Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Church secrets

Catholicism is known for its ability to keep secrets -- sometimes it's understandable. Sometimes it's unnecessary, and sometimes, according to Bishop Randolph Calvo of Reno, Nev., it's funny.

He was trying to make the point about the difference between secrets and confidential information, so Calvo told the story about when he found out he would be bishop.

It was a few weeks before Christmas in 2005 and he came rushing into his office before a pre-school Christmas pageant and didn't even look at his phone messages. His secretary called his attention to one in particular an urgent message from the Archdiocese of Washington DC. Flustered, he called the number and a woman answered "hello."
"Is this the archdiocese of Washington?" Calvo inquired.
"No, this is the papal nunciature."

The papal nuncio (the pope's representative in the U.S.) got on the phone and informed Calvo he had been chosen by Pope Benedict XVI as the new bishop of Reno. All Calvo could do was mumble appreciation. Then came the hard part -- it couldn't be official until a bishop was named in San Francisco, which oversees Reno. And the nuncio let him in on a "papal secret." The announcement would be "soon." Now, Calvo was left remembering his time in Italy where soon could be today, tomorrow or three weeks from now.

Lucky for him the announcement came the next day. Calvo still couldn't say anything. In his first meeting with the new archbishop and other priests, he kept scanning the face of the bishop for any sign that he knew of Calvo's new job. After the meeting, the men met privately, and Calvo finally asked "Do you know something I know?" The bishop knew.

It only got worse as he had to excuse himself from saying a funeral Mass and leave a water main break in someone else's hands all without explanation.

"That kind of secrecy I can't describe," he said.

I can only hope someone around here is holding onto a similar secret...

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