Archbishop Dolan

Abp Dolan began his speech with a reference to St Paul’s Damascus Road experience and Jesus saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Why are you persecuting my followers, my friend, my disciples, my family.” He said, “Why are you persecuting ME.”

The New Testament resounds with the conviction that the Church and Christ are inseparable. You cannot know Christ without the Church. Outside the Church there is no salvation. The Church is the Body of Christ. He went on to say that the main problem with Christianity today is that people want the Shepherd without the flock, the Head without the Body, the General without the army, the Bridegroom without the Bride. Individualism has taken over the Church so that people  want spirituality without religion and a subjective experience without the Church.

He spoke passionately about the problems in the church, the scandals, the human failures, the shame and the incompetence, complacency and lack of faith. Still, this is like a family. We are family and cannot be anything other. We accept our family and strive to love one another even when its hard–especially when its hard. It is okay–he said–to be angry, to quarrel, to point out the failure and shame, but it is not okay to leave. The shepherds are right to be penitent and say ‘sorry’ for their sins and the sins of their priests. However, there is a time to move on and build the future and learn from the mistakes.

He went on. He quoted poets and writers and theologians and historians. He was eloquent and funny and passionate and uncompromising. I had heard that he was a strong leader and a good speaker. Now I’ve seen him. May he live long and prosper.

As for those who would be angry all the time and complain about the failures of the church leadership–yes, be angry, but then get over it. If you can do something positive and good, then get on and do it. Why be angry forever? Who is affected by it? You of course. You will sink into the bitterness of your own bile and poison your own life with anger that is for sure, but you will also poison your faith by destroying hope and love. Furthermore, when you hold on to your anger and spread it to others your negative rage poisons the faith, hope and love of others too, and for that sin of scandal you will be answerable one day.

Allow me to address the ongoing rage and anger over the pedophile priests debacle. Horrible things happened. The hierarchy were negligent, incompetent and sometimes corrupt. Now we’ve paid. We’ve apologized until we’re blue in the face. We’ve  paid out millions of dollars to claimants–not all of them authentic. We’ve put in place the most rigorous child protection program every established anywhere. We’re doing all we can to put things right.

By all means stay vigilant. By all means be alert and suspicious of wrong doing, but for your own faith and for the proclamation of the gospel and to put forward the good news of Jesus Christ in the fullness of the Catholic faith why not learn to let the anger go? Lift up your heads and realize that there is more that is pure and glorious and positive and good about our church than there is sordid and squalid and mean and corrupt.

Why not do yourselves and everyone you meet a favor and say good bye to Mr Angry and find the spirit of forgiveness, and with that find peace, and with that peace experience joy.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01198856128213307540 Elizabeth

    It's really a case of "Two men looked through prison bars, One saw mud and the other saw stars." Isn't it? Thank you for sharing your travels Fr. L. I really enjoy your blog. I've been watching EWTN for almost a year now, and I'm just overwhelmed by the beauty, the history and geography, the saints (and sinners) not to mention the spirituality of our Church. Mother Angelica said once "What a beautiful thing is our Church." And she's so right. The more you learn about her the more you can see her beauty as the Bride of Christ. And I'm so proud of Pope Benedict.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10188238068927761034 Wade St. Onge

    Be angry, but then let it go. Good advice. And for those who are angry at "Traditionalists" and their "snobbery", or "Anglicans" who won't "see the light", or secular people, etc., we should be angry and let it go. Do not repeatedly, post after post, take angry "shots" at Traditionalists or Anglicans or secular people. Right, Father?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    It's all in the tone……Fr Dwight said:The shepherds are right to be penitent and say 'sorry' for their sins and the sins of their priests. However, there is a time to move on and build the future and learn from the mistakes.The Holy Father said:"I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests,"Fr Dwight said:We've apologized until we're blue in the face. We've paid out millions of dollars to claimants–not all of them authentic. We've put in place the most rigorous child protection program every established anywhere. We're doing all we can to put things right.The Holy Father said:“I also acknowledge, with you, the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people,”Fr Dwight said:"Why not do yourselves and everyone you meet a favor and say good bye to Mr Angry and find the spirit of forgiveness, and with that find peace, and with that peace experience joy."The Holy Father said:“Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, His sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives,” Fr Dwight said:Furthermore, when you hold on to your anger and spread it to others your negative rage poisons the faith, hope and love of others too, and for that sin of scandal you will be answerable one day.Jesus ( the Church) says:"Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.Luke 17: 1-2.The anger being felt by people ( and possibly leading them to sin through scandal) has been caused by other's sins. To me, It is those others who will answer on Judgment Day, for this scandal, when listening to Jesus' speak here. Maybe in America, things are all sewn up of-course. But it's not so in the UK yet

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08031465320721586310 Jackie

    I created a link to your post Fr. Longenecker . Where Is Your Head? I liked how well you said it .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    Speaking of Archbishop Dolan,he has an interesting post up, over at http://blog.archny.org/?p=812 in which he refers to an article by Greg Erlendson at 'Our Sunday Visitor' entitled:Catholics may be sick of clerical sex abuse stories, but they can't be ignored."But our desire to avoid the topic may be part of the problem. Catholics need to stand up, not shut up……..cont, The result is that the scandals have marginalized the one institution that can raise a voice against a variety of social wrongs, including the broader epidemic of child abuse and child pornography, as well as treatment of the poor and most vulnerable. Its credibility has been weakened. Even worse, its credibility among its own people has been weakened. This is where we must step up. And this is why it is important to get this story out, as unpleasant as it is, and as weary of it as we are." Find the rest of the article here http://www.osv.com/tabid/7621/itemid/6752/Catholics-may-be-sick-of-clerical-sex-abuse-storie.aspx or follow the link from Archbishop Dolan's blog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    sorry, this is the correct link to Arch Dolan's post: http://blog.archny.org/?p=799

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17284905121465747077 Steve

    Father, seems to me you have a non sequitur in the passage below:"As for those who would be angry all the time and complain about the failures of the church leadership–yes, be angry, but then get over it. If you can do something positive and good, then get on and do it."You ignore the fact that the laity have zero input in the decisions of the church hierarchy. We are affected in so many vital ways by their conscious decisions as well as their casual choices, yet we cannot truly "do something positive and good" with regard to malfeasance or incompetence or just plain moral indifference on the part of the church leadership. (I'm thinking particularly about the sexual abuse scandal here and the worst part of that scandal: that is, not the awful abuse itself, but the cover-up, the lies, the indifference shown by many bishops, some archbishops, and yes, even cardinals.) You imply that the laity should man up and make a positive difference in how the church leadership behaves. Fine–if only the church were willing to allow such input. That's obviously not the case. So while I can and do hope to make a positive difference within my own parish and my own city, please don't charge the non-clerical reader with "do[ing] something positive and good" with regard to "the failures of church leadership." (Yes, you did place those sentences back-to-back.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 anthony

    there is as brilliant 'homily' on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency site, or was until yesterday'As Brave as God' by Rabbi Brad HirschfieldPadre should have a read.One legitimate gripe the Europeans do have about Americanesque religion of all sorts is 'cheap grace.'seriously, your thoughts and dialogues in your position having lived here and over there could be invaluabletil you walk that road Mr Forgiveness don't get too high and mighty.There are a lot of Clergy who will most definitely be held accountable for scandal, and if they had been forthcoming to begin with some of us would never have been forced to insist on such exacting measures.God will judge all of us mate… not the Pope.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Steve, there is no problem with my logic at all. I didn't suggest that the the laity could stop corrupt bishops and cardinals directly, but there is much the laity can do to help with the problem of sexual abuse.Here's a list:1. Start a support scheme for victims of all sorts of sexual abuse2. Train to help deliver the VIRTUS program3. Volunteer to help administer your Diocesan VIRTUS program. The offices are usually understaffed4. Raise funds to finance the salary of a Diocesan VIRTUS worker5. Establish a laity run watchdog group to help the diocese police the VIRTUS program6. Most bishops aren't corrupt and are horrified by clergy sexual abuse. Support the good bishops in a positive way.7. Write articles and blog posts and books about the positive steps the Catholic Church is taking to address the problem.8. Start a fund for justice in clerical abuse cases. The money would defend priests against unjust accusations and defend and support victims of abuse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16142633311407145793 Wine in the Water

    Steve,I'd add to the good Fr.'s list.- Get active in your parish, don't be an anonymous gazer in the back row, but a truly engaged disciple. Our blase facelessness is one of the things that allows vice to grow in our clergy. It also makes us easier to disregard.- Engage our clergy as persons. The isolation of our clergy – whether by leaving them on a pedestal or alone in a rectory – both allows vice to grow, but burns them out and makes them far less likely to ever hear our voices.- Pray. And if you think this isn't a viable course of action, you're in the wrong religion.- Foster vocations. This is one of the ways the laity have the most influence over the "hierarchy." Every one of them has a father and mother. Most of them have other family and friends. We the laity are essential to the early formation of all the hierarchy. We need to make sure they get good early formations. We also need to encourage more vocations. Most men I have known who were in discernment who did not enter the seminary were actually discouraged by their parents. – Stop making it about power. We do not need "power" to make a difference. A Christlike life will make a far bigger difference than the wielding of power, and is far less prone to abuse.That's just off the top of my head.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13266202341737255491 Alyson

    'He went on to say that the main problem with Christianity today is that people want the Shepherd without the flock, the Head without the Body, the General without the army, the Bridegroom without the Bride. Individualism has taken over the Church so that people want spirituality without religion and a subjective experience without the Church.'Such and important paragraph. WE part of the body of Christ.. WE are the church. Being part of a family, any family, comes with responsibilities. If WE do not step up to the mark, who will? Who will come forward to stand up for what is true, right and just? Sheep lose their way without a shepherd, a guide. Without the sacraments, our souls thirst for grace, and our hearts cry out for Jesus.We need to be part of a flock, searching in the right places for our Shepherd. We need to know our faith in order to be steadfast and rooted in the Truth, so that when storms prevail we can justify and defend the Church and her teachings confidently. So that we can remain grounded in the one , true, Catholic and apostolic church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    "We need to be part of a flock, searching in the right places for our Shepherd."I'm a sheep, seeking to be sought! ;)