First the abuse scandal. When it began in the 80s it seemed to many that it was a direct result of the moral relativism that had dominated the Church for so long. At least that is what “orthodox” Catholics told themselves. That was a comforting narrative, no doubt, but I was skeptical, not least because I knew a guy from my seminary days who had been convicted of abusing a boy in his early teens.
The Wanderer had reported the story, or rather, distorted the story. In their wishful take on it, the man was a liberal, and what did you expect?
But he was most definitely not any kind of liberal. He was temperamentally conservative, politically conservative, and held to a conservative approach to theology. He thought I was a dangerous radical and I thought he was just another company man.
So I never took that self-serving interpretation seriously and at this point no one can make that case.
“What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” (Matthew 21:28-31)
No, I’m not approving the woman’s theology. But the fact is, she has remained in conversation with the Church while Faithful Conservative Hero Priest is ditching his vows, rebelling against his bishop, betraying his flock, and teaching them regard all this as “Catholic”. The simple narrative “Conservative=Faithful/Liberal=CINO” does not seem to pan out in reality. Faith means, first and foremost, “you stay” for Catholics. Anybody can yak about the Faith. Deeds, not words, are the key. Maciel was full of orthodox yak yak.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2* And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, * but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5* it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7* Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13)