L’Osservatore Chicago: Nicholas Kristof as the next archbishop?
(POSTED: 10/10/12) When Joseph Bernardin was archbishop-designate for the Chicago Archdiocese, a PR person from DePaul University wrote him a letter, noting some of the ways that Bernardin could prepare himself for the job.
Tim Unsworth especially recommended that Bernardin take to the streets (before he was too well-known there) and get a feel for how the natives experienced their neighborhoods, their city and their church. Ride the el, walk in the parks, maybe do a little shopping.
As I remember the story, Unsworth’s wife Jean sent a copy of the letter to the National Catholic Reporter, and they promptly hired Tim as a columnist where he flourished for years.
Although I don’t remember how seriously the future Cardinal Bernardin took Tim Unsworth’s advice, I was impressed enough to be reminded of it all these years later when I watched “Half the Sky” this week. There I saw someone taking Tim Unsworth’s advice seriously indeed.
When I saw New York Times’ Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof’s PBS show on turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide, I saw a man who reported from the streets (and homes and brothels) to get the feel for what women (who support half the sky) experience in these places in this day and age.
He met women who have suffered beatings and whoredom and sex trafficking in Africa, India, Cambodia and Vietnam, and he hugged them. And they hugged him back.
As I watched, I tried to imagine Cardinal Bernardin, that sweet, shy man, reaching out to put his arms around the suffering women of Chicago. And I wanted a new archbishop who could do that. Which is to say, I imagined Nicholas Kristof as our new archbishop now that I have seen him in action.
Kristof is Catholic. He is married, but weren’t the original bishops, the apostles, married? Maybe it is the acceptable time for married men to be welcomed into the hierarchy. Maybe Kristof has done his “seminary training” in the streets of Sierra Leone and Somaliland where female genital cutting is still tradition.
Hillary Clinton, on the show, says that “the role and rights of women – their freedom and equality and dignity – is the unfinished business of the 21st century.” The role of women in the Catholic Church is part of that business. I nominate Nicholas Kristof as the next archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is uniquely up to that challenge.
Margery Frisbie, a graduate of Mundelein College, has raised lots of kids and written lots of columns. She is the author of several local histories, two graphic histories published in Europe, and An Alley in Chicago, the Life and Legacy of Monsignor John Egan.
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