The USCCB has announced that Jonathan J. Reyes, Ph.D.—currently the head of the Archdiocese of Denver’s Catholic Charities—will take over as executive director of the bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development in December. And Phil Lawler is very excited.
Have you been frustrated, over the years, with the political statements issued by the US bishops’ conference? If so, prepare for a welcome change. Have you wondered why the bishops never seem to listen to reasonable arguments by conservative Catholics? That’s about to change, too. … [Reyes’ work in Denver], and especially his involvement in projects like “Christ in the City,” testify to his belief that Christian charitable work is inseparable from evangelization. In other words he sees charitable work as a witness to faith, not a call for government support.
Reyes will be replacing John Carr, who headed the bishops’ social ministry arm for 25 years. Earlier this month, Anne Hendershott wrote a piece for CWR on the end of Carr’s tenure at the USCCB, detailing some of the criticisms levied against his department and in particular its controversial Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which was found to have provided funding to groups promoting abortion and same-sex marriage.
Lawler believes Reyes’ appointment marks a sea-change at the bishops’ conference:
The resumés of these two men provide a vivid contrast. … Carr sat on the board of the leftist Center for Community Change; Reyes is co-founder of the Augustine Institute. Carr will be taking a post at Harvard’s Kennedy School; Reyes is a former vice-president of Christendom College.
… This does not mean that Reyes will be a political partisan, or that the USCCB will suddenly begin endorsing Republican legislative proposals. But it does mean that for the first time in decades, the staff of the US bishops’ conference will not swing reflexively into line with the latest liberal rhetoric. Gaudeamus igitur, and chill the champagne!