Deceased cardinal, new archbishop and fictional president all attract attention
By Tony Staley
From time-to-time, several things strike my fancy, rather than
one. This is one of those times.
The death of Card. John O'Connor takes a real prince of the
church from our midst. He was someone who made non-Catholics -
particularly in the media - scratch their heads because they
couldn't pigeon-hole him. For example, he was a longtime U.S.
Navy chaplain, but he also played a key role in writing the U.S.
bishops' pastoral letter on peace. He opposed both abortion and
capital punishment. He was an outspoken opponent of homosexual
behavior, but often worked personally with dying AIDS patients.
I suspect that unlike the media, Jesus would see such behavior as
consistent with his own life. As one whose mother was single when
he was conceived, Jesus today would be an ideal target for
abortion; he also was a victim of capital punishment, so I can't
imagine Jesus favoring either practice. While Jesus was an
outspoken champion of peace in both words - "Peace be with you" -
and actions - directing his followers to put their weapons away
when he was arrested - Jesus ministered to a Roman centurion by
healing his daughter. And while he often told people to sin no
more, he often said he came to help sinners, not the saved.
On a personal note, I'm not sure if I ever saw Card. O'Connor in
person, but I did talk about him with some of the staff at
Catholic New York, his newspaper. They told me how he would sleep
only four or five hours a night, then read, write and do other
tasks bishops do. They said he opened the front door to St.
Patrick's Cathedral every morning where the New York press corps,
eagerly awaited a quote for their daily reports.
What would Jesus do? I think he would do much as Card. O'Connor
did - uphold the law, minister to the needy and banter with the
When it was announced Thursday morning that Bp. Edward Egan of
Bridgeport, Conn., had been named the new Archbishop of New York,
I had to chuckle. The news reports called him a conservative and
a staunch Vatican supporter who opposes abortion, ordaining women
and homosexual activity. Could anyone possibly have expected the
Vatican to name as Archbishop of New York (or bishop of anywhere
else) someone with the opposite views on any of these issues. If
there is anyone who thinks that way, they probably should be
allowed in public only under close supervision.
While I seem to have a knack for dooming TV shows by endorsing
them, I'm going to try it again. Regular readers may recall that
a couple of years ago I strongly recommended Nothing Sacred, the
ABC program that was unjustifiably savaged by the Catholic
League, whose merciless and baseless attacks convinced numerous
people not to watch despite the assurances of saner heads. Then,
a few weeks back, before I could even write urging people to
watch NBC's animated series, God, the Devil and Bob, the local
affiliate and the network both pulled the plug. (And for the
reverse, a few years back when NYPD Blue first went on the air,
amidst controversy, I wrote that no one should get upset because
it wouldn't last more than a few weeks.)
Anyway, because I'm a slower learner (and because it's already
proven itself to be a ratings success), I'm recommending another
program - The West Wing (8 p.m. Wednesday on WGBA, channel 26).
The NBC series stars Martin Sheen as a fictional U.S. president
Josiah Bartlet, sort of a combination Harry Truman, John Kennedy,
Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Unlike Clinton, Bartlet has a
conscience and morals, and is not an opportunist.
And Bartlet, like Sheen, is a staunch Catholic. Sheen told the
Associated Press that Bartlet "is not Catholic by accident. We
added that so that he would have a moral frame of reference, and
take personal responsibility for sin."
If you haven't watched it yet, try it for a few weeks. It's the
kind of program that makes me feel proud to be a Catholic and an
American while giving me hope about politics.
And one final note. On May 5, we printed an eight-page supplement
on the Green Bay Diocese's parish planning process. We're looking
at the possibility of printing additional copies for sale to
parishes. To place an order, phone Barb Gauthier at (920)437-7531
or 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8208.