Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How Benedict XVI – silenced many like Archbishop Hunthausen - as head of doctrinal congregation – Conflict in the Catholic Hierarchy: by Timothy Peter Schilling

'God's Rottweiler' silenced many as head of doctrinal congregation - Feburay 28, 2013

Although recent portrayals of Benedict XVI play on his white-haired grandfatherliness and his desire to fade into a quiet retirement of books and music, many Catholics with long memories have images in their minds of "God's Rottweiler."

During his time at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1981-2005), the office became one of the most controversial Vatican agencies. He decried secularization, liberation theology, radical feminism, homosexuality, religious pluralism and bioethics.

Numerous Catholics found themselves in hot ecclesial water: Fr. Hans Küng; Jesuit Fr. Karl Rahner; Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen; Leonardo Boff; Fr. Charles Curran; Fr. Tissa Balasuriya; Jesuit Fr. Roger Haight; Fr. Matthew Fox; Loretto Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Salvatorian Fr. Robert Nugent; Dominican Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez; and Jesuit Fr. Jacques Dupuis, among others.

…In 1983, Hunthausen, a well-known progressive bishop, allowed a Mass for Dignity, a group for gay and lesbian Catholics, in his cathedral, which resulted in complaints to the doctrinal congregation.

The congregation then asked Washington Archbishop James Hickey to make an official Vatican visitation. Hickey found "a number of other basic doctrinal problems" in the archdiocese. In 1985, the congregation appointed as auxiliary bishop Fr. Donald Wuerl (now cardinal-archbishop of Washington, D.C.), a Pittsburgh priest with long experience in Rome. In September 1986, Hunthausen announced he had transferred final authority in five areas to Wuerl in accord with Vatican instructions.

A month later, Ratzinger published "On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons." The document warns of "deceitful propaganda" from pro-homosexual groups and instructs bishops not to accept groups that "seek to undermine the teaching of the church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely." The letter refers to homosexual orientation as an "intrinsic moral evil."…Read more:

Conflict in the Catholic Hierarchy: A Study of Coping Strategies in the Hunthausen Affair, with Preferential Attention to Discursive Strategies - by Timothy Peter Schilling - 2003 


Conflicts within the Roman Catholic hierarchy poses risks to the organizational effectiveness of the Church, but the hierarchy's approach to conflict handling has rarely been subjected to systematic, empirically grounded study. This research addresses that deficit by means of case study, wherein a six-year-long conflict is examined in the light of theoretical expectations generated through a literature survey, and with the help of critical discourse analysis and conflict theory. The research identifies organizational and societal pressures on bishops' conflict handling and various strategies that bishops employ in center-periphery conflicts: that is, in conflicts between the Vatican and bishop leaders of local churches.
The theoretical literature conceptually places center-periphery conflict in the context of the Church organization and in the broader context of the modern world. On the basis of the theoretical literature, expectations about the strategies bishops are likely to adopt in center-periphery conflict situations are specified. These expectations are then tested against the empirical example of the Rome-Hunthausen case (1983-89), which involved the papacy of John Paul II, Archbishop Raymond of Seattle and the American Bishops' Conference. Documents produced by multiple bishop participants in the conflict serve as an embedded unit of analysis in the case study. These are subjected to critical discourse analysis (following the approach of Norman Fairclough, Lancaster University), conflict analysis and validation techniques with control documents.

Hunthausen's conflict with the Vatican (1983-1989) focused on Rome's effort to establish greater pastoral discipline within the local church. Hunthausen was popularly known as the progressive leader of a progressive archdiocese and he gained much personal attention as an outspoken opponent of the Reagan administration nuclear arms build-up. (He protested by refusing to pay half of his income tax to the government.) To achieve its objectives in Seattle, which ostensibly focused on liturgical, Church teaching and governance and Church legal issues, Rome appointed an auxiliary bishop and forced Hunthausen to hand key powers of archdiocesan leadership over to the auxiliary. Hunthausen fought this redistribution of power and took his case to the national bishops' conference. Remarkably, Hunthausen was able to make the Vatican retreat and restore his power, but not without making concessions of his own, which included acceptance of a coadjutor archbishop with right of succession. Adding intrigue to the case was the suspicion that the Reagan administration asked the Vatican to put pressure on Hunthausen in return for recognition of the Vatican ambassador (which was granted by the US in 1984). This speculation has never died, but evidence for this belief is, at the present time, circumstantial at best.

The investigation concludes that Catholic bishops show a strong tendency to protect the power and appearance of the Church organization and of their own personal position in conflict situations. Bishops place a high priority on legitimating their actions in ways in keeping with the Church's normative character. The research highlights nine key strategies that bishops employ to manage conflicts. These are
(1) showing deference to the structural order and mindset of the Church,
(2) associating one's own efforts with the best interest of the Church,
(3) minimizing the appearance of conflict,
(4) showing fraternity,
(5) practicing courtesy,
(6) employing secrecy,
(7) recruiting allies,
(8) using persuasive argumentation and
(9) asserting personal identity. Other strategies used include: gamesmanship, establishing procedural control, avoidance, revealing and threats. For each strategy, specific tactics of application are identified, as illustrated by concrete examples from the case.
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