points, Jack. And historians will note that much of Vatican II bishops gained education and insight into the third world church and some were even moved to “conversion” so that they opened their minds to Christian ecumenism and southern hemisphere enculturation – seeing the enormous value of both.

      This is really the story of the church’s tradition – ready examples would be the debate in Jerusalem between Jewish Christians and Gentiles; the debates during the Spanish colonization of Mexico and the Caribbean; the struggle over mission lands and direction in South America; the Chinese Rite controversy; the 20th century debate over liberation theology and base communities. In each, money and power played a dynamic role in supporting control and power via already established Eurocentric and controlled majorities. The fights had little to do with theology or even liturgy altho they often are described that way or in the case of liberation theology seen through a European anti-communism lense.

      Would suggest that we are facing another Jewish Christian vs. Gentile paradigm shift and folks such as B16 will eventually be pushed aside by demographics, southern hemisphere expansion, and the needs of the church. This also sheds light on the “hermeneutic” struggle – tradition (continuity) has much more to do with our theology, ecclesiology, and liturgy than it does the Eurocentric model that has been in place since before Trent. For some, the hermeneutic of continuity only reinforces what they are comfortable with – the Eurocentric, tridentine church.

  5. John Allen brings up the problem at NCR, too.

    Allen gives B16 a pass by explaining his appointments as technocrats rather than ideologists, and lavishes his usual praise upon Dolan as the rising star of the Church.

    There is a much simpler explanation to the pattern of appointments in my opinion. The people may be in the South but the money is in Europe and North America. Rome needs that money not only for their own maintenance but to dole out money to the African bishops on their ad limina visits. It helps keep them in line on syncretism, etc.

    Yes Africa and Asian may be kept under control and out of power by money and the pattern of Cardinal appointments. But sooner or later resentment will rise. The Church may continue its Euro-centric preoccupation for a decade and pontificate or two, but then strong and unpredictable changes will occur, maybe more signficant than Vatican II.

    Gibson and Allen are good journalists but they are not Jason Berry. Follow the money trail.

  6. JR and BdH –
    Not to be argumentative, but to pose a couple of questions:
    It seems to me that syncretism is quite an old friend of the Church’s; not only in the historic conversion of Europe, but in over-seas mission work amongst indigenous peoples. This, in fact, is one of the faults to which Protestants call attention, namely, the degree to which native religious beliefs and practices more or less (usually more) become embroidered into the fabric of the Catholic faith even though they don’t fit very well. This is pervasive in Africa and South America. It is even a reality in our own country, with large numbers of Spanish unabashedly ‘worshipping’ OL of Guadalupe as a goddess. In large areas of the globe the cult of saints, a thin disguise for local religion, is of far greater concern than God Himself or Jesus. And, I don’t hear of any Catholic authorities disabusing these person of their errors.

    As for this all-but-pejorative, ‘Eurocentric’: while not necessarily opposing valid expressions of the Faith through other cultures, I cannot but wince whenever I hear people speaking of Eurocentricity as though there were something wrong with it. It IS the culture of many of us in this country, and yet it is almost as though we were supposed to disown it in shame. We have traded our true culture for American pop music in our churches, and many are loathe to admit any historical connection to an Euro-centrism that they pretend is foreign. Yet, no one would think of telling the appropriate persons that their church is too Afro-centric, or too Hispano-centric, or too Asian-centric, etc. Nor am I suggesting that they should. So, why this all-too-willing cultural suicide of many of those of European heritage? – an heritage which is, also, good.

  7. MJO – your points make sense but it is a tension, assimilation, inovation that has been going forever. My opinion backed up by many experts observing the church over the last 50 years is that Paul VI’s efforts to broaden the church’s administration, appointment of pastoral, local bishops, and implement/focus on local conferences and cultures has been stymied by B16. The church’s best Tradition is both/and and the currents/pendelum does swing to extremes at times. Most serious experts would state that we are facing a paradigm shift – demographically, culturally, liturgically, ecclesiologically. The “Eurocentrism” will either die a natural death or, in a better world, plan deliberately to encompass and learn from the southern hemisphere, from other cultures, from the Eastern Church, yes, even from other Christian churches and other world religions.

    You miss the point in your last sentences – my use of Eurocentric was descriptive of the reality of the curia and voting Cardinals – to label this group as Eurocentric is a fact and is accurate. It has nothing to do with various world cultures or language groups = you confuse the two images.

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