As this week's statements show, the difficulties of the past few years have also resulted in an important shift in the mindset of the bishops themselves. This new mindset is more traditional and unafraid to reassert the church's teaching in the face of widespread opposition. The kind of bishop who embraces this traditional point of view believes that many Catholics are enormously confused and that he can no longer sit quietly and let people's commitment to faith erode. His growing presence in the American episcopacy was made evident this week in the conference votes: the bishops were overwhelming in their support for each statement. "The old guard are passing from the scene," says Russell Shaw, a Catholic writer and former press secretary to the U.S. bishops (he attended all the meetings). "They were hardly heard from at the meeting, they're now in the past and we're entering a whole new era."
While I agree that affirming our teachings in the public square is a fresh coat of paint on the Conference, I think Russ doesn't have his fingers on the pulse of the "new era".
Have we driven the dissent underground?
Absolutely. Dissent is off the radar in the public square, excepting very few Bishops and priests who are still gnashing and grinding about.