08 June 2010

One Year In

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch conducted an interview with His Grace Archbishop Carlson to coincide with the first anniversary of his installation in Saint Louis. The interview covers a range of topics, and can be read in full at the link above. There are a few interesting items, though, which I will excerpt below:

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson celebrates a busy, if quiet, first year

By Tim Townsend

When he arrived in St. Louis last June, Archbishop Robert Carlson pledged to make no major changes in his first year on the job.

"The last thing you want to do is come in and pretend like you have all the answers," he said at the time.

The past year has been busy, if relatively quiet, for Carlson — especially when compared with his predecessor's first year.

Shortly after Archbishop Raymond Burke arrived in 2004, he said he would not give Communion to Sen. John Kerry, a Catholic and potential Democratic presidential candidate that fall. An eventful initial year had begun. Next came the beginning of the St. Stanislaus saga, painful parish closings and controversy over Burke's teaching on voting and sin.


In an interview with the Post-Dispatch on Friday, Carlson said one constant between the Burke and Carlson eras was a focus on Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. Both bishops are considered talented recruiters of men to the priesthood.


In February, the archdiocese announced it had raised $61 million in a six-month campaign toward refurbishing Kenrick's physical structure and increasing its endowment. Carlson said $1.6 million came from priests.

In April, he removed Kenrick's rector since 2002, Monsignor Ted Wojcicki, and later assigned him to be the pastor at the 4,000-family Immaculate Conception Parish in Dardenne Prairie. Carlson assigned an interim rector at the seminary while he conducts a national search for Wojcicki's replacement.

Carlson cited two reasons for the move: He needed someone with Wojcicki's talent to manage a church the size of Immaculate Conception, and "I thought it was time to bring someone in with new ideas."

In the last year, 15 other dioceses and two religious orders have sent their seminarians to Kenrick. Carlson said he wanted the bishops in those dioceses to have a chance at sending one of their priests to Kenrick to be rector.

"We may very well decide on someone from St. Louis," Carlson said. "But if you're going to invite 10 or 11 or 12 or 15 dioceses — as we do — to send their people (to Kenrick), then you better let them know that it's OK, every once in a while, to take over the leadership there."


[On St. Stan's]

"I initiated some outreach, but unfortunately, it's not near being resolved yet," he said. "My goal is to get it resolved as soon as we can because I think churches have to be about reconciliation. But we're not there yet."

[On Management Structure]


Carlson made news soon after arriving by naming a lay woman to one of the most important positions in his administration. By making longtime aide Nancy Werner the archdiocesan chancellor, Carlson broke a 174-year-old tradition in the archdiocese of naming a priest to that job.

Carlson has also begun putting together "ministry teams" of employees from different departments to try to get ideas flowing bottom to top, and laterally, rather than top-down, he said.


[On Communication with Priests]

Carlson cribbed an idea from the late Cardinal John O'Connor, archbishop of New York, that has been a hit with priests, he said. On most Fridays, Carlson opens the bishop's residence on Lindell to priests from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


[On Catholic Schools]

Carlson, a former youth minister, said he was focused on the health of the Catholic school system in St. Louis. That system, he said, is the largest in Missouri and the seventh-largest Catholic school system in the United States. The archdiocese is only the 38th-largest diocese in the country.

"We have that tremendous system, but how are we going to continue that into the future?" he said. "That's obviously something that's on my plate, big time."


[On Adjusting to St. Louis]

The archbishop said that fitting into the St. Louis way of life was easy, and that "the roots of the faith" here "are very deep."

"Just because I thought people may want to know who I am, I wore my Roman collar to the ballpark the first few times I went. People would come up to me and say, 'Are you the new bishop?' I'd say, 'Yes, I am.' And they'd say, 'Welcome to St. Louis.'"



A follow-up story on Monday in the Post contained this rather noteworthy excerpt:

...Carlson said the relative quiet he's experienced in his first year, compared with the controversies addressed by his predecessor in St. Louis, Archbishop Raymond Burke, was partly "the luck of the Irish." But he also said his management style has contributed to the calmer waters.

"If you listen, if you work with people in developing strategies, if you're concerned about reconciliation — things which have always been important to me as a pastor," he said, "then I think, it's not that there's not issues to face, or problems to be addressed, but you do it as a team. And when you do that, I think you have greater peace."

Burke had a strained relationship with St. Louis University's president, the Rev. Lawrence Biondi. He resigned from the board of Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center Foundation over the appearance of singer Sheryl Crow at a benefit concert because of her support for embryonic stem cell research. And he battled the leadership of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in St. Louis over ownership of the church's assets and property throughout his tenure.

Carlson said Sunday he'd been working toward reconciliation on those fronts.

"I'm working very closely with St. Louis University," he said. "I'm back on the board at Cardinal Glennon. I've been a promoter of reconciliation between St. Stanislaus and the archdiocese. We're not there yet, but every journey begins with a first step. Maybe that would characterize my year." [...]


Patrick Kinsale said...

Whoopee. Yet another opportunity to attack Archbishop Burke. What a shame.

Adam W. said...

I'm not a fan of how the follow up juxtaposes Abp. Burke against Abp. Carlson, especially regarding the issues of SLU, Cardinal Glennon Med. Center Foundation and St. Stanislaus. I find the way the article is worded to suggest that the need for reconciliation is because Abp. Burke was at fault.

Reconciliation is needed, but it is because those involved acted in opposition to the Archbishop, and the Archbishop defended the truth. It is not because Abp. Burke was an out of touch, intolerant person as the media would suggest.

That being said, it is good to see that Abp. Carlson is working toward reconciliation.

Hildebrandon said...

Yes, yes, all well and good, but what is the real scoop on the archbishop from Traditional Catholics? An acquaintance from the seminary bit his lip when I asked about the transition from Abp. Burke to Carlson. Is the new archbishop a supporter of Tradition?

It goes without saying that we shouldn't be entirely impressed when we hear of a prince of the Church making the occasional effort of wearing a roman collar in public.

Anonymous said...

ah yes...the failed Vatican II approach...
yup...business as usual...

how disappointing and how unfortunate for St. Louis...


StGuyFawkes said...

These pieces are written from a template which goes something like, Step One: "show that the new bishop has a dog and he pets it". Step two: "say that the old bishop once saw a dog and dropped his mitre to chase after the dog and punch it."

This kind of article is more or less already written before the next bishop shows up. It exists as a "fill in the blanks" exercise in the bottom drawer of the Religion Desk at every major newpaper.

We won't really know what the Archbishop really thinks until we see who he picks to succeed Fr. Kleba at St. Cronan's.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you'll know even then.

Peggy said...

I agree with the other commenters. Sounds rather disappointing--or the tone is intended to make Abp Burke look bad and Carlson a "healer." What kind of bishop does NOT wear his Roman collar in public? That's very shocking to read. This is an archdiocese, not some small town parish (where the pastor should wear his collar as well of course). But a major city's abp does not wear his collar in public? Zoiks!

Anonymous said...

I see my Archbishop round town in civil clothes all the time. And because he lacks a wife he cant dress to save himself

Anonymous said...

Peggy, the blogger of "Southern Illinois Catholic" claims to be impressed with Tim Townsend as a fair reporter on Catholic affairs. Peggy's comments usually rank not far below the Sunday homily I hear each week in terms of the importance I give them: the lady usually knows what she's talking about! (I make this observation to be magnanimous since I am about to criticize Townsend.) However, on the issue of Tim Townsend, I disagree with her. I have never been impressed that he is fair with the Church or regards it as anything other than fodder to be exploited for his own career advancement. If he is polite to the Church, he realizes, I beleieve, that he has gone too far in insulting or denigrating an institution that is regarded as flawed but but that is also very, very, very much respected and loved by the St. Louis area readership, and he feels a quick need to show a bit of political respect to save his professional skin. His genre for "reporting" on Archbishop Carlson's first anniversary here is to make constant, relentless, repetitive, predictable and unmerciful rehearsals of the challenging situations our beloved former archbishop, His Grace, Archbishop Burke, needed to negotiate from day one. This is proof that (Peggy is wrong and that) Townsend is no friend of the Church. Of course, the MSM have attained the roles of sole judge and jury of every public event in America right now, and their amoral philosophies leave them no option but to rape and pillage at every opportunity, our Mother the Church, who is, among other things, the largest provider of charitable aid and service on the face of the earth, THE largest, mark that! Go ahead, Tim, smash the Church at every turn, and then write all about the poor being underserved in the world. But don't forget to include mention of your role in helping to bankrupt the Church by making lawsuits against her seem necessary and on the moral high ground while also serving to undermine the image of the Church in the minds of impressionbable youth who might just have a vocation to the priesthood or convent. Enjoy your victory. Will you be there to help us pick up the pieces? I doubt it! Do you realize how accountable you will be one day for any unfair or unmerciful influence you exert on the Church?

Badger Catholic said...

One must recognize the injury before healing can occur.

Anonymous said...

St Guy Why would he replace Fr. Kleba?

Peggy said...

Anon: What's with you? I generally think he's been fair on many topics. He doesn't do screechy wymynpriestess articles and all that. I am not impressed with him. He's a pretty good reporter, though.

Marissa said...

I find it sadly amusing that we have priests who don't have the courage even to wear clerical garb while out and about. They can't even stand up for themselves, how are they going to stand up for the Faith?

A bishop should be far above petty concerns as public opinion. This isn't Turkey where a bishop might be killed. If Abp Carlson cannot bring himself to wear a Roman collar in St. Louis, of all places, what else is he going to fail to stand up for?

StGuyFawkes said...

Anon 12:34:6/9/10,

Fr. Kleba should be in our prayers. He struggles with cancer and I don't think he is expected to survive it. However, I do sin in presuming upon the Lord's intentions. Fr. Kleba may live longer than us all and in that case there would be need to fill his post.

Sorry for the unclarity and lack of charity in bringing this delicate matter up.

St. Guy

Peggy said...

P.S. I think some of the more disappointing stuff in this article comes from Abp. Carlson himself.

I'm really a bit freaked out that an RC archbishop would not be out and about in clericals.

Anonymous said...

How can we expect the priests to act like priests when our own Archbishop "seems" to be afraid to look and act like a bishop.

Truthfully, I'm not surprised. A lay person as chancellor, and a wooden staff...Telling seminarians they can no longer wear the cassock because it (the cassock) causes problems.

That seminary can empty out just as quick as the applications came in... They got their 61 million.

This reminds me of some sisters that show pictures of themselves in habits, when they need to raise money. The Francisans do it too. Only when you need something do you dress like a religious.

Father G said...

"Telling seminarians they can no longer wear the cassock because it (the cassock) causes problems."

Did he really do that? Well, if he did, then I'm not surprised.

The cassock causes problems! What a crock! I wear mine everyday and it causes me no problems, my faithful wouldn't have me in anything else and I can't count how many times I've been thanked by Catholics and non-Catholics alike for looking like a priest.
No, the only problem is in the mind of these aging Vatican II hippies and their groupies who espouse its failed policies and wave the banner of the New Pentecost it supposedly brought about.

Are we missing His Grace, Archbishop Burke yet?...I know I am...

Anonymous said...

Addressing the last comment about Abp Carlson: yikes! I hadn't heard that the archbishop has ruled out cassocks at Kenrick. Don't tell me that another chapter of that tired old story is opening up. Can you tell us more about this? When, where, why, is it published somewhere accessible?

Athelstane said...

"Telling seminarians they can no longer wear the cassock because it (the cassock) causes problems."

I hope that's not true.

Anonymous said...

A brief update on Fr. Kleba. He is cancer free. In fact, he learned after nearly two years of treatment at Siteman that he had been misdiagnosed from the beginning and never actually had cancer. That's a very strange way for prayer to work.

Anonymous said...

All talk of cancer aside, I cannot understand why Father Kleba always gets excused whenever the topic of the disgraceful St. Cronan's emerges. Even when their heretic nun was going through her msichief there, Father Kleba's name was never mentioned in the press (or on this post!) as part of the problem. Yet I always ask, "Isn't there a Catholic priest on the payroll there to make sure the Church's teaching and the Church's interests are being tended to?" If he's sick, get him to a rest home. I'm myself quite sick of reading excuses made for him "because he is not well." And if he is well, let's hold him accountable for the paycheck he earns as a Catholic priest and follow the Church! If we don't make him clean that mess up now at St. Cronan's, after he's gone we're all going to have to put up with the fallout from the diaspora of those poorly trained parishioners into the regular Catholic parishes of the city. What a mess that will be.

Anonymous said...

Re: "habits"
Heard a story told about a high school soccer coach who always wore a habit at school. He put on a rugby shirt to ride the team bus--- ran out and a burly player stood in front of him so he could not get on the bus. Young man told him that their coach was a priest and the team wanted him to look like a priest. The bus wouldn't leave for the match until he returned in his habit!
Most folks want their "religious" priests, brothers and sisters to look like "religious"----

Latinmassgirl said...

My family and I have been visiting a priest who has been our friend for years and was forced to retire for health reasons a few months age. He is at Regina Clare now – a retirement home, (for those who aren't familiar with it).

We were shocked when we first went to see him, as none of the priests wear anything that remotely resembles the priest's habit. Occasionally, one may be going out to offer mass, so dressed in black pants, shirt and collar.

The home is managed by a lay woman, (of course). Although nuns help out. My husband and I feel like the home is indicative of the attitude of middle age and older priests. It is a real shame that they seem ashamed to be seen as priests.

I hope that the seminarians can still wear their cassock, because after Vatican II, our friend told us that he was told to stop wearing the cassock.

Anonymous said...

A few things...
How is a "Catholic" "priest" supposed to act?

If Catholicism is a "big tent" (which it is--a "conservative" "priest" told me so), then the "priesthood" is a "big tent".

Anyone who's knocking the Archbishop, quit it. If you think you could do a "better" job at it, then do it. But wait, I bet you're married, and the Catholic Church doesn't even allow married "priests". So, while you're moping around trying to make something "better", go to Rome to see Papa Benny and get him to change the (man-made) Celibacy law/rule while you're at it.

Anonymous said...

The collar doesn't "make" the "priest". It's the Heart.

Anonymous said...

What's in the heart should show on the outside! :)

Anonymous said...

"Should"...but it doesn't have to. Only 2 people really, truly know the Heart--the person himself/herself & God.
And besides, who are we to judge how a person ("priest" or not) shows "it"? One doesn't necessarily, absolutely NEED to be wearing the collar.
Collar or not, he's (she's?) still a "priest".

Anonymous said...

I don't usually chime in on here but...
Dear Anon: 19:29-

Not true my friend. The Church does have a dress code for her priests and her religious.

Priest: Cassock; Religious: Habit

The See of the USA adopted the clergyman, they didn't op-out. Of which they would have no choice to do anyway.

Religious too, Brothers and Sisters are required to wear the habit.

All of this is very true, indeed.

Furthermore, the Church also retains the right to expect them to wear this garb, which she gave them as an outward sign of their inner hearts dedication, (and in many cases a cross)of their entire lives given to God, for His purpose.

And she does, at the moment of their consecration to Him for the rest of their lives.

They are no longer belonging to themselves; they completely belong to Him, for Him.

It’s actually extremely beautiful.

When we see them, priest and religious alike, out of their profession, we must encourage them to again put on that armor of God with which they professed their entire lives.

-Most Sincerely