University of Toledo theologian Richard Gaillardetz offered a fascinating overview of developments in the theology of ministry. He suggested that the church may be moving towards a definitive rejection of the ancient Roman idea of the cursus honorum, in which one ministry is a stepping stone to something higher on the career ladder. In that sense, Gaillardetz said, it may make sense to rethink the “transitional diaconate,” in which priests-to-be are first ordained deacons. Symbolically, doing so treats being a deacon as a way-station along the path to the “higher office” of the priesthood. In fact, Gaillardetz suggested, the church may wish to consider finding bishops from among the ranks of permanent deacons or even laymen rather than bringing them forward exclusively from the priesthood, which encourages the view that the priesthood is a sort of preparation for the episcopacy. (Source)
Remember, folks, Dick’s talk to the bishops is on the impact of the Second Vatican Council on the priesthood, and on the relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the baptized.
I guess Dick is looking for the “express route” to the episcopacy.
The reason why the Church has been able to (barely) withstand the onslaught of liberals is that the celibate priesthood is a long and arduous journey of self-sacrifice. When a priest becomes bishop, the chances of him being a thoroughly bad apple are still remote, even considering all of the crap we’ve been through. If Dick and his buddies convince bishops to short circuit this road, you can expect every two-bit “theologian” and quack to be nominated for the episcopacy.
As a French Cardinal told Napolean many years ago, “You can’t destroy the Church. We’ve been trying for 1800 years and still have not been successful“