+Kurtz's Opening Address

This article appears in the USCCB Fall 2014 feature series. View the full series.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the text.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz introduces the theme of family as the central organizing motif of his talk. Notes that he came from the synod and that the discussions were characterized by fruitful dialogue. He said the purpose of the synod was to strengthen witness to the Church’s teaching on marriage, deepen pastoral accompaniment of those who face challenges in their families, and renew confidence among people that they can find in marriage and family life a fruitful vocation.

+Kurtz commends the “Theology of the Body,” of St. John Paul II. Hmmmm. I think the “theology of the body” has some wonderful sentiments, and it is almost the only thing that the Church proposes in this area. But, in the wrong hands, and by wrong hands, I mean those who approach this theology in a moralistic way, the Theology of the Body is dangerous, off-putting and comes off as a little kookie.

Archbishop Kurtz then calls the bishops to practice evangelization by means of “serving the voiceless and the vulnerable.” He commends the bishops for their work in their diocese with groups like Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services. He gives a big shout out to Msgr. Jenkins and the staff at the USCCB. “You have been sterling in your leadership and service!” +Kurtz said. For the first time in my life, I am thinking a return to the gold standard might be a good thing.

+Kurtz mentions religious liberty and vows that the bishops will continue to fight that fight, no indication that there will be a recalibration, although, like Cardinal Dolan last year, +Kurtz focuses the religious liberty issue on the situations of Catholics in those parts of the world where there is real persecution. He mentioned that the Holy Father inquired about the health of Cardinal Francis George during the recent synod and asks for a round of applause for the cardinal. The bishops give him a rousing and standing ovation. The cardinal is very frail, walking on crutches through the long halls of the hotel.

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Overall, it is obvious that the text was written by a committee - it has the laundry list flavor of a State of the Union speech. It is fine, so far as it goes. One gets the sense that +Kurtz is a fine pastor, and a good bishop, but I do not detect a real sense of direction from the speech. The excitement in the pews occasioned by Pope Francis seems to be kept outside the doors of the ballroom here in Baltimore.  

 


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