What is meant by “nullifying the word of God with the traditions of men”

Here’s an example. When you criticize Bill Donohue for saying something stupid* and a reader replies:

Mark Shea is a Nancy Pelosi Catholic.

You’re not half the man Donahue is. You’re too cowardly to defend the faith like him. You seem to be yet another closet leftist infiltrating the Church to “save it” from orthodoxy.

Actually, I believe all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims is revealed by God and knowingly dissent from no teaching of the Church whatsoever. If any word, thought or deed of mine is not in conformity with Holy Church’s teaching, I pray God speedily correct me. And nothing I have ever said, so far as I know, would give a reader any reason to suppose otherwise. So why does this reader write something this a) dishonest, b) ignorant, or c) stupid?

Simple: they have elevated Bill Donohue’s opinions about stuff to “orthodoxy” and therefore elevated the doctrine that Questioning Bill Donohue has to mean “trying to save the Church from orthodoxy”. Rejecting orthodoxy is dissent. Nancy Pelosi is a dissenter. Therefore I am a Nancy Pelosi Catholic. QED. Oh, and Nancy Pelosi is a woman. Women are not half the man Bill Donohue is. Ergo I am not half the man Bill Donohue is. Always important to couple accusations of heterodoxy with accusations of, you know… “femininity”. Wink, wink.

People who say these sorts of things–always so ready, willing, and eager to kick others out of the Church for our alleged heterodoxy for the crime of not falling down and worshipping their Folk Hero–never seem to notice that Bearing False Witness Against Your Neighbor is, you know, an act of… what’s that word? ah! “dissent” against the eighth commandment. And rare indeed is the one who has ever come back to apologize and repent for telling me, on the basis of nothing other than Folk Hero Worship, that I am a dissenter from the Church’s teaching. What would be the point? They are, by definition, right. As some other Reactionaries put it long ago: “If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have handed him over.” And, of course, I’m only one tiny statistical sample. Again and again, we saw victims of abusers derided as “golddiggers“. We’ve watched as the critics of Maciel were slammed as enemies of the Faith. We saw Corapi’s bishop slimed as “satanic” for demanding he obey his superiors and be held accountable.

Reactionaries: always so incredibly *sure* they are the Gold Standard of Who is a Real Catholic. Always so incredibly eager to kick out us Impure folk. Always so incredibly confused about what is their personal human tradition and what is the Church’s sacred tradition. Always so incredibly slow to acknowledge that they are really sinners like the rest of us slobs. Always so incredibly slow to consider the possibility that they might be wrong.

————–

*”How stupid?” you ask? Stupid, as in “Donohue saying that Fr. Shawn Ratigan (sentenced to 50 years in Federal prison without the possibility of parole for molesting and taking explicit photographs of girls as young as age 2) was not taking photos that were “sexual in nature” when the photos were, in fact, of the crotches of naked children.” Indeed, “stupid” is the kindest possible way of describing Donohue’s grotesque representations of Ratigan’s crimes. But (as is the now well-established pattern with the wagon-circlers like my reader above) that is never addressed in his Bill of Indictment for my alleged Nancy Pelosi tendencies. Instead, the tired tactic of charging that the critic of the Folk Hero is an Enemy of Orthodoxy is trotted out, just as it was trotted out long ago against critics of Maciel, Euteneuer, and Corapi. Someday the Reactionary is going to have it occur to him in the first place, and not in the absolute last place, that when somebody who does not dissent from the Church’s teaching warns that his Folk Hero is wrong, it’s not because the critic is the enemy of God, puppies, and all that is good and holy, but because he honestly believes his Folk Hero is wrong.

  • Daniel

    This is all so very true. I am around these type of people all the time, reactionary, blinded sheep before the next black sheep dog. I WAS one of those people for a long time, until I found a personality so much more powerful than any of those charismatic Real Catholics(tm). Chesterton is a saint because he point to Christ, not to himself. Chesterton would probably find it funny that I was able to so look through a man so very fat to see Christ clearly at last. When you look at a Demagogue you see the demagogue; when you look at a saint, you see God.

    • chezami

      The Church has always been wise to not canonize its saints till they are safely dead and can’t read their own press releases. Our habit of anointing “Living Saints” and circling the wagons to defend them against all the blandishments of what lawyers call “evidence” is one of the many ways in which modern Catholics have baptized the Cult of Celebrity and made it a cheap imitation of the cult of the saints.

      I’m tickled that you love Chesterton. A great man. And a very humble one. Here’s hoping he is raised to the altar, though it won’t be without a fight.

      • Fr. Denis Lemieux

        And a hoist.

  • Ed Skrivanek

    Bravo Mark! Hero worship is a sin as we should only worship God.

  • B.E. Ward

    From someone outside the church: More Shea, less Donohue. More Fr. Barron, less Fr. Corapi.

    Look at this way.. Pope Francis is doing an absolutely fantastic job of getting people to look at the church in a new way, and probably even helping bring converts. How? It’s *not* by being ticked off about every single offense under the sun and issuing scathing press releases or yelling on the 24 hour news channels.

  • faithandfamilyfirst

    Mark Shea for President. I would say Pope, but I don’t think you qualify, and then I would be the target of all that hate from the Orthodox crowd.

    • Roki

      Technically, I believe that Mark qualifies for either President or Pope, but both at the same time might cut into his time for watching Doctor Who.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    I see nothing of the Sermon on the Mount in Donohue’s methods. His intentions may be good. His methods are embarrassing. I wish he’d resign and let a more level-headed person take his job.

    • Stu

      After doing such a job for so long, I think one might get somewhat reflexive to any perceived attack. So I believe your advice for him is good.

  • James Scott

    QUOTE”Stupid, as in “Donohue
    saying that Fr. Shawn Ratigan (sentenced to 50 years in Federal prison
    without the possibility of parole for molesting and taking explicit
    photographs of girls as young as age 2) was not taking photos that were
    “sexual in nature” when the photos were, in fact, of the crotches of
    naked children.”end quote.

    Am I the only person here who sees that this is not factually correct? Bill did not say that?

  • James Scott

    >Stupid, as in “Donohue
    saying that Fr. Shawn Ratigan (sentenced to 50 years in Federal prison
    without the possibility of parole for molesting and taking explicit
    photographs of girls as young as age 2) was not taking photos that were
    “sexual in nature” when the photos were, in fact, of the crotches of
    naked children.

    Am I the only person here to notice this is not factually correct? Bill did not say that?

  • James Scott

    sorry for the double post…….

  • James Scott

    Some starting thoughts. I notice on one side we have Bill who is defending Bishop Robert Finn(not the Priest who had questionable pictures on his computer) from what he claims are unfair attacks & unfair treatment from SNAP, the Kansas City Star, and the NY Times.
    We have OTOH Mark Shea’s source one Kevin O’Brien(an orthodox Catholic from the looks of his website) who has taken the side of the Times & the Star against Bishop Finn. To be fair I don’t know who is full of shit vs who is not. But put asside politics I find their attacks on Donohue to be an example of READY, FIRE AIM!
    I’ll elaborate when I get home tonight.
    Maybe it might help in the interests of fairness to at least get the full story of Donohue’s defense of Finn & read his own words directly instead of those filtered threw O’Brien & Shea.

    A text without a context is a pretext! If that is not true then I might as well have had simply believed Bob Sungenis’ “quotes” from the Talmud at face value & conclude Jews believe it’s ok to have sex with 3 year old girls.

    Anyway here we go.
    http://www.catholicleague.org/attack-on-bishop-finn-protest-of-kc-star-snap-tie-2/

    • Dave G.

      That’s the article I found, though I didn’t know if it was the article being referenced. There might be another one. I’m not a big fan of Donahue, but then I tend to take what I’ve read from Mr. O’Brien with a few grains of salt as well. So I’m not sure how much I’m willing to go to the mattresses over this until I hear from the horse’s mouth that this is not only what Donahue said, but this is in fact what Donahue meant.

      As for the rest, there was a little too much irony in all of it for my tastes.

      • Rosemarie

        BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT

        See my latest above.

      • Rosemarie

        BENYOCOV/JAMES SCOTT here

        Dave wrote:
        >So I’m not sure how much I’m willing to go to the mattresses over this until I hear from the horse’s mouth that this is not only what Donahue said, but this is in fact what Donahue meant.

        This is the correct rational attitude.

        Mark wrote:
        >Reactionaries: always so incredibly *sure* they are the Gold Standard of Who is a Real Catholic. Always so incredibly eager to kick out us Impure folk.

        Well to be literal Mark hasn’t called for the excommunication of Donohue.

        But just because cause some villains have been defended to the hilt and their critics unjustly persecuted doesn’t mean everyone you don’t like is automatically no due a defense. Nor does that give one carte blanche to detraction and wild accusation.

        Even St Sir Thomas More said he would give the Devil himself the benefit of Law if only for his(i.e. Sr. Thomas’)own sake.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad : for great is your reward in heaven : for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

    Every time the Catholic League makes the news, I wonder if they’ve ever really pondered those words. It seems to be that they’re hearing:

    “Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad : for on that day thou shalt surely issue protests and press releases, and yeah, verily thou shalt get on as many talk shows as possible to whine and complain. And gorget ye not the full page newspaper ads.”

    • Rosemarie

      BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT HERE

      That is lovely but I don’t think you can argue from Traditional Catholic teaching”turing the other cheek” means we are prohibited from seeking civil justice in society.

  • Rosemarie

    BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT posting here.

    Here are ALL of the actual words of Bill Donohue of his latest on Bishop Finn unfiltered by Mark Shea & Kevin O’brien characterizations. This is the latest summery of a story that has at least more then a dozen entries on the Catholic league website. Mark is citing an early 2011 post of O’brien.

    CATALYST JANUARY/FEBRUARY ISSUE 2013

    The Times said that Finn’s misdemeanor conviction “stemmed from his failure to report the Rev Shawn Ratigan to the authorities after hundreds of pornographic pictures that Father Ratigan had taken of young girls were discovered on his laptop in December 2010.” That is factually wrong.

    b>Clearly anyone who takes such pictures is disturbed. But it also needs to be said that crotch shots are not pornographic. Moreover, the diocese described the “single photo” of a naked girl to a police officer who served on the diocesan sexual review board, and he said it did not constitute pornography. So why would the Times say that “hundreds of pornographic pictures” were found in December 2010? The record shows that it was not until after the diocese called the cops in May 2011 that child porn was found on Ratigan’s computer.

    BenYachov Comments: I don’t see where Donohue is excusing Ratigan’s behavior or down playing it but is commenting negatively on the accuracy of the NYT’s reporting & attempting to slime Bishop Finn. He isn’t defending Ratigan at all he is defending Finn. He is also contrasting early photos found that contained only one naked child with a later find of hundreds of more graphic photos.

    TO CONTINUE On February 23, 1998, a Times editorial railed against those who try to equate “nude photographs of children” with child pornography. So it is more than just a little hypocritical of the Times to all of a sudden feign indignation over a single photo of a nude child.

    BenYachov Comments: So he pointing out the NYT inconsistency. It’s kind of a cheap shot on his part OTOH the Times only cares about Pedophilia if Priests do it. As Marks says if you are the right sort of Roman etc..So I think that is Donohue’s point as well.

    >Under Bishop Finn, the review board was contacted, the authorities were notified, and an independent investigation was ordered (the Graves Report). In short, Bishop Finn deserves better. The attack on him, coming exclusively from the Catholic Left, smacks of an agenda.

    So are these the words of a person who is trying engage in a “grotesque representation of Ratigan’s crimes”?

    • Dan C

      Factually incorrect. The court documents that the diocese found the images on the computer in Dec 2010 and did not reveal these images to the police until May 2011. Court documents are below:

      http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/05_06/Shawn_Francis_Ratigansourceprod_affiliate81.pdf

      You are arguing secondly that these images were not illegal? That these were for art? And were not a violation of the child and the family? Based on an idiosyncratic version of a definition of pornography? I think you need to drop that argument.

      Secondly, the NYTimes is correct. Finn’s prosecution was based based on the negligent leadership he demonstrated between Dec 2010 and May 2011 and his delay in notification of authorities.

      • Rosemarie

        BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT

        Um Dan. I read it.

        The document agrees with details of Donohue’s story (which I assume he got from contacting the diocese) except in the judgement of the authorities as to the legal nature of the images. But I also note it mentions the diocese copied the images and kept them to be turned over to the police when he was charged May 20i1. Before giving the Priest’s computer to his family who naturally destroyed it.

        If they where trying to cover it up then why bother to do that?

        >The court documents that the diocese found the images on the computer in Dec 2010 and did not reveal these images to the police until May 2011.

        Yeh May 2011 is when the Priest was formally charged. You don’t have to give evidence till a charge has been brought.

        >You are arguing secondly that these images were not illegal? That these were for art?

        I clearly said not such thing. Trying to smear me is a tad low don’t you think? I am giving Bill’s side here in his own words nothing more & the reports of those involved.

        >Based on an idiosyncratic version of a definition of pornography? I think you need to drop that argument.

        I didn’t see the picture & Bill clearly didn’t either and Bill reports Bishop Finn didn’t see it. So it’s the judgement of the person who saw it. Besides this is not relavent to Bill’s defense of Finn & the brute fact he wasn’t defending Ratinan.

        >Secondly, the NYTimes is correct. Finn’s prosecution was based based on the negligent leadership he demonstrated between Dec 2010 and May 2011 and his delay in notification of authorities.

        I am not here to support or attack the Times. I am here to give’s Bill own words and take issue with Mark and O’briens’ characterization of them. Which I don’t see as fair.

      • Rosemarie

        BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT
        Dan C did you even read your own link & compare it to Donohue’s actual words that I reproduced here with link?

        More like FIRE READY AIM!

  • Rosemarie

    BENYACOV/JAMES SCOTT posting again.

    ASSESSING BISHOP FINN’S GUILT

    CATALYST OCTOBER ISSUE 2012

    A judge recently found Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn guilty in a case involving Father Shawn Ratigan. Though the media focused on the guilty verdict, we immediately dispelled the myths surrounding the case.

    Bishop Finn was not found guilty of a felony: he was found guilty of one misdemeanor, and innocent of another. The case did not involve child sexual abuse—no child was ever abused, or touched, by Ratigan. Nor did Finn’s guilt involve child pornography. Here’s what happened.

    In December 2010, a computer technician found crotch-shot pictures of children, fully clothed, on Ratigan’s computer; there was one that showed a girl’s genitals exposed. The next day Ratigan attempted suicide. Msgr. Robert Murphy, the Vicar General, without seeing the photos, contacted a police officer about this matter. The officer said a single photo of a non-sexual nature would not constitute pornography; a diocesan attorney concurred.

    Finn then asked a psychiatrist to evaluate Ratigan and was told the priest was not a risk to children (he was diagnosed with depression). Finn then placed restrictions on Ratigan, which he broke. After the restrictions were violated, Ratigan’s computer was examined and more disturbing photos were found. Murphy then called the cops (Finn was out of town) and a week later Ratigan was arrested. In September, Finn was found guilty of one misdemeanor of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse.

    We support harsh penalties for sex abusers and those who cover it up. But we also support equal justice for all, and given what we know of what is going on in many other communities, religious as well as secular, the chorus of condemnations targeting Bishop Finn was unfair as it was contrived.

    As a side note, only two newspapers in the nation put this story on the front page: the Kansas City Star, understandably, and the New York Times.

  • Rosemarie

    BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT

    >Again and again, we saw victims of abusers derided as “golddiggers“.

    Specifically who? Because as a long time reader of the Catalyst I’ve seen Bill attack in general persons who say they have “repressed” memories from 30 years ago accusing a Priest who conveniently has been dead for decades & can’t defend himself. I’ve seen him take issue with local laws revoking the statute of limitations for abuses that might have occurred at Private Schools but exempt Public Schools & point out it’s a Lawyer’s windfall. I haven’t seen him attack a specific contemporary child victims or a specific recent case.

    Linking to a google search(as you have done above) that brings up every accusation from Youtube under the sun is a bit dubious. Try googing “Catholic Church and Nazis” on Youtube then tell me if you find that convincing & then inform me that Dan Brown isn’t full of Shit?

    I am not going to return Mark’s irrational anger with BENYACOV anger. I promised Rosemarie I will be nice.

    But I got to be honest. This stinks.

    >Mark Shea is a Nancy Pelosi Catholic. You’re not half the man Donahue is.

    No actually I think Bill is half the Man Mark is but enough of the Fat jokes. I am not one to talk with this gut & Mark might have lost weight.

    Rather Mark at his worst is no better than Bill Donohue at his worst. In the past I’ve seen Bill do a few REALLY FIRE AIM thingys’ & hey I say that a a fan.

    I think he needs to work on that.

    BTW shout out to Dave G. I admire your posts trying to keep Mark honest.

    Good call.

  • Rosemarie

    BTW just so we are clear. I am BENYACOV/JAMES SCOTT I have the singular honor of being Rosemarie’s husband & I can’t figure out right how to switch her account to mine when I go from using a PC to an iMac.

    So if you see a Post in her name that begins JMJ(short for Jesus, Mary and Joseph). That is her. ME I will post my name at the top in CAPS.

    At least till I figure out how to use an iMac better? Maybe I should use the VMwhare for something other than gaming. Cheers.

    PS Mark let go your anger. I feel better.

  • Rosemarie

    BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT

    O’brien wrote on his own blog quote”Bill Donohue of the Catholic Defense League downplayed Ratigan’s crimes and asserted that no child pornography was involved.

    http://thwordinc.blogspot.com/2013/09/50-years-for-ratigan.html

    But Bill didn’t literally say that. But he did literally say this:

    QUOTE”Clearly anyone who takes such pictures is disturbed. But it also needs to be said that crotch shots are not pornographic. Moreover, the diocese described the “single photo” of a naked girl to a police officer who served on the diocesan sexual review board, and he said it did not constitute pornography. So why would the Times say that “hundreds of pornographic pictures” were found in December 2010? The record shows that it was not until after the diocese called the cops in May 2011 that child porn was found on Ratigan’s computer.END QUOTE

    Bill literally said the opposite of what O’brien says. Now is it possible to be fair to O’brien that he meant something other than what he said?

    I am open to that, I really am but conversely Bill Donohue must be extended the same justice.

    • Rosemarie

      BENYACOV/JAMES SCOTT

      I suppose to extend charity toward O’brien maybe when he said Donohue “downplayed Ratigan’s crimes and asserted that no child pornography was involved” maybe what he really meant was in terms of citing reports the single naked photo was judged to not be pornographic or that the crotch shots where not pornographic.

      But it is not what O’brien literally said now was it? But I think that is what he could have likely meant.

      But I still say he should extend the same charity toward Donohue & re-evalute his reading of Donohue’s words.

      I ask all of you here including Mark?

      Isn’t that both reasonable and Catholic?

  • RelapsedCatholic

    There are people on this Earth I find more disagreeable than Bill Donohue, but it is an incredibly short list.

  • Rosemarie

    BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT

    So this is going to devolve into a Bill Donohue hate fest(Mark accused him and Mark can do no wrong eh? What is that about hero worship again?)

    Matched only by rage of people who believe in the sinlessness of Bill Donohue?

    Thus moderate voices who aren’t interested in one or the other but wish to look at the facts in charity are going to be forced into one camp or another?

    If you see Donohue as a hero even a flawed one then you are just a mindless Ayn Rand Romney supporter “conservative” Catholic?

    If you think Bill needs to be more clear & not so knee-jerk partisan all the time (stylizing all anti-Catholics who attack the Bishops over child abuse as left wingers) then you are a Nancy Pelosi Catholic?

    The real question is how long before I loose heroic control of my own infamous Sithlord level temper & start bagging on everybody?

    God give me strength not to ruin this for Rosemarie who still likes posting on this blog.

  • Rosemarie

    BENYACHOV/JAMES SCOTT

    Mark Shea’s words.
    > Shoutin’ Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, managing to once again manifest the Anti-Charism of Discernment by defending a grotesque child abuser and pervert and learn (or at least admit nothing) from the whole thing.

    Except he wasn’t defending Ratigan but Bishop Finn who at worst is a person convicted of a mistermeaner who showed poor leadership in dealing with a grotesque child abuser. OTOH at best did do what was humanly possible & morally required (like preserving the photos from Ratigan’s computer to give to the police) but is being persecuted by reactionary zealots?

    We also have a link to O’briens partial quoting of Donohue’s words interpreting their meaning in the least favorable light IMHO.

    Is a rational discussion possible here or will this just be a repeat of the reactionary emo nonsense I remember from the old Torture Discussion?

    Or should I just cut my losses and just stop reading this blog for my own mental and spiritual help?

    BTW sorry for all these posts. I have to get in my licks because tomorrow I won’t be able to post till the end of the day & this looks like one of those 200 post deals.

    Love those…….

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      We’ve all been guilty of a mistermeaner at one time or another, haven’t we? ;)

  • Rosemarie

    BENYACOV/JAMES SCOTT

    Here is a balanced analysis of Bishop Finn for your approval. It defends him along lines similar to Bill Donohue but it also takes him to task for his failures.

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/did-bishop-finn-deserve-indictment

    BTW Dan C this is for you. The Diocese own independent report from their independent review board. It’s not a whitewash. Read page 106 on the arrest of Fr. Ratigan..

    No need to thank me.

    http://www.diocese-kcsj.org/_docs/8-31-11_Report_of_Independent_Investigation.pdf

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    I know it was a typo, but “mistermeaner” is now my favorite new word.

  • AugustineThomas

    By the way, what do you think about Pope Benedict XVI?
    Was he too “trad” for you? Did he hurt too many peoples’ feelings for your tastes by telling them the truth about their sins? Would you have wrote a cute little article about him if he told you that there’s nothing wrong with Bill Donahue for defending bishops who have been demonized and scapegoated, even if he makes a mistake and defends a bad bishop, because so many have been falsely accused, because so many “Catholics” like yourself are too busy trying to stab your supposed brethren in the back to defend fellow Catholics?
    No one is saying to let the predators off the hook, but to demonize other Catholics EVER, instead of denouncing abortion and other anti-life measures is utterly insane and in no way related to the teachings of the Church.

    • chezami

      I think the world of Pope Benedict. I don’t think your Reactionary ignorance and wagon-circling would please him at all.