Now that we have a new Archbishop, keep an eye out for the many who will try to shape how he is perceived, in order to try to shape how he acts.
This type of tactic is fairly typical of the secular world, but is all too common within the Church as well. His Grace held a very successful and conversational press conference today– so there will be tendency to say he is more personable than Archbishop Burke. His Grace said he would lead in the important issues facing the Church today, but that he prefers to handle these issues person-to-person whenever possible– so there will be a tendency to say he is more “pastorally sensitive”. He does not have the same track record on liturgical issues as Archbishop Burke does– so there will be a tendency to say he is “more in line with Vatican 2”.
But what does all this really mean? Not much, really. And the notion that framing his positions on any issue will influence how he acts as Archbishop simply does not follow. But there are those who claim the title Catholic without much regard for believing Catholic doctrine, or following Catholic discipline. These people have an agenda not in line with the Church’s agenda.
The agenda of the Church is to save souls. Other agendas out there not in harmony with this agenda include promoting the impossibility that women can be ordained priests; claiming that sodomy is a morally licit act; and many other similar agendas. Many of these agendas were thwarted under Archbishop Burke, and their proponents are anxious to reframe reality under new leadership. And the first thing they will cling to is this: Archbishop Carlson is not Archbishop Burke.
Of course, the easy thing to observe in reply is this: Quis ut Burke?
First and foremost, Archbishop Carlson is the man the Holy Father has sent us. The Church has chosen him for this task, and therefore we owe him our loyalty and submission as Catholics of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. He deserves our prayers.
Secondly, he is well aware of Catholic truth, and has upheld it consistently as Bishop. His track record on doctrinal matters is solid. It is extremely unlikely that he will suddenly reverse course here.
Finally, the situation in Saint Louis is dramatically different than the one he inherited in Saginaw. That Diocese was in bad shape: vocations nonexistent, doctrine diluted, and authority weakened. Saint Louis, which has challenges like any modern Catholic Diocese, is in far better shape. That is partly because of the Catholic history and demographics here, but also in large part because of the leadership of recent Archbishops.
Thus, His Grace can build upon a worthy structure, and not have to tear down first, before rebuilding from scratch.
Archbishop Carlson is a canon lawyer, like his predecessor. He can handle the canon law challenges of the day. Archbishop Carlson is praised for his strong vocational efforts to the priesthood and religious life. He is an outspoken defender of Catholic teachings in the public square. He has received strong statements of support from orthodox Catholics.
Those who said upon Archbishop Burke’s departure, like Mr. Bozek, “Rejoice, St. Louis,” should keep these things in mind.