A melange of comments

A melange of comments

Today’s New York Times brings up several issues in a single article. First, the National Review Board is going to begin questioning bishops about the causes of the Scandal. As if we don’t know that already. In any case, you have to wonder if bishops will answer the questions considering some of them (many of them?) are facing lawsuits and don’t want to say anything to give the plaintiff’s ammunition against them. Or to give prosecutors reason for filing criminal charges. Which raises the question of exactly what kind of power the review board has to compel bishops to answer to them—probably about none except the specter of publicity. But even that is moot for some bishops, like Cardinal Law. How much worse can the publicity get?

The article then goes on to quote Father “Call me Walter” Cuenin regarding his meeting with some Boston-area pastors about the $300 million capital campaign. They make it sound as if no money has been raised yet.

    Several parishes started the campaign last spring but put it on hold when the sexual abuse scandal overwhelmed them.

    “But now we are called upon of the Scandal earlier this year and the founding of VOTF in a wealthy suburban parish. As the writer says:

      They didn’t mean to undermine Catholic doctrine or to harm the many worthy programs funded by the Church…

    I don’t disagree. I think there were and are many people who join VOTF without a desire to change Church teaching, but there is a significant number of leaders, those who are steering the group, who are undermining the Church’s teachings. I’ve pointed out before how the heterodox Call To Action considers VOTF to be its presentable, respectable face and how VOTF includes heterodox teachings on its web site.

    The article goes on to say:

      The time had long passed, they said, when a priest should think of himself as a shepherd and his parishioners as “sheep.”

    Unbelievable. It is Christ himself who declared he is the Good Shepherd, and priests are shepherds in that their own priesthood is an extension of Christ’s High Priesthood. It is a sign of humility to Christ to declare oneself a “sheep” of his flock. VOTF sees that as a role of meek submission to worldly leaders, once again ignoring the spiritual realities present in the Church.

    VOTF includes as one of its founding principles a call for “structural change” within the Church. For months, we’ve asked what that means. The only hint has come from one VOTF leader’s loony calls for re-structuring the Church along the lines of the US Constitution with checks and balances among three branches of government and so on. Now we see where the genesis of that call for change comes from:

      “Many people assume that Jesus left some sort of blueprint. But the Bible says precious little about authority structures and how decisions should be made, Francine Cardman, associate professor of historical theology and Church history at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, told the group.

    This is a Catholic professor of theology? The structure of the Church is all over the New Testament! In acts, we see the Apostles making decisions for the Church, not by consulting all the lay people, but by consulting one another and then deferring to Peter. Paul’s letters contain many references to the leadership of the Apostles, and again placing Peter in a leadership role. And you would think that a Catholic theology professor would know that we don’t rely on Scripture alone to inform us about Revelation, but also Sacred Tradition handed on from the Apostles to their successors the bishops. What Cardman and her ideological ilk want more than anything else is to de-throne the bishops from their leadership and change the Church so that doctrine is determined by popular poll. Whatever else has changed about Church governance, the constant has been that bishops are sovereign in their dioceses, that they must remain in communion with one another and the Pope, and that they have been given the sole responsibility to safeguard the Deposit of the Faith from error.

    The article continues with profiles of various leaders of VOTF and talks about their impact on the Church. One of the so-called successes is the Voice of Compassion fund and the author makes the claim, unfounded in my opinion, that because of it giving to the annual Cardinal’s Appeal is down about 40 percent. The author says, “The Voice of Compassion Fund was steadily siphoning cash from the control of the Archdiocese.” Voice of Compassion has raised less than $100,000. The Cardinal’s Appeal raises more than $10 million every year. The reason it’s down is because people are either not giving at all—to either fund—or because people are giving to the big archdiocesan capital campaign that has raised $175 million this year. As is typical, VOTF is overstating their actual influence and impact.

    The writer switches tack at this point, profiling a victim of sex abuse. This woman, who suffered horrifically, goes to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross every Sunday to protest. She criticizes Cardinal Law for not stopping outside the church to speak with the protesters.

      If Cardinal Law really were a spiritual man, she and others believe, he would at least talk to them—maybe give them a few minutes to air their rage.

    If you have ever read accounts of what really goes on in these protests—either by Carol McKinley or Fr. Bob Carr or the “Pew Lady”—then you know that the protesters scream the most vile, hate-filled stuff at everyone going into the church. They tell children to cover their “privates” or risk being molested and worse. If that’s not abuse of children, I don’t know what is. Why should the cardinal cater to that atmosphere and encourage it. Cardinal Law has met and, as far as I know, continues to meet with victims who ask for a get-together. What this woman wants is a chance to scream at someone she blames for what happened to her and others. I don’t blame, but I don’t think it’s a good idea either.

    The interesting thing is that victims are shown as complaining that VOTF is too mainstream, “too bland, too safe, too conservative” and they’re afraid that VOTF is using them to advance their own agendas.

      [Victim Tom Buckley] and some of the others wonder if VOTF is too preoccupied with getting control of the Church for its own purposes.

    Interesting. On the one hand, we hear a call for VOTF to be more radical—more?—and on the other hand, they afraid that VOTF is too concerned with pushing their pet heterodoxies. Well folks, you don’t have to be concerned because VOTF is radical in that it wants to destroy the Church’s foundation. Yet you’re also right that it’s using you to advance their cause.

    With all of that, the article ends with a quote from Mary Calcaterra, one of the leaders of VOTF, that I don’t disagree with. In fact, it’s one of the few things she hits right on the head:

      “It’s through the suffering of people like these that we encounter Christ,” she says. “They’re bearing the pain of what unworthy people did to them. What we’re witnessing is the crucifixion. We haven’t seen the resurrection.”

    But the resurrection won’t come through changing the Church’s doctrines or undermining them. The resurrection comes through the sacrifice of Christ and will come when we all surrender our own pride, power, pain, and suffering to Christ. It is through humility to Christ that we will be saved and the recognition that no human work will bring about a satisfactory resolution to the Scandal. Only through radical holiness and conversion and faith will we see a new day.