Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Loggia Mailbag

Keep those cards and letters coming, my gentle snowflakes. From time to time, I'd like to comment on the mail I get -- I love it.

I've been having some interesting conversations about the Anglican Use. As the ECUSA gets more polarized, the invocation of the pastoral provision -- by which former Anglican, Lutheran, etc. priests and ministers become Catholic priests and keep their wives! -- is becoming more widespread. Just now in Pennsylvania, two Anglican priests with their parishes are crossing the ecumenical divide. A former priest of the church of England, Alan Hopes, is now auxiliary to Father Cormac at Westminster.

But I got the most interesting response about my CWNews post. Here's a snippet:

"One of the more offensive things that occured on their blog was around the time of JPII's funeral. The very psychologically disturbed Diogenes made his usual snarky anti-gay comments and accompanied them with a picture of Cardinal McCarrick and the rector of St. Matthew's Cathedral, Monsignor Ronald Jameson embracing, implying that the two men were lovers. Within the day, the CWNEWS removed that post."

That it was there in the first place is disgusting. And to remind, if the buzz is to be believed, Diogenes is no other than Joe Fessio, who was chronicled in my dear San Francisco Chronicle yesterday.

It's somewhat counter-intuitive, but every time I see an outraged conservative writing in a homosexual panic, I wonder more about the writer than the one being written about. Dom Bettinelli's been going on for three days screaming about gays and trying hard to "out" the bishop of Memphis for writing a pro-civil rights column. The only problem with his Terry Steib crusade is that there's no there, there. But let's be honest: has that ever stopped the sash fringe before?

Sorry if this news to anyone, but to put a new twist on an old expression, honeys, the boys have always been with us. And (surprise, surprise!) they're more likely to flock to the cassocks and lace than the post-conciliar types who get called all kinds of libelous names, so watch where you direct your guns -- they might just be pointed in the wrong direction.

I know this because the boys of the old school have always been the first to try and put the moves on me. And I'm straight!

Do I go on screaming hellfire about this? No -- it's between a man and his God, who am I to get in the way? The belief always was, if my catechism is correct, that God (not CWNews) is the supreme judge of the world and all will get their due, so why fret? Why this need to get all control-freaky and play Cardinal Ratzinger, snowflakes? Somebody feeling inhibited?

And to reiterate, the more hung-up people get about sins of the pelvis, the more I question the motivation behind it.... I'm not alone in that. Just breathe and let it go.

Now we have to ask ourselves -- purely hypothetical -- what if the bells-n-smells crowd loves, absolutely adores a priest who turns out to be not as comformist to doctrine as they thought him... but he said a killer Tridentine Mass.... what would become of him in their eyes? In sum, the truth would be cast aside, an offensive of six words on his behalf subbing for it: biased media, anti-Catholicism, liberal smears.

That's not orthodoxy, it's obsession with bella figura. And bella figura doesn't make for a purer church, but a gilded one -- nice on the outside, rotted out beneath the surface. Whither that? Just ask the people in Boston, where Phil Lawler (Cardinal Law apologist and editor of CWNews) got his start.

What was the line about "worry not about the speck in your neighbor's eye, but the plank in your own"? Who said that? NCR? Kung? No... wait... it was Jesus.

He's always given good advice -- Christians (and some Catholics, I'm told) call that advice "the word of God."

Time to heed it, no?



Blogger Matthew Lickona said...

Your conclusion in your hypothetical is, I fear, mistaken. This I know from personal experience. As far as on-the-record instances go, I believe the crowd at St. John's in PA - the bunch that got officially surpressed - were very smells 'n bells. When the word came out, there may have been some who reacted as you suggest, but there were others who did not, people who felt betrayed but didn't pretend that nothing was wrong just because they liked the liturgy. (And it comes as no revelation that "the boys" might have a fondness for the "cassocks and lace.")

If you want to reprove your smells and bells siblings in Christ, it's probably not helpful to do it through being snide, through suggestions that they are uninterested in/ignorant of what Jesus taught. That won't help anyone. Nor will name-calling - saying that the "sash fringe" is uninterested in truth, saying that a conservative is writing in a "homosexual panic," suggesting that someone is trying to play God (i.e., final judge of a person's soul). Unless they specifically say, "Person X is going to hell for what he has done," I don't think that's a fair characterization. If someone came to you and gave you proof that a priest had abused a boy, I don't think you would say, "God is the supreme judge of the world, and all will get their due, so why fret?" I think you'd try to do something about it, even if all you could do was raise a red flag. If you were ignored in official channels, you might write about the problem in your blog.

It may be tempting to wonder about the character of a writer who writes passionately about the issue of homosexuality, but it is, I think, a bit of cheap psychological rhetoric to suggest that the objections stem from personal repression. As you say, you're not alone in that - American Beauty pulled the same trick, and it made the guy a Nazi sympathizer to boot. It was cheap there, too.

Why fret? Because lives have been ruined, or severely damaged. If you know victims of sexual abuse, you know what the effects can be. The sins of the pelvis have wreaked a lot of havoc, here and elsewhere.

24/5/05 13:26  
Blogger Rocco Palmo said...

Matthew- Thanks for your feedback; as always, it makes me think….

You may be surprised to know that the smells-and-bells ranks are whence I come; my background in vesture and ritual is one of my strong areas…. But to conflate violations of celibacy which, however illicit, are not criminal (i.e. among consenting adults) with the sexual abuse of children is an unbalanced characterization, and to even raise the thought that I could turn a blind eye to someone with an allegation of abuse is just beyond my comprehension and a gross distortion of my words in the worst possible way. How sad you could even go there…. I do know victims of abuse and I have seen firsthand the demons which follow them the rest of their lives, and because of that experience I get very upset whenever sex abuse is misused and lumped in with everything else. To ignore the clear distinctions and place all the “pelvic sins” on the level of criminal abuse by the psychosexually twisted is, in reality, a severe objectification of those very victim-survivors and the irreparable damage which has been inflicted on them. Please be careful where you tread, the victims have suffered enough indignities as is.

By your defense, it seems you’re standing by the CWNews tactics? You say, “Unless they specifically say, "Person X is going to hell for what he has done," I don't think that's a fair characterization.” But what about “These bishops must pay for their sins”? Or conflating the “seamless garment” schema with a militant homosexual agenda? Or… the list goes on… In the context of the church, of doctrine, to make the grave statement that another is lacking in that doctrine deprives them in perception of moral credibility, the fullness of Revelation, of salvation itself. This should not be done in cases of bishops and their acts of ministry unless there is objective PROOF as opposed to kicking, screaming bias and tactics of distraction – we should trust the Holy See to be a competent doctrinal check, so why do we need the CWNews Tribunal, again? Valid questions of whether this kind of vitriol even belongs in the external forum aside, what if the exponent of that (public) judgment is using faulty logic, faulty “dogma”? Should such zero-sum triumphalism (which has even been invoked against the Pope!) go unchallenged or should it be called out? If it is called out, the worst-case scenario is that it can be successfully defended – that is, if it is, indeed, the Truth. And truth doesn’t need a megaphone; in the ideal, it attracts because of its beauty. A lot of what we’re seeing is not beautiful, nor attractive – does that serve the Lord? Does it serve the Church? Or is it just serving what B16 termed “the golden calf of ourselves”? Valid question to ponder….. As for me, I was just doing my little riff on Chapter 7 of your eponymous Gospel; Jesus does have some valuable lessons for us, no? He’s God, I’m not, he’s got my vote and I’m not about to keep him silenced J. We are all here because of him, but the actions of some sometimes don’t show that. I’m not here to reprove anyone – I’m just doing my little part to ask people to look before they leap. I learned how to do that the hard way….


24/5/05 15:42  
Blogger Matthew Lickona said...

I did not wish to suggest that you would turn a blind eye to abuse; I meant to imply that OF COURSE you would NOT turn a blind eye. Nor did I wish to conflate consensual sex with the abuse of minors, which, as you note, would be a grave mistake. A connection has been suggested between homosexuals in the clergy and the abuse of teenaged boys and the ensuing failture to properly deal with such abuse. (This is not, of course, to say that every homosexual in the clergy is guilty of these things, or even inclined to these things.) The connection has been vehemently denied. The CWN people don't believe the denial, and they're trying to make a case. I'm not interested in defending their particular tactics - where they err, I do not wish to follow.
Now I'm wading into dangerous waters...but my questions here are sincere, not rhetorical...

Are charges being made in reference to doctrine? Or in reference to prudential, pastoral care? Should the Holy See be trusted to keep effective watch in these matters as well? Is the Holy See capable of this on a purely practical level?

How is objective proof to be obtained?

On a more general level, why is it you're allowed to hammer Burke for his silk or for his stances with regard to politicians, but others are wrong and complain about tiaras, etc.? Okay, that one's rhetorical...


24/5/05 16:16  

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