….When San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced last month that he had prohibited House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion, tensions flared up again — with some bishops expressing support for Cordileone, and others offering objection to the “weaponization” of the Eucharist.
And when one of the bishops who has most vocally disagreed with Cordileone – Robert McElroy of San Diego – became a cardinal two weeks later, the nomination was taken in the media as a resounding papal salvo in the bishops’ intrareligious dialogue.
For their parts, Cordileone and McElroy have been seen as mostly polite interlocutors, despite disagreement.
But it was Oakland’s Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, who turned episcopal disagreement “up to eleven” last weekend.
In a June 12 Wall Street Journal report, Barber said that while McElroy opposes abortion, the cardinal-elect apparently thinks “it’s not wrong enough that you need say or do anything about it or interact with the politicians who are publicly promoting it.”
Barber noted that McElroy speaks out on other political issues, including migration, but is reluctant to speak about abortion, the Journal reported. For his part, McElroy pushed back on that charge, with a spokesman saying that McElroy does speak out about abortion.
Still, Oakland’s bishop told the Journal that Cordileone was “prophetic,” while adding that the San Francisco archbishop and his San Diego counterpart embody “two forces in the Church right now” — with McElroy representing the concerns of Pope Francis, and Cordileone stressing the approaches of Pope St. John Paul and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
Barber words are not unremarkable. It was until recently relatively rare that bishops would so concretely – or sharply – criticize a brother bishop in the media. While the practice has become more common, bishops still generally tend to be conflict averse, to emphasize in public a reluctance to second guess the ministerial choices of a fellow bishop.
The bishop of Oakland apparently expressed no such reluctance. The lines he drew were unambiguous….
The above comes from a June 13 posting in the Pillar.