This is how it usually goes:
While going through puberty and young adulthood, Johnnie goes to St. Susannah's, listens to Fr. J and learns that the Pope is wrapped too tight, the teachings of the Church on human sexuality, contraception and whatever have you are antiquated. This is usually in spite of the fact that somebody, their mother, father, grandparents, teachers in school - somebody has constantly taught Johnnie truth from lies, right from wrong and planted the seeds. But Fr. J, he's the man, he's a priest - what do you know Mom!
Johnnie keeps going to Church and listening to Fr. J talk about how when Jesus died on the Cross, He saved us all!
That's right. There's no such thing as Hell. You don't have to pay attention to anything the Church teaches. Each of us makes up our own mind about whether something is good or bad, sin or virtue. When Christ said He had to return to Heaven so the Paraclete could come and guide us, He was talking about you and I.
One Sunday morning when the alarm went off at 7 am, Johnnie didn't feel like getting up and going to Church. He rolled out of bed, dragged himself into the powder room to brush his teeth and he looked at the paraclete in the mirror and said, "What am I DOING? I am already saved!", and he crawled back into bed.
After ten years of having difficulty weathering the storms in his life, he finds himself so miserable he starts to pray and goes back to Church. There's a solid priest who teaches him that when you love your family and friends you do things to please them - even when you don't understand why they want you to, or you don't feel like doing it -- and the same goes for God. The lights to the teachings of the Church go on.
Then something funny happens. He goes back to visit Fr. J and spends time explaining his enthusiasm and love for God. One day, about a week after teaching his 10th grade CCD class at Fr. J's at parish about Humanae Vitae and the moral theology of the Roman Catholic Church, he gets called into Fr. J's office. Johnnie learns parishioners are upset with him. Who is he to talk after all the immoral things he did in his life. He's a hypocrite. A zealot. A pharisee who cleans the cup on the outside but inside he's filthy. Johnnie gets the boot from Fr. J's parish.
When somebody wants to debunk Church teaching, they reach back into your past to find something scandalous you did to our Lord to make you look disingenuous.
Christ called people "pharisees" who teach truth and virtue people who clean their own cup on the outside but inside they're filthy.
But Christ was not talking about people who, after a conversion, uses the Sacraments to keep their souls in a state of grace and teaches truth and virtue.
I rarely read the National Catholic Reporter because seeing people scandalized is a near occasion of sin for me. I loathe what they are doing to Christ and to His people. I get dispirited. But this week, there are two stories that are really screwball, even for them.
One was a story written by Michael Sean Winters about Fr. Rober Sirico of EWTN. I never knew Fr. Sirico's history but apparently he was a protestant minister who belonged to a gay Church and performed gay marriages.
Like the rest of us who had a conversion, Fr. Sirico obviously surrendered this life at the foot of the cross when he flew to the Sacraments.
I have spoken about this numerous times in various settings. The concomitant development of my thoughts and spiritual life led to the abandonment of the left-wing ideas I held in that period and to my formal return to the Church. From that time some 35 years ago to the present I have faithfully believed in and practiced that faith.Winters goes on to excoriate Fr. Sirico here. I'll save you the agony and wading through the sewer of Winters mind and tell you his complaint. Fr. Sirico is sanctimonious.
And of course, Michael Sean Winters implies Fr. Sirico is gay.
But, the kicker for me in this story is that the National Catholic Reporter is a gay newspaper. What is a gay staff writing for a gay newspaper doing throwing somebody who used to do gay marriages under the bus?
Is Winters the staff homophobe?
Fr Sirico states his love for Christ eloquently:
As I have pondered these matters, I have come to one simple conclusion, and that is that I love the truth more than my freedom; indeed, that I love the truth more than myself, because it is only in the embrace of that Truth, Who is also the Way and the Life, that my own life will ever have any meaning or peace. I fully understand that for some people it is a difficult thing to say ‘yes’ to something that appears and even deeply feels, like a denial of one’s own self. Yet, that is precisely what Jesus asks of us. To say yes to the Cross is to say yes to the Risen One. As one prelate of the Second Vatican Council (Cardinal Journet) said, under different but for him no less arduous circumstances, “When one tears something dear away from us, and when this is demanded of us in the name of obedience – for a future which is yet hidden from us – one must say yes, one must be content in saying yes, one must be content even to feel suffering…But it is with happiness one suffers, for he has something to give to God.
How tragic is the bitterness of doing a smear campaign, even somebody who understands, is empathetic, who once even performed gay marriages - by virtue of the fact that the person turns their life over to Christ and the Catholic Church, NCR will do a smear campaign?
This is so low that I find it hard to believe that even the spiritually deprived readers of NCR will not find this despicable.
Tom Roberts has the second story -
It is obvious that Roberts is wild at the appointment of Archbishop Burke to cardinal-designate and goes on the attack.
Roberts gripes that AB Burke advocates for a standard of proof before removing a priest from his ministry for an allegation of sexual abuse. That's a pretty legal standard in civil law and canon law. AB Burke serves truth, justice and Christ.
Of course, people like Cardinal O'Malley and Tom Roberts trample the rights of accused and innocent priests - violating their civil and canonical rights--but they will get the reward they deserve on their day of judgment. Good luck with that.
I don't think AB Burke wants to be among that group and so he serves truth, justice and Christ.
The National Catholic Reporter is swimming in slime. It is an ugly sight.