Some people wonder what I think about the business with Fr. Guarnizo

Some people wonder what I think about the business with Fr. Guarnizo March 15, 2012

What I think is that Phil Lawler is right and there’s so much we don’t know that it’s a complete waste of time making any judgements while our minds buzzing in a fact-free vacuum.

What I secondarily think is that the behavior of partisans of Fr. Guarnizo in cyberspace reminds me ever so much of the behavior of partisans of Fr. Maciel, Fr. Euteneuer, Fr. Corapi and Fr. Pavone and Michael Voris. He’s a folk hero who stood up to somebody in opposition to something that matters a lot to conservative Catholics, therefore it is not possible his suspension was, in fact, due to other factors and it is dogmatically certain that, yet again, the Vast Liberal Conspiracy is the only thing that can possibly account for what is happening.

Anything is possible. Maybe there is a Vast Liberal Conspiracy at work here. However, it may also be that conservative Catholics with their astonishing anti-charism of discernment–an anti-charism which has managed to be on the wrong side of multiple conflicts about issues of fact while never learning from previous mistakes (Maciel *was* a disgusting perv, Euteneuer *did* abuse somebody in his charge, Corapi was a grifter and liar as well as a rebel against his superiors and bishop, Fr. Pavone *did* owe his superior obedience, and the Archdiocese of Detroit has every right to tell Voris to stop using the name “Catholic”)–is once again exercising that anti-charism to leap to the conclusion that Fr. Guarnizo is a holy martyr when, in fact, he may be in the wrong and his superiors may actually be telling the truth that his administrative leave has nothing to do with the communion incident.

I at any rate, have no idea since–just like you–I have no idea what is actually happening, merely what ignorant people in comboxes are concluding based on their half-baked spitballing of a few incomplete “facts”.

And so, just as it was exactly one year ago with the partisans of Corapi who were so utterly certain that their folk hero was the victim of a Vast Conspiracy, I suggest that everybody listen to Professor Digory Kirke and shut up with offering verdicts till we have some idea of what’s going on (assuming we ever will). Learn, at long last, from disasters like Corapi’s self-destruction that just because somebody is a beloved folk hero, it does not mean they can’t be in the wrong too. Learn, most especially, not to make sweeping judgements about people alleging wrongdoing on the part of your folk hero when you have no idea what is going on.

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  • Curly Howard

    Mark:

    Love you or hate you, no one will deny that you’re predictable!

    • Mark Shea

      Actually, that’s very true. What always mystifies me is that people are often mystified by my “contradictory” opinions.

  • Roberto

    Thank you, Mark! We all need to be much more prudent and slow with our assessments. How can we be right when we have have only (barely) seen the surface of an issue?

  • Spastic Hedgehog

    Ed Peters has written a great analysis on this issue. In short, our popular understanding of the issue and the actual legal issues in play are quite different (much like the popular v. canonical understanding of the term “scandal”)
    http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/three-recent-questions-in-the-wake-of-the-lesbiancommunion-controvery/

  • Curly Howard

    Wouldn’t it be cool if the bishop was removed and replaced by this man?:
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/priest-removal-from-ministry-was-tied-to-communion-incident/

    Would go a looong way towards straightening out the Amchurch.

    • Mark Shea

      And the anti-charism powered by fleshly factionalism marches on. One despairs that some conservative Catholics are capable of learning anything at all from history.

      • Jacqueline Y.

        I agree with you that we should exercise caution until all the facts are made plain (assuming they ever will be). You’re also right about the “anti-charism” thingy. But have you factored in Father Guarnizo’s detailed response in the CNA article Curly links to above?

        • Mark Shea

          Yes. It give us the “he said” side of what is, at present, a “he said/they said” argument. But since the diocese is saying the admin leave is not about the communion business, we still don’t know anything except that his response is not addressing what the archdiocese says is the problem. It is, however, getting folk hero worshippers worked up and leaping to the defense of a martyr and living saint victimized by a vast conspiracy, rather like Fr. Corapi’s press releases about his accuser and investigators succeeded in doing, because fans of the Folk Hero insisted on reading them as infallible gospel accounts of the Real Story and not as one side of a dispute which proved nothing. Trusting in the discernment abilities of a subculture that has proven so wrong so many times and so incapable of learning from that so often seems unwise to me. I’ll wait until we know something.

          • Ted Seeber

            Sounds to me like a good, orthodox, conservative priest tried to go a bit to far in defending himself and acquiring evidence for his own defense- and that’s what he’s *really* accused of. If so, won’t be the first time that a defendant priest has been convicted of acting *human*.

      • MarieLouise

        Is constantly criticizing conservative Catholics not factionalism? Surely you ought to appreciate those who desire orthodoxy?

        • Mark Shea

          I do indeed appreciate them. The problem is that many allegedly “conservative” Catholics often don’t desire orthodoxy. They desire a different selection of stuff from the cafeteria Catholicism menu–and to be able to pride themselves on being orthodox while in fact dissenting from the Church. Insofar as they do this, they are conserving, not the Catholic faith, but various Republican or Libertarian talking points. (And, by the way, the illusion that I only criticize conservatives is a function, not of my sole focus on conservatives, but of your failure to notice my critique of lefties too. What this suggests is that you only notice criticism of your own tribe while taking criticism of your opposite tribe for granted. In short, no it’s not “factional” when one sees the problem of both political tribes. But it is factional of you to only note criticism of one tribe). But, of course, that’s not germane here. What’s germane is that we don’t know what the facts are in this conflict.

          • Ted Seeber

            When you’re on a shore, sometimes the middle of the river looks to be the opposite side.

    • Tim in Cleveland

      No, that would not be cool.

      • Jacqueline Y.

        I agree with you, Tim.

  • Jack

    I think the defining question of this affair should be “would he have been placed on leave had he NOT refused to give Jesus to someone who flaunted her depraved lifestyle in front of him and also happened to be an apostate”.

    Whilst I partially agree with you Mark, I think that its also fair to say that the fact that the depraved women who by the way; having been refused Holy Communion then went ahead and commited sacralige anyway, has said in public that she will try and get the Reverend Father removed from ministry. In light of those comments then I’m going to back Fr Guarnizo until it becomes clear that he’s in the wrong (in light of what has been publically reported I think he did the right thing).

    • SDG

      Jack:

      A clarification: The woman in question still apparently identifies as a Catholic as well as a Buddhist. Therefore the term “apostate” appears to be theologically incorrect (as well as canonically unrecognized under current law). She is obviously religiously confused, apparently in deliberate and defiant dissent, and very likely a material heretic, but “apostate” she is not, unless she explicitly rejects Christ, Christianity and the Church, which she apparently does not.

      • Jack

        Steve

        With all due respect I think that you’re splitting hairs, my point was that this women is in no way conforming her moral and religious beliefs to the One True Faith in which she was baptized, and has demonstrated NO respect for Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

        • Spastic Hedgehog

          Actually he’s not just splitting hairs. What words you use matter under canon law.

        • Tim in Cleveland

          “This woman was baptized Catholic. The presumption is, therefore, that she had a right to Communion, and the burden is on those who would deny her same to prove that she is no longer permitted by law to receive holy Communion, here, on the grounds that she is a Buddhist. That is a heavy burden of proof, of course, and one not likely sustainable in a short conversation before Mass one day…”

          (From that Ed Peters post). Denying communion is a serious thing. The burden is not on the woman to prove she is a Catholic, but on whoever wants to deny communion.

          • Jack

            Ok Tim let me make this clear to you.

            The women in question made it known to the Reverend Father before the Requium Mass that she was in a relationship so unnatural that it is one of the four sins that cry out to heaven for vengence, i.e. this is worse than a guy fornicating with the girl he’s engaged to.

            She then presented herself for Holy Communion, the Reverend Father then quitely explained that she couldn’t recieve Jesus because she was in a state of mortal sin.

            The women then commited Sacralige anyway, then she makes a big ho ha to the local Press.

            As for charges of ‘intimidation’ I would merely say that it is a very subjective term.

            • Tim in Cleveland

              Forgive me if I don’t take your word to be 100% credible, especially since it is all hearsay.

              • Jack

                forgive me for trusting an Orthodox Priest over a depraved women

                • Patrick

                  Dude, you’ve got problems if you can’t see that the depravity that you KNOW may not be the deciding factor of everything.

          • Ted Seeber

            Did you read Fr.’s reason for the denial? Has nothing to do with her being a heretic. Has to do with her being an unrepentant sinner who *immediately before Mass announced herself to be in a state of grave sin*. Would have been the same with a heterosexual who introduced Father to his ex-wife.

            • Tim in Cleveland

              And it is just his testimony. It could be entirely true, or maybe he left out some things or didn’t recollect things correctly.

              If we want ordinary people to take the Eucharist seriously, priests and bishops need to take the Eucharist seriously and that may include investigating whether a priest was justified in denying communion.

              For all I can tell, the bishop is taking the matter seriously.

              • Tim in Cleveland

                And for all I can tell, the leave has nothing to do with denial of communion.

  • Michael in ArchDen

    OK, Mark; I’ll concede that we do not have all the facts, and there very well be good reasons for this administrative leave. Still, it’s hard not to notice that an issue like this leads to the priest being put on leave within a few weeks, while those who oppose the clear teaching of the bishops get asked to visit and discus their concerns over the course of decades.

    • Mark Shea

      Of course. But then again *it may not be this issue that led to him being put on leave*. Which is my point.

  • Mark, I don’t think it’s fair to put Fr. Pavone in the same list as the others. He actually *was* obedient to his bishop and remains so.

    • Mark Shea

      He was obedient-ish. Meanwhile his fans wasted a lot of time making war on his bishop (and innocent people in his diocese) and indulging the standard conservative Catholic fantasies about a vast conspiracy to destroy a living saint. And he encouraged that kind of talk and behavior.

  • nate

    Another thing to remember is that there are many Catholics who are weary of the bishops, who find Ed Peter’s critique cogent but problematic, and who support the actions of this priest…but who nevertheless hold no one up as a folk hero and hold to no conspiracy theories.

    • Mark Shea

      No argument from me. But you don’t find such Catholics spouting all over St. Blogs about how his superiors should be fired and replaced with Their Hero.

  • laura

    Why do we have to shut up? Because you say so? Or Digory Kirke says so? Who is he? We just now have heard from Father himself and people have opinions. Last I checked we still live in the land of the free. Tikes. Or does that make me a conservative? Go ahead – put me in that box if it makes you happy. I’d like to just be a Catholic American who would prefer not to see a good orthodox pro-life priest get taken out and yet the ones like Father Phleger still manage to maintain their positions despite trying their darndest to tear down the Church.

    • Tim in Cleveland

      I was looking through the internet about the dust up between Father Phleger and Cardinal George from last year. A lot of the stories said Father Phleger was “suspended”. I wonder, after reading Ed Peters post, whether he was actually suspended or on administrative leave like Father Guarnizo.

      He was eventually reinstated after apologizing. So there was action taken with regards to Father Phleger.

    • bones

      Because obedience and charity – big parts of this Catholic thing – behoove us to do so.

    • Mark Shea

      Why do we have to shut up? Because you say so?

      Because you don’t know anything about the facts.

      Or Digory Kirke says so? Who is he?

      The professor in the Chronicles of Narnia.

      We just now have heard from Father himself and people have opinions.

      And this time last year we were hearing from Fr. Corapi and ignorant people were treating what he said as gospel and spouting ignorant verdicts based on that too.

      Last I checked we still live in the land of the free.

      And you are free to spout ignorant verdicts on a matter of which you know nothing. But you shouldn’t and neither should anybody else who knows nothing about this matter.

      Tikes. Or does that make me a conservative? Go ahead – put me in that box if it makes you happy.

      Nothing wrong with being a conservative. I’m one myself. There’s plenty wrong with the broad tendency of conservatives to anoint folk heros and imagine that everytime one of them runs into trouble it’s all due to a Vast Liberal Conspiracy to destroy a living saint. Conservatives have been wrong–badly wrong in exactly the same way–multiple times over the past ten years and yet, as you are demonstrating, seem to learn nothing from experience.

      I’d like to just be a Catholic American who would prefer not to see a good orthodox pro-life priest get taken out and yet the ones like Father Phleger still manage to maintain their positions despite trying their darndest to tear down the Church.

      The question of Fr. Guarnizo is not to be settled by appeals to tribal loyalties. It is settled by facts. Your thinking is exactly the sort of folly that got OJ Simpson acquitted. “I’d like to just be an African American who would prefer not to see a good brother get taken out and yet the ones like the cops who beat Rodney King still manage to maintain their positions despite trying their darndest to tear down the black community.” Doling out justice on an affirmative action basis rather than on the basis of whether the person in question has done something wrong is folly.

    • Ted Seeber

      I too, was wondering what a fictional character from a children’s book had to do with the issue. (unlike Laura, I remember Professor Digory Kirke from the Chronicles of Narnia- as the brilliant boy who served as both the “Adam” of Narnia and who was present at the Last Battle).

  • Christine

    If Fr. Guarnizo’s behavior was so “intimidating”, where’s the police report?

    • kenneth

      Most of the speech that gets people into trouble on the job does not rise to the level of a criminal offence ie putting someone in legitimate fear that you’re going to hurt them. Just acting unprofessionally is usually enough to get you in trouble with the bosses. Being a priest, in that you’re supposed to be one of Christ’s second louies, quite likely puts you on notice to hold yourself to an even higher standard.

      • Noah D

        ‘Conduct Unbecoming’, methinks.

        you’re supposed to be one of Christ’s second louies

        Love the phrase, sir – may I use it?

  • I think we ought to pray for all involved and let the Holy Spirit be the guide during this episode.

    At the on set, I take the belief that Maryland is a politically charged environment right now because of the SSM legislation that was recently signed and that all involved are more sensitive than normal in light of what’s going on up there.

    Learning from the Corapi situation, I am not going to take sides.

  • Mary Russell

    No, I disagree. I am not prone to conspiracy theories. I did not follow the controversies surrounding the other priests mentioned very closely, and I generally admire our current bishops. I do not think it’s against the rules to form a tentative judgement about the facts we have now on hand, about which there is substantial agreement by both parties.
    Guarnizo penned a thoughtful, mature, narrative of the events of that day while avoiding any personal attack on the family. He expressed condolences for their loss no less than 3 times over the course of the letter. Meanwhile Barbara Johnson et al has gone after him personally in a rather vicious manner and is the ones who unquestionably starte the media circus ball rolling. (No, I’m sorry, losing your mother does not give you an excuse to behave in this manner.)
    I’m with Guarnizo on this one.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes, but the Archdiocese says the admin leave has nothing to do with the communion incident. If so, then Fr. Guarnizo’s statement is not addressing the issue.

      • Jacqueline Y.

        It looks like Fr. Guarnizo did address the issue of the admin leave in the paragraph that begins “I wish to state that in conversation with Bishop Barry Knestout …”. Even though I agree with Mary Russell’s post above, I also agree with you about staying away from bandwagons. and exercising patience and prudence. Let us continue to pray.

      • Ted Seeber

        I do agree with this. But I do think there may have been some pressure to find something wrong with the way he gathered witness statements after the incident- and that seems to be what he’s really being punished for.

    • Mary Russell

      “are” the ones…. Yikes.

      • Mary Russell

        Mark:
        Why Fr. Guarnizo was put on administrative leave is still up in the air, agreed, but that is only one of the facets of this story requiring discernment. There has also been substantial speculation about what happened on the day of the funeral about, for instance, why he did not attend the graveside service. His reason, that he had a disabling migraine, seems plausible to me. That the family seems determined to cast all that he did that day in the worst possible light without any attempt at charitable interpretation makes me look on all of their efforts with a jaundiced eye.

        • Mark Shea

          I understand that and appreciate it. My point is simply that, if the Archdiocese is to be believed, it is irrelevant to the reason for the Administrative Leave. What is relevant we don’t know, because nobody has access to those facts yet. It is quite possible that Fr. Guarnizo did the right thing about the communion incident (I would incline toward saying he did, but even there I don’t know what the facts of the situation really were) and yet has also done all sorts of other stuff the Archdiocese is rightly concerned about. I don’t know. Neither does anybody else. So until we know, we should mind our own business.

  • Romulus

    Well, Mark — Since we’re going to be so prudent and all about not rushing to judgment, one wonders why it was necessary to drag in the names of others who’re decidedly (albeit in widely varying degrees) not innocent.

    Since I’m outing myself as a “conservative Catholic”, I might as well add for the record that I’d sooner believe a priest I’d never heard of two weeks ago than Cardinal Wuerl’s chancery. Sorry.

    • Mark Shea

      Because the history of conservative Catholic discernment with those folk heros ought to give us pause before offering a definitive verdict that we are, yet again, looking at a living saint being martyred by Dark Liberal Forces in league with Satan. He may be, for all I know, a living saint. But I don’t know that, and neither do you, because nobody knows any facts. What we do know is that the conservative commentariat of St. Blog’s has been a one trick pony over the past decade and consistently dealt with all challenges to Beloved Folk Heros by stubborning leaping to the same conclusion again and again, only to find it was disastrously wrong. My suggestion: wait till you know something, *then* proclaim your hero a living saint.

      • Romulus

        the conservative commentariat of St. Blog’s has been a one trick pony

        Not so. Not even close. Conservatives have most certainly NOT been monolithic on the controversies you’ve mentioned. I don’t see how you can say otherwise, unless you’ve simply not been paying attention. Your caricature is glib and unjust.

  • Francis

    In general, I agree with you Mark. It is too true that often we side with a “personality” who agrees with us, even if we don’t have all the facts.

    But I worry about the rush to pull up the Corapi/Maciel/Vortis comparisons as well. Reading your post, it does seem like you lean toward suspecting Fr. Marcel of potential wrongdoing, just because we’ve been burned by “good” priests before. But remember, Fr. Marcel was unknown before this incident, and he did nothing to make himself “known” (unlike the other “folk heros”). So it is a bit of apples to oranges. We should give him the benefit of the doubt and not lump him (even hypothetically) with known wrongdoers.

    I also think there is nothing wrong with people suspecting something fishy from the Archdiocese in this case simply from the information made available. We don’t live in a vacuum, and it is naive to think that the Archdiocese couldn’t be in the wrong here. Yes, one must caveat such possibilities, but you seem to suggest that people can’t even mention their suspicions against the Archdiocese about the case. Only someone living in a dream world wouldn’t see the very distinct possibility that Fr. Marcel has been wronged.

    That all being said, I am in a different situation, because I actually know Fr. Marcel (I am a former parishioner at SJN). Knowing the players involved, I believe Fr. Marcel completely and know that he is a good and holy priest who only works for the salvation of others. He has no desire to be “known” or a “folk hero”. In fact, I’m sure it pains him greatly that this has become so widely known. That being said, I also recognize our fallen nature, so I make no claims that it is impossible that he is in the wrong, nor do I blame people who reserve judgement without all the facts. But I admit that I am pained when this good priest is lumped in with known wrongdoers, even if it is to make somewhat valid point.

    • Mark Shea

      No. I am agnostic about the claims of both the Archdiocese and the priest. I have no idea what he does or does not desire. I merely note that his defenders are rehearsing exactly the same blunders and rash judgments that Corapi’s defenders did a year ago.

      • Francis

        I think it more fair (and accurate) to say “some” of his defenders are doing this. In my own reading on the blogosphere, most people are simply stating they suspect he is in the right, which is completely understandable. Forming an opinion on the matter in his favor (while allowing for the possibility for error) is not creating a “folk hero”.

        • Mark Shea

          Our different takes are probably a function of reading different sets of comboxes. The ones I’ve seen are full of people ready to hang the bishop and cocksure of The Conspiracy Against a Living Saint. Your mileage will vary depending on where you happen to go at St. Blog’s.

          • Francis

            Sounds like you need to go to different blogs… 🙂

            • Mark Shea

              Heh!

  • kenneth

    It is necessary or even wise to look at the “suspension” or lifting of faculties or whatever it is as a punitive thing? When a cop shoots someone, even in a very clear cut justified way, they put you on “desk duty” at least for a little while as a formality to sort things out and to make sure the investigation gets done with fewer distractions. I’m sure the priest reads it as punitive, but it may be that the intent is simply to say “we need to keep you out of the spotlight for a few weeks to let this cool down and get everyone’s story.”

    • Mark Shea

      An excellent question. And again, we don’t know the answer.

      • Noah D

        A thought – this might be protective – if he’s not performing certain priestly duties, then he can’t be challenged again by Buddhist/lesbian provocateurs.

  • laura

    Mark said: I understand that and appreciate it. My point is simply that, if the Archdiocese is to be believed, it is irrelevant to the reason for the Administrative Leave. What is relevant we don’t know, because nobody has access to those facts yet. It is quite possible that Fr. Guarnizo did the right thing about the communion incident (I would incline toward saying he did, but even there I don’t know what the facts of the situation really were) and yet has also done all sorts of other stuff the Archdiocese is rightly concerned about. I don’t know. Neither does anybody else. So until we know, we should mind our own business.

    I have to say Mark, one wonders why it was so important for you to bring this up on your blog when you think we should all ‘mind our own business’. It seems like you allow yourself opinions and then have a problem when the rest of us do as well.

    • Mark Shea

      Because people wanted to know what I though, so I said what I thought. It’s only complicated if you want it to be, Laura. You seem to think I have some sort of power to stop you from speaking your mind. Why do you think that?

      • Paul

        I don’t think she’s suggesting that you have the power, but that you seem to have the desire.

  • laura

    Just repeating your own words back to you. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and you don’t need to be vitriolic just because they put forth one.

    • Mark Shea

      What are you talking about? I haven’t been vitriolic to anybody. People wondered what I thought and I said what I thought.

  • Yeah, Mark!!!

    If you were truly fair, you’d allow comments on your blog!!!!

  • JohnRDC

    Well, Mr. Shea, there’s something called “due process”–in America, at least.

    When the Archdiocese unlimbers its big guns (a bishop) with a letter implying misfeasance by the priest, libeling the priest, and leaving him defenseless and at the mercy of the Archdiocese’s propaganda office, this is not an exercise in anything but raw power. And do I understand that there is no such thing as “administrative leave” in the Church’s vernacular? A punishment concocted on the spur of the moment, perhaps?

    Of course we do not know what went on, but a public pilloring by a bishop, to be followed by star chamber proceedings, smells of retribution–for something. And that is exactly what is happening. A major black eye for the Church in Washington, D.C., is the result, and the damage will be ongoing as this disciplinary saga, needlessly provoked by the Archdiocese, continues.

    I am reminded of Father Ivan Illich’s prosecution years ago once his protector, Cardinal Spelman, had died. Or Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s, for that matter.

    • Mark Shea

      You may be right. But then again, you may not have the slightest idea what you are talking about. In the absence of facts, your charges are just one more empty opinion in a combox. Why not wait till you know something?

  • Patrick Button

    I think that Mark makes a good point about waiting for the facts to come in. That being said, the fact that Fr. Guarnizo is acting in obedience to his Bishop certainly earns him some sympathy from me.

    • Mark Shea

      Me too.

  • antigon

    Mr. Shea:

    The matter of prudence on the part of Archdiocesan officials does seem – generally, but especially in light of growing State attacks on U.S. Catholic institutions – potentially applicable here. It may well be, as Peters persuasively argues, that Fr. Guarnizo erred in denying Miss Johnson Communion.

    Contrary to the Francis post above, & those of many others aware of the priest’s general ministry, it may also prove that Father is in some essential even if less monstrous way like those priests to whose defenders you’ve here drawn parallels.

    Even so, there are also many public examples of bishops who’ve acted unjustly against faithful Catholics and priests, such as – an example that comes to mind – the excommunications in Hawaii Cardinal Ratzinger rescinded some years back. Since as you point out we don’t know all the facts here, it thus seems fair to propose a comparable injustice in this case is as possible as that Guarnizo’s defenders are but another example of deluded Corapiate sorts.

    It also seems fair to wonder, unless Fr. Guarnizo truly is guilty of something deplorable, whether Archdiocesan officials have at the least acted imprudently here since, fair or not, the general public impression is what said officials ought to have been able to guess – which is that Padre is being punished chiefly to pacify a potent agenda that an esteemed blogger has arguably with justice, and more than once, called brownshirt.

    Not perhaps the wisest message to send these days, to the faithful, or to priests generally, without serious cause.

  • Observer

    One thing I do ask is how did the incident of the lady not receiving communion entangle with the corresponding letter at about the same time? Sure, you need facts. And more so there is the obvious fact of the incident at hand. Where is the necessary connection between her not receiving from him and the letter illustrating to place him on leave?

    Two things which are quite apparent and bizarre are: The letter came out at the time the incident occurred (possibly coincidental; but probable with intent and on purpose.) And the other oddly bizarre circumstance was that her identity of what she does and what she was doing were immediatley revealed apparently at and following the situation to the general public.

    Quoting Fr. Brown (In the Curse of the Golden Cross):

    “I can believe the impossible, but not the improbable….Tell me that the great Mr. Gladstone, in his last hours, was haunted by the ghost of Parnell, and I will be agnostic about it….But tell me that Mr. Gladstone, when first presented to Queen Victoria, wore his hat in her drawingroom and slapped her on the back and offered her a cigar, and I am not agnostic at all. That is not impossible, it’s only incredible.”

    I find it improbable that the letter had nothing to do with the apparent incident (in someway.) His actions in the current incident seem to follow, if anything, a precursor from the onset of the letter. And that is a fact.

  • Ivan

    The latest from Phil Lawler:

    “The betrayal of Father Guarnizo sends a chilling message to every priest in Washington: that if he is zealous in defending the Eucharist, he cannot count on support from the archdiocese. Since other radical activists will no doubt follow Barbara Johnson’s example, we can expect another test case soon. Let’s hope and pray that the next time, the archdiocese will show at least as much solicitude for the Eucharist (not to mention the accused priest) as for the critics of the Church.”

    I agree.

  • Charles E Flynn

    When threads like this appear, I tell people they need to go read MarkSheaIsHavingaReallyReallyLongDayDotBlogspotDotCalm.

  • Vincent

    Just like you all, I don’t know all the facts surrounding this incident. If the incident being stemmed from communion being denied from a known lesbian, this is not the first time. I remember the rainbow sash movement a few years ago which some self declared homosexual being denied of communion. I would guess that would include some Catholic baptized. So, it is not unprecedented. I don’t believe Mr. Ed Peters mention about this.

    Nevertheless, what are we waiting for are facts after the communion being denied. Generally, when a bishop place anyone on administrative leave, there usually some citations about the nature of offense. What is missing here is the clarity not mentioning the weight of the evidence. I think the office of the Bishop at least assume some burden of providing some clarity at the time of placing father G on administrative leave.

  • Mark, I am a relatively conservative Catholic priest (“relatively” because I only celebrate the newer rite of Mass and preferably in the vernacular, conservative because I love, honor and respect all of the teachings of the Church and often think the new rite is celebrated by clowns). Although conservative, my charism of discernment often functions properly in regard to other conservatives: ALWAYS (30 years) thought that the Legionaries of Christ were a dangerous cult; never could stand Fr. Corapi’s TV preaching (which often made my skin crawl); thought from the beginning that Fr Pavone should be reined in by his bishop, etc. You say that conservative Catholics too often have blinders on about other conservative Catholics – as in “no enemies on the right”. But I note that bishops disproportionately discipline conservative priests, even just for matters of taste than they do modernist priests for serious heresy. Modernist priests can get away with most anything, even to the point of denying publically some (not all) age-old teachings of the Church. While conservative priests are often “put on administrative leave” or even suspended for much less serious matters, such as telling a bride that she will have to cover up her bare shoulders before the nuptial Mass can begin. Yes, some conservatives do not discern the grave faults of other conservatives. But in general bishops seem much quicker to come down hard on conservatives for matters that used to be considered required Catholic behavior, and let modernists off with less than a warning in matters that scandalously contradict substantive Catholic teachings on faith and morals. This is what seems unfair and what perhaps helps explain why conservatives at first do not want to judge harshly conservative priests – because we think so many have already received unjust punishment.

    • Mark Shea

      Fair enough. You may be right. But till we have more facts, I simply think rendering a verdict is imprudent, Father.

      • Thanks, Mark, for your “fair enough”. In return, I agree completely with you that it is imprudent to render a premature verdict. Time will tell, and he who laughs last laughs in heaven. By the way, congratulations on your weight loss – a great and hopefully ongoing victory. God is so good!

  • Noah D

    May I offer a few bits of advice to my fellow conservative orthodox Catholics?

    1) Let’s strive for being more conservative (reserved, reticent, cautious) and orthodox (obedient, submissive, conformed) in our words and thoughts. I struggle with it, too.

    2) Remember that there’s no Shadowy Liberal Conspiracy – that’s just Liberalism. We deal with it every day, and we’ll weather it, like every other heresy. Have faith. You can’t fix it today, and not in a combox.

    3) Step away from the computer. Turn off the radio – even EWTN! Turn off the TV. Take your rosary and go outside. If it’s a beautiful day, thank God for it. If it’s not…thank him for that, too. A bad day is better than no day. Walk around for a while. Listen. Smell. Just observe the things close to you. If it’s rural, enjoy the open spaces of our Lord’s Creation. If it’s suburban, take in the quiet human community – wave to a neighbor! If it’s urban, revel in the history of our great cities, large or small. Go to a small, local restaurant, regardless of quality. Eat a meal, and savor the work of human hands and the fruits of God’s blessings. Can’t afford that? Take your lunch or a snack outside, do the same thing. Can’t get out of the house? Watch your kids – just relax, and take them in, all that they are and all that they do. Be amazed at the miracle of a young human being. No kids and can’t get outside? Find a window, and just stare out it for a while. Think about what you see, the growth of the natural features, or the crafting of the manmade. Your rosary? You don’t have to say it, but it never hurts. Sometimes I just sit and hold it, and listen. But get away from the information flow. Give yourself a break. You deserve it!

  • laura

    Thank you, Noah D. Good reminders.

  • antigon

    Dear Laura:

    Maybe. Arguably a tad unctuous tho.

    • Noah D

      How so?

      Apparently, my previous comment, consisting of only the two above words, was too short for the commenting software. So, in order to ensure that my comment makes it through, I’m adding a bit of rather self-referential verbiage. Let’s see if this works…

  • Trevor

    As our military takes on the Afghan Taliban, Mark Shea takes on the Catholic Taliban.

    Good work in deconstructing these Catholic nut jobs.