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Retired San Francisco Archbishop John R. Quinn Joining USD

" H E 'S BAAAAAAAAC K ..." According to the April 16 San Diego Union-Tribune "Retired San

Francisco Archbishop John R. Quinn is joining the faculty of the University of San Diego under a special arrangement that will put him on the Roman Catholic campus two semesters over the next two years, school officials announced yesterday.

"Quinn will be the first to hold the Monsignor John R. Portman Chair, an endowed position funded with a $2 million anonymous gift in honor of Portman, a retired San Diego priest who also chaired USD's religion department"

The U-Tgoes on to cite Quinn's anti-Vatican book (Reform of the Papacy), but neglects to mention that he will fit in well with the USD religious studies faculty, 14 of whose 15 members, according to a source close to the department, are also anti-Vatican.

Anti-Papal Love Fest (at USD)

by Anne Knight and Sally Thomsin

On February 21 former San Francisco Archbishop John R. Quinn spoke on "Papal Primacy and the Costly Call to Christian Unity" at the University of San Diego. Archbishop Quinn's new book on the papacy was available for purchase at the talk. The presentation was co-sponsored by USD's Institute for Christian Ministries and Catholic Perspectives Forum.

Just as when the Institute for Christian Ministries hosted dissenting Father Richard McBrien at USD in 1996, Quinn's visit took on the atmosphere of a gala diocesan event. There was advance publicity in the secular press and Catholic circles. USD flyers billed it as a "special event," proceeds to benefit USD's Practical Theology/Pastoral Care and Counseling Scholarship Fund. A version of the USD flyer appeared in a February 10 Southern Cross article announcing the event. The San Diego Union­Tnbunds religion and ethics editor, Sandi Dolbee, did her part to drum up interest with a February 18 article titled "Retired Archbishop Speaks Out on Reform". The San Diego County chapter of Call to Action advertised the event in its February 2000 newsletter.

 

Shortly before the presentation commenced, approximately 75 to 100 people were seen entering Shiley Theater through a side hallway rather than the building's front entrance. They chit-chatted together amiably and proceeded to be seated in a reserved section of about 100 chairs in the first several rows. Most of the 800-seat theater was filled; USD students made up about 25 percent of the crowd. One student indicated that she was attending with her theology class, taught by Thomas Leininger. Many other attendees were senior citizens.

 

Father Ron Pachence, director of graduate and professional programs for USD's theology and religious studies department, gave a brief introduction. Jane Gorman, Institute for Christian Ministries director, delivered the invocation, "Oh God, Creator of the universe, Who both fathers and mothers us        fill us with Your Spirit." She referred to Archbishop Quinn "in the role of prophet and teacher."

 

Alice Hayes, USD's president, then welcomed the audience on behalf of USD, Dr. Author Hughes


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(USD's founding president), and herself. (Hughes sat in the audience.) "I think that his book is going to make an important contribution to the dialogue of Christian unity," Hayes opined. She, in turn, introduced Monsignor John Portman, a retired priest of the San Diego diocese, whom, she explained, "we are recognizing with the Monsignor John Portman Chair of Systematic Theology." Archbishop Quinn himself was introduced by Monsignor Portman, to loud applause from the audience. Archbishop Quinn was ordained a priest of the San Diego diocese in 1953. He became rector of the San Diego diocesan seminary in 1964 and later became the provost of the USD College for Men. He was charged with merging the College for Men and the College for-Women into the University of San Diego. The archbishop was named auxiliary bishop of the diocese in 1967. In 1971 he became bishop of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in 1977 was appointed as archbishop of San Francisco. Archbishop Quinn resigned from that position in 1995, at age 66, nine years earlier than the mandatory retirement age of 75. According to Sandi Dolbee, writing in the U-T, "Over the years, he served as a Vatican adviser on various matters and was president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1977 to 1980. But his reign in San Francisco was tumultuous. He wrestled with how to include gay and lesbian Catholics in his diverse archdiocese and was rattled by scandals involving child abuse and embezzlement by local priests. He encountered the wrath of many parishioners when he closed nine of the city's churches because of dwindling attendance and expensive earthquake retrofitting."

After his resignation, Archbishop Quinn was made a visiting fellow at Oxford University's Campion Hall, where he gave the Campion Hall centennial lecture in 1996. It was in this lecture that he began to call for decreased papal authority -- decentralization, more control granted to bishops, and parishioner involvement in the selection of bishops. He believes that the reunification of Christendom cannot be achieved unless such changes are implemented. The June 1998 San Francisco Faith reported that, at Oxford, the archbishop "criticized the Roman Curia for 'wanton disregard' of the local Church and 'blind, rigid application' of Church law, and said that the Vatican should indulge the liberal Catholics' wish to reopen discussion of such issues as the ordination of women, birth control and married priests. The movement to question these teachings, he said, 'cannot be overlooked or dismissed as if it were the quirk of malcontents or the scheme of those who want to undermine the papacy." Archbishop Quinn prefaced his Oxford address as being a response to Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint.

 

In May, 1999, the San Francisco Faith reported that at a meeting of U.S. bishops in Washington, DC, Archbishop Quinn called for rejection of the 1990 Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Vatican guidelines for maintaining Catholic identity at Catholic colleges.

After thanking Father Pachence for inviting him, Archbishop Quinn reviewed the development of the papal office and declared, "The idea of primacy of jurisdiction -- the bishop of Rome having jurisdiction over all the other churches -- is altogether not acceptable to the Orthodox and many other Christians." He fretted over the Vatican's recent decision to monitor translation of liturgical texts from Latin into English.

 

Archbishop Quinn said he believes that John Paul II "is sending a signal that the teaching of Vatican Council I on the papacy is not the last word ... As I see it, then, the encyclical [Ut Unum Sint] is saying that Vatican I needs to be probed. Primacy of jurisdiction is not the only valid way of expressing the content of the papal office." Later, he said that the Holy Father "clearly, obviously locates the papacy within the college of bishops. This means that the pope cannot be understood to be outside and above the episcopacy. He is within, as member and head of the episcopacy.... In other words, the normal exercise of the papal office must be collegial.... The collegiality of the episcopacy was a central point in the Second Vatican Council."

 

Of reunification with Protestant denominations, the archbishop said, "The customs and procedures of the Anglican Communion and Protestant churches must be preserved should they enter into full communion with the Bishop of Rome.... Union with Rome does not mean absorption." In his closing remarks Archbishop Quinn repeated the assertion of the late Father Raymond Brown, "that the most effective way to bring about Christian unity would be if a major Protestant church knocked on the door of the Vatican and said, 'We're here; we want unity now.' This would force an immediate effort to cut through all the secondary issues and get to the essentials."

Archbishop Quinn's proposals for revamping the papacy are not universally accepted. Sandi Dolbee reported that John Cardinal O'Connor of New York disputes Archbishop Quinn's depiction of the papacy dismissive of bishops' opinions and points out that doctrinal differences are a major obstacle to unity. The pope's biographer, George Weigel, suggests that Quinn's proposals would turn the Catholic Church into a Protestant-style denomination. Father Peter Stravinskas, editor of the Catholic Answer, told the San Francisco Faith ("Is the Papacy the Problem?" September 1998) that "the very last thing we need is more splintering of the Church.... The Roman primacy has probably never been more important than it is right now.... Bishops are not necessarily in the best position to critique their own cultures." Noted Jesuit Father Avery Dulles told the Faith that "there is always a centrifugal tendency of the national conferences ... for autonomy. In order to preserve the unity of the sense of the one Church, Rome has to exercise constant vigilance. Otherwise vve would have an African Church and an Indian Church, a Latin American Church, [etc.]"

During the talk a noticeable number of the USD students appeared inattentive and fidgety, and one fell asleep. At the start of a question-and-answer session most students filed out. A complaint about women not being ordained came up, followed by loud clapping and cheering from the audience. The archbishop sidestepped it. His responses to other questions were carefully worded.

Bishop Brom was not in evidence at the gala, nor did any speaker mention his name. However, his former chancellor, Monsignor Daniel Dillabough, currently USD vice president for mission and ministry, attended, as did Monsignor Steven Callahan, rector of St. Francis Seminary. Other local clergy included Monsignors Neal Dolan, Mark Campbell, Thomas Prendergast, Richard Duncanson, Eamonn Lyng, and Larry Purcell and Fathers Peter Escalante, Scott McColl, Mike Sinor, and Matthew Spahr. USD faculty members seen among the audience included liberal theology professors Kathleen Dugan, Bernard Cooke and Florence Gillman. Evi Quinn, founding member of the local Call to Action chapter, was on hand.