US bishops: new chair of liturgy committee

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, at their plenary meeting in Baltimore, have just elected a new chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship. The new chair was to have been Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, but he has been elected USCCB vice-president. Two bishops agreed at the last minute to run: Bishop Serratelli and Archbishop Vigneron. The vote went to Saratelli, 114-112.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, NJ, has served as a member of the Committee on Divine Worship and Chairman of the Ad hoc Sub-Committee for the Review of Scripture Translations. He is also the Commissioner of the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and member of the Vox Clara Commission. Bishop Serratelli also serves on the Task Force for the Review of the Lectionary, Ad hoc Committee for the Review of the Catechism and the Ad hoc Committee for the Spanish Bible for the Church in America.



  1. My analysis of the bishops is that they are basically in denial about Francis. Probably the best thing we could do is “quarantine” them from the rest of the Field Hospital while they recover.

    The Apostolic Delegate did a good job of helping them in a very diplomatic way to understand and live with Francis, and he did it very much by connecting Francis to a Pope that we don’t hear much about, Paul VI. I think his message was to the moderate bishops that Francis like Paul VI has a tough job, but just like Paul VI is determined to implement Vatican II.

    Michael Sean Winters over at NCR comments Three years ago, Chaput also ran for the presidency and vice presidency of the conference. And he lost then too, with almost the same number of votes. Turns out there is a significant number of bishops who like the culture warrior approach. And if the nuncio wants to know just how many bishops in the US do not really much like Pope Francis, he now knows precisely: 87.

    A few bishops like O’Malley understand Francis very well, and that Americans and American Catholics are very committed to the poor, etc. and that the bishops mainly need to get out of the way with their involvement in politics and let our light shine.

    Some bishops like the new President have the background (e.g. social work and pastoral) to do what is required and just need to get on board with the new priorities. I found his “acceptance’ posted on his diocesan website to be a model of “Francis,” pray for me, etc. down to the concluding “Hail Mary.

    Others like Dolan are more mischievous in their denial turning his religious liberty campaign global.

    Maybe the bishops will be able to unite around immigration since most of the immigrants are Catholic and impress the Pope, liberal Catholics, and Democrats and thereby shed some of their cultural warrior image.

    The bishops are really, really out of touch. I listened to their enthusiasm about the pornography issue. Don’t they realize that they have not put the sexual abuse issue behind them, that a Canadian bishop was arrested for pornography on his computer, that several bishops are in trouble because of pornography on priest’s computers which they covered up.

    And then their decision to have “fear of the Lord” rather than “awe and wonder” in the confirmation ritual, and their argument that this will be explained in catechesis. Obvious they do not have the smell of the sheep. That kind of catechesis is what makes confirmation an exit ritual!

    I continue to pray for New Bishops just like I prayed for a New Pope. Personally since I don’t work for the church I don’t need New Bishops. Francis has given me all the words and examples to condemn everything I dislike about the bishops and clergy by using the words of Francis However I understand that many people who work for the church need new bishops, so I will continue to pray for that intention for their sake.

  2. Spot on Jack. These “royal courtiers” are biding their time hoping that Francis won’t last or live long. I hope Francis lives to 100!

  3. That’s a heck of a lot of committees for one bishop. Looks like lots of airport time.

    As for the issue of pornography, I’m not going to bash the bishops on that one. I talk to a lot of men, college-age and older. I know that many of them, or rather us, struggle with our views of sexuality, how we relate to our wives and other women, and with issues of addiction.

    Are the bishops the right guys to lead on this? No. Lay men have to step up. But if the USCCB wants to divert resources from the culturewar to 12-step programs, more power to that.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #4:


      I agree with you that pornography is an issue. It is just that bishops don’t have the creditability to lead on the issue, and more importantly are in complete denial about their lack of credibility.

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #5:

        As a resident of metro Kansas City, I’m curious as to whether KC Bp Robert Finn — convicted of failing to report child pornography found on a priest’s computer to the proper authorities in a timely manner — took part in the discussion.

        His continuing presence as a bishop certainly makes it hard to take the rest of the USCCB seriously on this. “Do as we say, but not as we do” is no way to lead.

      2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #5:
        Jack, I absolutely agree.

        Per Peter’s comment, Bishop Finn’s first pastoral letter in 2007 addressed pornography. At the time (as a resident of KC) I thought little of the snickers–this was and is a real issue. Unfortunately. the bishop narrowed his focus to “uncatechized” lay men turning on the basement computer at 3AM or signing up for a 10-year subscription to Penthouse. A real opportunity was missed.

        Not enough credibility. Too much naivete. But if they want to divert a few mil from anti-gay initiatives into a real defense of marriage, I will applaud that funding priority. This is where the Knights of Columbus can really step to the plate.

  4. Well Finn did not speak at the Bishop’s discussion but I am dismayed that he once issued a pastoral letter on this topic.

    While I have had little interest in the problem of pornography, I suspect like alcoholism, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol it is probably best treated as primarily a personal behavioral health problem and only secondarily as a societal and religious problem.

    While my own high blood pressure is due in part to sensitivity to sodium, I don’t think everyone should go on a low sodium diet any more than I think we should practice prohibition.

    However I do think that society has an obligation to provide low sodium alternatives and reduce the occasions when alcohol is promoted and served and in general to inform people of the health risks involved, especially for some people, in high sodium and alcohol consumption.

    Not only do people who have these problems need to take responsibility for them, their brothers and sisters also need to be sensitive to the particular vulnerabilities of others even if they may not have them themselves.

    Several decades ago I discovered my high blood pressure problem about the same time the communal sacrament of the sick became available. I choose to be anointed regularly in part as a public recognition that I have a serious health problem that needs to be managed by self-discipline and that deserves the support and collaboration of my brothers and sisters. I think the public nature of the sacrament of the sick is very helpful in this regard.

    If the bishops and the Knights of Columbus want to do something about pornography I suggest they start a program in all dioceses for priests and employees of the diocese who have a pornography problem along the lines of the behavioral health model.

    Each person needs to recognize they have a behavioral health problem. This might be facilitated by the diocese adopting “tough love” policies about the possession and use of pornography and its intention to monitor computers, etc. about this after a period of time.

    A “merciful” environment of support groups and general community education needs to be created that encourages both people to come forward with their problems and for other people to accept them as human beings rather than shunning them as alcoholics, or fat, or perverted because we don’t have their problem.

    Recently a priest here in Cleveland was arrested in a park by an off duty park officer for soliciting sex, and public masturbation. He was also HIV positive. His parishioners were stunned and in disbelief. This priest obviously needed help a long time ago.

    We need to take Francis teaching about all being sinners and mercy and use it to create the opportunity to recognize problems like alcoholism and pornography among priests. If we create a good model for the recognition of behavioral health problems among the clergy (including the bishops themselves) then perhaps we can expand that to laity and the rest of society.

  5. To Jack Rakosky:
    The notion that pornography is a private matter and to be compared with high blood pressure is preposterious. It is a very serious issue and it destroys the mind of so many, especially men, converting women into objects of private perverse pleasure. It like any other sin is far from being a private matter, when a large percentage of the websites on Internet spew it out, and it is a huge industry. For many it is a serious addiction and closely related to masturbation, as those hwo engage in it frequently carry out their self centered phantasies by masturbating.

  6. As I suspected when the Bishops were so foolish as to take upon themselves the issue of pornography, National Catholic Reporter is right on their tail.

    Editorial: Don’t ignore clergy in effects of pornography

    Thirty-seven percent of male clergy of various faith traditions report Internet pornography as “being a current struggle,” and 57 percent of that group report compulsive Internet pornography use, according to a paper, “The Internet and Pornography,” delivered during a 2012 symposium on clergy sexual abuse sponsored by the Vatican at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Representatives of 110 national bishops’ conferences and 30 religious orders attended that symposium.

    “The most significant signs of this vulnerability are issues related to loneliness and isolation, the lack of self-care, higher expectations of themselves, entitlement, and lack of education about this aspect of the Internet,” the paper said.

    Physician, heal thyself.

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