The recent news of yet another priest in custody inspired looking back on events in the Church in the U.S. and my Archdiocese of Milwaukee 15 years ago. First up, 'What a cathedral means', by Rembert G. Weakland, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 10, 2002. The occasion was the reopening of Milwaukee's Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist after extensive renovations.
"In the Catholic tradition, there are many churches in a diocese but only one cathedral. It is the bishop's church, the symbol of unity for the entire ten counties that form the Archdiocese of Milwaukee - from Sheboygan and Fond du Lac in the north, to Kenosha and Walworth in the south."Which led him to say,
"For this reason, twenty-some years ago, I decided that the crypt of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist would also be the burial chamber of the bishops. That is a part of the Catholic tradition. Archbishop Moses Elias Kiley, Archbishop William E. Cousins and Bishop Leo J. Brust are now all buried there. It is also where I hope my own body will eventually find a place of rest."Since he soon after was embroiled in scandal, he later looked for somewhere else to spend his retirement. But that was not to be and he remains among us. So his plans for his remains still are quite fitting, though not quite as he anticipated.
On the renovation, he later says,
"Still, the Cathedral of St. John is not a large church. ...
"I wonder ... when a successor bishop will have the courage to demolish this cathedral to build one that will hold at least two to three thousand worshippers. Just imagine the courage it took to destroy the medieval church of St. Peter's in Rome to build the present one."If there's anything indicating increasing, rather than shrinking, crowds at our Cathedral, I haven't seen it. And the building of the current St. Peter's does put me in mind of the connection between "deferred maintenance" and building projects. Also the sale of indulgences.
Archbishop Weakland goes on to discuss aspects of liturgical architecture, including many of what are, to me, aesthetic pokes in the eye involved in the renovation. He did not anticipate later controversies in which details of the design became associated, painfully for some. with the clerical sexual abuse scandal.