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Interview with Archbishop Dennis Schnurr



tLike members of any profession, bishops come with different skill sets: Some may be bricks-and-mortar men, some have a flair for public relations, some are formidable behind-the-scenes powerbrokers, and some are just simple pastoral figures.

tThen there’s Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, who for most of his ecclesiastical career has been the guy who makes the church's trains run on time.

tSchnurr says his favorite subjects in school were math and physics (in addition, of course, to religion), and it shows. His reputation for no-nonsense, nuts-and-bolts mamagerial skill have landed him at one point or another in almost every administrative position of consequence in the American Catholic church: After various gigs in his home diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, Schnurr was called to work at the nunciature, or papal embassy, in Washington, D.C., in 1985. Four years later he joined the staff of the bishops’ conference, eventually serving as general secretary from 1995 to 2001.

tIn the midst of all that, the U.S. bishops tapped Schnurr to organize the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado.

Prayers and thoughts for Bill Callahan


Most of you know Bill Callahan through the spirit-filled work he has done for decades on behalf of the people of Nicaragua and Central America, the poor of Haiti, the rights of women and the reform of the Roman Catholic church.

Many of you know that he has been living with Parkinson's disease for many years. Now, his condition is progressively worsening. Bill is in failing health and he entered Community Hospice in Washington, D.C., yesterday, June 28. He can have visitors, but he cannot talk on the telephone.

Is church's future tied to bishops?


I understand the headline: Three archbishops and the American Catholic future. I probably would have written the same. But one has to wonder, especially given the constant erosion of authority and the erosion of protections that once shielded the hierarchical layer of the church, whether the future of the church is so tightly wrapped up with bishops as it might once have been.

Interview with Archbishop Jerome Listecki



tAsk any random sample of five people who know Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee to describe him, and the odds are good that the phrase “down to earth” will come up more than once. Affable and approachable, Listecki may be one of the few prelates who could have followed the legendarily gregarious Archbishop Timothy Dolan in Milwaukee and not seem, at least a little bit, like a stuffed shirt in comparison.

tThat affability doesn’t mean Listecki shirks from taking strong stands – a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Listecki has publicly chastised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her interpretation of church teaching on abortion, criticized Notre Dame for awarding an honorary doctorate to President Barack Obama, and once even warned parents not to take their kids to see “The Golden Compass” because, he said, the movie “tries to lead them away from God.”

tYet whether people agree with Listecki on content or not, most give him high marks for style, especially his “regular guy” demeanor. Whatever else one might say, Listecki clearly doesn’t have a Renaissance prince model of the bishops’ office.

The Kagan Kabuki Hearings


The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan got off on a bad foot yesterday. Inexplicably, the nominee spoke a lot about deference and modesty, when I worry that anyone who was genuinely modest would be eaten alive by Justice Scalia during conference. I suspect Kagan, who navigated the shark-infested ideological waters of Harvard Law School, arguably the only place in America with egos greater than the nine found on the Court, is not as modest as she claimed to be yesterday. Just so, the display was as unhelpful as it was disingenuous.

Much has been made about something Kagan wrote fifteen years ago about the vapidity of confirmation hearings. Of course, now that she is in the hot seat, it is doubtful that she will be as forthcoming as she urged others to be. No doubt Republicans will hammer her for being hypocritical. If questioned about this, she should follow the example of President George W. Bush and say, “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.”

Three archbishops and the American Catholic future



tIn the abstract, one might not think of Archbishops Thomas Wenski of Miami, Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, and Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee as a natural threesome. Yet fate thrust these prelates together today, as the three Americans among 38 newly appointed archbishops from around the Catholic world who are in Rome to receive the pallium.

tThe pallium is a narrow band of woolen cloth which serves as a symbol of the archbishop’s office, and is bestowed by the pope each year on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. I’m in Rome this week, so I attended the pallium ceremony this morning and then headed up to the North American College for the traditional reception honoring the new archbishops.

Rolling Stone and our digital era


Guessing this was not much on his mind last week, but General McChrystal may've actually helped save print journalism -- the kind that requires focus and attention from both reporter and reader.

The digital kind of journalism doesn't demand much of either -- its strength is the here-and-now, delivered instantly. Internet reporting lives in the moment; web commentary stretches that moment out just a little bit longer. The web encourages grazing and skipping and shifting. It does not ask you sit and stay a while, pour an extra cup of coffee, maybe ask to see what donuts are still available.

You can't curl up with a computer (or even an iPad -- at least not yet), and so you don't -- and, to be honest, the machine doesn't even want you to try. Just keep moving your fingers across the keyboard.

Into this brave new world, like some episode of "Star trek" when creatures from another time and dimension crash into the current, Rolling Stone's article comes to remind us what we have nearly lost -- journalism that takes time to create and time to consume. It is expensive journalism, at a moment when most publications don't have a nickel to spare, but it is essential.


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