New York Catholic High School Okays Gay Couple to Attend Prom

Tuesday, April 2, AD 2013

Three guesses as to what order runs the high school. The first two don’t count.

The administrator of a Catholic high school in New York wrote to his students’ parents this week to explain why a gay couple at the all-boys school is being allowed to attend the junior prom together.

Father Edward Salmon, president of McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton, explained that the boys “will be welcomed” as a couple, even though he insisted the gesture of acceptance is not meant to condone homosexuality or go against church law in any way. His full letter, sent Wednesday, was published Thursday by local news website

For Salmon, the acceptance represents the success of a student-driven campaign to allow the boys to attend their junior prom together. The school’s administrator described the emotions that campaign generated as “darkness and heavy clouds,” leading to the spread of “misinformation, fear, misunderstanding, and even anger.”

There’s more at the Deacon’s Bench, including the letter from Father Salmon. For those who feared that Pope Francis’s washing of women’s feet would embolden liberal Catholics, you severely underestimate how easily liberal Catholics can twist any words and actions of the Pontiff to suit their particular cause. Witness the beginning of Father Salmon’s letter:

Our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, in the homily for his Inaugural Mass, had encouraging and inviting words: “Today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation and to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a ray of light break through heavy clouds.”

And if you don’t interpret Pope Francis’s words to mean that it’s okay to allow a gay couple to attend a prom at a Catholic high school, then clearly you just want more darkness.

Most of the rest of the letter is a bizarre stream of consciousness that uses the imagery of light and darkness to ironic affect – ironic because it just muddies the waters and thereby darkens everyone’s understanding of the faith. He closes with this:

With this decision I am not contradicting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to human sexuality; I am not encouraging nor am I condoning homosexual activity just as I do not encourage or condone heterosexual activity at a dance. I am not contradicting the Church’s opposition to the redefinition of marriage. With this decision I invite and encourage us all, as Pope Francis does, to exercise care, protection, goodness which calls for a certain tenderness “which is not a virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness.”

You see he’s not contradicting Church teaching because, well, he says so. And light and darkness. And Pope Francis.

There. Don’t you feel much better now?

Father Salmon selectively quotes the Catechism to defend his position. Perhaps Father Salmon should familiarize himself with the concept of scandal.

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54 Responses to New York Catholic High School Okays Gay Couple to Attend Prom

  • I am honestly shocked. Mind you, it’s not that this is happening at a
    Jesuit school– that was only to be expected, as Mr. Zummo suggested
    in his opening sentence. No, what’s shocking is the poor quality of
    Fr. Salmon’s weaseling and misdirection. I’ve grown accustomed to
    Jesuits who could engage in high-level sophistry and manipulation, with
    flights of fancy that could almost make an art form out of heresy. And
    now we have Fr. Salmon SJ phoning it in with a letter that is just plain
    dumb. I’d expected better (that is, worse) from the Jesuits. Evidently
    they’re still a decadent order, only now they’re also boring.

  • The only mild relief I felt is when, after seeing that it was a New York high school, it turned out not to be my alma mater. But, give them time.

  • ” I am not contradicting the Church’s opposition to the redefinition of marriage.” Like the guy asking for money in the supermarket parking lot who says he isn’t panhandling.

    Just as they used Vatican II to justify their liberal interpretation of doctrine, they now do the same with the new Pope’s words and actions. I do hope Francis will in some way discourage them from doing so further.

  • Love the sinner. Hate the sin.

    Stuff like this is the reason I stopped telling myself, “Now, I’ve seen everything.”

    N.B. it’s a jesuit high school, not a Catholic High School.

    Where in NY is Brighton? I never heard of it.

    I am a bad person. I keep thinking S.J. means “society of judas.”

  • Originally I thought this was Brooklyn, T Shaw, but that’s Brighton Beach. Evidently this is near Rochester, which also explains much.

  • “You see he’s not contradicting Church teaching because, well, he says so. And light and darkness. And Pope Francis.”

    Scratch most Jesuits these days and you will find a sophist, and not even a smart sophist. I bet many of the parents sacrificing to pay the tuition, over eleven grand a year, at the dump he runs are so gratified to be paying through the nose to help destroy the faith of their kids. Public schools will at least do it for free.

  • Evidently this is near Rochester, which also explains much.

    McQuaid High is/was the biggest rival of my alma mater, Aquinas High School. I have cousins and nephews who attended McQuaid. I wonder how they feel about this. I’m almost afraid to ask.

  • Bp. Clark is now retired and the diocese is under the supervision of Bp. Cunningham of Syracuse. However, he was in charge for 33 years and rainbow flags were one of his pet projects, so this sort of rancid mess is embedded in the local culture of the church. If Rochester manages to acquire a capable and faithful bishop, he will really have to power wash the place.

  • Scratch most Jesuits these days and you will find a sophist, and not even a smart sophist.

    About 10 years ago, Fr. Paul Mankowski, SJ penned a reflection on what had happened to the priesthood after 1960. In the course of it he offered an estimate that somewhere around 55-60% of the novices with whom he had entered Jesuit formation in 1974 had no true interest in matters religious; they were homosexuals “hiding in the tall grass”.

  • What Went Wrong?

    by Father Paul Mankowski, S.J.

    An Address to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy – July 15, 2003

    What went wrong, and why?

    Everyone in the room will rightly understand the question to refer to The Crisis, the daily revelation over the past eighteen months of numberless instances of priestly turpitude, episcopal mendacity, and the resultant bewilderment and fury of the laity.

    My own take on the problem, which I offer for your consideration, is that the Crisis is chiefly surprising in how unsurprising it is.

    No one who has been fighting the culture wars within the Church over the past twenty years can fail to recognize his own struggles with a hostile bureaucracy and conflicted hierarchy in the struggles of those pleading for relief from sexual abuse — notwithstanding the disparity in the attendant journalistic drama.

    In fact, I’d contend that the single important difference in the Church’s failure regarding abusive clergy and the failures regarding liturgy, catechesis, pro-life politics, doctrinal dissent and biblical translation is this: that in the case of the sex abuse scandal we’ve been allowed a look over the bishops’ shoulders at their own memos.

    Deviant sexual assault has accomplished what liturgical abuse never could: it has generated secular media pressure and secular legal constraints so overwhelming that the apparat was forced to make its files public.

    What we read in those files was shocking, true, but to most of us, I suspect, it was shocking in its sense of daja vu.

    The housewife who complained that Father skipped the Creed at mass and the housewife who complained that Father groped her son had remarkably similar experiences of:
    •being made to feel that they themselves were somehow in the wrong;
    •that they had impugned the honor of virtuous men;
    •that their complaints were an unwelcome interruption of more important business; – – that the true situation was fully known to the chancery and completely under control;
    •that the wider and more complete knowledge of higher ecclesiastics justified their apparent inaction;
    •that to criticize the curate was to criticize the pastor was to criticize the regional vicar was to criticize the bishop;
    •that to publicize one’s dissatisfaction was to give scandal and
    •would positively harm discreet efforts at remedying the ills;
    •that one’s duty was to keep silence and trust that those officially charged with the pertinent responsibilities would execute them in their own time;
    •that delayed correction of problems was sometimes necessary for the universal good of the Church.

    This picture was meant to describe the faithful’s dealing with the normally operating bureaucracy, in which the higher-ups are largely insulated.

    Occasionally someone manages to break through the insulation and deal with the responsible churchman himself. In this case another maneuver is typically employed, one I tried to sketch eight years ago in an essay called “Tames in Clerical Life”:

    In one-on-one situations, tames in positions of authority will rarely flatly deny the validity of a complaint of corruption lodged by a subordinate. More often they will admit the reality and seriousness of the problem raised, and then pretend to take the appellant into their confidence, assuring him that those in charge are fully aware of the crisis and that steps are being taken, quietly, behind the scenes, to remedy it.

    Thus the burden of discretion is shifted onto the subordinate in the name of concern for the good of the institution and personal loyalty to the administrator: a tame must not go public with his evidence of malfeasance lest he disrupt the process — invariably hidden from view — by which it is being put right.

    This ruse has been called the Secret Santa maneuver: “There are no presents underneath the tree for you, but that’s because Daddy is down in the basement making you something special. It is supposed to be a surprise, so don’t breathe a word or you’ll spoil everything. And, of course, Christmas never comes.

    Perhaps most of the well-intentioned efforts for reform in the past quarter century have been tabled indefinitely by high-ranking tames using this ploy to buy their way out of tough situations for which they are temperamentally unsuited.

    What I’ve put before you are two scenarios in which complaints of abuses are brought to those in authority and in which they seem to vanish — the complaints, I mean, not the abuses. One hoped that something was being done behind the scenes, of course, but whatever happened always remained behind the scenes.

    As the weeks went by without observable changes in the abuse and without feedback from the bureaucracy, one was torn between two contradictory surmises: that one’s complain had been passed upstairs to so high a level that even the bishop (or superior) was forbidden to discuss it; alternatively, that once one’s silence had been secured and the problem of unwelcome publicity was past, nothing whatsoever was being done.

    Now the remarkable thing about The Crisis is how fully it confirmed the second suspicion.

    In thousands and thousands of pages of records one scarcely, if ever, is edified by a pleasant surprise, by discovering that a bishop’s or superior’s concern for the victim or for the Faith was greater than that known to the public, that the engines of justice were geared up and running at full throttle, but in a manner invisible to those outside the circle of discretion. Didn’t happen.

    I think this goes far to explain the fact that when the scandals broke it was the conservative Catholics who were the first and the most vociferous in calling for episcopal resignations, and only later did the left-liberals manage to find their voices.

    Part of our outrage concerned the staggering insouciance of bishops toward the abuse itself, but part, I would argue, was the exasperation attendant on the realization that, for the same reasons, all our efforts in the culture wars on behalf of Catholic positions had gone up in the same bureaucratic smoke.

    I take issue, then, with commentators who refer to the Crisis as an ecclesial “meltdown” or “the Church’s 9-11” or who use some similarly cataclysmic metaphor. Whatever there was to melt down had already done so for years, and that across the board, not just in priestly misconduct.

    Therefore, in addressing the question, “what went wrong, and why?” I need to try explain not simply the sex-abuse scandals but the larger ecclesial failure as well, weaknesses that existed even before the Second Vatican Council.

    Paradoxically, one of the major factors in the corruption of clerical life at the end of the 20th century was its strength at the beginning of it. Here I quote from James Hitchcock:

    A gloomy fact about clerical life is that, with the possible exception of the very early centuries, there was no time in the Church’s history when such life was idyllic. The Middle Ages had their share of misbehaving priests, and the ordinary parish clergy were uneducated and part of a peasant culture which was in some ways still pagan. The Counter-Reformation made strenuous efforts to improve the state of the clergy, not least through the establishment of that institution which ought to have been obvious but for some reason had not been — the seminary. Even despite these efforts, clerical scandals and various kinds of clerical incompetence long continued, amidst occasional saintly priests and many others of solid piety and zeal. In the United States the period cl900-l960 can be considered a golden age of the priesthood, not merely in modern times but throughout all the Catholic centuries. (This golden age was not confined to America but existed in other countries as well.) While priests of that era certainly had their faults, by all measurable standards there was less ignorance, less immorality, less neglect of duty, and less disobedience than at almost any time in the history of the Church. More positively, priests of that era were generally pious and zealous, and those who were not at least had to pretend to be.

    Not only was the reality of priestly character in good shape, but the reputation of Catholic clergymen was likewise high. This brought with it several problems.

    First, being an honorable station in life, the clerical life provided high grass in which many villains and disturbed individuals could seek cover. I would estimate that between 50 and 60% of the men who entered religious life with me in the mid-70s were homosexuals who had no particular interest in the Church, but who were using the celibacy requirement of the priesthood as a way of camouflaging the real reason for the fact that they would never marry.

    It should be noted in this connection that the military has its own smaller but irreducible share of crypto-gays, as do roughnecks on offshore drilling rigs and merchant mariners (“I never got married because I move around so much it wouldn’t be fair on the girl…”). Perhaps a certain percentage of homosexuals in these professions can never be eliminated.

    I further believe that the most convincing explanation of the disproportionately high number of pedophiles in the priesthood is not the famous Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers Theory, but its reverse, proposed to me by a correctional officer at a Canadian prison.

    He suggested that, in years past, Catholic men who recognized the pederastic tendency in themselves and hated it would try to put it to death by entering a seminary or a monastery, where they naively believed the sexual dimension of life simply disappeared. It doesn’t disappear, and many of these men became active pedophiles.

    This suggestion has the advantage of accounting for the fact that most priests who are true pedophiles appear to be men in their 60s and older, and would belong to a generation of Catholics with, on the one hand, a strong sense of sexual mortal sin and, on the other, strong convictions about the asceticism and sexual integrity of priestly life.

    To homosexuals and pedophiles I would add a third group, those I call “tames,” who are men incapable of facing the normally unpleasant situations presented by adulthood and who find refuge, and indeed success, in a system that rewards:
    1.concern for appearance,
    2.distaste for conflict, and
    3.fondness for the advantageous lie.

    In sum, the social prestige and high reputation that attached to the post-WW2 priesthood made it attractive to men of low character and provided them with excellent cover.

    A second key factor in the present corruption is loss of the bishops’ ability for self-correction. This problem has institutional and personal dimensions.

    The model of episcopal collegiality in place since the Council has not increased the mutual good-will of the bishops, but has, paradoxically, made the appearance of good-will obligatory in nearly all situations.

    Once more I turn to James Hitchcock. Speaking of the Church’s necessary recourse to diplomacy in dealing with militarily superior nation-states, Hitchcock says:

    It is ironic and discouraging that in the modern democratic era, when the Church enjoys the blessings of complete independence from political control, diplomacy still seems necessary, now often concentrated on internal ecclesiastical matters.

    It appears, for example, that the Pope is not free simply to appoint bishops as he sees fit, but that an elaborate process of consultation, of checks and balances, takes place, after which successful candidates are often people who have no highly placed enemies.

    The Holy See now appears to treat national episcopal conferences, and the numerous religious orders, almost as foreign powers. Scrupulous correctness is observed at all times, formal verbiage masks barely hidden disagreements, and above all potential “incidents” are avoided. … This endemic practice of diplomacy within the Church has yielded small results. Abuses have been tolerated not for the sake of unity but merely for the “appearance” of unity, which itself soon becomes an over-riding concern.

    Because what matters most in this mindset is perception, the appearance of unity, it has become virtually impossible to remove a bad bishop without prior public scandal — “public” here meaning notorious in the secular sphere, through the mass media.

    When the scandal is sexual or financial, it seems the Holy See can move quickly to remove the offender. When the scandal is in the arena of heresy or administrative irregularity or liturgical abuse, there is almost never enough secular interest generated to force the Holy See’s hand. Bishops Milingo and Ziemann and Roddy Wright have many brethren; Bishop Gaillot has few.

    Intermediate reform measures like seminary visitations are doomed to failure for the same reason; there simply is no possibility in the present disposition for a hostile inspection, where the visitators try to “get behind” the administration and find the facts for themselves. To do such a thing would be to imply lack of trust in the administration and hence in the bishop responsible for it, and such an imputation is utterly impossible.

    The same is true in bishops’ dealing with universities, learned societies and religious congregations. The only permissible inspections are friendly inspections, where the visitators ask the institution under scrutiny for a self-evaluation, which, of course, will be overwhelmingly positive and which will render the chances of reform almost nil.

    A priest official in a Vatican dicastery whom I trust told me that the needed reforms will never take place unless the Church undoes Pope Paul VI’s restructuring of the Vatican curia, whereby the Secretariate of State has become a kind of super-bureaucracy — no longer charged simply with the Holy See’s relations to other nations but with de facto control over the relations of the Vatican dicasteries to one another of the Holy See to its own bishops.

    In practice the Secretariate of State not only sets the tone for the Holy See’s dealings but often sets the agenda as well, ensuring that the diplomatic concern for appearances will prevail over the need for reforms involving unpleasantness, and exercising indirect influence over the selection of bishops, characteristically men of diplomatic demeanor if not experience.

    This profile goes far to explain why telling the truth is a problem for a large number of bishops, many of whom seem baffled and hurt when their falsehoods are not taken at face value.

    All embassies, moreover, have a high number of homosexuals in their staffs, and the Vatican diplomatic corps in no exception. The combination of the physical comforts attendant on diplomatic service, the skill at bureaucratic manipulation and oblique methods of pressure, the undercurrent of homosexual decadence, and the alacrity with which truth is sacrificed to expediency do not make an environment conducive to reform.

    The dominion exercised by the Secretariate of State means that many good-willed attempts to clean house go nowhere, and will continue to go nowhere in the future, being lost in its corridors or disfigured beyond recognition.

    A third answer to “What Went Wrong?” concerns a factor that is at once a result of earlier failures and a cause of many subsequent ones: I mean sexual blackmail.

    Most of the men who are bishops and superiors today were in the seminary or graduate school in the 1960s and 1970s. In most countries of the Western world these places were in a kind of disciplinary free-fall for ten or fifteen years. A very high percentage of churchmen who are now in positions of authority were sexually compromised during that period.

    Perhaps they had a homosexual encounter with a fellow seminarian; perhaps they had a brief heterosexual affair with a fellow theology student. Provided they did not cause grave scandal, such men were frequently promoted, according to their talents and ambition.

    Many are competent administrators, but they have time-bomb in their past, and they have very little appetite for reform measures of any sort — even doctrinal reforms — and they have zero appetite for reform proposals that entail cleaning up sexual mischief. In some cases perhaps, there is out-and-out blackmail, where a bishop moves to discipline a priest and priest threatens to report the bishop’s homosexual affair in the seminary to the Nuncio or to the press, and so the bishop backs off.

    More often I suspect the blackmail is indirect. No overt threat is made by anyone, but the responsible ecclesiastic is troubled by the ghost of his past and has no stomach for taking a hard line. Even if personally uneasy with homosexuality, he will not impede the admission and promotion of gays.

    He will almost always treat sexuality in psychological terms, as a matter of human maturation, and is charity of the language of morality and asceticism. He will act only when it is impossible not to act, as when a case of a priest’s or seminarian’s sexual misconduct is known to the police or the media. He will characteristically require of the offender no discipline but will send him to counseling, usually for as brief a period as possible, and will restore him to the best position that diocesan procedures and public opinion will allow him to.

    Note: sexual blackmail operates far beyond the arena of sexual misconduct. When your Aunt Margaret complains about the pro-abortion teachers at the Catholic high school, or the Sisters of St. Jude worshiping the Eight Winds, or Father’s home-made eucharistic prayer, and nothing is done, it is eminently likely that the bishop’s reluctance to intervene stems from the consciousness that he is living on borrowed time.

    In short, many bishops and superiors, lacking integrity, lack moral courage. Lacking moral courage, they can never be reformers, can never uproot a problem, but can only plead for tolerance and healing and reconciliation.

    I am here sketching only the best-case scenario, where the bishop’s adventures were brief, without issue, and twenty years in his past. In cases where the man continues his sexual exploits as a bishop, he is of course wholly compromised and the blackmail proportionately disastrous.

    A fourth element in the present corruption is the strange separation of the Church from blue-collar working people.

    Before the Council every Catholic community could point to families that lived on hourly wages and who were unapologetically pious, in some cases praying a daily family rosary and attending daily mass. Such families were a major source of religious vocations and provided the Church will many priests as well.

    These families were good for the Church, calling forth bishops and priests who were able to speak to their spiritual needs and to work to protect them from social and political harms. Devout working class families characteristically inclined to a somewhat sugary piety, but they also characteristically required “manly” priests to communicate it to them: that was the culture that gave us the big-shouldered baritone in a lace surplice.

    Except for newly-arrived immigrants from Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines, the devout working class family has disappeared in the U.S. and in western Europe. The beneficial symbiosis between the clerical culture and the working class has disappeared as well.

    In most parishes of which I’m aware the priests know how to talk to the professionals and the professionals know how to talk to the priests, but the welders and roofers and sheet-metal workers, if they come to church at all, seem more and more out of the picture.

    I think this affects the Church in two ways: on the one hand, the Catholic seminary and university culture has been freed of any responsibility to explain itself to the working class, and notions of scriptural inspiration and sexual propriety have become progressively detached from the terms in which they would be comprehensible by ordinary people; on the other hand, few priests if any really depend on working people for their support.

    In a mixed parish, they are supported by the professionals; in a totally working class parish, they’re supported by the diocese — i.e., by professionals who live elsewhere. That means not only does Father not have to account for his bizarre view of the Johannine community, but he doesn’t have to account for the three evenings a week he spends in lay clothes away from the parish.

    A related but distinct factor contributing to the Crisis is money. The clergy as a whole is enormously more prosperous than it was a century ago. That means the clergyman is independent of the disapproval of the faithful in a way his predecessors were not, and it also means he has the opportunities and the wherewithal to sin, and sin boldly, very often without detection.

    Unless he makes unusual efforts to the contrary, a priest today finds himself part of a culture of pleasure-seeking bachelordom, and the way he recreates and entertains himself overlaps to a great extent that of the young professional bronco. Too often, regrettably, the overlap is total.

    But even when a priest is chaste, by collecting boy-toys and living the good life he finds himself somewhat compromised. He may suspect a brother priest is up to no good by his frequent escapes to a time-share condo, but if he feels uneasy about his own indulgences he is unlikely to phone his brother to remonstrate with him.

    My own experience of religious life is that community discussion of “poverty issues” is exceptionlessly ugly, partly because almost everyone feels vulnerable to criticism in some aspect or other, partly because there’s an unspoken recognition that poverty and chastity issues are not entirely unrelated. As a consequence, only the most trivial and cosmetic adjustments are made, and the integrity of community life continues to worsen.

    One more point, perhaps more fanciful than the others. I believe that one of the worst things to happen to the Church and one of the most important factors in the current corruption of the clergy is the Mertonization of monastic life.

    I may be unfair to Thomas Merton in laying the blame at his feet and I don’t insist on the name, but I think you all can recognize what I mean: the sea change in the model of contemplative life, once aimed at mortification — a death to self through asceticism – now aimed at self-actualization, the Self has taken center stage.

    This change is important because, in spite of 50-plus years of propaganda to the contrary, the monastic ideal remains a potent ikon in any priest’s self-understanding.
    1.Simplicity of life, to prayer, and

    all have different orientations in the case of
    1.a canon,
    2.a friar, and
    3.a diocesan priest, obviously,

    but they are all monastic in transmission and all essential to the clerical life.

    Where monastic life is healthy, it builds up even non-monastic parts of the Church, including and in particular the lives of priests in the active apostolate. Where the monastic life is corrupt or lax, the loss extends to the larger Church as well — it’s as if a railing is missing one side of a balcony.

    When I was preparing for priesthood my teachers lamented what they called the “monastic” character of pre-conciliar seminaries and houses of formation (fixed times for common prayer, silence, reading at meals, etc) complaining that such disciplines were ill-suited to their lives because they were destined not to be monks but pastors, missionaries and scholars.

    But looking at the lives of my contemporaries one of the things most obviously lacking is an appetite for prayer fed by good habits of prayer, habits which are usually the product of a discipline we never had.

    The same is true of asceticism and self-denial generally. When laypeople enter priests’ living quarters today, they rarely seem to be impressed by how sparse and severe our living arrangement are. They rarely walk away with the impression that the man who lives here is good at saying no to himself. Yet monks are, or used to be, our masters at saying no to the self. Something went wrong.

    Putting the same idea in another perspective, it’s wryly amusing to read commentators on the sexual abuse problem recommend that priests be sent to a monastery for penance. What penance? Is there a single monastic house in the United States where the abbot would have the authority, much less the inclination, to keep a man at hard labor for twenty months or on bread and water for twenty days?

    Let me sum up.

    I believe the sexual abuse crisis represents no isolated phenomenon and no new failure, but rather illustrates a state of slowly worsening clerical and episcopal corruption with its roots well back into the 1940s. Its principal tributaries include
    1.a critical mass of morally depraved and psychologically defective clergymen who entered the service of Church seeking emoluments and advantages unrelated to her spiritual mission, in addition to
    2.leaders constitutionally unsuited to the exercise of the virtues of truthfulness and fortitude.

    The old-fashioned vices of lust, pride, and sloth have erected an administrative apparatus effective at transmitting the consolations of the Faith but powerless at correction and problem-solving.

    The result is a situation unamenable to reform, wherein the leaders continue to project an upbeat and positive message of ecclesial well-being to an overwhelmingly good-willed laity, a message which both speaker and hearer find more gratifying than convincing.

    I believe that the Crisis will deepen, though undramatically, in the foreseeable future; I believe that the policies suggested to remedy the situation will help only tangentially, and that the whole idea of an administrative programmatic approach — a “software solution” if I may put it that way — is an example of the disease for which it purports to be the cure.

    I believe that reform will come, though in a future generation, and that the reformers whom God raises up will spill their blood in imitation of Christ.

    In short, to pilfer a line of Wilfrid Sheed, I find absolutely no grounds for optimism, and I have every reason for hope.

  • Mr. McClarey, thanks for posting Fr. Mankowski’s speech– every syllable
    of it has the ring of truth.

  • Your message, Mr. McClarey, didn’t exactly make my day, but it needs to be said nonetheless. How many souls will be lost, how many disillusioned Catholics will abandon the Church, before genuine reform finally happens?

  • Mac, I agree with Clinton.

    I initially thought, “What is this ‘War and Peace’.”

    In fact, every word of it has value.

    I was going to bring up this comment for the post on the new pope’s alleged liturgical abuse in the washing of feet (on many levels way out in left field).

    My real-life experience with an abusing priest involved his ad libbing prayers in the Mass. I also had evidence in his hearing of my Confession, which, at the time, went “right over my head.” That priest had been transferred from my parents’ parish. They didn’t think much of him, either. We were all correct.

    Our pastor was devastated, but carried on as we stayed with him.

    We need warrior priests and bishops, not “Dr. Phil” wannabes.

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  • I truly liked War and Peace, but rarely have the time for that kind of reading anymore. However, I concur with those who said every word of Mankowski’s analysis rang true. I would add that through these same years marriage and family have been shamefully abandoned, and what we call “Marriage Prep” wouldn’t pass for kindergarden training in most places. (Regardless of Pope JPII’s excellent writing on both subjects.)
    But actually I intended to respond to the Jesuit school and Fr. Ed Salmon. I worked with Fr. Ed Salmon some years back at a Jesuit school. Although I am not surprised by his position, which is wholly unrelated to our new pope’s words, it is outrageous that this decision should stand. We have too long put up with this kind of “in your face” moral corruption so damaging to us all.

  • Thank you for the copy of Fr. Mankowski’s speech. Like every other essay of his that I have read, it rings true in all details!

  • So what is Father Salmon’s point? He’s against homosexuality but he’s inviting two guys to the prom to be nice to them anyway? That’s all I can take away from this.

  • LarryD,

    You went to high school?

  • Thanks for the Fr Mankowski speech transcription. That was TLDR: Too Long, Definitely Read.

    LarryD, I did not know you were a Rochester product. For a person of your fidelity, that clearly explains your, er, crankiness 🙂

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  • As Pascal said of the Jesuits, “Know then that their object is not the corruption of manners- that is not their design. But as little is it their sole aim to reform them that would be bad policy. Their idea is briefly this: They have such a good opinion of themselves as to believe that it is useful, and in some sort essentially necessary to the good of religion, that their influence should extend everywhere, and that they should govern all consciences. And the Evangelical or severe maxims being best fitted for managing some sorts of people, they avail themselves of these when they find them favourable to their purpose. But as these maxims do not suit the views of the great bulk of the people, they waive them in the case of such persons, in order to keep on good terms with all the world.”

    Little has changed in 350 years.

  • LarryD, I did not know you were a Rochester product.

    Rich Leonardi too. Your truly had no contact with Catholic institutions as a youngster but is native.

  • If I lived in or near New York City, on the night of the prom I would outside the “Catholic” high school protesting with signs and prayer.

  • The school in question is in Rochester, some 300 miles away.

  • If I lived in or near Rochester, on the night of the prom I would outside the “Catholic” high school protesting with signs and prayer!

  • It seems the trend in most schools and colleges now is toward acceptance of homosexuality. A sentiment that originiated in society and swept the public schools has now caught on in private ones.

  • If I lived in or near New York City, on the night of the prom I would [stand] outside the “Catholic” high school protesting with signs and prayer.

    The gay lobbies and news organizations would be delighted with that – just imagine all the headlines you’d generate. You’d be an answer to their prayers, so to speak. In fact, if you angle it the right way, they might chip in for your travel costs, and a per diem.

  • First, thank you Donald for the article. Much to digest.
    Secondly to HA-
    Since when do we cower to lifestyles that are directly opposed to Church teaching…especially when the abuse is to take place in a “catholic school.”
    Rethink your position HA.
    The students grounded in Love for neighbor could of gathered in Peaceful protest and have had a constructive teaching moment to point out True Love. Love of neighbor is not complacency, silence and apathy. It’s explanation on why the Church teaches that the sexual union is intrinsicly evil could of carefully taken place before the Prom event.
    Silence in matters of the faith can lead to grave sin.

    I disagree with night of the prom protest.
    The prayer protest, in my opinion, could of served the student body better by having it prior to the event with pamphlets giving reasons why our Holy Church professes the teachings that are in union with Christ and the Gospels.
    Welcome the media! Just be prepared to give good reason for the Hope of Eternal Life not cheaply bought, but rather extremely painfully purchased by the Son of God.
    Grace is Not Cheap, neither is Heaven.

  • Public protests seldom achieve anything other than assuaging the feelings of the protestors and provoking the derision of the uncommitted.

    To have real influence, Bl John HenryNewman’s approach is far better, “if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know; has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed; if what he has said or done has ever made you take interest in him, and feel well inclined towards him…” More difficult, of course, but much more effective.

  • Actually MPS public protest has often proved quite effective in this country, and I would encourage people to protest this if they are so enclined.

  • “The gay lobbies and news organizations would be delighted with that – just imagine all the headlines you’d generate.”

    Yeah and if there are no protests they will say, “See, even the Catholics are accepting this!”. No, better to do a protest, assume that your enemies will attempt to twist what you are doing, and send a message to the Jesuit powers that be at the school that ordinary Catholics are paying attention to their attempt to pretend that evil is good.

  • LarryD,

    You went to high school?

    Best six years of my life.

    LarryD, I did not know you were a Rochester product. For a person of your fidelity, that clearly explains your, er, crankiness

    I’m looking forward to getting older so I can be “curmudgeonly” like Donald!

  • “so I can be “curmudgeonly” like Donald!”

    Age and 30 years at the bar are necessary to attain my degree of curmudgeoniliness!

  • To have real influence, Bl John HenryNewman’s approach is far better,

    Thanks for your input, Michael, but it’s the Diocese of Rochester. The only people with influence are

    1. The intramural cliques which gathered ’round Bp. Clark.

    2. People who can cut big checks, like Danny Wegman and Thomas Golisano.

    Bp. Cunningham is not plugged into this and it is possible (not holding my breath) that he could exercise whatever authority he has with regard to Jesuit institutions within the boundary of the two dioceses, so the situation is not as hopeless as it might usually be. However, you can wager that this insipid character made a careful actuarial calculation about what the authoritative response from Bp. Cunningham. Rich Leonardi’s concise description of the methods of termites in the Church: ‘try every door’ (and find the one that’s unlocked).

  • That’s a pretty fine line interpreting what Pope Francis said. I personally am against it. The two males should go stag and just go as to “buddies” who are going to the prom together without giving the appearance that it is same sex attraction.

  • About the public protest question: silence can be taken as acquiescence.

  • Anzlyne-


  • Since when do we cower to lifestyles that are directly opposed to Church teaching?

    Who said anything about cowering to them? The position I would rethink is your strategy of giving them exactly what they’re looking for.

  • Most of the Jesuits I have read about or heard from in the time period from about 70 years ago to today are nauseating. Reading things like this makes me support a new suppression of the Jesuits.

    This “event” also shows, yet again, what happens when a totally incompetent or criminally negligent bishop runs a diocese. I have never been to Rochester but I know Bishop Clark was terrible, a Roger Mahony in New York State.

    The nuttiness in the Liturgy is a clear indicator of what Fr. Mankowski speaks.

    Rorate Caeli had a post similar to Fr. Mankowski a few months ago.

  • I’m curious…what is the Jesuits’ reason for existence? What do they want to accomplish? Is it as sinister as conspiracy theorists would have it? Or is it far milder—a kind of liberal Chrsitinaity? Can anyone speak to this? Thanks.

  • Ha-
    Advocating “goodness” and “tenderness” in your sarcasm?

    If you find it difficult to defend the teachings of Our Church them please seek a Adult Faith Formation program in your Catholic parish.

    Maybe your afraid to defend the teachings, however I have stood in multiple protests with Jr. High School children that lovingly defend the Faith in the public square and they are helping to witness to the between media is that paint huge signs reading; “God hates Fags””

  • ….the media that views Christians as the Fla. Group that had the awful signs, God hates fags. We have to work even stronger to voice the truth, but never run from adversity.

    I was editing my post when the send accidentally was pressed…sorry.

    Ha- We can’t afford to teach our children to be silenced by culture differences, especially in Catholic schools. We most certainly don’t want them to follow the way of the Fla. pastor.

    Be not afraid!

  • If you find it difficult to defend the teachings of Our Church…

    Demonstrating with signs outside a high school is not the only way to defend the teachings of the Church – and for the 3rd time now, I submit that those ways which give the opposing side exactly what they want violate the Gospel instruction to marry our innocence with serpentine cunning.

    You presume a lot about me – you question whether I have difficulty defending the teachings of the church, and you presume that my admonition to your personal cardboard-on-stick sidewalk crusade somehow extends to the other demonstrations in which you have so participated so proudly. Such ineptitude when it comes to assessing the motives of those on your side, let alone the opposition, would further hamper your ability to persuade others, and would be another reason to consider broadening your arsenal.

  • Jon

    What the Jesuit want to accomplish is precisely what Pascal described 350 years ago. I quoted him in my post of 4 April at 5.55 am, but here it is again:_

    “Know then that their object is not the corruption of manners- that is not their design. But as little is it their sole aim to reform them that would be bad policy. Their idea is briefly this: They have such a good opinion of themselves as to believe that it is useful, and in some sort essentially necessary to the good of religion, that their influence should extend everywhere, and that they should govern all consciences. And the Evangelical or severe maxims being best fitted for managing some sorts of people, they avail themselves of these when they find them favourable to their purpose. But as these maxims do not suit the views of the great bulk of the people, they waive them in the case of such persons, in order to keep on good terms with all the world.”

  • HA-
    Just imagine all the headlines you would generate….

    You keep your imagination.
    It’s beautiful.
    It seeks the status quo.
    It’s comfortable there.
    HA. You could set up the rainbow banners and petition the school board to have a homosexual awareness and support center in all of New York , oh noooo, that was my imagination.

    If we don’t stand up for Christian principles in our own Christian schools, then expect the next fashionable lifestyle choice of the moment to be sitting across from your dining room table telling you, “there is no harm in my choice daddy, just Love.” You better pray that Jr’s choice is a socially accepted lifestyle….question is what will that be in ten years?

    Can you imagine?

  • HA-
    For presuming any trait that is unwarranted I do owe you an apology.
    I apologize.

    To offer no other means to teach the truth in this prom debate is what’s lacking.
    4unborn is offering a plan.
    You discourage it.

    What would you offer?

  • Apology accepted. As far as other alternatives, I think asking around, which you have just done, is the most important first step. I am far from an expert, but I would offer some of these approaches. Admittedly, they are far less triumphalist than demonstrations – and again, I am not saying that carefully targeted demonstrations don’t have their place, especially when it comes to getting rid of abortions – but they may have a more salutary effect: 1) Sackcloth and ashes, given Catholics’ own dismal collective record (on the part of both clergy and laity) when it comes to living out what we profess to believe regarding homosexuality. 2) Fasting and prayer, given that for some kinds of dark presences, Jesus tells us that these are a necessary part of the cure. 3) Following the Biblical admonition to first address the offending priest privately, rather than beginning by going public with your disapproval.

    Finally, consider the homosexuals’ own record with regard to demonstrations. It could be argued that gay pride parades and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence actually set back gay “rights” for decades, as long as that was what people thought of first when they thought of “gay agenda”. Sure, they let off some steam, and helped a lot of gay men to vent their irrepressible inner drama queens, but as far as actually helping, that’s doubtful. It is only when gay people broadened their efforts to more sophisticated and subtle methods involving media manipulation (lobbies, movies, affectionately quirky gay sitcom characters, etc.) that they began to make headway.

    I believe that the primary reason the gay marriage has leapfrogged other distortions of Christian marriage (e.g. polygamy, incest, … all of which are the next dominoes to fall once gay marriage is fully established), is simply a matter of power. As people have stopped looking to churches and Bibles for their entertainment and cultural and spiritual connections, and instead have turned to TV, movies, and the media (where gays are a force far in excess of their numerical presence within society as a whole), the gay agenda – in support with other secular anti-Christian movements – has come to the fore. Reversing that, if that’s even possible at this stage, will require Christians to be equally clever and compelling (or else, waiting till the whole structure burns down, and then grappling it out with Muslems again for what remains among the ruins, in which case fasting and prayer and the like may be our best solution for now). I don’t have an easy answer, but again, learning as much about the problem – and learning from the gays themselves – seems a pretty good way to start.

    Anyway, that’s my take. Father Groeschel (though I’ve only heard a little of him) seems to have far more substantive expertise on such matters. He might be worth looking up.

  • HA-
    Thank you for your suggestions.
    Fr. B.G. is a great offering.
    I will search his counsel in this topic.

  • One other thing to consider before demonstrating: in the old days, every news organization that reported on gay demonstrations would focus on the most outrageous and most flamboyant members of the parade. These days, most media organizations are filled with so-called “gay-friendly” reporters and editors who know (perhaps subconsciously) that they must turn the camera away from the freaks with fishnet stockings and nuns’ wimples, and instead focus on adorable little Heathers in their strollers accompanied by her two mommies and other more wholesome fare.

    Conversely, any reporting on the “anti-gay” demonstrations is likewise almost certain to feature the Westboro Baptist types, or else, if the demonstrators are so superhumanly diligent that they have somehow managed to completely turn away their more extreme members, then the demonstration is likely to be relegated to page 20 of section ZZ. And so it goes…

    So, if you want to make demonstrations work again, you might have to wait until there are enough Christians in journalism and media (and who are able to resist the enormous ideological pressure within those organizations to conform to the liberal agenda) to make such activities work in our favor.

    I apologize if this sounds overly defeatist. Again, demonstrations do have their place, but speaking as a well-wisher, I do hope all Catholics keep that in mind.

  • Michael Patterson-Seymour, I read it when you first posted it. It merely tells us what we all know, that they employ hypocrisy and a kind of Machiavellianism. But what is the end in view? Do they have one?

  • . I appreciated your Pascal quote Michael as I had not read it before. I wonder what he would say today. Perhaps he would be more merciful in his comments! Remember Father Pacwa and plenty of others including jesuit martyrs from the time of Pascal to the 20th century.

  • Anzlyne

    It’s possible, though I doubt it – “By this policy they keep all their friends, and defend themselves against all their foes; for when charged with extreme laxity, they have nothing more to do than produce their austere directors, with some books which they have written on the severity of the Christian code of morals; and simple people, or those who never look below the surface of things, are quite satisfied with these proofs of the falsity of the accusation.”

    For Pascal, at the root of their laxity was their doctrine of grace – “You will then
    see the Christian virtues exhibited in such a strange aspect, so completely stripped of the charity which is the life and soul of them, you will see so many crimes palliated and irregularities tolerated that you will no longer be surprised at their maintaining that ‘all men have always enough of grace’ to lead a pious life, in the sense of which they understand piety. Their morality being entirely Pagan,
    nature is quite competent to its observance. When we maintain the necessity of efficacious grace, we assign it another sort of virtue for its object.”

  • Mr. Paterson-Seymour-
    St. Theresa of Avila was the rescue of the Carmelite order.
    With much prayer, could we entertain the hope that Pope Francis could be the reformer for the Society of Jesus?

Liberal Catholics and the Fortnight For Freedom

Friday, June 22, AD 2012



Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, has the number of liberal Catholics and their reaction to the Fortnight For Freedom proclaimed by our Bishops:

Jim Naughton’s joint takes note of the US Catholic Church’s latest initiative:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on Catholics throughout the country to observe a “Fortnight for Freedom,” beginning today and running through July 4, to protest the Obama administration’s health care policies.

This is how the USCCB describes Fortnight of Freedom.

The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.

Here’s the obligatory bit that all stories like this are legally obligated to contain about how sharply divided the Roman Catholic Church is over this issue.

Marion McCartney, who attends the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C., opposes the bishops’ campaign. She’s part of a group, Blessed Sacrament Families United in Faith and Action, that wrote a letter to its pastor, saying the partisan nature of the campaign is “a step too far.”

“Nobody’s religious freedom is at stake. That’s just ridiculous!” McCartney says. Is “[Health and Human Services Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius going to come and close all the church doors? I mean, it’s just foolishness.”

Can you say “Episcopalians in Catholic drag?”  Knew you could.

Another member of that group is Jim Zogby, who has worked on human-rights issues overseas. He says the U.S. bishops were spoiling for a fight over social issues with the Obama administration.

“They declared war on the administration, and we the faithful are paying the price for it,” Zogby says. “Our religious freedom, our ability to simply go to church, worship, feel a community, feel safe in that community” has been compromised.

“We’re now being put in the middle of a partisan fight, and that’s wrong.”

It’s easy to see what’s at work here.  To liberal Catholics, as to all leftist Christians, Catholic bishops are “partisan” or “political” when they take a stand on an issue with which the left strongly disagrees(i. e., birth control and abortion).  When they back a cause the left strongly supports, the bishops are acting “pastoral” and truly Christian and doing what God called them to do and stuff.

His wife, Eileen, says Blessed Sacrament, with its mix of liberals and conservatives, has always put politics aside. Not now. At a recent parish meeting about religious freedom, people began attacking President Obama, she says, getting more and more heated.

“Until finally one person leaned forward and he said, ‘Well, I have seen cars in our parking lot with Obama stickers on them, and they are complicit in all of this.’ And I thought, ‘Well I guess I’m not welcome here, because I have an Obama sticker on my car.’ “

If you’ve got an Obama sticker on your car, lady, I have one piece of advice.  Get thee to a Eucharistic Adoration.  Can’t hurt.  Also, the sex abuse scandal.  And nuns are cool now so stop beating up nuns!!

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19 Responses to Liberal Catholics and the Fortnight For Freedom

  • “Episcopalians in Catholic drag!” I love that phrase!

  • Oh, I forgot:

    Bishopress Schori would be so proud! Revelation 2:20-23:

    20* But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings; 23* and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.

  • Not one person mentioned the Body of Christ. “People of God” do not murder or approve of murder in the womb. Whoever encouraged that woman to believe that she is ordained is out of order and has done her a great disservice. How sweetly they are defiant. How compassionately they will rip the brains out of a living human being. How gently they say: “No, I will not serve.” They are atheists trying to take control of the Catholic Church, in the same manner the devil has taken control of their souls. Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI.

  • Liberal Catholics sing in one accord: “We have no King but Caesar” (John 16:9).

  • The Common Good!

    Social Justice!!

    They don’t care about faith and morals.

    They are not Catholics. They are liberals fronting as catholics.

  • “Liberal Catholics sing in one accord: “We have no King but Caesar” (John 16:9).”

    Whoa, the truth behind that should send shivers down one’s spine.

  • In the very old days, when a daughter wished to enter a convent, her father had to provide a dowery equal to her life’s support to the convent. It is said that this is the dowery provided by Saint Nicholas. Many a good woman could not enter a convent. And when these arrive at the gates of hell, they will blame their bishop.

  • “And when these arrive at the gates of hell, they will blame their bishop.” it is to these out of order nuns, to whom, I refer. Beg pardon.

  • The video is actually rather sad – the poor woman justifying her “choice” position because it is “private”; as if anything we do is actually private. And, of course, bringing up the canard about “coat hangers” (really would like to see a full scale investigation to find out if there was ever a woman who tried that). They are so lost – just aimlessly mouthing sentiments they cannot possibly have thought through and being willing tools of those who wish to destroy all truth.

  • Sad to see Ms. McCartney confuse “freedom of worship” with “freedom of religion,” but that’s just what her preferred standard-bearer wants to restrict her to. Sadder still that she’d need padlocks on the doors before she’d see a problem.

    Another snapshot from our Catholic house divided.

  • Sorry, I cant get all worked up about this. If the Bishops and the Church wanted true freedom they would stop standing around with their hands out asking for government money for health care, social programs, vouchers, tax exemptions. Has anyone ever heard the saying: “he who pays the piper gets to name the tune.” If the government gives you money (or financial benefit in the way of tax exemptions) they expect you to accept all the conditions that go along with it.

    True freedom means financial freedom. Other organizations have retained their freedom by refusing government assistance. For decades Hillsdale College has stuck by its principles and refused government funding to avoid government regulations. In the 1990’s Bob Jones University stuck by its principles – for awhile – until they caved on the issue of interracial dating (not an admirable cause but you can at least respect them for standing up for their principles). On the other hand look at all the Catholic social service agencies that have been forced to provide benefits to same sex couples because the agency accepts federal or local funds.

    I wish our Bishops would have enough courage to just say “NO” to government money. Unfortunately, that is something our clergy has never been strong enough to do.

  • Your argument is a nonsequitur since the HHS mandate is not contingent upon an employer receiving one thin dime from the Feds.

  • Don is right. I hear this nonsequitur argument all the time, even from folks who strike me as otherwise informed. Weird actually.

  • So in other words, the HHS mandate applies to every organization whether or not it receives federal money, the only exception being a very narrow one that includes houses of worship (I.e., churches, temples, synagogues, etc.), but NOT other religious organizations even when they receive NO federal money.

    Hence the non sequitur nature of the argument: “This is the Bishop’s fault because they receive federal funding for their organizations.”

    I do agree, however, that the Bishops’ ingratiation of themselves with the liberal leftist idea of social justice, the common good and peace at any price to the exclusion of the principles of subsidiarity, personal responsibility and individual accountability has had a lot to do with the current situation. Not all Bishops did this, but enough of this Marxist pollution has so infected the USCCB that we have the current situation. Now they cry religious freedom, having already sacrificed it for universal health care nonsense and other liberal social justice idiocies. The Church is about saving souls from Heaven, and that is where She ought to focus Her energies.

  • “The Church is about saving souls from Heaven…”

    Whoops! That should read:

    “The Church is about saving souls for Heaven…”

    -10 points for me!

  • “I wish our Bishops would have enough courage to just say “NO” to government money. Unfortunately, that is something our clergy has never been strong enough to do.”

    “Don is right. I hear this nonsequitur argument all the time, even from folks who strike me as otherwise informed. Weird actually.”

    Weird indeed. One cannot express oneself freely if one takes part in govt. programs. Though unfortunately, we might have to begin to think this way in order to prevent such a move in the future.

  • Mac and all lawyers at sea,

    I have been warned about hand-written notes and emails (they may be subpoenaed!).

    Can you give a Legalese, one- or two-word translation for the word “bu!!$@&%”?

    Ridiculous, spurious, and nonsequitur just don’t have the “oomph.”

    For accounting and financial BS, I use: “liberal interpretation”, inconsistent application”, “mark to make-believe”, “fairy tale value”, or “extend and pretend.”


  • Love this video report! In La La land, one can believe just about anything and call herself a Catholic. And one more reason to never sing that stupid song. It may be heartfelt but it, along with many other OCP ditties, does not belong in any Catholic liturgy. SO happy we have the Latin Mass and are not subject to the liturgy nazi’s dictating what we must sing in order to make everyone at Mass feel good about himself/herself.

Morrissey on Converts, Faith and Politics

Monday, June 4, AD 2012

Ed Morrissey had a great post inspired by the conversion, so to speak, of Jo Ann Nardelli. She is the former Democratic party official in Pennsylvania who left the party, prompted in part by the Democratic party’s embrace of gay marriage. Joe Biden’s appearance on Meet the Press sealed the deal. As a result, she has not been treated kindly by former colleagues.

The longtime Democrat from Blair County quit the party and registered as a Republican, and then boldly walked in a Memorial Day parade in support of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“A couple of people who I thought were friends turned their backs on me, literally, as I was walking in the parade,” she said on Tuesday. “I have to admit it made me sad, but that is the way it is.”

Morrissey discusses this as well as the case of Artur Davis, who also has quit the Democratic party. Then he explains, in very charitable terms, the reasons that some Catholics remain in the Democrat party, despite it holding positions that are antithetical to the Catholic Church on most social issues. He does a great job of explaining the nuances of Catholic economic teachings to an audience that is mostly non-Catholic. The following succinctly captures the tone of Morrisey’s post:

However, even while we do our best on a personal and institutional level within the church, our community, state, and nation have an impact on the scope and depth of the societal and human ills we hope to alleviate.   Some Catholics feel that significant involvement of representative government represents the best and most direct way to achieve our mission, and support the political party that more closely aligns itself with that philosophy and agenda — Democrats.  Others feel that the mission is best directed at a personal and institutional level and oppose significant government involvement as wasteful, impractical, and counterproductive, and those Catholics are more likely to be Republicans.

As such, these fellow Catholic liberals (many of whom do oppose abortion) do not deserve our scorn or a condescending attitude; they come to these positions honestly and faithfully.  We may disagree on the best approach to the mission at hand, but we are at least united on the mission itself.

In a sense it might be more difficult for conservative Catholics to accept this than for conservative non-Catholics, particularly because we are so close to the issue. We can get easily frustrated by fellow Catholics who persist in supporting a party that upholds so many terrible positions on life and death matters. And I do think that a handful of left-leaning Catholics offer up merely token opposition to their party on social issues, but who largely ignore these matters so as not to distract from the more important (to them) economic issues. Yet there are leftist Catholics  who are genuinely committed to the pro-life cause and who struggle with their party’s stance on social issues. And it is with regards to these individuals that we ought to heed Ed’s words.

Another thing strikes me about all this, and it’s that many of these political conversions have occurred due to differences of opinion on social issues. We have been told more times than I can possibly count that this election is all about the economy, and nothing but the economy. Yet we’re seeing more and more Catholics leaving the party that has been not only their home, but likely their parents’ home and their grandparents’ home. And they aren’t leaving the party because of its stance on income taxes. For those who insist that social issues are a losing proposition for conservatives and the Republican party, they might want to reconsider that position in light of the mounting evidence.

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14 Responses to Morrissey on Converts, Faith and Politics

  • Amen, and amen!

    I’m an Black Catholic. Born and raised in the South (Archdiocese of Atlanta). I’m old enough to remember seeing the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s play out on the evening news. My mom spied on the Klan for the SCLC because she could “pass”. And I was a life-long Democrat…until my heart changed on *social* issues.

    THis is hy I stopped supporting the Democrat Party’s candidates. And it is, incidentally, why I don’t support the Republican Establishment’s candidates either.

    The patry would do well to learn something from the experience of people like me…

  • What about the republican party do you oppose? I know that I certainly find very little in the Democrat party as tasteful for example the idea that the government gets to rule how people run their land and now even their religion.

  • I am from Europe and I know how insane and awful socialism and bureaucratic governments are.

  • I think it is a huge mistake to think about these things in terms of parties which seem to be more like cliques.

  • God Bless you Deacon Chip. I have been a lifelong Republican who has wanted to leave the party for a very long time, but for those social issues where the Republicans are “less bad” than the Democrats. I’m convinced the Republicans only give lip service to them. In my state a pro-choice Republican got the nomination in the last election. I wrote in Alan Keyes in the primaries. I’m of the opinion that Romney is only “Reduced Calorie” Obama. So I will once again vote for the lesser of two evils. I’d register with the Constitution Party because I like their platform, but those people are nuts. One of the people in my state connected to the Constitution Party wrote a column that states the government is watching us through RFID tags in clothing. I believe more and more that there is no home for a Catholic in current American politics. It’s a sad situation.

  • I use to consider myself an independent but now more of a republican although I would prefer having a third party as an option. I’m a fiscal conservative but very upset about the separation of religion & state that is being ignored by this administration. I do have a close friend, who went to Catholic schools like I did, but will only vote for democrats because it is the party she was raised in. I just can’t understand why anyone would vote for a party as I vote for the person. I do like Romney & his personal life is to be admired. There is no perfect candidate.

  • “I’d register with the Constitution Party because I like their platform, but those people are nuts.”

    Really? ALL of them? MOST of them? Or just the nut that you encountered? I’m not a member of the Constitution Party, but I’ll be voting for Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode in November. I can assure you that he is not “nuts”.

    And why register with any party? It’s not required for voting in the general election (and in many states, not even required for voting in the primaries).

  • I left the Democratic Party after 30+ years over the HHS Mandate. Social issues DO matter.

  • Thanks to Deacon Chip for sharing his experience. I can relate as I was also a committed Democrat earlier in life. The GOP, while better on most social issues, also does have its blind spots. It is time for committed Catholics to get serious about a social movement that embraces political involvment while transcending it, and moves beyond involvement and support of our two major parties, neither of which encompass what it truly means to be Catholic. We need to devote ourselves in our public witness in a way that does not require us to be muted or apologetic about who we are, but free to live the faith and witness fully as Our Lord intends us to.

  • “Really? ALL of them? MOST of them? Or just the nut that you encountered?”

    Actually, this person received the nomination to run for governor in 2006. In addition, I wasn’t to pleased about their treatment of Alan Keyes in 2008.

  • I am a Pacific War historian (author of One Square Mile of Hell, American Commando, and others) trying to contact Tom Looney, who has posted comments on this site before. I am researching a book about Guadalcanal and want to include material about Father Reardon. If you receive this posting, Tom, please contact me by phone (734-676-5473), email ([email protected]) or via my website ( Father Reardon deeply interests me, and I hope to view the first year of the war through his eyes and the eyes of three other main characters. Thanks for any help you can be.

  • Well, we may just have to agree to disagree over Alan Keyes’ alleged “treatment” at the hands of the Constitution Party.

  • Deacon,

    Thank you for being a deacon.

    All parties could benefit from the experiences of people like yourself.

    Pray for the best outcome. Prepare for the worst.

  • In my personal experience, among several, but not all, of the Catholic liberals I know, it is a matter of doing nothing while feeling good. People who want to “help the poor”, but are too lazy to actually get out and give their time and efforts to a worthy organization, or on a one-to-one basis, can feel so self-satisfed by pulling the lever in the voting booth for someone else to do what they don’t want to do personally. These same people, of course, tell you how open they are to people of other races, etc., but they cannot name one minority member who is a personal friend, or even been a guest in their homes. As I have always contended, if you scratch a liberal, you find a hypocrit! Just examine the words and actions of our last two democrat leaders!

The Coming Open Rebellion Against God Part II

Sunday, February 6, AD 2011

In my first article The Coming Open Rebellion Against God, I spoke of a time where God would reveal his omnipotence and some would simply leave their faith behind.  Why? Because just as in John 6, some would say it simply doesn’t make sense and walk away. Some have prayed that if only God would show His omnipotence; many would fall on their knees and believe. I truly believe the time is coming when some of our intelligentsia, including clergy will see the hand of God and say; “No thanks, this doesn’t mesh with my worldview.”

Father Dwight Longenecker recently wrote a review of the movie The Rite Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, a movie somewhat inspired by a real life Italian exorcist. The movie was given praise by many Catholic writers including Father Longenecker for actually showing the Church in a positive light. Perhaps this was due to the film’s producers using a California based exorcist Father Gary Thomas who actually was present at the filming of the movie. In a key passage Father Longenecker pondered the fact that far too many in this modern rationalistic world see the idea of the devil and demonic possession as beyond them, even though if they truly followed their rationalistic approach, they would come to see that there simply was no medical or scientific explanation for some cases. Sadly, for too many the sin of pride all too often is their downfall.

Recently Father Gary Thomas was interviewed by Leticia Velazquez of Catholic Exchange; some of his remarks about the way in which the teachings of the Church with regard to evil were defiantly rebuked by some within the Church including bishops were more than a little disconcerting. This movie review of The Rite by Father Raymond Schroth SJ associate Editor of America Magazine is one such example. As you can see, the devil is so passé to Father Schroth SJ. It hardly jibes with the high mindedness of those to which he and his urbane friends associate. Check out the comments section in the article, some of the comments left are as elitist and depressing as his treatise on who God is and who He should be.

George Weigel has noted the sad state of some quasi dissident bishops that Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have had to confront. They came from a mindset that preferred the adulation of the dissident intelligentsia of the Ivy League rather than the working class Catholic roots from which many came.

With regard to Jesus and the devil, Jesus spent a good deal of his time fighting the devil and his minions, but alas those who don’t believe in such things seem to indicate that Jesus and the Gospel writers got it wrong, Jesus was not fighting demonic powers but those who were dealing with bouts of depression and epilepsy. According to these liberal dissident elites, Jesus was the precursor to Dr Phil and Deepak Chopra helping those poor seemingly possessed people get their groove back and find their Zen destiny. Never mind what the Church teaches on the subject or the fact that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have specifically spoken of evil and the needs for more exorcists in the Church, these elites know better. Talk about hutzpah, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been labeled as intellectually brilliant, even by their detractors, but no matter to those who don’t believe in such archaic things as the devil. Perhaps we should ask those in the Church, especially in the Church Hierarchy, if you don’t believe what Jesus said about the devil and the manifestation of evil, what else don’t you believe?

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5 Responses to The Coming Open Rebellion Against God Part II

  • Thank you for referring to my interview of Fr Gary Thomas. When I read the book, I was impressed at how deeply their experience of the devil moved both Fr Gary and the book’s author Matt Baglio. I was therefore thrilled to hear that the US bishops had a special meeting about exorcism before their general meeting last November.
    As you assert in your book, the tide is turning. Let us pray that it is in time to save our fellow Catholics, many of whom are hostage to the enemy, thanks to poor catechesis and their own selfishness.


  • Slight spoiler

    The Rite was very well done. Respectful of the Church and enough spookiness to keep you on edge without overplaying ala The Exorcist. Maybe overplayed the “doubting young priest out to prove science over belief” a bit, and showed the Church to be a little too “faith over reason,” in particular I am recalling a scene where our hero challenges his exorcism instructor with scientifically based rationals for the various instances of possession, and the intsructor’s comeback was rather weak – sort of a “you gotta have faith” and left it at that.

    I also think the movie left you with the impression that the Church believes possession occurs far more often than the Church actually believes it does. But then, they gotta sell tickets, don’t they.

  • and by faith over reason, I mean portraying the Church as pitting faith against reason, as opposed to recognizing them as complementing each other.

At The Dawn of 2011, Despite Bumps In the Road Catholic Orthodoxy Marches Onward

Monday, December 6, AD 2010

It seems every time a kerfuffle pops up in the Catholic Church, many in engage in hand wringing and doom and gloom scenarios. The latest occurred with Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms, which were wildly taken out of context in his interview with Peter Seewald turned book Light of the World. Following these remarks, some of us have probably been peppered with questions from family and friends as to what this means, and if the Church has changed her teachings in the arena of birth control. Those of us who have welcomed the new orthodoxy taking place within in the Church during the last ten or twenty years, probably have wished this latest kerfuffle had never taken place. However, this in no way shape of form means the orthodoxy movement has stalled. Oddly, I received some gleeful e-mails from some who surprisingly seemed ecstatic to point out that my book; The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism couldn’t possibly be correct. Hopefully, this article will point out that Catholic orthodoxy is alive, well and here to stay.

Church liberals who had long pilloried Pope Benedict XVI even before he was a cardinal, a simple university professor in the famed German town of Tubingen, seemed perplexed on how to treat the latest uproar. Some felt that he was moving in the right (or in their case left direction.) However, the more cynical among them knew that the Holy Father hadn’t changed a thing. They in turn left posts at the National Catholic Reporter decrying the German pontiff’s lack of pastoral ministry. Though I don’t know which saint said it, I am sure someone who was canonized uttered something along these lines; “God please save your Church from these overly pastoral pastors.”

The Holy Father was merely engaging in an abstract theological conversation much like a bunch of guys at a sports bar might conjecture what would happen if modern team x played historical team y for a mythical championship. Yet, the mainstream media along with some in the Catholic media went into a frenzy. The Holy Father was changing nothing in the Church’s teachings concerning birth control. The fault lie with those in the Vatican’s Public Relations Department in making sure the ubiquitous editor Giovanni Vian didn’t somehow put the Holy Father’s abstract scenarios into an excerpt for the L’Osservatore Romano. The comedy of errors in the Vatican could make one’s hair fallout.

Yet, I remember the words of a priest who once spent a considerable amount of time at the Holy See. He told me that the amount of miracles and jaw dropping examples of God’s Grace, that he personally witnessed behind the Vatican’s walls, still amazes him to this day. However, on the flip side the amount of sinister almost demonic style attacks amazes him to this day as well. The evil one knows where his primary target is located and he does his best to cause mayhem.

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4 Responses to At The Dawn of 2011, Despite Bumps In the Road Catholic Orthodoxy Marches Onward

  • You mention as an undesirable example 40,000 Protestant churches and name a few. They are distinguished from one another by their differing beliefs and practices. In the Roman Catholic Church, you find two factions, “us” and “them”, the liberals.
    It is illuminating to identify the large number of distinguishable groups within the Roman Catholic Church today, marked by their differences in beliefs and practices although not yet assigned formal names. Each considers itself the truly faithful. The concept of unity spoken of by the Pope and others seems to have little to do with the Catholic church as a list of clearly different, faithful Catholic factions would show. 450 years ago looks rather similar in some ways.

  • There is a linguistic confusion which conflates the Church with Catholics. Jack B. writes of “the large number of distinguishable groups within the Roman Catholic Church today, marked by their differences in beliefs and practices although not yet assigned formal names”.

    There are many more than a large number: there are groups whose distinguishing characteristics is that they – that we – are all sinners. We may grumble about Rome and the Vatican and those clerics who are continuously interfering in our cosy lives. Looking at the Church is much like looking at a family. Would it be a family were there not regular disagreements? “Differences in beliefs and practices” are like the weeds that have ever encumbered the growth of the Church – the chaff, the tares. They will be with us until the end as Our Lord told us. We just have to live with it.


Time For Vatican III? No!

Monday, April 5, AD 2010

Father Edward L. Beck, a Passionist Priest, and a contributor to ABC, wrote a column for ABC in which he calls for Vatican III.  I think the article is worth a fisking.

April 2, 2010 —Surely this was originally intended for April 1?

As Christians begin their celebration of the Easter season, the Catholic  church seems stuck in Good Friday. No Father, the Catholic Church is always “stuck” in Easter. Just when some would like to turn  their attention to the profound mysteries of their faith, they are  instead mystified by yet another round of horrendous sex abuse storiesmaking headlines. Yeah, totally by accident, and too bad Father doesn’t spend time mentioning how spurious this piece of tripe by the New York Times was.

Most Catholics in the United States were convinced that the issue of  sexual abuse by priests had been adequately dealt with after the last go round more than eight years ago.   I do not think this is the case.  Most Catholics in this country are still fuming about predator priests and the bishops who protected them. Many are also outraged by the ambulance chasing attorneys and the suspicion that some of the victims are merely cashing in on flimsy evidence.  There is still a lot of outrage about this whole mess. In many ways, it has been. U.S. bishops adopted strict policies of zero-tolerance after the abuse scandal exploded in 2002. Bishops are now required to comply with state laws for reporting abuse and to cooperate fully with authorities.   For the most  part the stories once again generating news in the United States concern old cases and the previous negligence of bishops to deal effectively and  justly with the crisis. New to the controversy has been the suggestion by some that the Pope himself bears responsibility for lapses. Actually such accusations have been flying around for years.  They have gotten nowhere because they lack substance.

The recent reports indicate this is not — and never has been — a distinctly American church problem.  I doubt if many Catholics in this country thought that it was. The European Catholic Church is now  experiencing what the U.S. Catholic Church did nearly a decade ago. Once reports from Pope Benedict’s native Germany emerged that boys had been abused in a church-run school there, hundreds more from other European countries came forward admitting that they too had been victims of abuse decades ago. We have not heard the last of these stories. Africa and  Latin America have yet to weigh in, but they will. Reports from those parts of the world will eventually emerge to increase the dismay of those who expected more diligence and, indeed, holiness, from religious institutions.

What is readily observable from the avalanche of reports is that the sexual abuse of minors is a systemic, worldwide problem. But it is not exclusively a Catholic or ecclesial one. True. It cuts across all faiths, institutions and family systems. Presently, however, it is the Catholic church in the spotlight, so it must take the lead in dealing with this issue in a transparent, effective and ultimately transformative way. Though its halo has been dimmed by past negligence, if only the scandal of the criminal protection afforded by bishops to predator priests had been limited to mere negligence the church can still be a beacon of light to lead the way if it now proceeds with haste and unwavering conviction. We might start by ordaining only those who believe what the Church teaches when it comes to sexual morality.  We must also understand that a fair number of the people who attack the Church on this issue are motivated much more by raw hatred of the Church than concern for the victims.  The evil from our ranks must be excised, but let us not assume we will receive plaudits from the World for doing so.

So then, what is the best way for the church to move forward? Dramatic failure requires a dramatic solution. Nothing gets the attention of the church and, perhaps the world, like a Vatican Council. Here we get to the purpose behind this article. The last one, of course, ended more than 45 years ago in 1965. While some would maintain that we have yet to fully execute the decrees of that Council, the world and the church have changed dramatically in the interim.  When has the World not been changing?  As to Vatican II, all the turmoil in the Church since that Council should cause us to hesitate before calling the next one. The current crisis in the church can serve as the impetus for once again calling together the worldwide church community in pursuit of modernization, reform and spiritual integration for a new time and world.  Always be alarmed when anyone proposes a radical step for the sake of vague terms like modernization, reform and spiritual integration.

What issues might this Council address?  The death of the Faith in Europe?  Rampant immorality?  The failure of the Novus Ordo Mass to inspire many Catholics? Many to be sure, but chief among  them could be the current crisis confronting the priesthood.  Homosexuality?  Lack of fidelity to their vows?  A desire for a life of ease? Certainly the issue of sexual abuse and the devastating toll it has taken in the church might be examined and addressed definitively, once and for all. In addition, while pedophilia and the sexual abuse of minors and priestly celibacy are not organically related, the abuse crisis has once again raised the issue of the necessity and relevancy of mandatory celibacy for diocesan priests.  How long has celibacy been bugging you Father?  Wasn’t that particular requirement spelled out clearly enough for you when you were ordained? The majority of Catholics and priests want an open discussion about this issue, but up to this point, that has not been permitted.  Rubbish.  This ” issue” isn’t even on the radarscope for most priests and laity.

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7 Responses to Time For Vatican III? No!

  • I may be wrong, but the issue of celibracy was not the culprit in my opinion..The standards for those entering the priesthood were too lax and many of those whose sexual norms were suspect were allowed into the priesthood who wanted to escape the stigma of those norms in society and a heavy price has been paid. Many of young men who aspired to enter whose views were orthodox in nature were by passed. The changes in the current young men now entering and their formation has seen a stricter approach to this issue and it is paying off. The current Pope has been stricter in ridding the Church of this scourge than any previous Pope inclding his predessor in my opinin.

  • Only reason for Vat III: REPEAL Vat II.

    Here is my crazed solution to the judas priest problem (no pun intended). Reinstitute the Inquisition. No stake, though (boo!). Blatant, relapsed abuser gets life sentence: chained to a wall in a dungeon on bread and water. Minor abuser (released with penance) is branded so all know what he is – end recividism.

  • “a defeated celibate clergy who must sometimes then minister side by side with married priests who have more
    rights and privileges than the celibate ones do”

    I guess its not enough of a right or a privilege to be a priest in Christ’s Church.

  • Thank you for highlighting “Church seems stuck on Good Friday” This is an argument I have heard for 40-50 years. Why is mystery such a stumbling block? Easter Mass Father made a comment about Christ descending into hell and one reason he did this is because he could relate to us. I thought Father has been reading secular publications, most likely he lost his point and grabbed just what made sense.

  • I think it is rather a time for mass repentance in the Church and a return to the Catholic Faith by clergy and laity alike.


    Father Beck will die soon and so will most of the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd. We’ll be left over with malcontents and disobedient Catholics strumming their guitars and arguing with themselves in dark corners of the Internet.

  • Vatican III? I’d be thrilled if the documents of Vatican II were actually
    read and finally implemented! They plainly state that Latin is to have
    primacy of place in the celebration of the Roman rite, that gregorian
    chant is the greatest artistic treasure the Church possesses, etc., etc. .

    I’m in my 40’s, and I’ve yet to see a Novus Ordo Mass at the parish level
    that actually incorporates all of what the documents of Vatican II envisioned.

    Perhaps we can have another Council in a century or two, after we’ve
    cleaned up the wreckage inflicted on the Church by ‘professionals’
    riffing on the documents rather than reading and respecting them.

  • Some nutty suggestions here undercut the seriousness of the discussion.

Pope Obama

Sunday, July 12, AD 2009

Pope Obama

Hattip to the ever eagle-eyed Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative.  Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, ex-Lieutenant governor of Maryland, and oldest of Bobby Kennedy’s offspring, has a screed in Newsweek where she explains how Obama represents American Catholics better than the Pope.  As one reads the article it becomes clear that the ex-Lieutenant governor actually means liberal Catholics like her when she says American Catholics, no surprise since she has always been a vociferous supporter of abortion.

Paul Zummo gets to the heart of the matter nicely:

“It really isn’t about whether or not Catholics in America view the Pope or the President more favorably, it’s about a faux Catholic’s outrage that the Church refuses to change its core teachings and mission on the say-so of irate children like Townsend.  We’ll leave aside the sheer duplicity in the statement that Obama actually listens to different points of view and focus instead on the shrill cri de couer of another bitter progresso-Catholic who believes she knows better than the Magisterium.  I guess when you’re the spoiled child of a family that hasn’t contributed anything to the American polity since her grand-dad built his fortune by exploiting the 18th Amendment, you’re pretty used to getting your way.  But here we have the Pope, head of an institution that has the temerity to say “NO!” emphatically to the progresso-Catholics who just stomp their feet in anger over the Pope’s refusal to give them condoms and let their gay friends get married.”

I have long suspected that for some, by no means all, Catholics on the Left in this country their true Pope’s last name begins with an O rather than a B.  I therefore have to give KKT credit for honesty if for nothing else.

Update: Good commentary on the Townsend article by Ed Morrissey here at Hot Air.

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27 Responses to Pope Obama

  • I don’t see why a much-needed critique of Townsends outrageous column had to include an attack on the Kennedy family (and I disagree wholeheartedly that JFK and RFK were ‘no contribution’ to the American polity). Isn’t this the same sort of thing conservatives go nuts about when it is done to Palin?

    The Pope does continue to say NO – and I am grateful that he does and would consider another religion, perhaps, if he ever stopped. But the Pope did not scream “NO” in Obama’s face, and Obama, for his part, has never insisted that the Church stop being the Church.

    People like Townsend on the left – and I am sorry to say, plenty of her counterparts on the right – attack each other with a viciousness neither the Holy Father nor Obama are either willing or able to engage in. I used to think leaders should and could set good examples to follow.

    It is apparent that most people have no interest in emulating anyone or anything but wild beasts fighting over the last scrap of bloody meat.

    Well, as an ardent Benedictine myself, I will follow the Pope’s example. And I will also stick to my usual belief that arguments, even arguments as insulting and ignorant as Townsends, should be addressed on their own merits, and not ‘linked’ to personal history or any other sort of irrelevancy.

  • Joe, other than Joe Kennedy, Jr. dying heroically in WW2, JFK’s heroism after the sinking of PT 109, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s magnificent work in creating the Special Olympics, I think Paul’s critique of the Kennedy clan is largely on the mark. I agree with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, in regard to JFK and RFK, that seeing them in action in Washington was “rather like watching the Borgia brothers take over a respectable North Italian city.”

  • Well, whether or not I agree with that assessment, the point is, what does it have to do with her arguments?

    It isn’t relevant and it brings us down to her level.

  • There I disagree with you Joe. Let us say that the argument were being made by someone who belonged to a family noted for faithfully observing the teachings of the Church, and that the person making the argument had carried on in that fine tradition. I think that would add more force to the argument, if not more logic. That this argument is being made by the scion of a family noted for adherence to left-liberalism and a somewhat flagrant public flouting of the teachings of the Church by a few of the more well-known members of the clan, lessens the force of the argument.

  • I think Pres. Kennedy can be commended for making the correct calls during the Cuban Missile Crisis. IIRC, Edward Kennedy participated in drafting and shepherding through Congress some of the legislation enabling deregulation in the transportation sector thirty years ago. Can we truly say that Mark Shriver contributes notably less to the commonweal than any other member of the Democratic caucus? Also, and conceding that five of Robert Kennedy’s eleven children have been implicated in wretched public scandals, it is too much to refer to his daughter Kathleen Townsend as ‘spoiled’ unless you have personal knowledge of behavior which indicates as much. (Unless it is your opinion that any child of the patriciate must be spoiled).

    I think it reasonable to suspect that Joseph P. Kennedy was one of the world’s genuinely evil people and that he and his issue have damaged the quality of American public life. To say that collectively they have offered nothing worthwhile is de trop.

  • Art, in regard to the Cuban Missile Crisis, although I am thankful we got through it without the world perishing, I think Kennedy’s performance left much to be desired but I will concede the point. I had forgotten about Ted backing deregulation and I will also concede that point. As to Mark Shriver I honestly do not know of any contribution he has made. Paul can speak for himself as to KKT, but I suspect that he may be referring to her run for Governor of Maryland in 2002 when she appeared to think her Kennedy status assured her of victory and lost in the general after a weak campaign that was much criticized by Democrat activists at the time. I believe her opponent was only the seventh Republican to be elected governor of Maryland, and he was booted out in 2006. As to Joe Kennedy, Sr, he was the type of slime that gives slime a bad name.

  • I suppose it’s an exaggeration to say that the Kennedies have contributed nothing to the polity — but it’s pretty arguable that they have contributed more bad than good. (Though the rosy glow of martyrdom and celebrity around JFK tends to obscure the incompetence and corruption that too often epitomized this day to day.) But exaggeration is a pretty standard technique in polemic, and I would say one pretty much draws polemics on oneself when one explicitly endorses Obama as a Catholic leader over the pope.

    And really, no one would care what Kathleen Townsend said on Catholic issues, were she not minor nobility in “America’s royal family”.

  • Error on my part. Mark Shriver is an official of the Save the Children Federation. He did serve two terms in the Maryland legislature but was defeated in the Democratic primary when he ran for Congress. Both he and his cousin Kathleen have had an indifferent record in electoral contests in a state dominated by the Democratic Party (between them they are zero for three or zero for four on Congressional contests). I would wager both are a good deal better behaved and functional than the median of their family. The Kennedy clan cannot sell these two in Maryland but they can sell Edward, Joseph II, and Patrick in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I does not make any sense, unless there be a faction of the general public affectionately disposed toward sybaritic excess (incorporating vehicular manslaughter), loutishness and stupidity, and sheer, sorry-assed incompetence (incorporating a history with booze and drugs).

  • The point is, Joe, that the author in question has basically built her career based on nothing more than her family brand-name – a brand name which frankly is of dubious quality. It calls into question her credentials in attempting to establish her vision of the American Catholic Church.

  • I agree with Joe on this one. I think the point at large is being ignored.

    The argument at hand is an intellectual position of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend that is terribly flawed, which can be argued against without resorting to attacking the Kennedy family and pointing out there contribution, or lack thereof, to America. The latter point has nothing to do with the statement that President Obama supposedly is more representative to American Catholics than the Pope is. That’s a matter in and of itself that can be intellectually dismembered without the slightest mention of the Kennedy family or their political history.

    The problem I have is that such a critique can really turn into a rant that does nothing but render judgment after judgment — many of which, I might agree are valid — to the Kennedy family, but does nothing to contribute to the debate over the status of Catholicism in America and the growing gap between self-described Catholics and the teachings of the Church.

    I’m not convinced that many of such Catholics could not be simply redirected toward orthodoxy through calm and patient dialogue. I’ve seen it happen with too many people, who really “never thought about it” and with whom a patient witness turned them around. Instead, we “demonize” them — wrong and unorthodox though they are — into enemies, that is conscious and willful enemies of the Church, in absolute, full understanding of the Church’s teaching, but they just oppose it anyway and push their liberal agenda. Maybe I give them too much credit. But I am doubtful. I have, in fact, never known anyone who disagreed with the Church who could accurately describe to me the Church’s teachings on life, family, and sexuality — why they were are the way they are, how they, though distinct, they are related to one another.

    Again, I’ve never met someone who disagreed with the Church who could accurately describe her teachings. It is largely in ignorance that such nonsense, as displayed in Mrs. Townsend’s comment, is said. Perhaps they are not open to change and are not willing to learn what the Church says and why, at this point in their life, if they ever were. I’m totally not in position to make that call and I’ll pray for them. That is not the point here. Neither am I saying these people with these very influential roles should be “let off the hook.” I’m more concerned about the way we engage them. One of the biggest things I remember as a non-Catholic and as a convert is how off-putting the approach a lot of Catholics, consciously willing it or not, can be.

    God assist me, but I don’t know how turning debate to focus on the spiritual and moral failures of the Kennedy family and their political impact on Americans fully exhausts, or even addresses, the absurd notion that President Obama is more representative of American Catholics. A simply address of ecclesiology and the essential nature of the Church and her moral teachings would be sufficient. I see no reason at all to even go in the other direction. In fact, even if I did, I would think it prudent to strike the cord that would win me more allies not less if I could do so in a way that is faithful to my responsibilities as a Catholic. I’m going to have to disagree Donald.

  • The point is, Joe, that the author in question has basically built her career based on nothing more than her family brand-name – a brand name which frankly is of dubious quality. It calls into question her credentials in attempting to establish her vision of the American Catholic Church.

    I am sorry to be a pest, but what calls in to question her credentials are 1.) she is not a bishop or a shepherd of any kind; 2.) the private life of her immediate family of origin and that of her collateral relations on both sides has been manifestly disordered (“Sheila, its just Catholic gobbeldygook”, quoth Joseph Kennedy II); and 3.) Sargent Shriver aside, has there been any member of the clan known in the last 30 years to have sided with the Church against the Liberal Establishment on certain non-negotiables?

    She is a legacy pol as well, and none too successful at it. The degree to which ‘branding’ of this sort seems to influence the capacity of aspirant office holders to raise funds and prevail in elections is dismaying but a separate issue.

  • That’s all right Eric, I sometimes even disagree with myself! Paul however nails it in that she would never have been asked to write that dreadful article but for her being a Kennedy. A defeated candidate for governor in 2002 who has not held elective office since would not have received such an invitation to write otherwise.

    When I was growing up, my mother had a picture of JFK on the wall. She was deeply hurt when the revelations about his personal behavior began to surface. Too many people in this country directly associate Catholicism in this country with the Kennedy clan, and this article helps to reinforce that connection which I believe has been detrimental to the Church. I think under her circumstances the fact that she is a Kennedy is of importance in considering this article, and why Newsweek decided to run it.

  • Thanks for the insight of the views of Catholics who have lived since the rise of the Kennedys and how it effects them. I’m glad we can cordially disagree. 🙂

  • God assist me, but I don’t know how turning debate to focus on the spiritual and moral failures of the Kennedy family and their political impact on Americans fully exhausts, or even addresses, the absurd notion that President Obama is more representative of American Catholics.

    I haven’t. You have. My post was 700 words, and you and Joe are focusing on one sentence. That’s your problem.

  • Eric, my apologies- I didn’t mean to be so hasty and rude in my reply – I shouldn’t try to write when I am pressed for time. Anyway, while I understand your concerns, I think I addressed the substance of her complaints with as much due consideration as she put into writing them. Let’s be honest – there was no there there. It was a basic racpitulation of the traditional progresso-Catholic list of demands that the Church must make. The only reason that tripe was published in the first place was due to who she was, not the sentiment expressed in it.

  • And Paul,

    “It calls into question her credentials in attempting to establish her vision of the American Catholic Church.”

    I’m sorry to say that I completely disagree. If she were making arguments that were inherently true, we would reject any attempt to dismiss them on the basis of what family she hails from.

    That rule of logic does not change when the arguments are false. Her arguments are false because they are false – a tautology, I am well aware, but justified in this case. Anyone inclined to agree with them, moreover, is certainly not going to be convinced not to on the basis of her family history.

    It’s just mudslinging. Both sides engage in it – throw enough mud and hope that it sticks. Arguments must be evaluated on their merit alone, on the extent to which they conform to the known facts and the rules of logic. This particular argument fails miserably enough on both counts without having to resort to ad hominem.

  • A non-Catholic friend of mine sent be Townsend’s article and asked for my reaction. My response: complete and utter crap. Townsend on the left is making the exact same mistake as Weigel on the right — trying to divide Catholic social teaching into the bits I like and the bits I don’t like. Caritas in Veritate makes clear that the social doctrine is a single doctrine, all related, and should not be pulled apart.

    I, for one, found her argument tired and jaded. That generation is still fixed on Humanae Vitae — get over it. Incredibly frustrating.

    That said, the attack on the Kennedy family was uncalled for. I found the most poignant moment of Obama’s meeting with the pope was when he handed him a letter from Ted Kennedy, who clearly has not much longer to live. A deeply flawed man, Kennedy still faught the good fight in so many areas. And for me, RFK was the greatest president that should have been.

  • “My response: complete and utter crap. Townsend on the left is making the exact same mistake as Weigel on the right”

    Actually no. Weigel was claiming that parts of “Caritas” were inspired by the Office of Justice and Peace in the Vatican. He did not claim that George Bush, for example, was a better representative of American Catholics than the Pope. Townsend stands all by herself in that regard.

    As for the Kennedy clan, I can understand why an extreme liberal such as yourself can have a tender spot in your heart for Ted. RFK was a political chameleon who went with the flow and was constantly reinventing himself. Anti-Communism in fashion: RFK the Red-hunter. People tired of Vietnam: RFK the peacenik. It never ceases to amuse me how one of the more ruthless pols to ever strut on the American scene inspires such sentiments on the Left.


    Now we have many USA relatives that eg serve in the armed forces, and in other fieldsds as well
    we just want to let you know that NOT ALL Kennedys are Pro abortion rather we are Pro life pro life pro life!!!!!

    What Pres Obama* should have presented to his Holiness Pope Benedict the real Pope, not a pretender to the throne as some surmise PO* is

    was CLEAR , TANTAMOUNT, IRREFUTABLE proof that Obama will not only move to reduce abortions but that he Obama will follow the current American pro life trend and so become a pro life president like some of his predecessors were!!!!!
    Facta non verba
    deeds NOT words PRESIDENT O !
    people want action, not glib PERFUNCTORY oraty
    game, set, match to his Holiness Pope Benedict for reminding Obama and the world of the Church’s TOTALLY correct pro life position

  • Catherine, Kennedy, as you know, is a noble and common Irish name, and I know many fine pro-life Kennedys myself.

  • I am sure Mary Jo Kopechne admires Ted’s ability through the years to “fight the good fight.”

  • AUSSIE KENNEDYS* say gracie tanto ie Thanks Donald for that! Yes , Kennedy is a noble and common irish name!
    Now we AKs* are so sick and tired of the pro abortion mindest that is running RANCID in the world
    This mindset has to be thwarted! once and for all!
    President O(PO)^ has the chance now he is the incumbent president to set the pace, to lead the way to follow the example of the brave USA Pro life clergy/ laity that so often speak up and out pro life
    you ALL know who we mean the likes of
    Archbishops Chaput, Burke, Cardinal Rigali, Bishop D,Arcy etc, etc.
    Indeed about one third of the bishops that spoke up against the PO^ visit to Notre Dame all so deserve both our gratitude, respect and recognition for all the unborn lives that they must surely help to save through correctly enunciating the pro life teachings of the Church

  • A deeply flawed man, Kennedy still fought the good fight in so many areas.

    Recalling that in 1979 he was asked by Roger Mudd why he was running for president and had a less than concise and coherent answer, I am not sure he had much of a rationale for what he did do or did not do other than it was the role of a lifetime. I seem also to recall that one of his pet issues at the time was national health insurance. If I am not mistaken, he did not manage to get a bill out of subcommittee though he was chairman of the subcommittee.

  • It never ceases to amaze me how one of the more ruthless pols to ever strut the American scence inspires such sentiments on the Left.

    Not the whole of the left. He managed to snooker figures as disparate as Cesar Chavez, Gloria Steinem, and Charles Peters, but there was a large constituency that could not abide the man. I have a dear friend who was obiligated to work on his 1964 Senate campaign. He said the experience of meeting Kennedy (in Auburn, N.Y. as I recall) and seeing him interact with his aides and retainers left him appalled. He was hot and heavy for Eugene McCarthy four years later. Gloria Steinem has also said the planning and discussion groups she and Allard Loewenstein were involved in during 1967 and 1968 were shot-through with ‘Bobby-haters’.

  • Donald:

    “I have long suspected that for some, by no means all, Catholics on the Left in this country their true Pope’s last name begins with an O rather than a B.”

    Careful there — you just might find yourself guilty of the modern version of praemunire and, thus, be branded a traitor to these United States, according to some of our more distinguished ‘patriots’!

  • Catholic Online has a good, concise response posted:

    It feels kinda weird but refreshing to read Morning’s Minion’s comment and nod in agreement. Still,on reading Townsend’s assertion that in her family politics was considered an honorable profession, I’ll admit to some uncharitable reflections myself on possible reasons for this view.