[Expanding on my thoughts begun here…]:
Surrendering the consolations of the Eucharist, (and access to the sacraments, to the fellowship and to the senses-enlivening liturgy) because of the failings of mortal, passing men, this seems like a heavy burden to afflict upon oneself. Baggott seems to be doing the penance best done by those who need to do it. I wish and pray that she does not encourage her mother in this same outsized penance, as it seems so heavy and counterproductive. The good priests and religious that Baggott knows, the good works of the church, which she admires, they need their prayers.
Baggott’s mother’s faith (and that of many others) has been shaken to the core by a NY Times piece which attempts to lay a charge of negligence and conspiratorial cover-up on the shoulders of then-Cardinal Ratzinger. The blaring headlines and non-stop news coverage, (which serves only to reinforce the Times’ narrative through constant repetition) have certainly cemented a perception.
But there is a chance -a very good chance- that those perceptions are unjust. There is a chance (as much as some would prefer not to admit it) that Pope Benedict may himself be one of those innocent priests in need of some defense. Baggott perhaps does not know -if she listens only to the mainstream media, she cannot know- that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith only gained provenance over the abuse cases in 2001, under then-Cardinal Ratzinger, or that in the case of the warped Fr. Murphy of Wisconsin, the office waived the statute of limitations so that Murphy could be investigated and prosecuted. It is certain that she has not seen this new translation of a key document cited in the Times piece, which -at the very least- brings into question a central premise of their story: that Ratzinger refused to laicize (or “defrock”) Fr. Murphy.
These cases are so extremely disheartening, so shaming for all of us in the pews -who are a “family” of sorts- and the headlines are so insistent, the noise so incessant, that it becomes easy for some to take their eyes off the prize and just throw up their hands, surrendering to the narrative. Modern communication has the means to make a minority seem like a majority with astounding ease. The ubiquitous tv screens all saying the same thing in every public venue have become the equivalent of a public gallows; people’s reputations and life’s work are capable of being put to death so easily -without benefit of a trial- and there is no undoing it.
The public increasingly forms its opinions based upon headlines and soundbites; it is disinclined to do the time-consuming work of reading, and that is reducing the public to mobism. Insta-media has become the sharpest of blades and the world is become a vast multitude of Madame DeFarge’s all sitting there with their knitting, shouting “guillotine! guillotine” as Benedict’s image crosses the screen.
It seems so primal, for such an advanced and enlightened age; a sort of liturgy for those who hate liturgy.
As with their “Obama = God” themes of 2008, the press is already so heavily invested in the “Benedict = evil-monster” narrative that they have no choice but to go all-in, for the sake of its own credibility. I am doubtful that we will see much clarification from the mainstream.
UK Telegraph:Catholic Church is mishandling the Furor
Rod Dreher (A troubling but wise Must Read): What it Means to be Catholic also his thoughts on the priest/pastor as spiritual father
Joseph Bottum: Every Catholic is Now Paying
Mark Shea: Thank you, Sir, May I Have Another?
Lorie Piper: Way of the Cross; Road of the Popes
Jimmy Akin: Smoking Gun
Bookworm: So, THAT’s why they became priests!
Why I Am Catholic: Because Ripples Become Waves