A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Monday, October 25, 2004 :::
The news is filled today with praise for James Cardinal Hickey, who led the Washington Archdiocese for twenty years. The praise is well deserved. He was personally holy, dedicated to helping the poor, and unswervingly orthodox.

Little attention is drawn to one aspect of his governing style, because it ensured that little attention was needed. If priests were caught with their hands down a minor's pants, he had a one sentence response: "You're fired." He handled it in an old-fashioned way--quietly, by moving priests to office jobs. Quietly is how he handled everything. But fired they were and fired they stayed. When one priest decided to loudly leave the Church, he claimed that he had been assigned to accounting or some such because of racism. The Archdiocese calmly replied by pulling out his record, which was not, shall we say, exemplary in this matter.

The result has been a very quiet time for this Archdiocese during the lengthy scandals, and freedom for Cardinal Hickey's successor, Thomas Cardinal McCarrick, to be the Bishops' point man on this issue. There also seems to be little concern among members of the Archdiocese about their priests.

The next Cardinal over--Keeler, in Baltimore--followed a softer approach heavily informed by certain psychological theories. It resulted in one priest's getting shot--not mortally-- by a disturbed young man.

"You're fired" works better.

In a fitting tribute to the late Cardinal, Peter Robinson provides some more details. Apparently the good Cardinal got even sterner with miscreant priests.

I knew the priest I mentioned personally: in my skinny, stylish, spikey-haired days, he used to use the donations from his splinter congregation to lunch well and often at the fabulously expensive, nationally known restaurant where I worked. He swatted at me with the menu on at least one occasion, when he was not otherwise occupied telling the pretty young man who was his companion how he was going to set him up with an office, etc, etc, etc. His Administrative Assistant dined there three or four times a week, always having a White Russian. Or a Nutty Almond. One of those drinks.

Then one day she left her glasses. Told by my manager that she was this priest's "secretary," I called his office, but whoever answered the phone at first did not recognize who I meant.

Alas, I had misidentified her role. A pudgy, stylish, rather nervous young man showed up to fetch the glasses, and informed me seriously that she was not his secretary. We never saw her after that.

That actually happened with a Bush I official at about the same time. During Secretary's Week, we were so full that the same manager told me to accept no reservations whatsoever. I then received a call from another nervous young man, who may have been pudgy and stylish, I don't know. He probably wasn't balding or an English teacher. When I told him there was no room for his boss, his boss got on the line and sounded utterly dumbfounded. I remained resolute, as per instructions. When my boss found out, he said, "How could you? He's here almost every day." But you said...?

After that, he wasn't. There every day, I mean. One night on his birthday, when his wife insisted, apparently, that he go and enjoy his favorite restaurant despite my foolishness, they and another couple graced our tables, during which festivities he looked utterly miserable.

Childishness, apparently, knows neither Left nor Right.

But Cardinal Hickey was a saint. Requiescat in Pacem.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 10:28 AM



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