Note to Angry People With Radical Solutions
Stop cursing at our bishops. I mean it. I’ve gotten some email with some nasty language in it directed at our bishops from folks who think they are upholding the Tradition but who are, in fact, forgetting that the Tradition says, in the words of James, “The anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God.” These men remain our fathers. Anger is fine. Who cannot be angry at these heinous sins of commission and omission. But to indiscriminately slam the entire American episcopate is just wrong.
Second, don’t start dumping rumors on me about Father Whosit or Bishop Whatsit. At least one such rumor, helpfully forwarded to me, I know for a fact to be an out and out lie. Also, no recommending Black Helicopter sites about The Great Conspiracy. Don’t mistake me for a Reactionary Dissenter a la the SSPX or various other cranky factions who hate this Pope (I think he bestrides the earth like a colossus and is a great saint), who have ingenious theories about Fatima and Vatican’s Orbital Mind Control Laser Platform that is controlling the brain of Sister Lucia, and who are convinced Vatican II and the Paul VI mass are the locus of evil in the universe. You’ve really got the wrong guy for this sort of thing. I’m not a Kindred Spirit for Reactionary Dissenters any more than I’m a Kindred Spirit for Call to Action or the rest of the Leftist Dissenters. Trust me. My goal is simply to be Catholic, full stop. As I told Amy Welborn, it appears to me that this crisis has brought out some of the worst qualities of left and right. In the clergy those qualities have worked together so that Push The Envelope liberals have committed new and vile sins and Don’t Rock the Boat conservatives have made sure that they can go on committing them. In the laity, it has given a new lease on life to factionalists of all stripes, so that leftist dissenters can (inexplicably) call for a Church that looks and acts even more like Paul Shanley (a sort of spiritual euthanasia approach) while reactionary dissenters continue their stunning pattern of putting the priests and bishops (and even the Pope) who are most likely to be able to do something about this in the crosshairs.
Each dissenting extreme can always point to some legitimate gripe that will justify their extremism. Yes, O Leftist, there is a culture of stupid secrecy among conservative clerics. Democratizing the Church in the image of Paul Shanley will not, however, fix that. Yes, O Reactionary, there are loopy idiot clergy and Catholics who don’t know the Eucharist from a Happy Meal. Inculcating a culture of fear, gossip, squinting and sectarianism will not fix that.
The solution is the authentic teaching of the Church as it is articulated by the Holy Father, by the Councils (including Vatican II) and as it is beautifully described in the Catechism. This means not only orthodoxy, but love (a quantity markedly absent from the extremists on either end of the spectrum). “Radical solutions” have, in my experience, a 100% failure rate. I stand with JPII. If you want to understand me, start there.