Oh, for dumb!

Apologies to Tom Hoopes. I completely misread the line I quoted from his piece. Therefore I deleted my blog on his article that was below. Here is a letter from Tom:

Yipes! “I swear … if I didn’t know that this crisis wasn’t the product of media manipulation, I’d be tempted to believe that this crisis was simply the product of media smoke and mirrors” becomes, in your blog, “According to the Hoopes, it turns out the Situation is “the product of media manipulation.”

That’s blog manipulation.

[Shea's note: Not quite. Just reading too fast.]

Here’s what I really feel about the Situation: the bishops have been allowing men with tendencies toward sexual sins to get ordained, and they need to stop it. BUT …

The Associated Press sent out its reporters to every diocese and counted up all the charges of priests’ misconduct of any kind with minors and came up with … less than one half of 1% of priests.

I don’t know of anybody who’s been saying there’s an epidemic of abusive priests. Certainly no blogger I know says this and I would call anybody a fool who says there is some mythical massive outbreak of abusive priests. The numbers I’ve heard are around 200 or so out of a pool of 47,000. So this is a red herring. The problem (which I’m afraid you are brushing past with a quick nod) is the bishops who have dealt with this small number so terribly, terribly irresponsibly and who would not, but for the press, have *ever* been called to account. That’s just the facts, Tom.

A) I agree that even that is far, far too many, and, as I said, the bishops can stop more of it …

The bishops can also do a much more credible job of taking responsibility for their sins and not, as for instance, Cardinal Mahony has, go around telling the press that they were champions of “zero tolerance” for a decade when it is a matter of public record that they were putting abusers in charge of their cathedrals and only cutting them loose when the media turned their scrutiny on them.

B) But it isn’t the huge scandal that’s the worst thing since the Reformation that everyone’s pretending it is. Abortion by Catholics is a far bigger scandal, and the biggest scandal of all is the abandonment of the sacrament of Confession (as the Pope’s letter to priests, which every one pooh-poohed, said so eloquently). One means killing kids; the other means killing souls.

C) And I, for one, am not going to play the game that pretends that these few freaky priests (the Associated Press admits that you have to count cases going back decades to get even half of 1%) are the Big Problem Today while the communion lines lengthen and the confessional lines disappear and few are they who dare say a word about contraception.

Basic rule of confession: confess our own sins, not somebody elses. Again, I don’t care about “rate the magnitude” games. So what if the Scandal is not as big as the Reformation? So what if abortion is a bigger issue? I agree that it is and that the neglect of confession is very bad. But so what? The sins of a considerable number of bishops are so grave and their betrayals so shocking that they have managed to render the Church in the United States a mute moral voice in addressing these grave problems. *I* listen to what they are saying when they articulate the Tradition because I know that when they do so, they are not speaking with their own–often pathetic–moral authority, but with the voice of Christ. So do all orthodox Catholics. But yer average ill-catechized, TV-suckled, clueless Catholic (and still less you average non-Catholic) doesn’t know this (partly because of the miserable catechesis they have received from the bishops). All he knows is “Why should I care what a bunch of pervert protectors think?” Sorry. But that’s what life in the trenches is like for most of us lay Catholics who are trying to answer the question “why be a Catholic?” The bishops have made the task of evangelization a whole lot harder. And when we say, in their defense, “Well, at least they aren’t abortionists” that is not what I would call a ringing affirmation of their moral authority. So instead of pointing to other people’s sins, we in the Catholic press should lay blame where blame is due when we speak of this matter. It’s the bishops who are, by Bp. Gregory’s own admission, the primary engine of this Scandal. And when they ask Clinton’s lawyer to keep them honest, they do not inspire confidence that they are capable of or serious about learning how to do their office properly so as to avoid future problems.

D) Also: since you said you like Tom Hoopes I should mention that I like Mark Shea. Top-notch. We need more like him.Keep up the good work.

From the Apostles at Gethsemane to the Galatian and Corinthian presbyters, from the time of Tertullian and Origen to the time of Luther, from the sacking of Constantinople to culture of death America, God help us, the Church has been ruled by sinners. And thank you, God, for helping us. As for me and my household, we defend the Church — not a magical mystery Church, but the visible one that’s endured it all.

Thanks for your kind words. The same to you too. We both wish to defend the Church and that’s a huge thing that separates us from those who earnestly wish to destroy her. Thanks for being on the side of the angels. And again, apologies for misreading you.


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