Thursday, February 4, 2010

Archbishop to flock: "get off my back"

The Catholic New York contained an interesting article from the archbishop last week. Usually these columns from the throne aren't really worth reading, since their entire purpose is to say absolutely nothing and offend no one, but I found this one slightly noteworthy. Archbishop Dolan grudgingly acknowledges that there is a lot of criticism of priests in this archdiocese, but then petulantly belittles the criticism by 1. giving an anecdote about how the holy Cure de Ars (the patron saint of priests) was a target of criticism, and 2. how he (the Archbishop) gets complaints about his priests from both liberals and conservatives. The implication here is that 1. if even a saint was criticized in the past, that must mean that criticism of priests today is invalid and baseless, and 2. if both liberals and conservatives are complaining about priests, that must mean that the criticism is invalid, and that priests are talking a wise middle road.

Archbishop Dolan wallows in self-pity for a while, saying "[p]riests can't seem to win", it "seems 'open season' on priests", "[p]riests might as well hang a bull's eye on the clergy shirt", etc. Then he changes tack and attacks the critics with the charge that they are reviving the ancient heresy of Donatism!

This column was insulting, from a number of perspectives: his dismissal of the magnitude of the problem and the way he flippantly reduces the critic's legitimate complaints to "homilies or occasional crabbiness". Good Lord, it's so much more than that; just read my blog, just listen to your flock. For goodness sake, go undercover to one of your outer borough churches and see how your priests are driving the Church into the ground.

In addition, his liberal/conservative argument was sneaky, I thought. There are no liberal or conservative positions when it comes to Catholicism. There's either faithfulness to the Magisterium or unfaithfulness to the Magisterium, orthodoxy or heterodoxy. Put those terms in place of "liberal" and "conservative", and I think you'll see the actual basis of the respective complaints. The so-called conservatives are most likely complaining about heretical sermons, feminist nuns, gay rights advocacy, indifferentism, and all the rest of the panoply of outrages and active destruction that suffering Catholics have to deal with. The so-called liberal complaints most likely have to do with priests who show too strong a devotion to Catholicism, and too little dedication to the Democratic party agenda and progressive overthrow of our Faith. The point is that the real situation is not as rosy as it looks from the vantage point of the Cathedral, and if the Archbishop really doesn't know that, he should quickly inform himself, instead of defending the indefensible.

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