The Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, has written to Bishop Geoffrey Robinson denying him permission to speak on Church property in his territory and has endeavoured to urge Bishop Robinson to cancel his speaking tour in North America. Catholica has received this news, and the text of Cardinal Mahony's letter via Robert Blair Kaiser and Frank Douglas. Mr Kaiser, who is the author of the controversial novel, "Cardinal Mahony", also responds. This news story has partly been triggered because Robert Kaiser is in the course of preparing a promotional trip to Australia for the Australian release of his book, "Cardinal Mahony — A Novel" and he came across this sensational story in the course of preparing for his trip to our country.
We apologise for the quality of the image of Cardinal Mahony's letter. We will provide a text version as soon as possible. Below his letter is the text of a response that the high profile journalist and commentator on Catholic affairs, Robert Blair Kaiser, has written...
Cardinal Mahony's letter to Bishop Robinson….
Text version of the above letter…
May 9, 2008
Most Reverend Geoffrey James Robinson
Dear Bishop Robinson,
I am writing once again in reference to your planned speaking engagement in the Archdiocese of Los Angelese on June 12, 2008.
Your letter informing me of your coming appearance made it clear that you were not seeking my permission or approval, that you were planning to come regardless.
Since your communications, I have come to learn that you new book is being investigated by the Australian Bishops' Conference because of concerns about doctrinal errors and other statements in the book contrary to Church teaching.
I have also learned that His Eminence, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Prefect for the Congregation of BIshops, has urged you to cancel your visit to the United States.
Consequently, I am hereby requesting that your cancel you visit to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles now set for June 12, 2008. Canon 763 makes it clear that the Diocesan Bishop must safeguard the preaching of God's Word and the teachings of the Church in his own Diocese. Under the provisions of Canon 763, I hereby deny you permission to speak in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
As a brother Bishop, I urge you to cancel the entire speaking tour and to work closely with your own Bishops' Conference on their investigation. I would surely expect you to follow exactly their recommendations in thiis matter.
With every best with, I am
[Editor's Note: The above letter was re-typed manually from the image above. E&OE]
Comment from Robert Blair Kaiser…
Friends, here is a statement by the Australian Bishops Conference calling down Bishop Robinson and his new book (See: www.acbc.catholic.org.au/bishops/confpres/20080508514.htm). Also copy of a letter sent by Cardinal Mahony denying Robinson permission to speak in Los Angeles, a permission he never sought. Both docs attached. I understand Bp. Robinson will be going ahead with his tour, visiting in LA today but headed to Philadelpia tomorrow, and may be preparing a response to Mahony and to his Aussie bishops.
My own comment: the Australian bishops say that R's book "casts doubt" on the Church's teaching. No, not really. Those who read the book carefully conclude that he doesn't cast doubt on the teachings, but on the way those teachings are taught -- some of them so unconvincingly that we can hardly call them teachings at all. When teachings are not "received" by the people, there is no learning. And therefore the people are being given no real teaching, just being treated like children by someone who isn't making any sense at all.
As for Cardinal Mahony's letter, I have problems with
1. The tone is that of a superior to a subordinate. Or, to put it in the vernacular, "Cardinal Mahony talks to Bp. R. like a boss." He is not R's boss, but a brother bishop, no more, and, I hope, no less. If he were a true brother bishop (all the bishops of the world have the same authority as successors of the Apostles) he would not urge R. to cancel his book tour. He should recognize R. is saying some things for the good of the entire Church and he dearly wants people to know about the book, and read it. It obviously means a great deal to him, and a brother bishop should respect his feelings. Furthermore, he not only urges R. to cancel his book tour, but to "follow exactly the recommendations of his fellow bishops in Australia in this matter." The word "exactly" gives the game away. Is Bishop R. a naughty boy, now being told to stand in the corner until he is told it is okay to come out? The whole tone says worlds about this still top-down Church in a bottom up kind of world -- for whom authority means everything. The exasperated tone of Mahony's letter is just a step up from a fatwa by any ayatollah. I will bet Mahony sent a copy of his letter to Cardinal Re in Rome.
2. The substantial charges are vague. R. is being "investigated" by the Australian Bishops Conference "because of concerns about doctrinal errors and other statements in this book contrary to Church teachings." But that's not a crime, not even in our totalitarian Church, where we are supposed to have something called "due process." This is not due process. It's just a flat accusation without any proof, not even a citation or quote from his book that can show R. is saying anything contrary to "Church teaching." There are a wide variety of Church "teachings." They call for varying kinds of consent. Some of them are only "pious beliefs." Some are "defined by faith." What Church teachings is R. denying? The teaching of Pope Pius X, for instance, that has never been officially rescinded, that the only duty of a layman is absolute obedience to the hierarchy of the Church? Or the teaching of Vatican II that everyone of the faithful are full and equal members of the Church?
Robert Blair Kaiser