By WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
November 23, 1972
(Special to The Wanderer)
ARLINGTON, Va. — John Cardinal Carberry revealed during the annual Bishops’ meeting here an astounding documentary source in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry, chaired by Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans.
Citing the portion of the report dealing with episcopal authority, and holding in his hand a back issue of Origins newsletter (a service of NC News), Cardinal Carberry demonstrated a word- for-word, almost page-for-page identity between the committee report and a scandalous statement issued last Spring at Catholic University by a so-called Canon Law Colloquium. This piece of detective work linked the consultants of the ad hoc committee with the dissident group which, last May, called upon the American Hierarchy to rebel openly against the directives of the Holy See concerning the selection of Bishops.
Archbishop Hannan, who was on the podium answering questions at the time of Cardinal Carberry’s intervention, admitted with some embarrassment that he was unable to give any explanation for the presence of this material in his committee’s report. He said that he had never read the statement of the colloquium and so, of course, was in no position to recognize it.
Fr. Thomas Lynch, an officer of the Canon Law Society, subsequently denied that the colloquium at Catholic University had had any official connection with the Canon Law Society of America, a professional group to which nearly all Canon lawyers belong. It seems doubly unusual, therefore, that the colloquium statement should have appeared in the ad hoc committee report.
Cardinal Carberry called for a postponement on a motion to create a standing Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry (which would inherit the functions of the present ad hoc committee, when the latter’s mandate expires next November. Many other Bishops joined him as he cried that to approve the permanent committee now would be to give a “blank check” to those whose past performance he had just finished exposing.
Despite these interventions, however, the twofold motion on the establishment of a permanent committee plus a permanent secretariat to service it, passed easily. It is significant, however, that sixty-nine bishops voted against the establishment of the secretariat, realizing, no doubt, what elements would likely come to dominate it.