Last night, I went over to the Oregon Express, which is where Theology on Tap is usually held in Dayton. I should have gotten there earlier, because the place was so packed I had to sit on the stairs to the second floor section. (That was closed, though, so it was perfectly out of the way.)
Archbishop Schnurr came to this venue to answer people’s questions. (Written questions on index cards, which is sensible enough.) He talked a little about himself and his resume, he explained the coadjutor’s job, opined that the Holy Father might accept Archbishop Pilarczyk’s resignation sometime after his priesthood’s fiftieth anniversary in December but that nobody knew for sure, and then started answering questions. At all times, he tried to answer the question asked and did so honestly, if often guardedly. He also tried to state clearly whatever basics of the Church and Scripture were involved in the question. People had an overall good impression of him, I think.
(One thing he could work on: hesitation and use of the pausing syllable “uh”. There’s a BBC gameshow called Just a Minute, in which comedians have to speak on a given topic for a minute “without repetition, hesitation, or deviation”. It’s an incredible difficult competition, yes; but AB Schnurr wouldn’t make it more than a second on most of the topics given him last night. Maybe he needs to play this game around the dinner table with his guests.)
When it came to the questions, I really think the early deck was stacked by… well, very worried people of an older age who come over from UD and Antioch. They usually do come to these things, early, and they usually do ask questions very unrepresentative of the rest of the crowd. So there were numerous questions on boomergeezer topics written with a boomergeezer slant. Shrug. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but if somebody asks a question about when “Lay Liturgical Ministers” will be taking over running parishes, it sounds like a boomergeezer is behind it. Ditto the women’s ordination question, and ditto the… imprudent… wording of a much later question about the SSPX (or possibly about all trads – it really was wild). These questions were largely answered in that guarded manner I was talking about. I would have liked a little more oomph and big picture answers, but what we got was fine.
There was a question, I kid you not, on why the use of liturgical dance is so infrequent in the Archdiocese, and what could be done to spread it. And I’m not sure it was a joke, either, because UD has a liturgical dance group and somebody must run it. The AB managed not to say anything against our Rwandan immigrants, while pointing out that Western Europe and the US doesn’t really do liturgical dance as part of its intrinsic heritage. Very Arinze.
There were some questions on less heavy topics, like “What’s that gold chain you’re wearing?” and “What is your favorite pro football team?” The AB was shocked to hear the question from someone who couldn’t find anywhere in Dayton to go to Adoration, as well he should have been. (Dayton and Cincy have Adoration thick on the ground.) It emerged that the person was actually talking about Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and people were able to help him out. (A UD student said that they’ve got that on weekday nights at Monday and Wednesday nights at Our Lady of Good Counsel chapel in Alumni Hall, which I didn’t know. I was surprised nobody mentioned Sunday night at St. Joseph’s, because they always used to have Benediction before their famous 6 PM Sunday night Mass. But I think that parish’s schedule has changed, maybe.)
Probably the question which got the biggest audience reaction was the Mass question. (It’s hard to tell, because everyone was respectfully quiet throughout, as had been requested. You end up having to judge degrees of stillness and intakes of breath.) Somebody asked what could be done about priests making up their own Mass prayers. The AB stated clearly that: 1) they shouldn’t be doing that, 2) you should say something in a nice but clear way about this to the priest who does it, and 3) that you can write to the Archbishop.
Interestingly, he then tied this to people desiring older forms of the Mass, because nobody messes around as much with the EF, or the OF said in Latin. It was a good thing he said this, because it balanced the way he answered the SSPX question. (He didn’t say anything super-outrageous. You could tell he’d hung around a lot of the US bishops during certain years, that’s all I’m saying. And you could also tell that he was tooootallly unaware that the Vatican is RIGHT NOW going into talks with the SSPX, or he would have been more guardedly polite in his answer. So I hope this isn’t going to be used as a “gotcha” against the AB or the talks, and that it won’t distress anyone.)
The other prudence issue is also a clarity issue. When he talked about married priests and celibacy, he kept talking about “the Catholic Church” as if it only consisted of the Latin Rite. And that’s not really acceptable, especially in this day and age. I know it’s an easy mistake to make, if you grew up in an area that wasn’t crawling with Maronite Catholics or Ruthenians or whatever; but it’s not acceptable. (He did mention the rationale for the pastoral provision for converts.)
Anyway, it was a very interesting talk. I wish there’d been more “real people” questions and fewer “my paycheck comes from the Church” questions, but that happens.