There are more variations on the latest Maryknoll Brothers vs. the Vatican vs. Father Dougherty vs. the Maryknoll Constitutions (note plural) story than different melons in the fruit salad at our famous salad bar, source of grist for the mill and posts for this blog. I shall attempt to distill their common elements.
Apparently whoever is in charge of putting up with us at the Vatican, grew weary of our continually asking for exceptions and variances to our Constitutions. Br. Frank ten Hoopen, for example, some years back was allowed to serve on the regional council in Africa. As was Br. Mark Gruenke after that. But then followed the election of Br. Wayne Fitzpatrick, not as advisor or consultant but as U.S. Regional Superior and we all remember how that turned out. So apparently the recent election of Br. Mark Huntington to serve on the Africa Regional Council was too much for somebody. (Here the stories vary as to who exactly said, "Basta con tutta questa sciocchezza!" but since there are only two actors in this drama who speak fluent Italian, it kind of narrows it down. Now the question is, what does "questa sciocchezza" refer to, the continual election of Brothers or this blog?) Btw, I intentionally did not translate that, so you have a reason to talk to our members of Italian descent and find out who really understands the mother tongue.
The upshot of all this is, apparently, a moratorium on electing Brothers to any leadership roles until we take a look at our Constitutions and revise or amend them accordingly. The Brothers will be meeting soon to discuss this amongst themselves (and they have every reason to feel "verklempt"---go ask a Maryknoller from NYC) and will run their ideas past Fr. Joe Everson, our canon lawyer, to submit these either to ELB or to this blog or to the Food Committee, whichever seems to carry the most weight, authoritatively if not physically.
As it stands, we are a clerical Society of Apostolic Life with auxiliary lay Brothers. Do we need to rethink our identity? (Now THERE'S a project worthy of our Centenary!) Or perhaps a simple sentence or two will suffice, to the effect that "Only a cleric can be elected as major superior and no consultant shall have automatic right of succession." In the event of a "sede vacante" (ask someone ordained before 1965 or after 2005), a clerical member of the General Council will assume responsibility of leadership until another election can take place. Or something.
Perhaps ELB (Extended Leadership Board) later this month will take up the all-important task of discussing vision, directions and priorities. Or perhaps they will simply gather to watch PowerPoint presentations, flip charts and pie graphs of mind-numbing statistics and reports until they run out of time to consult on anything of substance.