The saga of South African Bishop Kevin Dowling's incendiary address, which was up before being down and then up again on the good old internet, took a step or two closer to truthiness when NCR was able to wrangle some kind of explanation from Dowling about the speech he presented June 1 before a small group of lay people. He says that he meant his pretty frank thoughts not to leave the room but was unaware that a reporter was present but did he really expect a room full of people to keep this to themselves and if so why did he send copies to other bishops and none of that explains why Independent Catholic News had the ups and downs with the post in the first place and why won't someone return a fella's email around here . . . oh, maybe I'll let him and NCR try to explain it:
Dowling told NCRin a telephone interview today that he gave the talk June 1 to a group of "influential lay Catholics" who meet periodically for lunch in Cape Town. The group, Dowling said, had asked him to speak "on how I view the current state of the church."
"In subsequent conversations, it became clear to me that the group of well-informed Catholic lay leaders wanted an analysis that would be open and very honest," Dowling said July 8. "Given the fact that it would be a select group with no media present, I decided I would be open and honest in my views to initiate debate and discussion."
A reporter, however, was present and what Dowling meant as an "off the record" conversation with lay leaders became local news. Dowling subsequently sent copies of his talk to his fellow South African bishops. NCR received a copy of the document and contacted Dowling to verify its authenticity.
I guess what's truly sad here is that Dowling felt utterly prevented from being "open and honest" and speaking his mind on the state of the church to more than a roomful of people he was foolish enough (crafty enough?) to think would keep it to themselves. Are there other bishops who share Dowling's insights and misgivings? Will we ever know? Here's to more openness and honesty without all the internet skullduggery and here's the rest of NCR's report.