21 April 2009

One Priest's Reflections on Archbishop Carlson

I know a very solid priest of a Diocese formerly served by our new Archbishop. He was kind enough to send along this reflection, which may be of interest to readers who are trying to get a read on His Grace and the type of Archbishop he may be. This is printed with his permission, though of course his name is not attached.

"His Excellency, Robert Carlson, will be a good archbishop. He will be decisive, engaging, and prayerful... He will be as generous as the Church with regard to the TLM. You note that there isn't one in Saginaw- that would have taken a miracle. He did lay the roots for the reconciliation of a SSPX parish in [this previous Diocese], ...using one of our priests to celebrate the Usus Antiquior.

There are a ton of stories I could tell you about Bishop Carlson. I give you a couple to paint the picture of who he is. For one, he openly admits that as an Irishman (Norwegian name though) he never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. His Excellency is extremely quick witted and is rarely gotten the better of in public exchange. While in seminary he had visited and taken us out for dinner. He rode in my car and on the way back another seminarian drove as a precaution since I had enjoyed a glass of wine. As I got into the back seat, I simply observed that this was my first time in the back seat of my own car to which a grinning Bishop Carlson immediately responded- "I'm very glad to hear that!"

There is a depth beyond the humor. The most recent and vivid impression comes from his time in Saginaw. A dear friend of mine followed him there as a seminarian and so I have a pretty good take on how rotten it was. Bishop Utenner, God have mercy on him, had destroyed that diocese in many ways. He didn't accept vocations unless they passed his "litmus" of women's ordination, and even a total deconstruction of the Eucharist and the priesthood. So when the articles speak about "no" vocations out of Saginaw- they were there, they just weren't being fostered and cultivated. Which is true anywhere. When Bishop Carlson first visited the Cathedral, he found the Tabernacle in a tiny room that no one paid any reverence. Many priests of the diocese told him that their concelebration [with him] was a favor for the "prophet Ken" [Bishop Utenner] and they wouldn't do it again- not for Fr. Z's reasons but because "too many men around the altar is uninviting to women."

Bishop Carlson is also heavily involved in priestly formation and I guess he relishes the opportunity to have a seminary under his responsibility. He is instrumental in the foundation of an Omaha based group- the Institute for Priestly Formation. I have been formed by this group to my credit and the spiritual foundations of my priesthood. They have some warts- again their liturgy is not refined- but it is a good work to ensure that priestly life is founded upon an intimate encounter with Jesus Christ.

I do believe that he will be fully supportive of St. Francis de Sales and other TLM efforts in the Archdiocese. Most importantly because he is open and docile to being formed by the Church and His Holiness, Pope Benedict. I do not know if he will be able to celebrate the Extraordinary Form and cannot speculate if he will learn it if he does not know it.

I want to leave you with this instance that impressed me. I was in Saginaw in June 2007 for their Eucharistic Congress (my friend was ordained a deacon then). This is my most poignant memory. As a young priest I'm watching this Bishop go from station to station in the Eucharistic Procession. I know he has knee problems-- and here he is kneeling on the asphalt and concrete street in front of our Lord. This procession took over an hour in the hot June sun and several stational altars (I don't recall how many). As I began to grumble in my own heart, I looked him at one station and saw the intensity of his prayer. Though His Excellency has a taste for the moment, this was prayer, this was piety, not publicity. He was offering up his suffering in reparation for sins against the Eucharist and in petition for greater Eucharistic devotion throughout his diocese. I consider myself privileged to have been there as he sweated, suffered, and prayed for His Lord and the Church.

I hope this is insightful to you.

St. Louis, king of France. St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us!"
Thank you, Father, for this very nice insight and analysis.


Principium Unitatis said...

He is instrumental in the foundation of an Omaha based group- the Institute for Priestly Formation.This says volumes. Thanks so much!

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

StGuyFawkes said...

This Archbishop's episcopal motto is "Before the cross there is no defense" ("Ante crucem nihil defensionis").

Judging by his motto I conclude:

1.) This guy knows his way around the "Rite of Exorcism".

2.) Vampires should beware.

3.) Heretics should flee!

4.) WomenPriests get on your brooms. Leave.

5.) And lastly,

Dorothy Surrender!

The Boss is Back.

Anonymous said...

Timman, glad those thoughts could help. I must admit my heads a bit a-whirl with it all.

I was able to see most of the press conference. I didn't notice any St. Stanislaus questions- were there any?

I also noticed Rocco's pontification that Carlson "is no Burke." I suppose he is referencing Carlson's comments regarding the discipline of scandalous situations. All Carlson said was that he preferred to do it privately. He never said anything about how.

While public discussion is good to prevent scandal, Carlson will still be effective. After Daschle's 2004 defeat to Senator John Thune- an unheard of event that the sitting Senate Minority leader would be tossed by a previously unelected candidate- Daschle's staff went around SD saying that it was "those darn priests" who made it happen. There might not have been public direction by Bishop Carlson, but a lead was followed by his priests.

The anonymous priest.

Suffer for sinners. . . said...

I am very inspired by what you write about our new Archbishop Carlson! He has such kind eyes, and looks like he may have a good, quick wit by his smile.

I totally understand the suffering of kneeling with bad knees, as I have had surgery on mine twice and kneeling during the TLM and benediction is sometimes unbearable. He is my hero to kneel on the concrete!

Anonymous said...

Thanks be to God! St. Joseph has done it again!

Saint Joseph, Father and Guardian of Virgins, into whose faithful keeping were entrusted innocency itself, Christ Jesus and Mary, the Virgin of virgins. I pray and beseech thee through Jesus and Mary those pledges so dear to thee; to keep me from all uncleanliness: grant my mind be untainted, my heart pure, and my body chaste. Help me always to serve Jesus and Mary in perfect chastity. AMEN

Miss M

Anonymous said...

Please God don't let him continue the trainwreck started by Burke.

cmziall said...

Suffer for Sinners. . .

I agree with you about his physical appearance! I think he also looks very "fatherly".

thetimman said...

Anonymous, I certainly pray he does continue what you call the "trainwreck" started by Archbishop Burke.

As an aside, I love how you phrase it, "started by" the Archbishop. That's like blaming a homeowner for trying to get burglars out of his house, by saying "I hope the police don't continue that trainwreck started by that guy getting robbed."

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I pray that he does well.

Anonymous said...

One Priest's Reflection states, "Bishop Utenner, God have mercy on him, had destroyed that diocese in many ways"

The Bishop's name is spelled Untener. The above is but one opinion. Although others may agree, it should be noted that Bishop Untener was applauded by others. It is only fair that their voices also be heard, particularly since the Bishop is deceased.


Wikipedia has provided references.

Athelstane said...

The Wikipedia entry on Bishop Untener - I have seen it before - looks like it was written by one of his chancery officials.

Bishop Untener was graced with remarkable homiletic skills. He was highly approachable. Certainly he was not without virtues.

But I think it's hard to say that he didn't leave the diocese in Saginaw in difficult circumstances.

His handling of priestly sex scandals was dismaying. He shared the erroneous belief that molesting priests could be cured and continued to reassign them to new parishes, most notoriously in the case of Fr. John Hammond. His approval of the notorious pornographic videos as "training" for seminarians is well known enough to require no further comment here.

His open flouting of liturgical rubrics - lay homilists and other bizarre experiments - and open questioning of Church teaching in areas such as priestly ordination, contraception, and abortion no doubt both contributed to the most obvious sign of ill health on his diocese - the lack of almost any ordinations during his long tenure in Saginaw, with only four seminarians inherited by Bishop Carlson when he took over in 2005.

By almost any objective measure, the Diocese of Saginaw is in better health - and more orthodox (the two go hand in hand in the main) - under Bishop Carlson than it was under Untener.

For all his talents, Bishop Untener represented a very radical, post-conciliar vision of the Church in considerable rupture with the tradition of the Church, one which judged by its fruits has clearly been found wanting. It was not life-giving. Which is why nearly all supporters of Untener, to the extent that you can still find them, are mostly of that generation. Succeeding generations of Catholics want real Catholic teaching, and are responding to it when they hear it - as they do from Bishop Carlson.

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Carlson will be wonderful in St. Louis. He is not afraid to use his episcopal authority, but he is not unapproachable and listens to advice. He is a good leader.

Liturgically, he is not as "high church" or traditional as Archbishop Burke, but I doubt he will try to undo the projects (ICRSP, etc.) that Burke started.

On one item I would like to correct the priest who wrote the article about Bishop Carlson and published on this blog: Bishop Carlson did not grant the indult in Sioux Falls; Bishop Aquila, while he was apostolic administrator of Sioux Falls between Bishop Carlson and Bishop Swain (the current bishop of Sioux Falls), granted the indult. Of course, this is a moot point since there is no more "indult" to be granted following Summorum Pontificum.

ashap said...

Great blog! Welcome Archbishop Carlson!