I Don’t Buy the “Armchair Quarterback” view of Rod’s Complaint

A reader objects that “What’s most troubling to me is the attitude of those who, from their armchairs, think themselves able to outdo the Pope, a man of known brilliance and sanctity, on matters of prudential judgment.”

I reply that the Persians debated every matter twice: once when sober, once when drunk. There’s wisdom in that. A view of a volatile situation from a great height is valuable. So is a view from Ground Zero. The Pope has a crucial perspective we don’t and (as I have argued on this blog) we ignore that fact to our peril if we allow entirely secular categories to dominate our minds and never consider the possibility that the Pope is acting out of some very basic principles in the Catholic Tradition in making this prudential judgment about whether to keep these bishops.


Somebody like Rod, who has had to deal with the lies of bishops, the suicides of victims, and the grief and rage of families has a hugely important perspective too. I think Rod’s voice is important here and not presumptuous. I think he clearly writes out of love for the Church (and for the Holy Father) and that his view from Ground Zero is *also* a perspective that must be heard. We are, after all, talking about a prudential judgment and, while it’s still a matter for debate about whether the Pope’s strategy is the best one, it’s absolutely certain that he’s not the only informed player here. On the whole I’m glad of Rod’s piece (which I’ve now read). I still disagree with him that the Pope is obviously failing to govern by choosing the course of action he has. But I think it vital that the cry of anguish he represents be heard. He is not writing from an armchair but from intimate familiarity with many of the victims most cruelly harmed by the abuse, neglect, and lies of our shepherds.