Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The antipathy is mutual.

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”   ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Last week I was reading a post criticizing Fr. Martin Fox for a critique he posted, Sad, funny-ironic swan-song of the Vatican II crowd, as the author put it, 'broadsiding' a group of "Spirit of Vatican II priests.  The author, Rita Ferrone didn't like Fr. Fox' tone, nor did some of her commenters.  You can read the whole exchange here.  It's an interesting debate, but an old one - both sides are more or less dead on in exposing a certain antipathy - even enmity that exists between liberals and conservatives - and the issues which divide are real.  Interestingly enough, Fr. Fox is aligned with Fr. Z in the whole exchange - representing the 'conservative side', while Ferrone and Fr. Ruff and commenters represent the 'liberal side'.  Questions of ageism arise, as well as all the liturgical ecclesial, progressive/regressive-repressive suspicions get exposed in the exchange in the com box. 

It is bickering that gets rather tired - for me at least. 

Ironically, the so-called liberals or spirit of Vatican II side are beginning to sound a lot like the old traditionalists did after, or since the Council.  Their complaints are nearly the same.  They can almost echo those who did not want to see the liturgical reforms implemented, or at least did not want them to go off the rails to the extent they did; thus the Vatican II liturgists reject any notion of going 'backwards'.  The pendulum has swung back to their 'side' and they don't like it.  Hence they complain about 'tone' and being dissed by the 'opposition'.

Logs in mens' eyes.

It's all rather short sighted, in my opinion.  I know the so-called liberal side very well.  When I came back into the Church years ago, I was warned to stay away from places like St. Agnes in St. Paul - too pre-Vatican II.  The rosary and Eucharistic adoration were considered pre-Vatican II as well.  Nuns who wished to remain in the old habit had the veils ripped from their heads in some cases.  Traditionalists were mocked and belittled and definitely marginalized.  I recall doing things like bunching up my rosary so no one would notice I was praying it before Mass.  As I mentioned before, I'd slip into closets where they kept the tabernacle to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.  I was told devotion to the Sacred Heart was emotional and superficial - devotions like that were old fashioned, and so on.  I found ways to avoid scrutiny however.  Obviously, the progressives not only had issues with 'tone', not a few had issues with charity and doctrine - and few were strangers to scorn and contempt.  Yet today, when criticized, they protest.  Naturally, two wrongs do not make a right, but they might consider being a little less defensive and toughen up. 

The exchange between Fr. Fox and Pray Tell lays bare these tensions, as well as the animosity and division.  The complaints and defenses from both sides remind me of the Holocaust deniers discussion a month or so ago.  Another hornet's nest, as one blogger put it.  Behaviors, antipathies, animosities, enmities are almost always expressed in a 'tone' the other side finds offensive.  As I mentioned - so-called 'spirit of Vatican II' Catholics have been, and can be just as mocking, sneering, demeaning as any traditionalist.  In private one hears the nastiest things said - stay in a busy rectory for awhile, you'll see.  Or just read Fr. Z's com box, or Pray Tell - or mine sometimes.  No one is innocent, no one.  As the scripture says, "Save us Lord, there is not a good man left, follies they all speak, one to another."

"We too often we become enemies of others: we do not wish them well. And Jesus tells us to love our enemies! And this is not easy! It is not easy ... we even think that Jesus is asking too much of us!" - Pope Francis 6/18/13

Having stated all of that, try reading the post at Pray Tell, as well as the comments, and you will perhaps see what I mean - everyone gets their digs in.  The rebuttals on other blogs might be even more critical. 

BTW - Just for the record, I tend to support Fr. Fox and his POV.  At least he didn't resort to suggesting remedies such as "the biological solution", as Jonathan Day pointed out in his comments to Fr. Fox: "To your credit, you don’t yuck it up like Fr Z does. You don’t use his disgusting term, 'the biological solution.'"

It isn't just progressives who have a hard time understanding the tone and attitude Fr. Z and his commenters, as well as Michael Voris sometimes resort to.  Other Catholics do as well.  Naturally, many do not always like my tone either, though I often apologize for that, one must take into account I'm not a professional - just a 'dopey', 'crackpot' blogger.  Although I'm not trying to excuse myself either.

On the flip side of the record.

Speaking of Fr. Z and Voris - Jonathan Day exposes an underlying hostility and suspicion others have expressed, which may explain why some people are repelled rather than attracted to traditional Catholic teaching.  I know this because when I side with something these guys say, I too get criticized, and what I say pretty much gets dismissed:
At Pray Tell we tend not to engage with voices that are effectively self-deconstructing. Michael Voris comes immediately to mind. Father Z, in the same way, has no formal accountability, other than to an unnamed bishop in a suburban diocese of Rome. So he can butcher the English language, indulge in sarcasm and guilt by association and make dozens of historical and philological blunders. He can mock the sisters of the LCWR for their age, even though his balding head, pouchy cheeks and spreading waistline make it clear that he is no spring chicken. As long as his followers sling gifts and cash his way (his current “goal” is $72,000 per year) he has nothing to worry about. - JD comment

Oucha magoucha Jack!   Fr. Z is a mystery however, much to the chagrin of his critics.  A reader sent me a recent comment to Father's post asking some questions - same old same old - but it maybe why Fr. Z gets so much flack:
jkm210 says:
I’m sure this post is likely to be deleted, but I am honestly curious: Why does Fr. Z require so many donations, and what are the reasons behind his constant travel? If his work in the United States is not financially supported by his diocese in Italy, why is he doing it? And while “it’s not your business” may be the automatic response, I posit that it is, in fact, the business of the readers, if they are being asked to support it financially.
I am not trying to be rude, but I find it a bit disconcerting for a priest to constantly ask for donations to sustain his own personal lifestyle. If there is a valid reason for it, I would be very interested in hearing it. Thanks!
It's none of my business of course.  Although I did notice Father's donation-o-mometer goal has been raised from $6000- to $7000- in a week.  Whatever.  I may just start asking for donations myself.

I suppose the point in all of this is simply to point out that we all fight and cast suspicions upon one anther - we all do this.  We pick out the faults and failings of one another... 
It demonstrates how easily we can take for granted our own state of grace, forgetting we may have been guilty of greater faults than those we notice - or look for - in our neighbor.  What a scary thing it would be if our past sins were to be exposed and known by all... and though forgiven by God, we are condemned by all who hear of it.  Even more so, what a terrible betrayal of mercy and love when we fail to forgive another, or motivated by natural antipathy, we act like watchmen searching the streets and alley-ways by night, looking for more evidence to condemn the unwary culprit. - Loving our enemies
"With forgiveness, with love for our enemy, we become poorer: love impoverishes us, but that poverty is the seed of fertility and love for others..."

Duck and cover.


  1. Fwiw, I can't think of someone "on the other side of the aisle" who solicits donations anything like the blogger in question.

    1. I was surprised too - not that there is anything wrong with that.

  2. Another great post. I look forward to reading you over on Patheos soon--though for some reason I don't get over there very often...

    My views on the two camps has changed in the last two weeks after I posted my conversion story novella (LOL). I've read Pray Tell articles in the past where I've disagreed with every single line. Still do. But when I received kind, unsolicited e-mails about my story from some Pray Tellers--despite my trenchant criticisms of their project in my novella--I realized they have a warm evangelizing heart. I still think they misunderstand beauty, culture and human nature...LOL I was also impressed when Spanish-speaking websites that are not friendly to the old latin mass translated my story and didn't hide or downplay my love for the old mass. Same with the liberal CathNews in Australia. Conversely, I've gotten a chilly response from the more traditional set.

    So the moral is, don't reduce people to ideological opponents/allies, and realize that you don't even really know these little public figures. When I worked at a boutique luxury hotel during college, I was always amazed that the celebrities that passed through were almost always very different in person than their public image. So the sullen, mean celebrity was a great guy (turns out he just hated the media), the family values athlete was a womanizer (ahem, think Utah Jazz), and the greatest person in the world (I'm looking at you, OPRAH) is a terror who tramples on the help.

    1. Thanks Scott - that is very interesting. Your story showed me how important conversion stories are online - to see God's handiwork and for an increase of love in our hearts - and hope.

      What you said is excellent advice: "So the moral is, don't reduce people to ideological opponents/allies, and realize that you don't even really know these little public figures."


  3. Kudos to Fr Fox. I read Fr Rox's posts - both the original and recast one. I credit him for the rewrite, as it improves upon the original. He's shown quite effectively that this Assn of Priests group's purpose is merely to sow more division and garner some of the attention they used to enjoy back when SOV2 was all the rage.

    Now it's just rage. The PrayTell folks have their macrame puppets in a twist because the vision of what they wanted the Church to become will not come to fruition. And for that I am most grateful.

    1. I like Fr. Fox too. I never read his original post - just the PrayTell take on it.

    2. Terry:

      Not that you have to, of course; but if you do find time to read my post--at least the re-write--I'd be grateful for your thoughts.

    3. Thanks Father, I did read and left a comment on the new one. Good job!


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