Thursday, May 14, 2009

Will Weakland address the real tragedies?

In this week's column for the Waukesha Freeman, I took a look at Archbishop Rembert Weakland's "revelation" (coming soon in book form) that he is a homosexual.

The news broke this week that former Archbishop Rembert Weakland is coming out with a new book in June in which he comes out of the closet to announce that, yes, he is a homosexual. The Associated Press story made newspapers across the country with the breathless revelation, “He’s gay.”

Well, yes. Not too many heterosexuals are blackmailed by a former male paramour in possession of a letter that states the archbishop was in love with him.

Being a homosexual is not a tragedy, at least not in the current era. Assigning pedophile priests to new parishes, covering up the crimes, taking money from the archdiocese to cover up a personal scandal, and acting in defiance of Church authority, all while attendence dwindles and local parishes are forced to close for financial reasons, is hardly the resume of a martyr. Yet Weakland has the temerity to cry about his burdens to an AP reporter to plug his book.

According to the Associated Press, the archbishop writes about the burden of the office, how lonely it is and the lack of feedback and support. One can only hope that somehow in the memoir Weakland finds a little space to apologize for being a burden upon the archdiocese he was expected to lead.

Contrasts with Weakland’s successor are inevitable, and Milwaukee was blessed with Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who seemed anything but burdened by the office. One letter writer to National Review described Dolan’s arrival “as if a great burden was lifted” from the shoulders of the faithful.

Dolan’s demeanor and good cheer while teaching the orthodoxy that so vexed Weakland reminds us of another Irishman, Ronald Reagan. Reagan, too, followed a man who was overwhelmed by the burdens of his office and, like Dolan, relished the office and the opportunity to serve. Perhaps it was the clarity of purpose that buoyed both of them in the difficulties they faced.

That moral clarity eluded Weakland in both his personal and professional life. That is the tragedy of Archbishop Weakland, not his sexual orientation, and it will take a better man than him to write about it.