Category Archives: Church

O Beauty

 

Cathedral on Lawrence 1 IMG_3850

“Late have I loved thee, O beauty, so ancient and so new.”

(St. Augustine, Confessions)

My parish church in Helena, Montana: St. Helena Cathedral.

I-phone  photo taken today, a block from my Helena home.

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The Church Stands Alone

In the Pedophile Priest Crisis, the Church (specifically its internal corrupters, the pedophile priests and their superiors in the hierarchy who refused to take responsibility) was in the wrong.  The world helped correct it.  That is, the news media, law enforcement, and especially the lawyers of the plaintiff’s bar.  They publicized and sued and brought the scandal to public attention, forcing the Church to deal with it.

In the present Homosexual Crisis, the world stands enthusiastically on the side of the Church’s internal corrupters.  The media love the current pope and his “See No Evil” approach (along with his breezy off-the-cuff airborne theology).  The media and other elites all shared in the near-universal horror at pedophile child abuse; but they all equally support the Homosexual Agenda, from normalization to gay marriage to transgenderism.

The only voices being raised against this grooming-and-groping-and-worse behavior of some bishops come from the much-despised “Traditional Catholics”, smeared by their own pope as “Pharisees”.

G.K. Chesterton wrote somewhere (I think in Orthodoxy, but I don’t have a copy handy so I am quoting from memory) that when the world becomes too worldly, it is the church’s role to turn it around. But when the church becomes too worldly, the world cannot save it.  Only the church (through the Holy Spirit) can save itself.

There will be no outside help, no cheering from the sidelines.  The press coverage will be terrible.  We already see the calumny against the traditional church as a homophobic institution, a bunch of haters in Knights of Columbus uniforms.

It will be a lonely battle.  There will be no one on our side…except the Holy Spirit.

Reprise: “I Am That Man”

[By request, a rerun of a previous post. Plus a few Digressions.]

A few years ago, in RCIA at the age of 69 after a spiritually wasted life, I was finally getting serious about many things, including the Bible readings.

 But I was taken aback by one of the vineyard parables (Mat 20):  the one where the owner pays the same daily wage to late-arriving workers who only put in an hour’s work as he pays to the laborers who worked the full day.

As a former union representative, I rose to point out the unfairness of this.  It would violate wage and hour laws, not to mention any union contract.  The result would be a grievance, a federal charge, or a walkout.  The late worker would be singled out for derision (or worse) as the owner’s stooge.  My objections cut no ice. Salvation economics, I was told, were different from labor economics.  I dropped the subject, filing it under “Catholic Stuff I Don’t Get…Yet” Note: (There are still a lot of these. See the Digressions below.)

But later, at my first communion, the daily reading was that very same parable.  And after re-hashing the same issues in my mind, it suddenly dawned on me – I was that man! I was that laborer who showed up near the end of the day and happily, if a little guiltily, collected my full wages.  And, most amazingly, the other workers seemed happy about it. No grievances were filed.  No cradle catholic shunned me as an upstart.   They actually welcomed me!

Now whenever I see someone full of self-esteem and entitlement, the kind of guy who is convinced that he deserves all the good things life has given him, I have to remind myself that “I am that man.”  And when I am with one of the many good people who have been working in the Christian vineyards their entire lives, I feel my own unworthiness all the more.  But I know that this is the way God’s grace works.  My job is to accept the grace, and to pass it on.  And to keep at it until my workdays come to an end.

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 DIGRESSION #1: One of the things I don’t get, or at least don’t like, is the New Testament’s low opinion of tax collectors.  I understand the history of the inherent corruption in that ancient imperial system, but surely there must be a better word for those corrupt officials. The Greek “telones” and the Latin “publicani” described contemptibly corrupt characters.  The modern-day American tax collectors I have known (and represented as union members) are upright, honest public servants. I don’t recall ever having to represent one accused of theft or embezzlement.  How must they feel when they read the gospel references to “tax collectors and other sinners”?  So Bible translators, get creative and come up with a better term.  “Corrupt officials”? “Crooked bureaucrats”? 

DIGRESSION #2: Speaking of Bible translators, why does the Catholic Church use such lame ones?  Consider Matthew 16:18. KJV: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” [the Church]. New American Bible: “The gates of the netherworld…” Netherworld? The image conjured up suggests Holland, not Hell.

Or consider Psalm 23:6. KJV: “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  NAB: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”  How many years? Two? Three? How long have I got until my lease expires and God throws me out?

DIGRESSION #3: Speaking of crooked public officials, one of my favorite lines from Casablanca is spoken by the dastardly police captain Renault, played by Claude Raines. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) proposes a twenty-thousand-franc bet that Victor Laszlo will escape to America. Renault responds “Make it ten thousand. I’m only a poor corrupt official.”

 

 

 

PF and the Mirage of Fraternity

The most insightful thing I have read online lately comes from the always-insightful Maureen Mullarkey at studiomatters.com. Entitled “Francis and Mirages of Fraternity Part I”, it is an analysis of this pope’s Christmas message, filled as it is with the French Revoliution’s favorite cliche.

MM shares the trenchant analysis of Daniel J. Mahoney’s The Idol of Our Age, subtitled How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity.

You don’t need to be as brilliant as MM to notice that PF generally sounds like an episcopalian, modernizing, progressivist, liberation-theologist cum-feel-good political therapist.  Even while  abandoning the legacy of his predecessors’ rich theology, he exceeds their worst failings in the oversight of his clergy’s sins.  Where John Paul and Benedict too often failed to drive the worst abusers from the temple, PF welcomes them back.  Where they were too ready to forgive, he seems too eager to seat them at his right hand.

Anyway, I strongly recommend that you take a look here.

Hope Without Faith?

There can be no greater blessing than faith in a loving God.  This much I have learned.  But this blessing is not easily achieved; at least it has not been for me.

“Now abideth these three, Faith, Hope, and Love,” writes St. Paul.  Hope seems to me the future tense of faith and love.  Hope  for the future, without faith in something that can save us from ourselves, seems impossible; without faith we live hopeless lives. But how do we do that?

Surprisingly well, for the most part. The  hopeless life can apparently be lived in a condition of general self-satisfaction.  The Swerve, a recent book about Lucretius and his Epicurian writings, sings the praises of just such a life.  It has become the default setting of modern life: “happiness” as a goal in itself, looking away from ugly things, ignoring the things others must do for me so that I may achieve my happiness.

The other alternative to hopelessness is faith in something – anything – that we can persuade ourselves is greater than ourselves.  If one cannot believe in a loving God, one has other choices.  One can believe in saving the world through political action; countless lives have been sacrificed to the belief that a political party holds the key to the salvation of the world.  Hegel first gave scientific pretensions to the faith in historical progress, freeing envy and the will to power to masquerade as world salvation, thereby making a better world by putting me and people just like me in total authority.

Faith in a warrior god, such as some strains of Islam, is an ancient alternative that is reasserting itself.  But faith in a god of bloody conquest tends to be a close kin of the Marxism that gives supernatural authority to our natural desire to destroy our enemies and elevate ourselves.

Or, at a less intense level, one may believe that People Are Basically Good (the PABGoo assumption) and that therefore things will somehow work out.  This variety of the unexamined life, which goes by the name of optimism, is generally coupled with The Swerve’s Epicurianism in the modern default mode.  The only sacrifice most PABGoos are called upon to make for their faith is their contact with reality; most seem only too glad to make it.

I have gone through these alternatives throughout my long life.  They no longer work on me.  I am no longer willing to deny reality, and I am no longer comfortable dressing my will to power in Marxist or Hegelian costume.

And so I have come to the Church, the reality of God’s existence and purpose on earth.  Nothing will be saved without God. God is in fact the only hope which remains when false faiths have fallen away.

 

Four Faces of the Church Scandal

The more I hear and the more I think about the present sex scandal in the Church, the more I am convinced that this crisis has four distinct but interwoven threads.

First, the problem of pedophile priests.  This atrocity is the most widely recognized piece of the puzzle; but it is also the only one that has been addressed and, to a significant extent, dealt with.  If any priest is today molesting a catechism student or an altar boy or girl, he will be quickly exposed and driven out.  That is why the Pennsylvania Attorney General report deals almost entirely with past, and not current priests.

Second, the problem of homosexual abuse/recruitment/”grooming” of seminarians and young priests, typified by the scandal of ex-Cardinal “Uncle Ted” McCarrick.  The pope’s refusal to even admit the existence of this problem indicates the difficulty of dealing with it. 

Third, there is the new gay advocacy, the growing presence and prominence of openly pro-gay priests and bishops, advocating for full acceptance of homosexuality in the Church and world. Father James Martin is only one of the most flamboyant examples.  The pope’s readiness to take McCarrick’s advice in appointing bishops like Cupich is yet another.

And fourth, tying them all together, is the ongoing tolerance of misbehavior that the Church has always regarded as mortal sin.  The cover-ups and protection of pedophile priests, the veil of silence regarding molesters like McCarrick, and the open encouragement of gay advocates like Martin, are all part of a single disease.       The pope’s refusal to address Abp. Vigano’s accusations, along with his track record in South American scandals, suggests that he is, to say the least, unwilling to be part of the solution.

There you have it; four ugly, tangled threads.  Much discussion these days is about how to untangle them. But it seems like a better idea to simply grab them all and rip them out of the Church!  Or, as Alexander the Great demonstrated with the Gordian Knot, just take a sword to them.  Throw the rascals out!

Despite the rhetoric, I don’t know exactly how to do it.  Certainly we must pray for Jesus to once again save His Church from the hands of those who are profaning his temple.  And we must speak out in some way to let the hierarchy, and the world, know where we stand.

May God help us, as laymen, to find a way to help fix this mess.

Good Sense from Anthony Esolen

If you are already familiar with the writing of Anthony Esolen (in Magnificat, among other places), you will not be surprised that he has just injected a healthy dose of good sense into the current scandal. Writing on the online blog crisismagazine.com, his essay “What the Priest Scandal Is – and Is Not – About” is a breath of fresh air in the smoggy smokescreen some are trying to hide behind.

He describes 10 things to bear in mind when looking at the scandal.  One objection: I would call it a “Bishop Scandal” rather than a “Priest Scandal”, since bishops are in authority over the culpable priests, are fully responsible for the cover-ups, and many seem to be themselves guilty of “grooming” and other sexual abuse of minors as well as seminarians and other young men in their control. And it is bishops who tolerate and support gay “advocates” like Father James Martin. (The pope is, remember, a bishop himself.)

But whatever we call it, Esolen faces the reality of the scandal with unblinking eyes.  He calls the scandal what it basically is: from top to bottom, a homosexual problem.

He acknowledges what the guilty bishops owe to all catholics:

I do not require that my bishop be a saint. I do require that he be faithful to the teachings of the Church, and that he obey the law of the land. That is not too much to ask. If you are leading a double life, get out. We don’t need you. If you have ever covered for someone leading a double life, get out. If you have covered for someone who has molested a young person of either sex, get out. Please, leave us already. You have done plenty of harm.”

And he calls out the obscenity of those (including still-Cardinal Cupich) who say still-Pope Francis doesn’t have time to answer Archbishop Vigano’s charges because he is so busy with more important things.  We saw yesterday what more-important things are occupying Francis’ time: global littering!

I urge you to read the whole thing.  And then join Esolen’s call to the abusers and the cover-up artists: GET OUT!

 

 

Read It and Weep

 

I am almost at a loss for words to describe this sad situation.  And yet this may be a sign that the Church crisis is coming to a head.

A retired high Vatican official, Archbishop and former Papal Nuncio to the US Church, Carlos Maria Vigano, has announced that Pope Francis knew fully about McCarrick’s long-time homosexual abuse of seminarians and young priests.  He knew that Pope Benedict XVI had removed McCarrick from all activities, and he knew why. But Francis reinstated him!  He even sought his advice on appointments of new bishops!!

Archbishop Vigano is calling for the pope to resign, along with every bishop implicated in the cover-up.  He is right. They should.

At the moment, I cannot go on.  Read it for yourself. Read it and weep.

A Cry from the Heart of the Laity

To anyone concerned about the health of the Catholic Church, I highly recommend a post on First Things by Luma Simms, entitled “Fathers, Help Us”.  It is a pained and troubling cry from the heart of the laity, and it expresses a view that I share.

“There are many faithful and trustworthy bishops and priests…My last plea is to them: Heed your responsibility before God. Do you not know that you corrupt yourselves by your silence?”

There are some positive signs, such as Bishop Morlino of Madison WI, whose statement here confronts the elephant in every room of the Church.  Homosexual clergy and the resulting tolerance of sexual corruption, along with its accompaniment of cover-up, must be identified by name.  It appears that few of the worst perpetrators remain among the priests.  But the McCarrick scandal has revealed that the corruption in higher levels persists (to say the least).

And the cleansing of the Temple will require the naming of names. Apologies that start “We deeply regret…” are frankly of no use at this point.

Fathers, especially bishops, must shoulder the job of cleansing and rebuilding. They must lead in driving from the Temple those who have profaned it.  If the USCCB continues to stonewall, and the pope continues to dance around the issue, the Church may be deservedly wrecked.

The Church Scandal; The Laity’s Role?

I am sure all Catholics are thinking about this crisis. McCarrick, the Pennsylvania AG report.  Silence from the USCCB and from Rome.  Several thoughts, starting with defensive ones.

First, the enemies of the church are having a good time. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Grand Jury project once again displays the sins of the church’s recent past, but says nothing about the present or future.  The report rehashes what has already come out in many (most? all?) dioceses’ victim settlements, including that of my own diocese in Helena, Montana.  The PA AG made a big deal about the scandal he has uncovered; it should help his reelection.  The NPR commentator/expert today was asked “Are these abuses continuing today?”, and he answered “The Grand Jury would probably say yes.”  Without any evidence.  That is the anti-Catholic sentiment we are up against.

But the Church has created this problem, and we cannot complain too much when our enemies use it to attack us. 

Many of the faithful bemoan the “abuse crisis”.  But, as many have noted, we are dealing with a sexual crisis, not just an abuse crisis.  The general absence of new cases charging current-day abuse of altar boys/girls or catechumens is noteworthy; in the present environment, they would be all over the news.

The current focus of the ongoing crisis appears to consist of two active scourges:  homosexual molestation of male seminarians by senior clergy, and continuing cover-up of such molestations (an echo of the past cover-ups).  This crisis is summed up in the scandal of Cardinal McCarrick, and of the higher clergy’s apparent ignoring of this detestable “open secret”.  While sexual abuse of minors is obviously criminal, sexual molestation of adults who employ them or are otherwise in authority is a grey area in criminal law (remember Clinton/Lewinsky?). But it is clearly a mortal sin. Continue reading