My attempts at blogging have been few and far between for quite some time now.
The reason is simple.
This is the Catholic venue at Patheos, and my blog is called Public Catholic. Since our bishops and priests backed the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, and then many of them followed through by telling trusting pew-sitters that they would go to hell if they didn’t vote for woman-hating, serial sexual predator, racist, corrupt, lying, cheating, incompetent, Putin’s boy Donald Trump — since that — I haven’t been a particularly good Catholic.
Instead of finding comfort in my faith, it has been a source of angst. Instead of bringing me to Jesus, the behavior of my religious leaders sent me back through the fundamental questions of what do I really, all the way through, believe?
My answers, it turned out, were simple. I believe the Apostles Creed. I believe it right down to the ground. I believe what the Church teaches when it is being the Church. I trust in the graces of the sacraments. I am committed with all my heart to politics based on the sanctity of human life and the ultimate preeminence of the common good.
My problem is that I don’t believe that many of the bishops and our “star” priests with their little rogue ministries believe these things.
I don’t believe — as in absolutely do not believe — they care if women are raped and murdered. I do not expect them — ever — to stand up for human rights for women. In fact, I expect them to make pretty speeches and then to oppose human rights for women in actual practice, just as they did with the Kavanaugh confirmation, just like they did when Trump was talking about women like dirt and bragging about committing sexual assault, just as they did when they opposed the Violence Against Women Act, and backed politicians who oppose equal pay.
I think their concern for women’s human rights is as thin as their opposition to racism. They issue a “teaching” that sounds good. Then they support a politician who kills the anti-lynching bill.
The bishops have a nasty habit of fine-combing legislative efforts to help people until they find something in it somewhere that supposedly “contradicts” “Church teaching.” Then, as in the case of the Violence Against Women Act, they oppose it.
Of course, these are the same “pro life” bishops who fire unmarried pregnant women who work for the Church — while leaving the men who got these women pregnant untouched. Their “pro life” politics seem to begin and end at making abortion illegal. They’re not “pro life” enough to back the Child Tax Credit, mandatory paid maternity leave, equal pay, or any one of the many things that would make it possible for women to chose life for their babies.
I do not believe that the bishops give one whit for their much-ballyhooed “preferential option for the poor,” and I could lay out a long list of their positions on issues and politicians to back that statement. I think they never met a rapist or sexual predator they didn’t like and support, including both Trump and Kavanaugh.
As you can see, I’m angry. And I do not consider my anger healthy for seeking people who are trying to work out their salvation. I do not want to persuade anyone to follow me down this path of anger and outrage that I am walking. This is my path, wrought of my own life’s experiences. I have backed away from blogging because I can not, with any integrity, claim to be speaking as a faithful Catholic.
I would walk away from this Church and end the angst. I would do it, even though I believe in its teachings, except for one thing.
I love it.
I love the Catholic Church, and I can say in the midst of my angriest rant about its obscene fealty to Neo Nazi politics and corrupt amoral seditionist politicians that the Catholic Church has been to me the most forgiving and loving institution I have ever encountered. The grace and love the Church poured out on me was balm to my battered soul.
The Church is a conduit of grace, the Eucharist a direct connection to Christ. We can all be like the woman with the hemorrhage, who reached out and touched Him and was healed, just by taking the Eucharist.
The miracle — among the many miracles — of the Eucharist is that this ability to touch divinity is not limited, diluted, or expunged by the priest who proffers it. The Church is a conduit of Grace. But it is not that Grace.
I never doubted that, but it became a living reality to me in the dark time of Trump. Many of our priests and bishops have fallen personally into the political pit. Several of them are giving a pretty good imitation of flat-out crazy. We have rogue priests and a few of our bishops — crazy Bishops Strickland of Tyler Texas and any-right-wing-billionaire’s-dance-partner Vigano come to mind — who appear to be little more than right wing political operatives.
These bishops are fallen. And yet the Church sails on. Good priests lift up the Chalice and Host every day. They hear confessions and listen to our gripes and anoint us when we’re sick. They visit us in hospitals and hold our hands as we die. I don’t know how they keep it up, day after day, year after year, in an endless liturgical cycle. But they do, and we count on them to do it. We trust that they will do it. We trust them, because when we need them, they are there.
My angst — my misery — is that I am a believing Catholic caught in a Church that is riddled with priests and bishops who, to all appearances, are not believing Catholics but right wing political operatives. That makes me a bad Catholic.
Nobody ever wanted the Church to be what it says about itself more than me. I know all about regret and remorse from mistakes I have made, and I wanted the Church to rescue me from the perils of my own moral judgements. I wanted it to save me from ever being that wrong and having to feel the searing pain of that remorse again.
I came to the Church and laid down my ability to make critical moral judgements with relief. I wanted the Church to be right. I wanted the bishops to be good. I welcomed the safety of the guardrails the Church puts up.
Then, along came Trump. I have never seen a more obvious evil than Trump. He never hid what he was. He flaunted it. He was obviously — and I mean OBVIOUSLY — a corrupt, cruel, racist, misogynist, serial sexual predator, thug, amoral, lying, grifter who was also a mentally ill psychopath. He said that’s what he was, every single time he opened his mouth.
Instead of condemning his repulsively sinful behavior, the bishops fell face forward into Trump worship like a bunch of teen-aged girls fawning over their fave boy band. The rogue priests with their lucrative little “ministries” went all-in. They heaped their vicious character assassinations on anyone who didn’t blindly follow this obvious demagogue. They went after Trump like a pack of male dogs, chasing after a female dog in heat.
Then the Kavanaugh confirmation happened. I forced myself to watch Christine Blasey Ford’s gut-wrenching testimony because I felt that if she had the guts to do this, I had to find the guts to go through it with her. Later in the day, I watched the little lizard Republican Senator Lindsey Graham jump up and attack her. I watched the snot-slinging, bawling reaction of the man these senators were actually backing for the United States Supreme Court. And, of course, I listened to the obscene, rapist-excusing, victim-bashing reaction of my fellow Catholics.
Nobody from the faith column stood up to support Christine Blasey Ford. This Catholic woman was disbelieved, attacked, and abandoned by her fellow Catholics in the same way that victims of sexual assault and rape have always been.
The bishops did what they’ve always done. They left the victim of sexual assault to be pilloried and attacked, and they backed her attacker.
From that moment to this, I have not been a good Catholic.
My appetite for blogging about the Church was gone. I had nothing edifying to say to anyone.
Now, I’m blogging again.
I decided to blog again while I was praying for Ukraine on Ash Wednesday. I am writing this today so that you will take what I am going to say advisedly.
I am not writing as a good Catholic. I am writing as the faithful opposition to the political heresy that has taken hold in the Church. I am writing as a committed member of the resistance to the unholy, anti-democratic, dishonest, seditionist, racist-to-the-core, fascist right wing that has destroyed the Republican Party, is ripping America apart and that set the whole world up for the invasion of Ukraine.
My reason for blogging again is simple.
I oppose the Neo Nazis in our Church and the body politic of America. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a democracy. I want them to have access to a Church that preaches Christ, not Republicanism and fascist hate.
I am blogging because blogging is part of what I can do to that end.