CORRESPONDENCErnLetter FromrnChicagornby Thomas F. RoeserrnTo ArchbishoprnFrancis GeorgernI won’t say congratulations on your appointmentrnbecause the wreckage left forrnyou to pick up is horrendous. . . and thernabuse you will take if—and, please God,rnwhen—you attempt to clean it up couldrnshorten your life. While you have crisscrossedrnthe archdiocese to introducernyourself, I have seen positive traits. As arntheologian, you are stating time-testedrntruths, unlike some of your brother bishopsrnwho engage in deliberate manipuladonrnof public opinion to achieve politicalrngoals within the Church.rnSo let me extend thanks for what yournhave not done. You have not indicatedrnfear that unfavorable notice by the mediarnis a grave evil. Fev’ bishops, regrettably,rnhave mustered the strength to stand up tornthe media in order to do their duty.rnJames Hitchcock remarked nearly 20rnvears ago that “almost imperceptiblyrnpublic relations considerations beganrnmore and more to govern decision-makingrnat certain levels of the church andrnproponents of change were able to makernmaximum use of the fear of bad publicity.”rnYour predecessor, Joseph CardinalrnBernardin, aided by a monsignor namedrnKenneth Velo (supposedly the full-timernhead of the Extension Society, whichrnprovides aid to disadvantaged rural dioceses),rnconsequently enjoyed the bestrnmedia in town. The faithful will knowrnyou are hitting the mark when you getrn”bad” media.rn”Photo ops” were all the rage to takernthe sting out of closing inner-cits’ parishesrnand schools. The logical questionrnwas: Why not continue to use them tornevangelize? The archdioccsean theologian,rnhowever, disdained such rude activit}’.rnEvangelization is not popular withrnmodern theologians or the media. Atrnany rate, do not count on near canonizationrnby editorial boards and television anchors.rnThey only beatified your predecessorrnbecause of his leftist foreign andrneconomic policies.rnThus I appreciate your refusal to take arnposition on nuclear testing or to weigh inrnon the immorality of tax cuts. You havernnot suggested that the Pope’s flat “no” onrnwomen priests does not preclude negotiation.rnYou have not said a word in supportrnof your predecessor’s expressedrndoubt of the authenticity of John 8:31-rn50. And you have not endorsed the viewsrnof some 50 pastors on the subject of generalrnabsolution—the kind that is grantedrnwithout personal confession of privaternsins —who believe that confession resemblesrnthe superstition followed by earlyrn20th-century savages in the Borneornjungle.rnFaithful Catholics dare to hope thatrnyour restraint means you do not viewrnyour role as arbiter of a babble of conflictingrnvoices, as politicians so oftenrnview public office. The media’s favoriternpriest, Andrew Greeley (were he merelyrnMr. Greeley his racy fiction would notrnsell), has not yet conquered you. He sitsrnin his John Hancock apartment waitingrnfor his phone to ring . . . with a call, hernhopes, from you. That you have not apparentlvrncalled, or at least that Msgr.rnVelo has not yet leaked such news, isrngratifying.rnSo thanks for what you have not done.rnNow let me make a fervent wish as tornwhat you can do. First, utilizing yourrndoctorates in theology and philosophy,rnteach what is distilled so simply in thernBaltimore Catechism, amplified fully inrnthe latest catechism (which CardinalrnBernardin claimed is not appropriate forrndirect teaching). Yes, I know: this is ancientrnstuff, drawn from Aquinas. But inrnChicago, Aquinas is not stressed —indeedrnhardly taught—at our so-calledrn”Catholic” universities, ft will be exhilaratingrnfor a scholar like you to reteach us,rnif only to see how priests, nuns, auxiliaryrnbishops, and the media will be stunned.rnPerhaps most stunned will be the socalledrn”Catholic educators.” A full generationrnof university-trained priests wererngiven a choice: they could either professrnmoral neutrality or they could be ignoredrnand farmed out to retirementrnhomes. Most emerged from tiieir cryptsrnto say that the gods favor secularization.rnTo attain the moral virtues we mustrnsummon—and under your guidance thernChurch will assist—prudence for thernmind, justice for the will, temperance forrnour weakness to indulge in unrestrainedrnconcupiscence, and fortitude to bolsterrnthe will to make hard decisions. Thernchurch in Chicago —and elsewhere —rnhas forsaken these moral virtues. Wernhave embarked on media tours, warmrnand fuzzy public relations, blessing dissidents,rnbestowing funds raised from hardpressedrncontributors to Saul Alinsky-likernrevolutionaries under the rubric of thern”Campaign for Human Development,”rnwhile ignoring congregations ripe for instructionrnin these Christ-centered decencies.rnThe problems of promiscuity, illegitimacy,rnand divorce often lead to thernviolence, crime, and murder, which arernat the heart of our urban, suburban, andrnexurban hemorrhages. When, you mayrnwell ask on your parish rounds, was thernlast time you heard a sermon extollingrnchastity? Shoulders will shrug, and thernanswer will be “never.” Is it because wernhave mastered this virtue? We all knowrnthe answer.rnYour episcopate must uneompromisingh’rnassert the transcendent importancernof Jesus Christ. Do not underestimaternthe opposition that will come fromrnpriests with prepackaged secular observations,rnor from the media which supportsrnthe contention that the interpretation ofrnCatholic teaching is best left to themrnrather than to the Pope. You may well bernin for the fight of your life. To mostrnpriests of Chicago, to most media, manipulationrnof publicity for stiategic purposesrnis indispensable to their control ofrnthe Church.rnWliat will happen, then, if you continuerndespite their opposition? Well, yournwill win, obviously. The Catholics ofrnChicago will support you. They hungerrnand thirst for a return of a Church of confidentrnself-definition that restores therncontinuity of generations, supportingrnreasonable innovation while rekindlingrnthe old zeal.rnA word of caution: you are enteringrnmission country. Our people have livedrnlargely with the prosperity of the post-rnWorld War II period. For the older generation,rnthe Church gave meaning tornDECEMBER 1997/37rnrnrn