Thursday, October 28, 2010

Purging from One's Own Petard

I have read with much interest the reactions to Rachel Zoll's AP Article describing the new breed of theological conservatives who are finished tolerating dissent and corruption in the Catholic Church in America.

Before  I talk about the reactions I wanted to go on record about the author, Rachel Zoll.   I found Rachel to be a very gracious young lady who was genuinely interested in what we were doing from the perspective of an objective journalist.

The article was originally named Catholic Loyalists Take to Their Blogs to Defend Teachings.

The first time I saw anything about 'purging dissenters' was when our detractors on Morrissey Boulevard (The Boston Globe) posted the article.

I expected the article would bring anti-Catholicism, which I assume was the Globe's intention.

Still, the vitriol of the bigots posting on MSNBC and the Blaze was surprising.   As crusader extrordinare Jack O'Malley pointed out somewhere in blogosphere, what people think about our religion is none of our business.  I certainly don't give a flying fig and you shouldn't either.  It should be noted and exposed - but this is the beauty of diversity.

Fr. Z, while being pleased righteousness in the panegyry is in high gear, was not pleased with the tenor of the article.  I've never disagreed with Father Z's theology and seldom disagree with his observations. Perhaps being on the ground in Boston has jaded my perspective, but  I see this article differently than Fr. Z.

Nobody wants to 'purge' people from the Catholic Church. I will say that depending upon the circumstances, if charitable attempts to come to the solution have been railroaded,  it is righteous to escalate the situation  to removing the person from teaching and governance roles.

Any attempt to do this over the last few decades has been met with various kinds of internal pandemonium and terror.  The push backs have been successful in driving us out of our own parishes and schools.   I hope those doing so have enjoyed the cowardice and inertia because those days are behind us now. 

Let's get to the reactions.

A few doses of the kind of anti-Catholicism and bigotry that is out there:  MSNBC and the Blaze.  

After not faring well in the theological discussion, the Commonweal crowd shut down the discussion.

Over at America Magazine, James Martin is a chronic abuser of deleting comments of people who espouse Roman Catholic translations of teaching.  Martin's trousers get all twisted up in a knot when he finds out the days ahead of him are going to be a right back atcha.

Helllllllloooooooooo hypocrisy?  Is that you dear?   Speak up, I can't hear you.

Before I say anything else, I'd like to (once again) classify exactly what it is we are doing.

The freedom to teach our own religion in our own Catholic schools and parishes has been under siege for a very long time.  Many of us have been parish hopping for at least a decade to avoid having our children scandalized and spiritually abused.

Shall I spell out the consequences of having a lay person, priest or Bishop give a teaching or governance position to a person andand have that person tell our children that the teachings of the Church on human sexuality, contraception, abortion, drinking, drugs is antiquated?   The culture of everyone is doing it so do it, just do it safely?

Cheap sex has replaced human intimacy and has alienated Divine intimacy.  Sacramental grace is held hostage.   There is depression, low-self esteem and self-worth, drugs, alcohol.  There is breast cancer from abortions & the hormones they are giving naive women to give irresponsible men license to jump from bed to bed.

Most important of all, for Catholics, these abuses have put our children's salvation at risk.

There is a protocol and process for Catholics to follow when you (or your children) are victims of error, scandal and corruption.

We assume the goodwill of the person and point out the error.  If that doesn't help, we go to the priest in charge.  As we are rebuked or dismissed, we take it to the Vicar Forane (an appointed pastor in a locus who is supposed to be the next level in the heirarchy).  Next comes the auxiliary bishop, then the archbishop or Cardinal of the region.   If all of these people fail or refuse to correct the situation, you go to the Nuncio.  Then whatever dicastry in the Holy See the problem falls under.

We don't expect the Holy See to act upon every spiritual abuser but when you have a Bishop who has let his diocese get out of control (as it is here in Boston), the idea is to let them see how extensive the problem is and how many souls are being sacrificed and it is reasonable to expect them to act.

But, the reality is, they don't.  For all the hooey and talk about how sorry they are, there is no system in place to holding corrupt accountable.  It is the same good old boy network it always has been.

What does work, is when you take your problem into the public square and expose their misfeasance, cronyism.

St. Paul gives us the instruction to testify openly when you have exhausted all other options so that other people steer themselves and their children away from being abused.

This is what the new breed of bloggers on the internet is doing.  We are going through the system and when we have failed at getting help for the people being abused, we are exposing what is going on in Boston.

There is a dysfunction among lay Catholics who try to make something sinister out of any attempt to expose abuse and remove somebody who is abusing somebody else.  This same "enabling" dynamic is the reason pedophiles thrived for so many years. There is a code of silence and if you break it, there is a certain breed of Catholics who will turn against you.     Knowing you will be thrown to the wolves keeps most Catholics silent.   It is a spiritual sickness  -- the mentality of cult.

I've talked about it before but it has reared its ugly head again and I think it is important to take a new refreshing approach - talking openly about it.

It is one thing to have the Boston Globe take what you're doing and mischaracterize it to incite a riot.  When Catholics do it, and Catholics who portray themselves as examples of fidelity to follow, we have to start talking about the consequences of this unspoken policy.

The bad news is, these two well known apostolates  HERE and HERE were invloved in this recent example.

Here are the rules to apostolate #1.

We want to host a constructive but civil discussion among mature adults. With that in mind: 

1. No name calling or personal attacks; stick to the argument, not the individual. 

2. Assume the goodwill of the other person, especially when you disagree. 

3. Don't make judgments about the other person's sinfulness or salvation. You are not the Inquisition. 

4. Within reason, stick to the topic of the thread; no conversation hijackers, please. 

5. Encouraging or threatening violence against anyone will get you banned immediately. 

6. If you don't agree to the rules, don't post. 

We reserve the right to block or edit (tone, not content) any posts that violate our usage rules. And we will freely ban any commenters unwilling to abide by them.

Isn't blocking or banning actually do you say....... purging?

Would it be fair to say that in general poor Rachel Zoll didn't get the benefit of the assumption of good will?   Look, I am not naive when secular press wants to do a story on Catholics.  The AP story was in the works for a couple of weeks and when I got the heads-up that it was going out on the wire, I told the Boston blogging community here's hoping we won't need to retreat to the bunker stocked with Raemen noodles.  But when an article goes to press, I give the journalist the benefit of the doubt.  We were aactually very happy with the article here in Boston.

Further, do these comments "assume the good will" of parents who are no longer willing to sweep spiritual abuse under the cult carpets?:

there are always going to be people who go to extremes...
Certainly there are bloggers out there who do see conspiracies in every chancery... 
and I don't necessarily agree with some of the approaches described in the article...
the article goes too far in lumping together a wide range of conservative/traditional/right-wing/insert-adjective-here bloggers under this shady "new breed" banner. You can find extremists everywhere...

What is personally upsetting to this right wing insert adjective shady extremist hallucinating about conspiracies in every chancery, is that when this same apostolate was under attack several years back on the internet,  I spent a great deal of effort talking donors in off the ledge - and I mean big donors.     I also talked high ranking Catholics out of throwing them under the bus.  One day when I said things like linking Commonweal, the National Catholic Destroyer and other unsound things on the internet will lead people who are not in a state of grace to be further entrenched in their errors, I got a ride on a shoe!

I found out the hard way that there is some kind of secret list that "mature" or "civilized" people aren't allowed to talk about while your own apostolate has the mission of steering people away from spiritual error.

I would like to "insert" an "adjective" about how screwed up this is but I am too lady-like to say it.

Blogging is not always an exact science.   In   Boston, when planning strategy, or if we see something one of us has written or is doing, we talk to each other about it and each of us knows with 100% conviction that as flawed human beings we want to avoid hurting our Beloved and His Church, or our own souls, at all cost.  There is no contest of ego or implied threats that criticism will cost you a personal relationship or you may wind up going under the bus publicly in Christendom for it.  

Deal Hudson has been very supportive and helpful to our mission here.  He knows we have exhausted all avenues to rooting out spiritual abuse and we are doing what we have to do to get the Bishop to respond.  There are many great writers and works at the apostolate in question and I link to those frequently.  I bear no ill will.

But boy oh boy, women can sure be bitches.  

I asked one of our militants yesterday to spend some time stamping out  the fires of people who are getting caught up in the mischaracterizations of what we are doing and why.    

The other apostolate linked above resorted to another famous trick of Catholics who believe it is charity to leave children in the hands of spiritual abusers:  Accusing the poster of slander, threatening litigation but removing the post so that others can  not make a judgement.  She then goes on to explain that she is to be referred to as "Ma'am" or "fathead", etiquette the poster was unaware of, and this blogger went ahead and "purged"  her from further posting.

I am posting excerpts of her screeds that she claims are humble lessons in the spirit of Jesus on how not to caricature and mischaracterize people and their intentions.

She says one thing Zoll had going for her, was the likening of John Allen's characterization  of what we are doing as murdering terrorists.

See what you think about the rest of her humble observations:

Here's the humble picture she posted:

No purges in the family.

In fairness to Zoll, she did quote John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, who seems sympathetic to the portrait—it was he who invented the term “Taliban Catholicism”—but also mentioned that “liberals can fit the mindset, too . . . [S]ome left-leaning Catholics are outraged by any exercise of church authority.”
Caricature can be cruel—it is the bigot’s most-effective weapon—but it only works when the cartoon retains some recognizable elements of the subject, which, sadly, it does here.
So, it seems we have a Catholic blogosphere riddled with vengeful self-appointed guardians and the anti-authority raspberry-blowers who call names and make faces at them. Zoll’s piece borders on caricature, but we should think seriously about it, because it marks the state of the Body of Christ, and not becomingly...
We add to the broken body of Christ when we try to judge who is the “better sort” of Catholic, or who is doing damage to that body. We all do impressive jobs of bringing “scandal” to the church by our very passionate need to see things “made right” (as we see it) and by the ways in which we indict each other’s imperfections.
I acknowledge that one can occasionally “write mad” and deliver a bit more zing than one has meant to, although I personally have never gone after other bloggers pronouncing who should “stay” and who should “go,” which is what the gist of my piece is about. Determining the state of someone else’s soul is none of my business, and I’m not interested in going there...

Yes, there are extreme Catholic bloggers, “progressive” and “conservative,” who tread recklessly upon their fellow Catholics, and whose motto should read ego usus a blog quod ego sum fortis utor is.Yes, there are a handful of extreme Catholic bloggers to whom Jesus might say, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy. . .’.”
And, because they are extreme types, they will each assume that that line is meant for the “others”—the ones against whom they burnish the swords of righteousness; the ones they lampoon, often, unto snotty incoherence.
In fact, the line is meant for every one of us writing in the Catholic blogosphere, for no one manages perfect charity all the time. I am too cognizant of my own failings to believe I have any business drumming anyone else out of the church and I would venture that most Catholic bloggers, either “progressive” or “conservative,” feel similarly.
We add to the broken body of Christ when we try to judge who is the “better sort” of Catholic, or who is doing damage to that body. We all do impressive jobs of bringing “scandal” to the church by our very passionate need to see things “made right” (as we see it) and by the ways in which we indict each other’s imperfections.
End of excerpts.

Uncle Screwtape eat your heart out.

I posted the following, which she may remove, but I want to have my response on record:

"I  don't read  anything anywhere that accuses you of condoning spiritual abuse but it is clear that you consider the people who want to remove people who spiritually abuse children (or adults for that matter) as 'extremists' who want to 'purge' people and you don't ever want to say who gets to stay and who gets to go.

The rational conclusion of your position is that you believe people who spiritually abuse children and adults should not be removed from their positions. You pick up the mischaracterization of what we are doing and you call it a 'purge'.

You can't have it both ways.

Posting the consequences of your position is not slander.

n.b.   You are also wrong that people have to 'live with', which is more accurately described as 'tolerate' lay people who insist that anything but the status quo of leaving people in place who spiritually abuse Catholics is 'extremist', uncharitable or 'taliban'.

What the new breed of theological bloggers is saying and in fact doing, is when lay people, priests or bishops try to characterize a movement to remove people who spiritually abuse others as something uncharitable and sinister - we will lay out the dysfunction and consequences of children of your position.

Call the lawyer or call a holy war upon us, we are done being intimidated by it.

I apologize for being so forthright but I simply don't know how to say it any other way."

Whether you condone abuse or you try to set the tenor that the Catholic religion requires us to leave abusers in their positions doesn't make a dime's worth of difference to people being abused.


Roman Catholic Blogger said...

As far as the matter of Mercy, was Our Lord Merciful when He threw the money changers out of the Temple? Although Catholic bloggers try in earnest to use love in our words towards its offenders it is often difficult when the crime is the mutilation of Our Lord and Savior in His True Presence and His Church Teachings. I do not feel Roman Catholics should have to come to their own defense when their own & that of their children’s Faith is compromised. No matter who is doing the compromising.
As you say, all avenues have been exhausted in attempt to bring these offenses to a halt by going up the chain of Command within the hierarchy of the Church, now all that is left is hope & prayer that through the means of the Internet the right person with conviction and courage will read and take action. I myself have a file 5 inches thick with responses from different members of the hierarchy in the Archdiocese of Boston. It’s so nice to know so many are praying for me but I’d like more of a concrete answer to my issues.
50 years ago my Grandmother would tell me when I was being bullied, “sticks & stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. If we turn to the Truth, Christ, who cares what the editors, journalists and so called theologians think.
It’s evident an impact is being made, of course the “old boy” will do whatever he can to stop it…..I say Onward Catholic Crusaders! He is The Good Shepherd and He knows us & we know Him, what more can we ask for!

Anonymous said...

I desire mercy?

Am I reading this right?

Does Elizabrht Scalia think the bishops are being merciful when they appoint a proabortion nun to teach kids their religion?

Are parents and people like Elizabeth Scalia being merciful when they want generation after generation of Catholic kids be schooled by teachers and priests who make premarital and extramarital sex, condoms,abortion mature Catholic thought?

Who is it being merciful to?

Not the kids.

These things bring agony to God so she is not merciful to Him.

It isn't merciful to the soul doing the misleading as their salvation is in peril.

Who gets the benefit of the mercy?

WRECKOVATORS have taken over First Things.

If you notice the comments, what is really remarkable is there is a smackdown. Both Margaret and Scalia are told in no uncertain terms that a new era has been ushered in.

What a breath of fresh air this is for the Catholic Church!

Terry Nelson said...

Excellent post - you said it all. God bless!

Emmy Read said...


It has been a long time since I felt so energized.

You go girl!

Carol McKinley said...

I have been very open with my struggle (and ultimate surrender) to the teachings of the Church on contraception and the discipline of celibacy.

What I find most disturbing, is that our goals were twisted to imply we only want people in the pews who assent to the teachings of the Church. When in reality, our objectives are about getting people in teaching roles to either teach the interpretation of the Catholic faith and if they refuse, to replace them with somebody who does.

It is either deliberately being twisted or egos with low self-esteem trolling the internet pounced on this opportunity to make other people look uncharitable to replenish their own vanity.

We are a fight for the soul of our Church with those don't see the Church as a provider of sound teaching for salvation, but a place to provide others with fuzzy feelings - ultimately to make them feel good about themselves. At the price of other people's salvation.

This mortal creation is a counterfeit church that we are not going to hand off to the next generation.

All we care about at this point in time is gumming up and clamming up unsound teaching. This is the flare across the bow. Going forward, when priests and Bishops offer poison to souls, it will be publicly journaled in Boston (and other places).

It is the most effective tool we have to silence dissent at this time. When dissent is silenced, our children can't hear it and that is all we care about at this point in time in the history of the Church.

Line up and take your places. Stay, go, throw barbs and insults at those of us doing it. Knock yourselves out.

When we stand up to those barbs and insults and we keep on holding priests and bishops accountable for the souls they are accountable for, a hundred more will have the courage to do it with us. And so on and so forth.

They wanted us to "Arise in Christ", well congratulations. Here we are.

Carol McKinley said...

Thanks to everyone who has been praying, posting and emailing words of support and encouragement.

Jack O'Malley said...


Talk about feisty! Keep doing what you're doing. (Age quod agis). You're doing the opus Dei.

Vincemus! (We will win!) Like Constantine at the Milvian Bridge. Only this time it's the Catholics vs the masons. They shall be routed. From the cathedral, the basilicas, the chanceries, the churches, the schools. Ecclesia restaurabitur. (The Church shall be restored.)

Go mbeannaĆ­ Dia duit. (Irish for "God bless you.")

Anonymous said...

You are exactly right Carolyn.

I want the heretics out of positions of authority. They almost distroyed our church. I tell them if you don't like the teachings go to the UU church or the earth, moon and stars church or whatever...

Anonymous said...

that was me...Jasper