Happy St. Patrick's Day.
In case you didn't know, in Iowa at the midterm elections of 2010 the portion of justices who were up on the ballot for retention were voted out. Normally in Iowa, the vote is just a formality and justices are kept on, but in this case, the Iowa Supreme Court had legalized homosexual marriage in the state, an unpopular move that generated a campaign to vote no for retention.
In the days after the election, many arguments were made about Iowa voters interfering with the Court, politicizing the bench, and taking away judicial independence. The obvious reply is that if voters aren't supposed to have any say on keeping or sending off justices, why does the Iowa Constitution give them that right?
So today I got my copy of the local diocesan paper in the mail. In it was the usual column by Father McBrien and his subject was Archbishop Dolan being elected to the presidency of the USCCB instead of the vice president, Bishop Kicanas. It's costumary for the vice president to succeed, so Dolan's election was a break with tradition. Father McBrien drew parallels between the rise of the Tea Party in US politics and the slow conservative drift of the US episcopal conference and then the world at large.
McBrien obviously has his opinion on where the Church is headed and he's entitled to it. I just want to reply: if the bishops weren't supposed to choose anyone else except the vice present, why bother having the vote?