Friday, September 30, 2005

Angry Chatter

So I viewed the online chat with Inquirer columnist John Grogan this morning about sex abuse.... There were about 25 participants, and it was, um, sad. Angry. Searching for hope. And everything else you'd expect from a post-traumatic exchange on a topic deeply felt by many.

Grogan -- who admitted to supporting the ordination of women and married men -- seemed to also support the idea of the faithful withholding money from the plate. He laid primary blame at the feet of the Cardinals and, when asked about his own practice, talked about how each of his siblings have either "Joseph" or "Mary" as their middle names and that he "hasn't given up on the Church." Hmm.

But an idea seemed to germinate which, while serving as an outlet for valid anger, might not be the wisest idea. Some questioner wanted to galvanize support for angry Catholics to march on the Cardinal's Residence.

Um, while I understand where that sentiment comes from, the notion honestly scares me. It's just not a wise idea. If it happened, I'll leave town on the appointed day, because I wouldn't want to be anywhere near it. What nuttiness.

First off, screaming at the gates probably won't be heard at the house itself -- the street which runs along the side fence of the Maison is called "Cardinal Avenue." That's its name.

Second, His Eminence is away for the better part of a month.

Third, and most importantly, and for the millionth time, RIGALI HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. The sitting archbishop inherited this mess from his predecessors, the grand jury began a year and a half before his arrival, and to put the blame on his shoulders is: 1. irrational and 2. unjust. Yes, Justin Rigali spearheaded the response which has been perceived in many quarters as defensive, misdirected, not contrite enough, indefensible, etc. But he hadn't a damn thing to do with the substance of the grand jury investigation and the actions of the archdiocese in the time period which was the focus of the probe.

Point being that a March on Cardinal Avenue would be all symbol, no substance and definitely no help at all -- if you really want to do something constructive, don't scream at a big house from 300ft, and then go home and turn on the football game thinking that the job's done. Support the victims, support the priests who didn't have a clue what was going on and are now getting dumped on and, for the love of God, stay informed and involved in the life and doings of the church. If anything, the scandal is proof positive of the bad things that can happen when there is no information, no curiosity, and little positive interplay between the people in the trenches and the curia whose purpose is to serve them.

Nobody said purification was easy, just as genuine investment isn't easy. But only a redoubling of both will enable us all to chart a way forward.

UPDATE: The transcript of this morning's chat is posted here. A snip:

motheroverbrook: Withholding money will do nothing but hurt the individual parish. The diocese really won't feel the hurt unless it's done on a grand scale (like over a hundred parishes). You'll just make it harder for your pastor to turn the heat on.

John Grogan: Point well taken. Maybe a march on the cardinal's residence? Picture 20,000 Catholics filling the street, praying, chanting, demanding he come out and answer them.

Mike: All this comes at a time of great transition in the church. With dwindling numbers of clergy, some day the church is going to have to reevaluate the future of the laity. They've been fighting against it, but a good long look at how the church can continue to minister with dwindling numbers is going to force them to give the laity a greater role. There has been resistance. If something positive were to come of this whole mess, it would be a redefined role of the laity. I believe that to be the only thing that will truly restore trust.

John Grogan: I've argued the Church needs to ordain women priests and allow married priests, as well. As I said in a column, give me a married priest with a healthy sexual attraction to his wife any day over some of the creeps who have infiltrated the clergy over the years.

joe: As a Catholic I find myself at odds with one of the most basic tenets of the faith: Forgiveness. I do NOT want to forgive, I want to punish. I feel like I'm in a catch-22. Anyone else feel the same?

John Grogan: This is a tough one to forgive. I'm all for forgiveness but only after I hear sincere repentance. So far, I've heard more dodging and defensiveness. I'm in the mood to punish, not forgive.



Blogger patrick said...


Grogan and his dittoheads are hysterical kooks, plain and simple. Though, a March on the Cardinal's Residence surely would be amusing if only for the fact that it would inevitably turn into a Monty Python-esque farce with the right-wing and left-wing fanatics going at each other.

Just imagine the Ingrid Shafers and the Judie Browns of Philly getting into ugly girlfights with hair pulling, biting, screaming, and so on. I'd pay money to see that!

30/9/05 15:51  
Blogger CathedralLawn said...

Grogan obviously has an agenda. His columns regarding the Church are laced with his opposing views on abortion, contraception, celibacy... issues unrelated to the scandal or the cover-up, but totally related to his agenda and his readers.

By the way, how does one's name or the fact they attended x years of Catholic school make them an expert on all things Catholic?

30/9/05 18:03  
Blogger Richard said...

Grogan has an interesting faith. But it's not Catholicism. Nay - not even Christian.

"Shrinking numbers." Well, shrinking numbers are invariably what happens - long term - when you start replacing a theology of redemption with a theology of affirmation. When nothing is demanded, people eventually wonder what the point is. There are dioceses, orders, parishes out there which *don't* lack for vocations. Why not ascertain what they might be doing right?

Celibacy - unlike women's "ordination" - is indeed a discipline, not a dogma. But methinks Grogan vastly underestimates the unique problems that would bring with it - not least how expensive it would be. He also fails to note that Protestant denominations which allow women priests also have shortages. Getting rid of celibacy is not a silver bullet. And ordaining women simply is not possible, period.

There's a lot of anger there, and a lot of good cause for it. But it's anger without direction or informed by solid Catholic teaching.

1/10/05 11:10  
Blogger patrick said...

Also, his refusal to forgive is the dead giveaway for Groghan. His religion is the eternal vendetta of Simon Wiesenthal, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1/10/05 11:47  

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