A reader from the troubled Mpls diocese writes:

I listened to you on October 8, 2013, at the Argument of the Month Event in St. Paul, MN. I believe you did an excellent job and in my opinion I believe your advice for the average Catholic was much better than that from the opposing side. Praying, fasting, and almsgiving (charity) is action that we can all execute and begin immediately if we so choose.

The reason for my email is that I would like your advice on how to communicate with some of my Catholic friends regarding our Archbishop, Archbishop Nienstedt. As you know, Archbishop Nienstedt has recently admitted that he made mistakes regarding how he handled clergy sex-abuse cases under his watch. My friends are under the opinion that he should step down from his position immediately, or if he chooses to not step down, that we as his flock have an obligation and responsibility to have him removed.

Archbishop Nienstedt has apologized and I forgive him, as our Our Father will forgive him.

My position is that we forgive, pray, fast, give alms, and be patient. My friends say this is not enough.

It seems like every time I have this conversation with my friends I end up on the losing side of the conversation, i.e., they are right and I am wrong.

What advice do you have for me? What do believe is the correct action for any member the Archbishop’s flock?

Thanks for your kind words!

I guess my question is “What exactly are your friends proposing?”

Lots of Catholics of the Church Militant TV variety seem to have the same idea as Mr. Furious in “Mystery Men”. The idea seems to be that getting really really really angry is “action” while prayer, fasting, almsgiving and corporal and spiritual works of mercy is somehow passivity or unmanly or what not.

But, in fact, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and corporal and spiritual works of mercy *are* action while anger, and particularly the sort of anger CMTV indulges and encourages, is fruitless and barren, when it is not positively destructive and corrosive.

Practically speaking, there are a few things that can be done about such situations. If something criminal has occurred, you can jail or punish the criminal. If the state opts not to do that, you can either forgive the criminal or marinate in rage. If the latter option is chosen, it won’t make a damn bit of difference to the criminal or his victims. It will just make the unforgiving person full of impotent and miserable fury. The cure for this is forgiveness, which is usually enacted through prayer, fasting, almsgiving and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

If you think the priest or bishop has done something wrong but not criminal (i.e liturgical abuse) you can complain to his superior, whether the local ordinary or the one in Rome. If those avenues of relief don’t work, you can change parishes or dioceses if you like or learn to live where you are. Positively, you can try to educate yourself about and live the faith like a saint and bear witness to others. In short, live out prayer, fasting, almsgiving and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

That’s why I don’t know what your friends mean by “not enough”. What–exactly and concretely–do they propose beyond being really really mad?

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