Saturday, May 18
Karl Schudt beat me to the punch in announcing Cardinal George's bold idea. The news came out in the middle of the Cardinal's "instruction" to eleven men he was going to ordain a few minutes later. He announced he is planning to sell the bishop's mansion. The reason? I'll translate it this way: riches place hurdles in the way of those who want to believe and those who need to live the gospel life. The splendor for priests and bishops ultimately has to be tied to the Church, to the Sacraments, to the Lord. Earthly splendor is fleeting, and the call of Christ is to Gospel poverty and simplicity.
This was no publicity stunt. It will surely get press attention, but anyone who was there can tell you that he didn't dwell on his proposal as if it were the reason they were gathered. Not publicity, but pedagogy. He was teaching his soon-to-be newest priests what priesthood means: Christ's values not the world's; others first; no to self. He was showing just what it means that Christ's Kingdom is not of this world.
I don't believe Cardinal George needs to divest himself of his mansion. But, his newly ordained priests, those who were there when he made the announcement, and those he shepherds in Chicago will not soon forget his words and example today. That's because they point beyond themselves to Christ. And we all know in our depths that is what priests and bishops are ordained to do. His example is powerful testimony that Cardinal George understands why Jesus came:
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit. (Isaiah 61:1-3, today's first reading at the Ordination Liturgy)
Kudos, Cardinal George