Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rutler for New York.....or Westminster?


According to 'The Spectator', Munich, Westminster and New York are the three most important posts Pope Benedict XVI will have to fill during his pontificate. With Munich now filled, all eyes are turning to the two most prominent sees in the English speaking world. While rumours have been buzzing around for months about both positions, an intriguing new name has emerged as a front-runner for New York - but in the same breath, he is also reportedly a candidate for Westminster: the mystery candidate is none other than popular EWTN host, author, confidante of princes, potentates and presidents - Father George Rutler, pastor of the Church of Our Saviour in New York City. According to a senior source in the Congregation for Bishops, the Holy Father "knows who Rutler is," and "likes what he sees!" Already possessing a doctorate, which used to be a requirement for Bishops - Roman sources suggest it is Rutler's skill as an orthodox pastor and effective communicator of the faith that seems to have caught the eye of influential figures in the Vatican. Rutler's weekly show on EWTN, with a possible global audience in the millions would certainly give him name recognition way beyond any of the candidates suggested so far. While some might claim Rutler is an ethereal figure, who spends what little spare time he has painting water colours, his administrative skills are beyond question, having revived a moribund and bankrupt parish into a flourishing centre of good liturgy, financial stability and, very significantly for Roman eyes - a seedbed of vocations. In the last six years no less than seven Cardinals have stayed in the simple, yet adequate rectory, and Rutler's links with the great and the good in Gotham make him the underdog that may snatch the bone from all the other episcopal contenders. The intriguing part of this story, which is now receiving strong confirmation from across the Atlantic, is that Rutler's name is also being considered for Westminster. A former Anglican, Rutler was educated at Oxford (his tutor was Rowan Williams, the present Archbishop of Canterbury). A well-known anglophile, Rutler is often mistaken for an Englishman by people with inferior aural skills. A prominent London-based cleric, who insisted on anonymity said that Rutler is "exactly the kind of candidate who would shake things up in Westminster - and he's not part of the club." Rutler is known to be appalled by the very suggestion of ecclesiastical preferement but, if that heavy Cross were presented to him, he is a man of obedience and a loyal servant of the Church. Watch this space...!

15 comments:

Jeff Miller said...

He would make a great Bishop.

PraiseDivineMercy said...

Hm. All due respect to Westminster, but with the state of the Church in America, I do hope we get him. (That's assuming this tip is accurate).

gemoftheocean said...

Interesting speculation, certainly re: New York, but Westminster? Isn't it generally considered a slap to reach clear across an ocean for a cardinal? Don't they tend to keep them "in country" unless they are mission territory, perhaps? For all the carping the UK can' be as bad as all that, can it? [Besides, I have my favorite in mind for that post.]

Mac McLernon said...

Ummmm, Praisedivinemercy - I think our need is greater than yours.

;-)

And Karen, I think I know who you're thinking of, but he's been a bit blunt on the old blogosphere! But we can dream...

Liz said...

If England gets Father Rutler, I can think of a certain bishop in Nebraska who would be a good candidate for NY.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

gemoftheocean, i think you'll find there is a bit of ocean between England and Ireland, and we have had plenty of Archbishops from there. All that matters is a command of English, and even then, think of St Theodore! one of the greatest and most influential Archbishops of Canterbury – not a word of English.

gemoftheocean said...

Josephus, interesting point re: England and Ireland...but that might be a special case. I get the feeling that a lot of Catholics based in the UK have an Irish background, i.e. either emigrated themselves, or perhaps parent or grandparents did. I'd be interested to know what the percentage is of Catholic people living in the UK with fairly recent Irish roots. Is the cross pollination a one way street? i.e. would you ever see an Englishman appointed a bishop in Ireland? As for Northern Ireland?

Mac: Yep, he of the "dry wit." I brake for him.

Karen

hopingforheaven said...

It would surprise me that a priest from another country would be named to high office in another.

But if I could vote, and it counted, I like the idea of Fr. Rutler for Archbishop of NY.

As to the good bishop of Lincoln--I think there is already great animosity against him for his many public and politically incorrect stances. Let him continue to make Lincoln a garden for the growth of bishops to come and to continue to aid the FSSP, etc.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Gemoftheocean. of course, you are right, but it does not alter the principle. There have historically been many irishmen here, and the Church has for long been regarded by protestants as an irish mission. Those of us who are not irish are often of other european origins, but we must never ignore the native english Catholics who have stood from in great persecution, and the numerous (mostly pre-Vatican II) converts, who form the majority of rural Catholics.

Now, since the EU, and the prosperity of Ireland, a vast proportion of those families have gone home, so whole districts and parishes are denuded of them. The Church in England has become even more cosmopolitan ("Catholic" – if only we truly were!), with all the central European influx, several millions in a few years, and very practicing. In the main cities, most parishes are 60%-plus foreign, so any talk of a "native" bishop is simple patronising nonsense. Our only common bond is our religion.

We must not forget that England is of little real significance in the Catholic world, so of course the vast number so US Catholics deserve the first pick of a small fund of good candidates. However our language and the historical and political position of Britain give the Archbishop of Westminster an influence far beyond mere numbers, and a sound appointment could have a beneficial influence throughout the english-speaking world.

The English blogosphere in which we find ourselves rather proves this point.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Sorry, Gemoftheocean, I forgot to add. An english bishop in Ireland is less of a possibility than Lucifer getting back into Heaven. It would be the stuff of revolution. The only Englishmen they allow there are the ones who pretend to be irish nationalists.

Oliver Hayes said...

It is most unlikely that Rome will appoint anyone to Westminster who is not an Englishman, or at least a British citizen. The political (let alone ecclesiastical!) implications of doing so would make it a very unwise move. The rumour that George Pell will be moved here from Down Under seems to be preposterous, while Fr. George Rutler would be far more suitable for the US.

gemoftheocean said...

Josephus: LOL re: your Lucifer remark. That was my gut instinct too. Some time a while back I think I read that of Christian denominations, even in raw numbers, more Catholics attended Church weekly than others, C of E attendance having dropped through the cellar in the last 50 years. I hadn't realized that up to 60 % of your urban parishes were composed of non-native UK citizens (or "subjects" if you like.)

tara said...

Father Rutler is one of my favorite priests! I enjoy watching him on EWTN. Sheesh, if they make him a bishop--then he will probably stop filming his EWTN series--that would be sad.

BTW, very nice blog!

Dymphna said...

No, don't take Fr. Rutler from us. Love to Westminster but the Church in America needs him.

Mary said...

I'm lucky enough to be in his parish, and selfishly I don't want to see him go. Unselfishly, I'd say he'd be a dynamite head of the NY Archdiocese, and then I'd be able to attend his liturgies still, though it wouldn't be the same.