The Vatican's Epic Fail – UPDATE

Oh, for crying out loud!

See here

and here

and here

and here

and here

Honestly, do I have to go to Rome and storm the press office of the Holy See, and sit the curia down and pull their hats off to smack them upside the head? Must I bang on their desks and say:

“stupido! Stupido! PR IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE! On the rare occasion where you’ve done something that will bring you a cautious measure of good will, or at least less-hostile reportage, you don’t tie it in with a controversial issue and allow nonsense equivalences to be drawn by people who do not move beyond headlines and soundbites! You create a two-part report and you release the primo, the most important story on its own! You follow up with the second half of the document and discuss the rest of it–the Eucharistic, Reconciliatory and Sacramental stuff–next week or the next week, or the week after! Stupido! Where did you study communications? You don’t make it easy to be attacked! You don’t hand the culture fodder for a thousand cheap jokes and unending distortion! You don’t take norms addressing and correcting the biggest, most egregious failure of the church, and allow the world to portray you as wholly equating it with women becoming non-Catholic priests while drifting down the river on boats! Trying to counter the narratives that develop from boneheaded decisions like this–trying to explain the fullness of the norms or the degrees of seriousness addressed here–against the tide of negative publicity and cynical assumptions is like spitting into the wind! FAIL, Curia! This is a FAIL! EPIC fail!”

Can you hear my hand slapping the polished surfaces of their desks in angry frustration? Every italic, another slam.

Damn straight.

I just may. I just MAY to go Rome and do exactly this. Loud, loud pounding. Yelling in Italian. Stupido! STUPIDO!

Watch this space, for details!

And read John Allen

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Jim Mazzarelli

    Funny. A group of us were having the “Church needs to get media savy” conversation the other day. And then this piece comes out. The Holy Father would do well to bring in an outside (lay) adviser to direct communications. The way things are handled now, or mishandled as the case may be, is a disservice to the Church and to loyal defenders of the Faith. ‘God, in your name we pray for wisdom and guidance in this matter.’

  • http://NewAdvent R.

    There is a mole in the Curia. Pope Benedict might do a little internal investigation in his PR dept. It also might be time to have a woman handle it.

  • gb

    Even the Holy Father himself, in a statement released March ’09, stated that the “Vatican” needed to be more savvy in the way it communicated to the modern world. In that same statement, he also asked poignantly for a little bit of understanding & tolerance.

    For my part, I share the Anchoress’ frustration bc this type of ineptitude only makes a bad situation unnecessarily worse. I also share the opinion of those who state that, no matter how it was put, the NYT et al are not after the Truth & wouldn’t know it if, like Pilate, they were face to face with Him.

  • Cy

    Jesus: “Let me get this straight, you called my Church and its leaders ‘stupido’ in the exercise of their teaching and disciplines then said you wanted to hit them on the head? Did you not remember about when I said ‘and anyone who shall say to his brother ‘raca’?”

    Blogger: but they were wrong! They deserved it! They really did.

    Jesus: “Says you.”

  • AntiObmaLush

    the vatican will always have bad PR but still i respect your opinion because you deserve the respect

  • mjc

    Fascinating set of answers to your original post, Anchoress. For your trip to Rome, may I suggest something I’ve learned as a father? When my kids are trying to wriggle out of something, they find it very easy to play the “stupid card”, saying they either didn’t know or didn’t realize the import of their actions. Lately I’ve not let them get away with that, answering simply that they are not as stupid as they are portraying themselves.

    Please consider that on your head smacking trip. The pope and the curia are not this stupid (note the 1990′s insistence from the curia that pedophilia in the church was an American problem, when as erudite a scholar as Joseph Ratzinger knows that this is ongoing for a minimum of 16 centuries.). Instead, I think the most generous and self-effacing response I can give is that they are unfeeling, rude to the point of being unChristlike. In addressing alteri Christi, I do not make the comment lightly.

    On of the responders above asks with the apostles, “Where else could we go?” As one who believes in reform, who cannot stomach what we see from Rome as a reflection of our God, I echo that. There is a graciousness, a gracefulness to be seen in God’s grace. Let’s all keep praying.

  • Dan

    Ms. Scalia (if you are the same person as the “Admin.”): Leaving aside the “most urgent issue” topic for another time, I find it impossible to agree that the “release” of this document is because of “the curia” and not the Pope. The procedure is quite clear–the Pope tells the CDF to modify Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, in light of the developments that have occurred in the past nine years. The CDF does it. The CDF presents the document to the Pope. He approves it. It has to be published as he approved it. It is his decision.

    I still see no reason at all to think PR matters in the least when dealing with the secular media. Is there evidence that it does? Someone tell me about it, please. If it were to have happened that only the portion of this document dealing with the sexual abuse of minors was published now, there would have been any number of complaints about the content. (No “one strike” policy, too little too late, this does nothing to help victims, this does nothing specific to bishops, the PR is horrible, etc.) Then, whenever the rest of the document’s contents were released, the complaint would still have been “How can they equate sexual abuse with concelebration with non-Catholics or women’s ordination or the indirect violation of the seal of confession by calling them all ‘graviora delicta’?”

    God was plenty clear with what he said to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Satan’s PR department still twisted God’s words and led our first parents into sin. How much more, then, will Satan be able to turn whatever the Pope or Card. Levada or Fr. Lombardi says today into bad PR?

    Dan

  • cathyf

    So what the heck happened to Fr. Martin’s comment? Google says it was there an hour ago:America Magazine
    Jul 17, 2010 … Author: James Martin, S.J.. Did anyone else see eerie similarities between the way that Steve Jobs is handling the Apple Iphone debacle …
    link But clicking on the link brings up the America web page template and in the big yawning white space where you would expect to find the article there is only “Comments have been turned off for this thread.” Tried 3 different browsers…

    [It's possible that it was pulled for refinement, or -- as once happened to me -- fat fingers put the thing on private or something. Let's give it time to reappear. admin]

  • cathyf

    Sheesh… And now the blog engine doesn’t take the “blockquote” tag? (Or did I forget to close it? PIMBFF — I really miss having a “preview” on your site!)

  • Lank

    @ Tony Layne, perhaps its you and this blogger than need to do some relevant reading, like from the mass:

    First reading – Micah 2:1-5
    Woe to those who plot evil,
    who lie in bed planning mischief!
    No sooner is it dawn than they do it
    – their hands have the strength for it.
    Seizing the fields that they covet,
    they take over houses as well,
    owner and house they confiscate together,
    taking both man and inheritance.
    So the Lord says this:
    Now it is I who plot
    such mischief against this breed
    as your necks will not escape;
    nor will you be able to walk proudly,
    so evil will the time be.
    On that day they will make a satire on you,
    sing a dirge and say,
    ‘We are stripped of everything;
    my people’s portion is measured out and shared,
    no one will give it back to them,
    our fields are awarded to our despoiler.’
    Therefore you will have no one
    to measure out a share
    in the community of the Lord.

  • cathyf

    Commenter Basil over at Deacon Greg’s contributed the following tidbit of wisdom:

    Arthur C. Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

    I propose a corollary. Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from subversion.

    Or a different way of looking at it, if the devil can’t lure us into being bad, maybe he can con us into being stupid, which is probably mostly good enough for him!

  • http://www.dymphnaswell.blogspot.com Dymphna

    I don’t see Fr. Martin’s article up either but there is an interesting one by Vincent Miller.
    link

    He says, “As a theologian, one of my day-to-day jobs is to explain the logic behind Vatican decisions…But the emails that come in on this are just unanswerable. One could explain that this is the official codification of a number of changes that have been in the works. But none of that will repair the damage that could have been avoided by issuing two separate documents at two different times.”

  • Brendan McGrath

    Ms. Scalia, you are absolutely right; thank you so much for expressing my frustration and that of many others. To those saying PR doesn’t matter, it matters a lot if you’re a young (28) high school Theology teacher like me trying to keep kids from leaving the Church, only to see things like this make it more difficult.

    Ms. Scalia, I think you should indeed go to Rome (or at least contact them) but you need to take others with you. I mean the type of Catholics the Vatican and the hierarchy have to listen to (e.g.,, Knights-of-Columbus-types). Some possibilities off the top of my head: Raymond Arroyo, plus others from EWTN; Mary Ann Glendon; Peggy Noonan; people from First Things… people who will be trusted and able to make the Holy See, Benedict, etc. wake up and open their eyes.

    I mentioned EWTN above — I think they in particular need to start calling, REALLY calling, for Benedict to hold bishops accountable. It’s about justice, but even more, it’s about evangelization. How can you re-evangelize Europe when Cardinal Law is still in positions of power?

  • Bender

    Maybe I should just keep my BIG mouth shut, and stay out of this, but . . .

    No one is claiming infallibility here. And it absurd to even bring it up. (Yes, we have all become a little better attuned to noticing strawmen when they pop up, here in the age of Obama.)

    And while it may or may not be “wrong” to criticize the Pope and those around him, is it prudent? Is it wise? Or is it merely handing ammunition to those who oppose the Church? Does such criticism serve only to encourage even the Catholic faithful to start wanting a new Reformation?

    It is not like the Church doesn’t have enough adversaries who will mouth such criticisms themselves. But will our joining in with criticism ourselves help to perpetuate their distain? Do we really need to hand them a jug of gasoline and some matches in this way?

    (And I’ve said the same thing about George W. and Palin and probably others.)

  • CV

    Fr. Richard John Neuhaus was fond of repeating this quote from the great Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor..

    She said we must often suffer more FROM the Church than for the Church.

    Maybe this is one of those occasions.
    ;-)

  • Blaise Pascal

    “Do not complain of the world’s imputing to you more than is true; those who live as the world give countenance to those who think them of the world, and seem to form but one party with them. In proportion as you put off the yoke of Christ, so does the world by a sort of instinct recognize you, and think well of you accordingly. Its highest compliment is to tell you that you disbelieve. Oh, my brethren, there is an eternal enmity between the world and the Church. The Church declares by the mouth of an Apostle, “Whoso will be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God;” and the world retorts, and calls the Church apostate, sorceress, Beelzebub, and Antichrist. She is the image and the mother of the predestinate, and, if you would be found among her children when you die, you must have part in her reproach while you live. Does not the world scoff at all that is glorious, all that is majestic, in our holy religion? Does it not speak against the special creations of God’s grace? Does it not disbelieve the possibility of purity and chastity? Does it not slander the profession of celibacy? Does it not deny the virginity of Mary? Does it not cast out her very name as evil? Does it not scorn her as a dead woman, whom you {398} know to be the Mother of all the living, and the great Intercessor of the faithful? Does it not ridicule the Saints? Does it not make light of their relics? Does it not despise the Sacraments? Does it not blaspheme the awful Presence which dwells upon our altars, and mock bitterly and fiercely at our believing that what it calls bread and wine is that very same Body and Blood of the Lamb which lay in Mary’s womb and hung on the Cross? What are we, that we should be better treated than our Lord, and His Mother, and His servants, and His works? Nay, what are we, if we be better treated, but friends of those who thus treat us well, and who ill-treat Him?” Cardinal John Henry Newman link

  • cathyf

    As I’ve read more about what exactly in this document, the more pissed I get… It is not merely a derivative work, a collection “all in one place” of things already fully implemented. Several of the areas covered have some small but significant new elements and procedures.

    And I know enough about the Vatican to be pretty sure of exactly how and why this happened in July. Various and sundry groups have been working on these individual pieces for years, now they are done, the rest of the Vatican has been on vacation for a couple of weeks. So they just hit ‘print’ on their computers and left town, dumping the task of “handing out” the stuff to some lowly peons too low on the food chain to get vacations — and too low on the food chain to manage the communications so that the message was communicated accurately.

    So it’s not that they are stupid it’s that they’re lazy. You know, I live out here in rural America, where our churches are small and isolated, and our priests battle crushing workloads, isolation, cranky parishioners, financial worries, just trying to meet never-ending needs. Seeing these “little princes” in the Vatican screw stuff up because they are too important to work conscientiously just pisses me off.

  • cathyf

    Its highest compliment is to tell you that you disbelieve.

    Right. So the world’s highest compliment is to tell you that you disbelieve that sodomizing little children is any more serious than pretending to ordain a woman. Because the world is drawing that completely reasonable conclusion from our freaking lazy moron bumbling.

    God said, “By their works shall ye know them,” and so it’s hard to blame the world when they judge us by our incompetent works!

  • Bender

    As for getting into some kind of hierarchy and ranking of sins — I really should just stop and not comment . . . but I will –

    You don’t take norms addressing and correcting the biggest, most egregious failure of the church, and allow the world to portray you as wholly equating it with women becoming non-Catholic priests while drifting down the river on boats!

    This is as good a point to comment on as any.

    Which really is the greater crime, which really does cause the greatest scandal?

    Do disclosures of some priests having sexually abused children cause anyone to suddenly start believing that sex with kids is morally permissible? No. Of course not. Everyone is outraged because everyone knows it to be wrong.

    Does it cause people to fall away because they realize that priests are not perfect? Again, no. Everyone knows that priests are human too. They are not perfect. The Church is not a hotel for saints, it is a hospital for sinners, and everyone knows that.

    Does it cause people to think ill of the Church? Yes. And for that reason, it is a scandal. For some, it may cause them to lose trust in the Church and they leave. That too is a scandal. But they think ill and lose trust precisely because they know it to be wrong. There is no moral confusion created, there is no calling what is evil good and what is good evil. To be sure, the sex abuse scandals have confirmed in people a desire for goodness and moral truth and justice — good has come out of it.

    Now, what of attempted ordinations of women? What of these acts which are sins against the Sacrament and, a priest being an alter Christus, makes these acts akin to if not actual species of blasphemy and sacrilege?

    Have they had the effect of misleading significant numbers of people regarding the truth of Holy Orders, the truth about Jesus Christ, and the truth of His Church? Yes. Do they have the effect of leading people to believe false things about the nature of God and the nature of the human person? Yes. Do they have the effect of causing real division by schism? Yes.

    Theological and moral confusion is created, and there are people who end up believing that what is evil is good and what is good evil. These acts have turned people away from truth and love. Good has not resulted.

    Sexual abuse of minors by anyone is a terrible, horrible, grievously evil thing. But we should not let our outrage at such things cause us to start minimizing the seriousness of blasphemies and mockeries of Christ and His Church that are of the same piece that have plunged hundreds of millions of people into grave theological error and schism these last 500 years or so.

  • Blaise Pascal

    “As I’ve read more about what exactly in this document, the more pissed I get”

    Maybe you should read the document itself for a start instead of buying into the spin of the secular media.

    “Because the world is drawing that completely reasonable conclusion from our freaking lazy moron bumbling.”

    Who cares? They believe what they want anyway. The secular world is our enemy. There is no point in trying to appease them. We cannot control their propaganda and lies.

    The document does not equate child abuse with other serious crimes. You cannot get this impression when you read the document. You have to try really hard to get this impression.

    Besides if publishing two norms on two different crimes in one document is the same as equating them then I dont understand why the catholics who think this way are not more upset by fact that desecration of the most holy eucharist is not treated seperately. Most reactions to this publication betray a secular mindset.

  • Mike K.

    Blaise Pascal writes, “Who cares? They believe what they want anyway. The secular world is our enemy. There is no point in trying to appease them. We cannot control their propaganda and lies.”

    But we have to. Why? Because failing to “control” them can cost the Church members. We “control” them not by telling them what and how to write, but by tailoring our message in such a way that we don’t give them the ammunition to kill us.

    And that’s a lot harder to do when you have to answer questions such as why the Vatican would mention – or appear to “equate” child abuse and women’s ordination in the same document. When the issues are addressed in a manner that makes sense to the world we live in, we – the faithful, and the clergy in the trenches – can focus our message on what is unique/special about our faith, and use that message to bring Christ to others and others to Christ.

  • Pingback: Vatican’s public relations plan summed up: ‘Stupido!’ « Priests’ Secretary

  • Bender

    In addition to what I said earlier, I concur with much of what Carl Olson said here and here (which I only just got around to reading).

  • mjc

    Bender, I’m responding to your long comment. You have taken the longings of women to lead in faith and called this evil to the point of leading others to hell, or at minimum schism from the people of God. However, sexual abuse of children is something everyone knows is evil, so that’s not as bad.

    I was abused by a priest. By God’s Grace, I still have faith. I’ve seen so many others lost on that winding path, unable to find God’s gentle touch after the question “Is this what my life and faith is for?”

    I told a few people about it, and NO ONE knew what to do. Conservative, liberal, faithful, secular, all were deer in the headlights before this evil dressed in a collar of faith. That’s why I give the bishops a pass until 1985. Once they commission the study and ignore the outcome, punishing the messengers, protecting the clergy and sacrificing children and those of brittle faith, that’s when the millstone is placed around many necks. Fortunately, you and I don’t have to judge.

    So you really think that offending God by not believing properly is in any way worse than that? Doesn’t our Lord have the ability, the inclination, the love to take our twisted prayers and make them holy? Doesn’t Jesus tell Peter that he can’t be perfectly cleansed, but just have your feet washed and I’ll get you home to the Kingdom? You compare an improper prayer to the sum of the abuse of a child, the squandering of the charism of chastity, and the lack of compassion of our leaders?

    It’s obvious you have faith. You remind me of the people at the Creation Museum close to my home. They know that faith is vital, but they are told that God’s Word must be the literal truth. So they contort faith and reason to jump through hoops to find the right conclusion, that science is evil and God’s Word remains true, nevermind all those extraneous facts to the contrary. Similarly, you know that the church is holy. Don’t let that close your eyes. You know better than what you’ve written.

  • Dan

    Cathyf,

    “The new text of the Normae de gravioribus delictis, as revised by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 May 2010, contains modifications to both the substantial and the procedural norms found in the original text of Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela.”

    This is the first line of one of the documents released last week. Based upon this, I’d have to disagree with your suppositions regarding how and why this document was made public last week.

    After reading other comments, I admit my earlier comment “PR is irrelevant” was a mistake. It’s not irrelevant. However, I do think “Vatican” attempts at PR are irrelevant, given the state of the secular media.

    Dan

  • cathyf

    Does it cause people to think ill of the Church? Yes. And for that reason, it is a scandal. For some, it may cause them to lose trust in the Church and they leave. That too is a scandal. But they think ill and lose trust precisely because they know it to be wrong. There is no moral confusion created, there is no calling what is evil good and what is good evil.

    Bender, I think that you vastly underestimate the number of Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic, who believe that priests and especially bishops — and most especially the Vatican bureaucrats — think that sexual abuse is not really all that bad, and that the Church’s responses to “The Crisis” are not motivated by their own moral outrage at the evilness of the acts, but instead they are only reacting to the pain caused to them personally by the public’s (inexplicable to the churchmen) outrage about the abuse.

    So now we have the Church creating and releasing a document which puts sexual abuse of minors by the ordained in the same category (grave delicts) as simulating the sacrament of holy orders over a woman. If you are starting from the suspicion that the Church does not “get it” as to sexual abuse being wrong, this confirms all of those suspicions. It appears to be the lamest of lame tu quoque attempts to change the subject, that could only be made by the most utterly clueless of the morally and emotionally retarded. (“Sure, we’ve done terrible things but so have those other people over there! Look at them!”)

    I personally am not generally of the “priests and bishops are morally retarded” camp. But even I wonder about some particular churchmen. The ones who lament that these poor defenseless priests are being preyed upon by rapacious pre-teen perverts. (Although I have to say that I haven’t heard that one in years — perhaps evidence that they are not completely ineducable, and so TheAnchoress’ plan to go bust some heads might just be a good idea?) Or the ones who tell us that priests preying on kids is nifty-keeno-a-ok-no-problemo as long as all the kids are girls. (“The problem is homosexuality.”) I’ve had my own pet theories about the priesthood and the autism spectrum (having mostly to do with things that have nothing to do with sexual abuse). Maybe it really is that certain priests and bishops are in fact mentally disabled when it comes to intuition and empathy, and that the Church’s message gets terribly distorted precisely because those particular men are constitutionally incapable of recognizing that they ought to keep their mouths shut!

  • cathyf

    Dan, I think that I was quite mistaken in my original belief that the document is a collection of “old news” which is only new in the sense that it is newly collected in one place.

    I do suspect, however, that this might be what “went wrong” with the PR. To the stewards of the process who have been working on these issues for years, it became old hat, dull, work product to be plodded through. And the mid-July timing, 3 weeks after most of the rest of the Vatican has headed out on vacation, really does look like a “desk-clearing” activity by people who have long since lost track of the notion that other people are going to be interested in and paying attention to what they are sending out.

  • Bender

    mjc — I am sorry for your experience and pray that God give you the grace of healing.

    mjc and cathy — In no way have I minimized the evil that was and is sexual abuse, but yes, I do say that you grossly minimize the grave harm that is caused by the attempted “ordination” of women. It is a rupture of the Church itself, a tearing apart of the Body of Christ. Blasphemy, heresy, schism — these are VERY serious offenses against the truth of the Faith, very serious scandal, leading many people astray, destroying the unity of the Church, which results in many heavy millstones as well for the ones who engage in them.

    I do not say that one is worse or more evil than the other. What I do say is that it is wrong to even engage in some kind of ranking of which is worse than the other.

    But let’s consider another set of examples –

    Which is more serious, (a) throwing the Host on the floor and stomping on it, or (b) walking up to a guy, putting a gun to his head, and pulling the trigger?

    [Depends. First, what is the intention in either case? -admin]

  • mb

    Thanks, Anchoress! You captured my inchoate rage, and made me laugh at the same time.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    test

  • Texan99

    I’m speaking as a non-Catholic, so pardon me if I’m out of turn. Our hostess has absolutely put her finger on part of what makes Catholicism so opaque to outsiders. I think she said it exactly right when she asked how we would feel if someone had ripped our lives apart, and denied it for years, and then when he finally got around to apologizing, slipped it into a list of wrongdoings, suggesting that it was on a par with sins not even remotely in the same ballpark of gravity.

    It makes the Catholic Church look as though it didn’t understand the difference between sectarian quarrels over which procedural traditions best embody the teachings of Christ, on the one hand, and deliberately covered-up widespread child abuse, on the other. People can agree or disagree about the ordination of women without having their faith shattered. They will have a very difficult time accepting the aiding and abetting of pederasts if they conclude the Church has only a lukewarm interest in the matter. This approach was guaranteed to induce moral revulsion.

  • cathyf

    Bender, I would compact your question: if a guy was going to throw the blessed sacrament on the floor and stomp on it, would you shoot him to stop him? What would Jesus answer? I’m pretty sure that it’s not just “No” but accompanied by some Anchoress-style table slapping and the word stupido or some variation might just get shouted!

    One of the wiser of the bumper-sticker sayings is: Act as if it all depends on you; Know that it all depends on God. Yes, sacrilege is bad for the person who commits it, and yes you should take prudent means to stop it and/or prevent it. But don’t fool yourself into confusing who is Saviour and who is saved in this relationship. Whatever the sacrilege, you can be pretty sure that 1) Our Lord can take it; 2) He’s suffered worse; and 3) He spent a big chunk of His days on earth inveighing against spiritual busybodies and hypocrites.

    If you look at the Church’s list of “grave delicts” what they all have in common is that there is some important reason or reasons why the Church needs to have some public response to any of these specific cases. What characterizes these things is that they are exceptional. Because the Church’s default reaction to sins and sinners is that the Church keeps our sins secret. (And, of course, several of those grave delicts involve breaking the seal of confession.)

    To me, the far more interesting question is why we have these few things which are specific exceptions to our general rule that judgment is left to God and repentance is a private matter in the confessional. It seems to me that the heinousness of the crime is simply irrelevant to the calculation (beyond a certain minimum — we don’t excommunicate anybody for a venial sin, no matter how flagrant.) None of us can argue that a layman who rapes his stepson is guilty of a lesser crime than a priest who rapes the boy’s little sister. No one argues that the mother who murders her teenager is guilty of a lessor crime that the one who murders her unborn child.

    The difference, it seems to me, is all about these very specific narrow cases where it is necessary to protect people from coming to believe dangerously false things about Church teachings, and people’s souls would be in peril because of those falsities. A lot of this is about side-effects… So I’m not buying your argument about the heinousness of the pretend-ordination of a woman, and I don’t think Jesus buys it either. He’s the one who ridiculed the priest and levite on the road to Jericho who couldn’t help the man that the Samaritan helped because of ritual impurity. I think, in fact, that excommunication is totally proper to the case, it’s just that I don’t see the heinousness there. What I see is someone whose actions have put her outside of the Church, and we should be sad and cordial and only implacable about her beliefs being outside the Church. But if she repents, we will joyfully take her back, and there will be no victims who still need any further healing.

  • mjc

    Bender, thanks for the prayers and keep them coming. I was privileged to sing the Exultet for my parish during Easter Vigil for a few years when we had a pastor whose voice wasn’t up to the task. I had to wrap my head around “O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam!” I wouldn’t be who I am today without going through what I have. God lives and loves in this whole creation, not just the parts we designate. Evil does not conquer.

    Cathyf answers your question much as I would. God can take whatever we dish out, and seems to have a maddening but infinite patience when I wish He’d move things along. Both the disrespect of the Host and the gunshot are sins against the Body of Christ. I’m agree with you that ranking sins can be more troublesome than its worth. I’ll simply point out that, with time, some mortal sins become venial (e.g. enjoyment of marital intercourse with Augustine of all people leading the way) or even not sinful at all (usury in the 1600′s and the duality of marital intercourse since 1930′s). We learn as we go, and it is an error to believe we have anything all figured out even if we do have the entire deposit of the faith. I think the curia and the whole church would do well to concentrate on being on the road, rather than pretending we know the infinite mind of Jesus. And in that way, I think we would bear witness better to those who don’t believe.

    I hope I would rescue both the Host and the guy. God bless.

  • cathyf

    So I went in to the google cache and read Fr. Martin’s blog comparing the iPhone antenna communications debacle to the Church’s sex abuse communications debacle. Ok, I think I know why he decided to take it down — it was obnoxious and flippant.

    I think we should make a completely different (obnoxious and flippant) comparison, which is applying this masterful little stroke of iPhone apologetics to the issue of woman’s ordination.

    Just sing along with slightly different lyrics:
    If ya don’t wanna be Catholic, don’t join up.
    If you joined up and you don’t like it, don’t stay. (…become a Protestant…)

  • cathyf

    To continue to flog this dead horse…

    As Bender can explain way better than me, a “delict” is what the rest of the world which doesn’t have our nutty legal system uses in place of a tort. Basically the concept is that it is a dereliction of one’s duty that causes injuries to others. From that point of view, I would argue that getting involved in the pretend-ordination of a woman is a dereliction of one’s duties as a Catholic, while sexual abuse is a dereliction of one’s duties as a human being.

    This is, I think, a far more useful distinction by way of explanation. Everyone in America (The Most Litigious Place On Earth) understands that the law is very broad and applies to all sorts of things of all different levels of serious and magnitude. For example, if the soda pop company messes up and you find a mouse at the bottom of your soda pop bottle, you get on TV and you get to sue. And if the airplane manufacturer screws up and the plane crashes and 300 people die, you get on TV and you get to sue. But just because TV=TV and lawsuit=lawsuit doesn’t mean that a mouse in a pop bottle is in any way shape or form as horrific as 300 people getting killed.

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  • Bender

    People can agree or disagree about the ordination of women without having their faith shattered

    No, Tex, they can’t.

    One who believes that it is possible to ordain women or who advocate for the same or who attempt it have a shattered faith. They have a profoundly erroneously conception of the truth. They have a false faith. And this false faith, this corrosive heresy, has corrosive effects.

    [Or, they just don't understand, in which case, Bender, loving correction, not an accusation of "false faith", might be the best way to counter it? THere are a lot of Catholics who don't have a clue why we do what we do or think what we think...and that is the fault of the church, which is paying for 40 years of terrible catechesis. -admin]

  • Steve P in La Crosse, Wis.

    The hostile media will be hostile, whatever the Church does. But you are absolutely right, O Anchoress, that the Church doesn’t need to *put* the weapon IN THEIR HANDS, and tape a big sign to herself that says “BEAT ME PLEASE!!!” Stupido is exactly the right word.

  • cathyf

    One who believes that it is possible to ordain women … [has] a profoundly erroneously[sic] conception of the truth.

    To put this in the starkest of terms, if this is true, then no woman could be or has been redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a man. There is just not that much space between baptism and holy orders; if it is profoundly erroneous to see a possibility for a woman to act in persona Christi, then it is also at least somewhat erroneous to see a possibility that a woman can “put on Christ” in baptism. It is profoundly erroneous to believe that it is possible to ordain a dog; belief in the possibility of ordaining women is a matter of getting some issues correct while erring enough on others to reach an incorrect conclusion. Error, yes, but the difference between profound error and somewhat-understandable error.

    Bender, we have had this argument before, you and I, about whether the Church in fact believes that it is its mission to bring women to salvation. Perhaps it is simply that you got so enthusiastic in the pursuit of your argument that women can’t be priests that you cut your own brake lines and went careening over the cliff of arguing that women can’t be laypeople. (Over enthusiasm is certainly an understandable and easily-excused human frailty.) Or perhaps you revealed too much, and I was wrong before when I so desperately hoped that you — and the Church you were defending — were not lying.

  • http://jscafenette.com Jeanette

    OK, I’m going to stick my Protestant (Baptist) nose into this one.

    I have no clue what you all are talking about with curia and the publication you are discussing because I am not a Catholic. But I have read some of the comments and got tired of reading the arguing back and forth between people of the same faith. I especially take offense at people criticizing Anchoress for saying what she actually believes to be true.

    Having said that, my but-inski self will just ask you all this: Have you prayed and sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit before you made your posts trying to outdo another poster? Or are you speaking as Man, a weak creature only made strong by the Triune God?

    God does not contradict Himself, so if you will take the time to pray and wait upon the Lord you should all be in agreement on whatever it is you decide.

    At least that’s what I try to do when I’m not sure of something.

  • DT

    While i agree that Vatican needs a good Pr dept., let’s temper the criticism with charity, otherwise we’ll liable to fiery gehenna and that’s not my own word :)

  • Andrew

    P.R. is for the unwashed masses. Get your priorities straight: the Church speaks the truth, not P.R.

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  • http://catholicism.about.com/b/2010/04/13/why-steven-hepburn-is-becoming-a-monk.htm?nl=1#commentform Sheila

    Best piece describing the ongoing battle. Another good note on the topic, a forum name identified as Pascal who entered a splice quoting John Henry Cardinal Newman. We’ll continue to be judged by someone in the media, including among our own. Our Lord is in control, He promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail. We are all equal, though have different roles for our Lord. The culture (even among the Church) has caused this scandal. We as laity, have not prayed nearly enough for our Church members, including the Pope himself.

  • Thomas

    I’m sorry but Fr. Federico Lombardi is a dissaster. It’s been one HUGE flub after another. He should be relieved ASAP. The Vatican should always get a qualified, articulate LAY PERSON for the papal spokesperson. God bless the priests but they live in a different world. The Vatican could use a Tony Snow or a Dana Perino. A young, conservative, personable lay woman would be perfect. They need someone who is experienced with the main stream liberal media and who is smart enough to realize that the NYT and CBS, NBC, MSNBC etc will never give a fair portrayal to the Church. And the Church needs to move faster when an issue comes up. I’m not saying to react but do something!!! This child abuse mess should have been handled in the first week of the Pope’s pontificate. All abusers should have been laicized and reported to the police ASAP, canon law changed to make it a crime, apologizes made, and the reformation of the clergy begun.


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