The Catholic gun didn't go off: Silence greets Dallas News series

lighthouseOnce there was a man who lived in a lighthouse on the foggy Atlantic.

That’s the start of a very, very old sermon illustration. I thought of it this past weekend as I read the first chunks of the sprawling Dallas Morning News reports on the globalization of the clergy sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. I’ve been on the road for several days and I leave the country for a week tomorrow, so I am reading and typing fast.

Back to the sermon illustration. As the story goes, this lighthouse had a gun that sounded a warning every hour. The keeper tended the beacon and kept enough shells in the gun so it could keep firing. After decades, he could sleep right through the now-routine blasts. Then the inevitable happened. He forgot to load extra shells and, in the dead of night, the gun did not fire.

This rare silence awoke the keeper, who leapt from bed shouting, “What was that sound?”

What does this have to do with the Dallas series? That’s simple. The series seems to be breaking new ground but the mainstream press, and even the always lively world of Catholic bloggers, seem to be greeting it with silence. Chilly silence? Can’t really tell yet.

For those who are not following the action, here is the opening of today’s story by reporters Brooks Egerton and Brendan M. Case. They have been working on this investigation for 18 months.

The Mexican bishop had trouble on his hands. An attacker had nearly killed one of his priests, whose sexual misconduct was well known to the bishop. And now villagers were telling police about a stream of young male visitors to the priest’s parish residence.

The U.S. bishop had a different problem: a lack of Spanish-speaking priests to serve a growing immigrant population. And so, in 1987, the Rev. Nicolás Aguilar got a fresh start in Southern California. Just nine months later, he was on the move again, leaving behind one of the largest child sexual abuse cases in Los Angeles Archdiocese history. Again, scandal was contained with the priest hiding abroad.

Father Aguilar’s tale of international flight fits a pattern that Catholic Church leaders have repeated around the world, a yearlong Dallas Morning News investigation has found.

The other names in this story are huge — Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, the leader of largest U.S. diocese. And Father Aguilar did not slip away quietly, according to the Dallas News series. It continues:

After dodging criminal charges in California, where police said he had molested at least 26 boys, he was charged in a 1997 Mexican abuse case. Church leaders kept him in ministry while the matter was pending and even after his conviction in 2003. Recently, he was spared punishment on a technicality, a Mexican judge said.

Cardinal Rivera did not respond to written requests for information. Cardinal Mahony declined to be interviewed. The reporters did not stop there and you can read the results of their pursuit for yourself.

So what is going on here? Let me say out loud what a cynic might say.

This is not a sexy story anymore. And the Boston Globe owned the old story, two years ago. The Globe has the Brand Name nailed down.

The U.S. bishops have done something and discussing whether they did the right things gets complicated. We are headed into an election year and the sacramental status of Sen. John Kerry is getting the Catholic ink. People are tired of the story and it does not sell newspapers, magazines or books. The Catholic left has reasons to be silent and so does the Catholic right. We don’t have sexy art, yet.

There’s more, I am sure. And I missing something?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://bettnet.dyndns.org/blog/weblog.php Domenico Bettinelli Jr.

    Well, Terry, not every Catholic blogger has been silent about it as I’ve been writing about it since before the story broke, but like you I’m wondering why everyone else seems so quiet. Are they just tired of the whole mess? Have we moved on from cataloging the offenses of the bishops and wayward priests to asking, “Yeah, but now what?” Perhaps, we’ve become so jaded that more of the same doesn’t get the blood pumping and the pen loses its poison. What’s interesting is that I’ve even started to get a backlash from people, the same old “anti-Catholic” media rant that tries to dismiss the story as pumping up something that’s not that big of a deal.

  • http://foothills.wjduquette.com Will Duquette

    Perhaps it’s just that we’ve wanted to think of it as an American problem, not a Catholic problem-that the American church might be ill, but there’s health elsewhere. And now we see that it’s a world-wide problem. And that leaves me, personally, shocked and dismayed, and not quite ready yet to really confront the enormity of it all. Perhaps others are in the same boat?

  • http://fructusventris.stblogs.org alicia the midwife

    I don’t see there being a big silence on this, not at all. But we are truly burned out on the topic, and many of us feel so helpless that we are praying more and blogging less.

  • Ken

    I don’t know that it’s so much a matter of burnout or cynicisn as it is that this story is really more of what we have heard for 2 years now. Ok, the Morning News found 200 religious order priests worldwide who’ve been protected by their superiors, but we already knew the religious orders hadn’t been investigated. Did anyone not know that? We know that some percentage of priests engage in this behavior. We know that some religious superiors protect them. We’ve known this for about 20 years now, although the last 2 years have brought a lot more information out into the light. Did anyone think these things didn’t apply to religious orders as much as to diocese? What the Morning News is doing is adding to an existing pool of information, not creating a whole new pool.

    Assuming these articles are accurate and fair, don’t equate accusation with guilt, and at least shoot for some context, they are doing a good thing. Perhaps the relevant question, however, isn’t whether this story gets special treatment on Nightline or whether people talk about it at the office (no one is talking about it at my office, by the way). The relevant question, in my opinion, is whether this series of stories is actually helpful to people who really care about and work for the well-being of children. Will it actually make things better for children?

  • Rod Dreher

    Part of me wonders if the silence from the Catholic street, so to speak, comes from a sense of futility. We’ve lived through a disaster in the American church since 2002, and despite all the new programs, and audits, and so forth, the same bishops who brought us the scandal are still in place (except when they themselves got outed for sexual corruption, e.g., Rembert Weakland, Anthony O’Connell). The Pope hasn’t done jacksquat to address the problem with anything remotely like the vigor with which it should be addressed (and please, spare me the “he’s old” business; he fought like a lion to prevent the Iraq War). The visitation of seminaries that the Vatican promised? Hasn’t happened, and won’t happen.

    Meanwhile, the man and woman in the pew know there is very damn little they can do in our church to effect change. They can leave … or they can take it, like all of us who choose to remain do. I yell my head off, but it does no good, and anyway, very, very few of us have platforms of any size. I guess the only thing one can do is to find a parish where one thinks one’s children are safe, and where one can stand the preaching, and just do what you can. Which is very damn little, so why get excited about anything anymore…?

    I think the ultimate value in what the DMN is doing with this series is simply bearing witness. One of these days, the rotten system we have that coddles and protects child-molesting clergy will shamble on will collapse of its own rottenness, and the Holy Spirit will send us true reform. Until that day comes, the Church will be told what it is doing. Somebody has to record these things, and let it be known to the bishops and archbishops and leaders of religious orders, the whole sorry lot of them, that We Are On to Them.

    That’s worth something, innit?

  • Disciple44

    As a victim of the scandal, I find the largely blaise sentiments expressed here morally repulsive. As more and more comes out, the RCC is being revealed to be the largest and longest running child molestation and rape protection and promulgation racket in the history of humanity. There is no distinction between the way the hierarchy has behaved for at least 1700 years and what Catholics believe. Doctrine, in point of fact, has caused the abuse to flourish and make no mistake about the last 25 plus years of this happening going all the way to the top, The Unholy Pontiff himself. Even if we were to assume that there is a distinction, just as a rapist is defined by his offense and not his theological beliefs, the RCC has defined itself with my above description and not what it claims to hold.

    At this point, with everything that has been revealed, I think that any Catholic parent that exposes their children to the RCC is irresponsible and should be held legally accountable should harm come their child’s way, since you have all been given more than adequate warning of the fact that your children are no safer now from so-called priests than before the scandal exploded

    If the RCC were a daycare conglomerate, it would have already been closed and most of the hierarchy would be in prison.

    Being tired of hearing about what is behind the scandal and being in denial of its magnitude is tantamount to being tired of the safety of your children.

    I have a great deal more to write, but that should be enough for now.

  • Another Clergy Abuse Victim

    I can understand the apathy growing from all of the so-called coverage this scandal has been given. Catholics mostly just sit there saying, “Gee, what can we do about it.” QUIT GIVING MONEY TO THE CHURCH. Then I bet, that will get significant press coverage!

  • caroline

    First it’s only four days old. Also the stories are complex. The Salesian story seems to be causing quite an uproar in Australia and especially in Samoa. And the Salesians seem very upset about it. Wait till it hits a religious order near you.

  • dpt

    >>Part of me wonders if the silence from the Catholic street, so to speak, comes from a sense of futility.<<

    I think this captures some of the reaction to the DMN series.

    I think Catholics are facing varying degrees of turmoil. Many have very positive and favorable experiences with the Church as a whole and priests. I have nothing but fond memories of being an altar boy and, in the past few years, I aam appreciative of the support our parish priest pprovided us in our marriage.

    We see all the goodness the Church provides each day in educating, feeding, and housing the poor throughout the world. We know many religious brothers and sisters are martyred each year because of their Faith.

    Yet in light of all this goodness, we encounter great evils within our Church too, especially for me, the inaction, cover ups, or perhaps criminality of far too many bishops and cardinals.

    Perhaps those of us removed from first hand knowledge and experience associated with clerical sexual abuse have failed our fellow Catholics by not demanding more accountability of bishops and cardinals.

    Satan is a divisive creature and has clearly caused damage to our Church and to far too many souls.

  • Patrick Rothwell

    Here’s my take on the silence. First, the American public doesn’t give a rat’s ass if a kid gets abused by a priest outside the U.S. – even if it’s in London. Second, the Dallas Morning News doesn’t have the ability to tip national news coverage that the large East Coast dailys do. That may be fair or unfair, but that’s the lay of the media land.

    The third and final reason has to do with the psychology of media-driven hysteria. There was a media stampede in 2002 that demanded nothing less than “zero tolerance,” the fall of Cardinal Law and others like him, women priests, married priests, and the whole liberal agenda else (in their view) the entire Catholic Church must collapse from within or be destroyed from without. Well, the lynch mob got their piece of meat at least in part and moved on to the next story. Cardinal Law fell, a zero tolerance policy was enacted, and the National Review Board made their findings public almost 2 years later. Those things, in retrospect, dissipated the hysteria, a state of mind that can only last so long. Had the hysteria been toned down, and instead a slow steady drumbeat of disclosures a’ la Watergate, things might have been different. As it is, the human interest in the sexual abuse scandal simply cannot be sustained at the level that it was, even if there continues to be big judgments and church, for better and for worse.

    For what it’s worth, the one thing that I see that’s different from the same old, same old coverage from the DMN is the suspicion that some bishops – and it is only the American bishops that are relevant for American readers – may have deliberately facilitated priests with arrest warrants to evade arrest by sending them across international borders. That is potentially obstruction of justice and something that bishops might be appropriately prosecuted for. That, however, has not been proved, at least in the United States, yet. And, even if it is proved, the public now won’t give a flying you-know-what, for better and for worse. I’ll bet that the Sunday photograph by and large didn’t elicited gasps, but rather ribald “har-hars” and thoughts of how clever the DMH was to get such a blatantly emotionally manipulative photograph from the perp.

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom

    I know nothing that everyone doesn’t know about how the mainstream press picks up stories, but I don’t see anything news-cycle critical in the DMN series. As Patrick says, Americans don’t care what happens outside the U.S., so there’s no immediate need to run a digested version of the DMN stories.

    As for Catholic bloggers, there’s not much to be blogged that hasn’t already been blogged. And what is anyone going to say about Cardinal Mahony — the one major American figure mentioned in this week’s stories — that could be any more disparaging than what has already been said?

    There is also a line between a story that is important and a story that is self-important, and I think the DMN — with dark hints of secrets to be revealed and splashy special web features — may have crossed it.

  • http://www.pitt.edu/~edwst7/log Funky Dung

    What kind of reaction do you want? Shock? Horror? Disappointment? Righteous indignation? I can’t speak for all the Catholic bloggers in the world, but my intellect and emotions are “saturated” with this issue. I don’t know if I’m capable of being more saddened and worried about this problem. After a certain point, pain ceases to increase as torture increases. The nervous system can only stand so much constant high-level input before hitting a reaction plateau.

    Believe me, I care – a lot. I was raised a Lutheran, drifted into agnosticism, and eventually, by the grace of God and the witness of good friends, became a Catholic four years ago. I believe the Church maintains and transmits Truth. Every disgraceful leader, every public sin, and every controversy hurts me. The Church isn’t just some abstract institution. It’s made of people, some ordinary, some extrordinary, and, unfortunately, some infamous. When people within and without the Church denegrate it, its members are being denegrated too. An attack against Her is an attack against me.

    Why am I silent, you may ask. Well, like “alicia the midwife” said, “we are truly burned out on the topic, and many of us feel so helpless that we are praying more and blogging less.” What change can I effect by blogging about this? I’d be preaching to the choir and/or yelling into the wind.

    What can I do? What must I do? “Another Clergy Abuse Victim” would have us stop giving money to the Church. “Disciple44″ would have us dismantle the entire Church since there’s supposedly “no distinction between the way the hierarchy has behaved for at least 1700 years and what Catholics believe”. Neither of these options is worth any serious consideration. Instead of working for change from within and persevering through adversity, we ought to scrap the Church and start fresh somewhere else, they say. Been there, done that. It was called the Protestant Reformation. The Church has survived persecution, war, heresy, self-serving autocrats, and apathy. It will survive this travesty, for “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18b).

    I will pray for the Church, Her leaders, and those who follow them. I will teach my children (when I have any) the Truth with the help of the Holy Spirit, my wife, and my friends. I will be active in my parish. I will work to redeem the priesthood in any way I can, including bringing offenders, and those who protect them, to justice. I’m not sure what else a faithful Catholic can be realistically expected to do.

    I said that the Church is a body of people who are wounded by scandals and attacks. This is especially true for priests. I know several very good priests. Their reputations have been dragged through the mud because of recent revelations and the media’s treatment of them. Wherever they go in their “uniform”, they know that some, if not many, of the people who see them wonder if they’re “one of *them*”. No respectable, hard-working priest wants to be prejudged based on the disgusting behavior of 5% of his profession any more than every police officer wants to be portrayed as a donut-obsessed racist. Before you paint everybody in a group with the same brush, imagine walking a mile in their shoes.

    I think Luke 8:22-25 applies here.

    22: One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out,

    23: and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger.

    24: And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm.

    25: He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even wind and water, and they obey him?”

    We are in the middle of a terribles storm and we are terrified. We must not lose hope and think that the Church is a sinking ship. We must have faith that Christ is guiding and protecting Her.

  • maryrose

    The impotence on the part of Catholic laity bespeaks years of tradition, Catholics waiting for an “authority” to act. Why such an outcry of frustration that nothing can be done? Do you not serve on parish councils? Can you consider holding back money from the bishop until this scandal is dealt with satisfactorily? Can you challenge your parish priest to address FROM THE PULPIT issues of justice WITHIN THE CHURCH, such as women priests, mandatory celibacy etc. With the laity lingering around helplessly hurt and increasiningly cynical, we will go back to the Middle Ages.

  • maryrose

    The impotence on the part of Catholic laity bespeaks years of tradition, Catholics waiting for an “authority” to act. Why such an outcry of frustration that nothing can be done? Do you not serve on parish councils? Can you consider holding back money from the bishop until this scandal is dealt with satisfactorily? Can you challenge your parish priest to address FROM THE PULPIT issues of justice WITHIN THE CHURCH, such as women priests, mandatory celibacy etc. With the laity lingering around helplessly hurt and increasiningly cynical, we will go back to the Middle Ages.

  • http://www.pitt.edu/~edwst7/log Funky Dung

    Why are people so hasty to assume that women priests and married priests would be a panacea for the Church’s ills? Other Christian denominations have problems with wayward shepherds. They don’t get the press the Catholic Church does because they lack its degree of global infrastructure and public presense. Furthermore, because they are smaller, even if they have a similar percentage of bad apples, they will have fewer in total.

    Celebacy in the priesthood is a discpline, not a doctrine. I wouldn’t want to see it disappear, but I’m not entirely opposed to married priests. On the other hand, just about every “preacher’s kid” I’ve ever met has been pretty messed up. It seems that combining two sacramental vocations, marriage and holy orders, and dividing attention between the needs of children and parishoners isn’t healthy. While I worry about possible consequences, I’m not dead set against it, and neither is the Church (witness Byzantine Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox).

    Maleness in the priesthood is doctrinal and a very different matter. Supporting women priests is not justice. It is not helpful. It is mission creep and has no place in the clean-up of the current mess. Using a crisis to advance so-called “progressive” teachings is counterproductive at best and destructive at worst. It would definitely impair, if not sever, relations with the Orthodox. It might split the Church and send us down the same path the Anglicans walked. They nearly split over ordination of women. They then embraced ordination of active homosexuals. They might yet split over that.

    On a side note, why does mission creep seem to be such a problem among liberals? For instance, I can’t go to an anti-war rally without hearing from pro-aborts, the homosexual lobby, and vegetarians. As an ex-liberal gone moderate, I’m more tuned to liberal problems. Is this a big problem amongst conservatives?

  • Another Clergy Abuse Victim

    My comment about not giving money was in response to the authors original remarks about how the public has been “brow-beat” enough about the scandal, and it’s aftermath.

    If the press is looking to find the next sensational story about all of this, follow what happens when the laity decides to take appropiate action against those who caused this mess. To go back to “business as usual” would be the only true crime in this whole scandal.

  • Paul Scholl

    The pedophile problem did not start with the priests.

    A powerful question to be asked is- “Will one or more pedophile cardinals attend the next Consistory?? If so, could one be elected Pope?

    A disgusting, shocking thought?

    Sure is, but look at the shocking, disgusting revelations in the past two years!!!

  • Paul Scholl

    Continued-

    Some priests have revealed that they were abused by a priest. So some of those priest abusers could be Bishops, and then Cardinals.

  • MizMarie

    I am a clergy abuse survivor and I applaud this series for several reasons.

    1. The series is very aptly revealing what survivors already know is not only an American Problem- it is a worldwide problem because the church is worldwide. And it is ultimately trhe responsibilty of the Vatican to take care of it- which it has not done. The bishops in the US serve the same Vatican that isn’t doing much about this.

    2. This is the tip of the iceberg, folks, both here in the US and in the world. Sorry some of you are tired of hearing about it, but many of us survivors are working hard to get ALL the truth out. This series is helping in getting another part of the truth out. Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children and adults have been sexually assaulted and tortured by men and women who professed to be representatives of Christ. And don’t think it can’t happen to one of the children in your life- 1 in 4 people are sexually assaulted by the time they are 21.

    3. What can the people in the pews do- get together and demand until you are heard that your bishops and cardinals stop hiding behind the law and legal manuevers and be the shepherds Christ called them to be- to love mercy, to support justice and to walk humbly before their God.

  • http://www.pewlady.com Kelly Clark

    I really hate when anybody, even you, Dom, suggests that I’ m “jaded.”

    This isn’t an “anti-Catholic” rant. It’s an honest question about the reporters of the DMN.

    What’ s up with Brooks Egerton? Is he an objective reporter or does he have an ax to grind? I’m still wondering what the answer is If I’m wrong, and the folks who are in doubt are wrong, for cripes sakes, say it.

    If not then let’s face it — we’re looking at somebody who isn’t exactly what you’d call “objective.”

  • Daniel Muller

    1. Yes, I am tired and jaded. Does my expression of that uplift anyone or change the problem in se in any way? That is why I did not bother to post it. As the bumper stickers say, stop talking and start driving: stop posting and start praying.

    2. I have a different — more Catholic, and, unfortunately, more informed — point of view than The Dallas Morning News. From where I see both much more horror (remember our diocesan “spokes””man” the Reverend Mr. Bronson “malign ‘em if you cannot sue ‘em” Havard, who said, “I KNOW A LOT OF [hard-working priests who turned out to be] PEDOPHILES”) than in these puny articles — and much more hope in the sacrifice of the Cross and redeeming grace.

    3. The Dallas Morning News loves to take a holier-than-thou view that is more than a bit obnoxious. It used to have a “thumbs-up, thumbs-down” review each Saturday in which it judged the world, event by event, with two sentences given to each of perhaps six to ten news stories. St. Peter (and St. Patrick) should have such an efficient secretary! Its editorial policy lamely espouses that elusive Aristotelian mean, even in abortion; it is a good thing they could not have taken Solomon’s place before the two alleged mothers; that baby would have been cut in two for sure, to their predictable thumbs-up satisfaction. Finally, it accepts advertisements for same-sex commitments/ marriages/ love-ins ‘cuz, as the so-articulate so-old-family so-self-importantly Catholic publisher said: well, everybody else is doing it. That was enough to convince me; I cancelled my subscription.

    4. The Web log postings I have seen — I especially refer to those previewing the article — are way overheated compared to what was actually published. And what was published in turn was sensationalized. The archbishop of Tegucigalpas papabile? Please.

    Daniel Muller

    Dallas

  • http://crowhill.net/blog GregK

    At a certain point you get numb

    There are two scandals in the Catholic Church today. The first is the sex offender thing. The second is that it doesn’t shock us anymore. We’re like a woman who has forgotten how to blush.

    Here’s my reaction to the sex-abuse scandal. I have absolutely no respect for the episcopate. No matter what they say, I don’t care — except for its possible value as humor. They have lost all credibility. If they tell me what time it is, I’ll check my watch.

    Yes, yes, I know. Some pious Catholic is going to tell me about my religious duty to give them umpty bump deference in diddly-do circumstances and all that. I simply don’t care. No string of complicated ecclesiastical arguments can convince me that I owe these clowns anything but derision. Or maybe a few yawns.

    In the words of Pink Floyd, “I have become comfortably numb.”

  • Wooderson

    Perhaps I’m obtuse, but I’m having trouble seeing a connection between priests who participate in deviant sexual practices and the need for women priests. The latter is unproven as a corrective and lumping the two together under the increasingly meaningless rubric of “justice” does violence to common sense and church tradition.

    The question of an all-male priesthood has never been one of “social justice” for the church, it’s been one of theology, including christology and ecclesiology (and proof-texting scripture is not doing theology). Reasonable people may differ on theology, of course, but that is the forum in which it must be addressed, and outside the (understandably) fevered discussion regarding priestly pedophiles and their episcopal enablers.

    Unlike the question of female priests, pedophilia is quite literally an issue of justice in both a moral and criminal sense. I think we can all be thankful that Rome does not regard the practice of pedophilia as a fundamentally theological issue, open for discussion amongst reasonable theologians. Clumsily dragging pet causes into the arena will not address either the propensity of certain priests to commit heinous acts or the irresponsibility of bishops who enabled them. It will, instead, encourage Catholic apologists to blame “the system” or “the Church” or “centuries of injustice”, but not sinful men, priests and bishops, doing sinful things.

    With apologies to Fr. Neuhaus, this is an issue of “Fidelity, Fidelity, Fidelity.”

  • JohnH

    The only thing worse than the scandal is how some are using the scandal to try to push their own agendas that have nothing to do with the scandal. An example of this agenda-pushing is women priests. Women are ontologically incapable of receiving the sacrament of holy orders. That is a fact.

    Jesus said that the wolves would remain among the sheep until He comes again. The few pedophiles, and the more numerous homosexual and heterosexual abusers of minors, are wolves in the flock. The bishops who didn’t oust them are bad shepards.

    It doesn’t comfort me to know that the percentage of priests who are abusers is less than that of the general population, or of other denominations. It would if the bishops hadn’t looked the other way. However, I know that there have been worse times for the episcopacy in the history of the Church, and when things get seem to be getting horrible – that is when the Lord will send the Spirit to renew her.

  • Jonathan

    Wooderson, Did you miss the point? The fact that the question of women priests (as well as other questions) have never been considered a question of social justice is just the point. I’m not sure what you mean by “doing theology,” but most know that it is an ongoing study that reflects the teachings of Jesus as we understand them. We no longer try to justify slavery, for example, through the Bible, as many once did, because we understand it in the light of the New Testament. Do you think theology is a dead book? And as far as Church tradition goes, just review Jesus’ views on tradition.

  • Wooderson

    Jonathon, my point is that the church’s view on the ordination of women is more theologically nuanced and carefully reasoned than those who would lump it into a catch-all social justice category – as if violence would not be done, for instance, to the church’s Christology. This may be a minor point to those with an over-weaning concern for matters of social justice, however they wish to define it. For the church, concerned as it is with matters doctrinal, the temptation to add any number of innovations to the church’s teaching (in the name of social justice or whatever) and the importance of keeping those teachings both logically and historically consistent is, I suspect, of great importance.

    I’m always surprised when I see comments disparaging tradition among people who choose to discuss Church doctrine. That, it would seem to me, is surely missing the point (though you would find many friends amongst both liberal and evangelical protestants). If the notion that church tradition is offensive, irrelevant or suspect, then our premises are fundamentally different and so, therefore, will our conclusions be. Or course, such comments are usually appended with references to Jesus’ apparent negativity toward tradition. In both Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ expressed contempt for the tradition of the Pharisees in light of the commandments of God. It is certainly your perogative to generalize about tradition from this, but I’d suggest a pit stop at 2 Thess. 2:15 and 3:6 before heading too far down that road.

  • the rachels

    May I respond to some of the sentiments expressed here regarding women in the church as a “justice” issue (however clearly or unclearly this issue is understood to relate to the central present scandal of the Church)?

    My observation of women in the Church suggests to me that one place the Blessed Mother can be found today is in the women who profess to be called to a ministry to which they are refused. They cannot find the sought-for-place to give birth to their spirits. I have admired so many who have found a humble abode to give birth to the Incarnate, and I hope one day these faithful women are named.

  • Marion R.

    Why the silence?

    The answer is simple.

    The new victims are not middle-class white american adherents of neo-gnostic therapeutic vitimizationism.

    They might as well live in the Sudan.

  • JohnH

    the rachels – sounds like something Sister Mary Biko (see: http://thoroughlymodernmary.blogspot.com/ ) would say.

  • http://www.michigancatholic.blogspot.com michigancatholic

    the rachels–that’s manure and you know it or you wouldn’t think it “cutting edge” to say it. Get a job.

  • catholic too

    michigancatholic: God does still send “polished

    quivers,” you know. Maybe that’s the cutting

    edge you feel. The anger, presumption, and disrespect behind your statement to the rachels is blinding.

  • Myles Rease Parton

    The Dallas Morning News apparently has true anti-Catholic bigots on its staff. In three different episodes this summer there have been articles with a dubious relationship to accuracy designed to stir up outrage at the church over things that are either far past,or never happened. It seems a true search for facts is too much work, and a tabloid-type approach to sell papers and hurt the church is all that is wanted at the Dallas News.After all, the church makes an easy target and Christian people are not necessarilly conforming to the popular or the politcally correct.

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