And away we go…
Cardinal Egan has a meeting scheduled with his Priests Council tomorrow. I know a lot priests are betting that it will be canceled.
But if it’s not, what will he say?
There is also a meeting scheduled tomorrow of the Priest Personnel Board, which, according to several sources, was not consulted on the recent priest reassignments and which has requested a meeting with the cardinal.
A big day.
The sudden reassignment of dozens of priests is continuing to cause, shall we way, great upset across the archdiocese. I write about it today. The NYTimes writes about it today. Whispers in the Loggia writes about it today.
We all know that the cardinal dislikes media coverage, especially of this sort, so who knows how he’ll react. The public suggestion from anonymous priests (more on that in a moment) that the cardinal reassigned certain priests as punishment will not go over well. (I should note here that the cardinal’s spokesman, Joe Zwilling, said that any reassignments were made to meet a “pastoral need.”)
Perhaps more importantly, many Catholic New Yorkers appear to be quite upset with the sudden loss of their priests. Some have already voice their complaints downtown. Based on the all the calls and emails I’ve received so far this morning, more is to come. The archdiocese will have to deal with it.
So what does it all mean?
It’s become quite clear in recent years that a large number of New York priests are quite unhappy with Cardinal Egan’s leadership. What’s a large number? I can’t say. Neither can anyone else. But if you spend a lot of time talking to priests, as I do — priests I know well, priests I know a bit, priests I meet for the first time — you find a thickening cloud of dissension.
When an anonymous letter circulated two years ago that was highly critical of Egan, many priests did not like the tone of the letter but couldn’t help agreeing with much of its contents.
Soon after, Egan was asked during an NBC interview about the letter and his relationship with his priests. He answered:
I think they’re very good. I’m delighted with the relationship with the priests, and I think that the way they reacted to the letter that everybody wants to talk about is a very good indication of how good they are. In any organization as big as the Archdiocese of New York, there’re going to be people who are disappointed about appointments or disappointed about whatever, and so there’s going to be a certain amount of unhappiness.
There is a certain amount of unhappiness. I’ve spoken to more than a dozen priests during the past few days. Most sound fed up and demoralized — and so soon after the juice provided by the papal visit.
One told me last night: “Things are very bad. They more they do this, the more they alienate people. And the cardinal just doesn’t get. We’re seeing the real Machiavellian side of things.”
Oh yes, on the rare occasions when I use anonymous sources, as I did in today’s article, I like to use the blog to explain why. I know a lot of people hate seeing anonymous sources in the media. I understand why.
But sometimes people have a real good reason to request anonymity. And sometimes there is no other way to do a story right.
In this case, priest after priest have told me that they fear retribution from the cardinal if they speak out in any way. Are they right to fear retribution? I don’t know. But they mean it. The priests I quote anonymously are people I believe to be credible, non-hysterical and, in most cases, representative of what others believe.