Monday, August 26

A reader writes in with the text of another WSJ letter re/Dreher: (reader's comments in bold):

"I agree with many of the opinions expressed by Mr. Dreher, particularly his assessment of Cardinal Law's mendacity. However, his article betrays an offended enthusiasm, a jejeune sense of injury and scandal [!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -- oh...injury? scandal?...], that I find surprising in anyone old enough to be a senior editor of anything. Such disappointment as he expresses is the almost inevitable result of the excessive enthusiasm about the person of this present pope, as distinct from his office. Maturity, particularly maturity in the faith, requires that we accept the failures and the successes of our fellow man, even bishops and popes, with equanimity. One might object that bishops and the pope have shown excessive equanimity in the face of the evils they were in a position to punish and prevent--I wouldn't disagree. Nevertheless, serenity is the proper attitude for those who do not bear that responsibility. Evil we will have with us always."Angela Lessard, South Pasadena, California

...but I, Angela, can put aside my own equanimity long enough to be so surprised at someone's jejeune sense of injury that I need to write a letter about it to the Wall Street Journal.


Oh yes. Nancy Nall points me to Lileks, first thing. Scroll down to get in the swing of his bleat on Opie and Anthony,

I’m curious how we got here. How we ended up paying four million dollars to a breed of morons so devoid of empathy that they cannot begin to imagine the reasons why their stunt was so deeply offensive - and not just to Catholics, but people like me who are not welded to organized religion. Well, the Islamicists regard the sight of an uncovered female head as deeply offensive, and you don’t care about their reactions. No, I don’t. But I understand why it is offensive to them, and I don’t advocate sending scarfless women into their mosques, or sending in Stammering Stu to rip off their headgear and shout “saw your hair! Haw haw!”

...then building, as the Bleats always do, to a fine crescendo and a perfect final line, which you'll have to just go and enjoy yourself. Here.

Fr. John McCloskey (whose website is here) has a letter in response to Rod Dreher's piece in today's WSJ. It's not online, of course, but it reads in part:

Mr. Dreher, as a convert to the Catholic Church, does not seem to realize that the church in this world is made up of a [sic] 100% fallible sinners from the pope on down. The church exists to forgive our sins and to give us the supernatural help to become saints. The Holy Father (John Paul II) has repeatedly spoken out strongly against and about the proportion of the minuscule proportion of [sic] Catholic priests and bishops in this in this [sic] disgusting matter of sexual abuse in the US. The remedies are already being put into effect. I would hope that Mr. Dreher would be more patient in terms of the remedy. The church has a pretty good track record. Check in again in about another thousand years.

Here's Rod's response:

How dare Fr. McCloskey condescend to me as a convert (read: second-rate Catholic), as if my respectful questioning of the Pope's handling of the sex-abuse scandal were a sign of naivete. He is trivializing a very serious matter with these smarmy remarks. What does recognizing the theological truth that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God have to do with the fact that the Pope can be faulted for the way he's governed the Church? It seems apparent to me that Fr. McCloskey takes the failure of the hierarchy, up to the Pope, to have reacted with a proper sense of outrage in the face of this evil as just another garden-variety sin, a sign of our fallen human nature. Could he possibly be more out of touch with the people in the pews, most particularly the victims and their families? This is the kind of failure of compassion and indeed common human decency that makes people lose their faith in the Catholic Church.

In point of fact, John Paul has not spoken out much at all about the crisis, and when he has done so, it's usually in the context of worrying about how the scandal affects other priests. I have good priest friends who are suffering greatly in this crisis, but I'd wager that every one of them believes that the victims of clerical sex abuse deserve the most attention. I appreciate what the Pope has had to say about the crisis, and wish he had said more, but aside from that, I wish he would *do something* about it. I'll quote C.S. Lewis again: "A long face is not a moral disinfectant."

I have no idea what Fr. McCloskey means about "remedies ... already being put into effect." Is he talking about the Dallas norms? Those are likely to be rejected by Rome, and from what I understand, with good reason. If he's not talking about the Dallas norms, then what is he talking about?

Fr. McCloskey's invitation to "check in again in about another thousand years" is insulting to those faithful Catholics who are sick and tired of the Church hierarchy knowing precisely the extent of the problem, and continuing to do nothing but lie, evade, reward clerical wrongdoers, and punish victims. If we have another 17 years like the time since 1985, when the sex-abuse crisis in the US Catholic Church broke into the public's consciousness, there won't be a Church here. Christ promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church; he did not promise that the Church would survive in the United States. Clerical attitudes such as Fr. McCloskey's only make things worse for the Church.

Back in January, when I first began to write critically about the Boston scandal, Fr. McCloskey wrote to me to advise me to shut up about the scandal, to let "secular journalists" work on the matter. As if being silent in the face of child-rape and a cover-up by the Church hierarchy were the duty of good Catholics. I'm grateful to God that those days are over, and good Catholic men and women who love their Church and are faithful to her are no longer going to be silenced by the smug opinions of clericalists who appear more interested in the image of the Church than in the protection of children, and justice for victims of the clergy. There is too much at stake here. Fr. McCloskey recommends patience; as I've said elsewhere, if you seek a monument to the patience of the Catholic laity with the bishops, read the daily papers.

I have much to do, so I don't have time to adequately respond right this second, except for two points:

This condescension to converts has got to stop.

It reminds me of the scene in the Sean Pean - Robert DeNiro masterpiece We're No Angels in which, as I recall, a presiding bishop or abbot or something is informed that the two men who had been masquerading as monks were really convicts. He mishears. "Converts?" he responds, horrified. No, he is assured - convicts. Oh, well then, that's all right.

It's absurd. Anyone with a sense of church history would know the life and energy that flows from converts. Of course, at the beginning, everyone was a convert, which sort of proves my point on its own, but moving ahead a few centuries, all it takes is a quick look to see what wisdom our Church gains from converts from Newman to Chesterton to Merton to Dorothy Day to our slew of modern-day converts who are at the foundation of contemporary's hard to think of many twentieth century "great Catholics" who weren't converts in some sense - either from another religion or Christian denomination, or from nominal Catholicism.

Secondly, focus, focus, focus...once again. What's the problem with wondering, in a faithful-I-really-dig-the-Pope-but-still kind of way.. what in the hell's going on? Surveys show that most Catholics can deal with the sin of the individual priest. It's the institutional nonsense that's beyond them, and rightly so. What's going on with these bishops who've priest-shuffled - Catholics want to know. What price are they paying? Our schools and other institutions might get shut down. Our kids and the poor might suffer. What price are the bishops paying beyond their good reputation? And more importantly, what's being done to prevent such dealings again? the Vatican apparently doesn't like the Dallas norms, as many's the alternative? What's going on?

And as someone commented several scores of comments ago - enough with the mystery. If something is indeed beind done, out with it. Let us know. There's no reason for us to be left guessing on this.

And no.. I don't have more of the letter. If you have it, either post it in the comments or email me, and I'll supplement.

And on those converts?.....take a look at Dave Armstrong's convert page for some edification and education.

Update: I'm told that is the entire text of the letter, typos and all...does the WSJ need new copy editors or does Fr. McCloskey?

Update: As a reader points out in the comments, Fr. McCloskey's initial comments about converts is very odd, given his role in the conversion of many people, both famous and not-famous.

Canonization cause for architect Antoni Gaudi advances
US Catholics barred from kneeling to receive Communion?

From Catholic World News via Catholic Exchange

The Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy declared in its July newsletter: "The bishops of the United States have decided that the normative posture for receiving Holy Communion should be standing. Kneeling is not a licit posture for receiving Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States of America unless the bishop of a particular diocese has derogated from this norm in an individual and extraordinary circumstance."

Forget Sunday night church: Sunday night TV gives this columnist just as much food for thought

Growing up, Sunday night church services were often the most spiritual part of my week. On Sunday nights, we got to talk about music and movies and books and school and, well, sex. I can almost picture exactly where I was sitting and what I was wearing when our pastor's wife, Katie, gave the youth group the old "how far is too far" sex talk one evening about 20 years ago.Somehow, Sunday night church felt more relevant.I rarely make it to church on Sunday nights any more. But I have managed to maintain the relevant church mindset with a new ritual. This one's a little unorthodox. Almost every Sunday, after or while my husband and I are eating dinner, we flip on the idiot box for what are often, for me at least, some of the most profound and introspective hours of the week.It starts with "The Simpsons" on Fox. Then, I move on to HBO for "The Sopranos" (though not lately), "Sex and the City" and "Six Feet Under."Sunday night TV has replaced Sunday night church for me. And I don't think it's a bad thing.

Bishop banned from boarding airplane with his crook

Northumberland bishop has been banned from boarding a plane with his traditional crook after security staff deemed it an offensive weapon.The Right Reverend Christopher Rogerson was on his way from Newcastle to Brussels for a religious festival and wanted to take the crosier as hand luggage.Airline staff at British European say the four-piece crook is classed as a possible security risk under new checks brought in since September 11

In case you hadn't heard...Pope cancels visit to Philippines.


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