Wednesday, October 12, 2005

God Love This Man

You know the end of days is at hand when a Philadelphia priest speaks out. We are not used to this at all.

Fr Bob McLaughlin was for many years Newman Chaplain at Temple University here in town, always sought out by press for his solid commentary of big church events. A couple years back, he was sent to the rapidly-growing hinterlands of Chester County (half of which is now owned by the Vanguard Group) and he built what I'm told was a beautiful mega-church for his parish.

As if we needed further proof that the best priests in this town have always been Newman Chaplains, Bob Mac let 'er rip in today's Daily News.

Father Mac cherishes his church.

But he is incensed by his church's leadership.

"They betrayed everything I pledged my life to," Father Mac told me. "When the scandal broke in Boston, I went to our leaders and said, 'Tell me the truth about Philly.' They assured me - to my face - that there was no cover-up because 'We handle things differently in Philadelphia.'

"I took that message to my people, and they believed me."

Well, they believed it because we've always been told that we handle things differently in Philadelphia -- that's the way God intended it. We are the chosen race, after all, and He didn't give us a Pharaoh for nothing.

I've already talked to people in the pews who are furious with McLaughlin. These same people maintain that "the kids asked for it" and the press has no role in covering things Catholic -- well, bad things Catholic.
"I questioned my vocation," he continued. "I thought, 'I don't want to work for liars.' And then the Holy Spirit hit me upside the head with a two-by-four - which he has a habit of doing - and said to me, 'You don't work for those liars downtown. You work for the good people of St. Basil's.' "
Admittedly, this reminds me of the opening of Jerry Maguire, when Tom Cruise published his 'mission statement' and all the other SMI agents were seen in the hotel lobby asking each other, "How long do you give him?"
And so, when Cardinal Rigali released his lawyered-over, five-page statement addressing the grand-jury report, Father Mac refused to read it to parishioners at Mass, the way he'd usually read a missive issued from the archbishop's opulent downtown mansion.

Instead, he said, at four services, he spoke from his gut to a congregation that he knew needed to hear the truth as much as he needed to say it.

"I told them that, all my years of preaching, this was the first time I'd rather hide in the woods than face them," he says. "I told them, 'I will not stand here and defend the indefensible. We were lied to, again and again and again.' "

He cried, he said, when he shared how deeply it hurt to suddenly be regarded with suspicion, because he'd devoted so much of his life to youth ministry and education.

And his voice boomed when he pulled from his pocket, right there on the altar, his license to carry a firearm and told his people, "I have a license to carry a gun, and I promise - I promise - that your children will be safe in this parish as long as I am your pastor!"

Um, I'm checking Mapquest to see how long it takes to drive to Kimberton. If our crunchy friends can drive two hours to watch some young guy face the wall and whisper in Latin, I can do 45 minutes to get some sanity from the pulpit.



Blogger Fr. John said...


13/10/05 00:05  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

I'm no fan of gun ownership, but this message is strong!

Good for Fr. Mac.

13/10/05 01:41  
Blogger justplaincath said...

As one who also has a permit to carry (a pistol or revolver), I wonder how long it will be before the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pulls Father Mac's permit.

Not that they should, of course.
A big cheer for Father Mac, who I hope is reading this.

Reminds me of the words of Woodie Guthrie in "Pretty Boy Floyd."

"Some will rob you with a six-gun;
Some, with a fountain pen."

Our hierarchy has already done the robbing with the fountain pens.

13/10/05 08:00  
Blogger GregY said...

Aw-jyeah, sounds like some good ol' fashion southron spirit there, my friends. Ain't nuthin wrong with that talk, no sir--just godly desire to protect Jesus' little'uns, mmm-hhh.

13/10/05 16:39  
Blogger angelmeg said...

That is the kind of priest who is hurt the most by this scandal. The one who cares deeply for his vocation and our children.


13/10/05 19:35  
Blogger patrick said...

That shotgun comment proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the priest is a grandstanding blowhard. What's he going to do, blow the brains out of a curate who he discovers has a 14 year old in his bed??? I believe that is called murder, and despite the bloviating to the contrary, he 'aint going to take that step. And, if he IS serious about vigilante justice, then he is as much a fruitcake as Father Erickson.

13/10/05 23:38  
Blogger justplaincath said...


We who are licensed to carry are often so skilled in offense that defense becomes unnecessary. So no, I do not believe for one minute that Fr. Mac will EVER need to pull that trigger. Predators prefer easy prey. Fr. Mac is ensuring that the children entrusted to his care are defended. No one enters the strong man's house.

There are few things that are more life changing than getting a permit to carry. It's a very heavy burden.

You don't "blow the brains out of" someone who has already robbed you. (In your scenario, that damage is done, regardless of any action Fr. Mac may take.) You stand up and are counted beforehand, so that no one tries to break into YOUR house. There are easier pickings down the street, where the folks are defenseless.

14/10/05 08:08  
Blogger Fr. John said...

What is he going to say to make his point rhetorically in a homily? Tell the folks that 'he'll report any offender to the bishop and he will be punished severely?' Seems we've tried that.

Now, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't use the same language in a homily, but I won't criticize a priest who does. As for Patrick consigning him to the blowhard category based on one comment, after a life of service to the Church and its people, well, the recklessness of that judgment speaks for itself.

14/10/05 08:13  
Blogger patrick said...

I have no problem with lay people having permits to carry firearms, if required. But, aren't priests forbidden to carry firearms? I know that used to be the case before Vatican II, but that may have changed.

And, I stand by my judgment that the priest is a grandstander because that homily, especially the gun comment is meaningless sanctimonious crap.

14/10/05 10:56  
Blogger justplaincath said...

Patrick--just an addendum on what a permit to carry [a pistol or revolver] really is.

It really is a permit to TRANSPORT. Without a permit to carry, you may not lawfully have a pistol or revolver in your car, even if it belongs to your father or brother or nephew [unless he is also with you, AND has a permit to carry. On him, physically, as you would a driver's license.] Without one, you are breaking the law.

So for that reason alone, I hope that priests are not forbidden from having permits to carry. I have known priests who had to handle their family's affairs after a death, and if that relative died owning handguns, it would be very difficult for the priest to carry out his fiduciary duty to the estate. This has nothing really to do with being a priest per se; it has more to do with being a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew.

19/10/05 22:55  

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