“To silence the moral voice of the Church, the preferred option has been to discredit its ministers.” - Elizabeth Lev*
Consider the attacks against the Pope, the Magisterium, as well as individual cardinals and bishops. *Elizabeth Lev made that statement which heads this post during the aftermath of the clerical sexual abuse scandal. A few years ago she reminded readers of revolutionary France, when propagandists directed similar calumnies to what we hear today against Catholic clergy. Thus setting the stage for the Reign of Terror and the execution of countless priests and religious, and the confiscation of Church property, and so on.
These days, otherwise faithful Catholics, accusing cardinals, bishops, and priests of infidelity and conspiracy to change Catholic teaching, or just living lavishly, may be inadvertently helping the enemies of the Church who seek to silence the 'moral voice' of the Church. No doubt there are 'progressive' clergy in the Church - even those who would have the Church change its moral teaching, but not every "Francis-bishop" is necessarily guilty by association. And that is where I'm in agreement with Bill Donohue when he suggested:
The crazies on the Catholic right have set their sights on Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. Why? Because he is close to Pope Francis, and they hate the pope.
Nevertheless, critics from Donohue to Voris to writers and pundits from the 'other side', are all cut from the same cloth, and I'm not sure the infighting and mudslinging is all that helpful. Though they proclaim themselves defenders of the faith and orthodoxy, their invective tends to further alienate those whose confidence in the clergy is already badly shaken. Calling out a cardinal, accusing him of a lavish lifestyle is a direct smear, a gutter-snipe attempt to discredit his character, just as it was to infer homosexual tendencies. It's gossip and scandal mongering.
In some ways it's funny - as Donohue brings up the 'drag name' given to Cardinal Wuerl in seminary days. If he went to an all boys Catholic high school, he would know girl's name were given to the more aesthete among the students. Seminaries were no different. I knew several students and what they called others, and vice versa. They had names for the Archbishop and other bishops and cardinals in the Church. Often unflattering girl's names or stereotypical effeminate titles. Cardinal Spellman had his, as did Archbishop Sheen, and so on. Donohue calls out Voris for referencing Wuerl's name. Voris uses the name to speculate upon Wuerl's sexuality. It's cheap, Catholic TMZ- style gossip. Homosexual in the UK called Pope Benedict Pope Betty - it doesn't mean Benedict is gay. They are the flip side of the same coin.
You know what makes me sad? You do.
I apologize I cast a slur upon Niles yesterday - I removed it. I especially apologize to my friend who was offended by it. To be honest, I'm more sad by the character assassinations which come out of Catholic social-media 'news-sites'. As I noted yesterday, neither Church Militant or the Catholic Defense League speaks for me - and I'm not sure either organization is deputed to speak for the Church. As I said, what makes me sad are the attacks and dirt digging people seem to devote their time to, attempting to uncover further scandals. This happens on both sides - I've heard of Catholic defense people acting as spies to report back to chanceries as well. This intrigue and and political maneuvering doesn't strike me as anything Christ would approve of.
It seems to me many online debates and condemnations may have the same effect upon ordinary Catholics as do false apparitions and locutions, suggesting this or that innovation in Catholic practice since Vatican II is evil. I've frequently reminded readers of the false apparitions from the early 20th century, the effect of which certainly helped to foment mistrust of the clergy and the authority of the bishops. Just as modern apparitions and private revelations have affected the confidence of believers in Catholic teaching and more especially, the authority of bishops.
I'm willing to bet Church Militant and their 'journalists' have the same impact on faithful Catholics foolish enough to follow, or rely upon their 'newscasts' and exposés, sometimes based upon dubious conjecture and innuendo, resulting in statements frequently just a hairsbreadth from calumny and outright detraction.
I am amazed that Catholics cannot discern the problems associated with and created by people active in Catholic social media - the biased reporting and gossip perpetrated by popular sites, often based in dubious MSM reporting or leaks of what was purported to have been said, threatens to undermine the confidence and faith of many. Nor would it appear it attracts anyone to the Church.
Sometimes I wonder if anti-Catholic elements in mainstream media deliberately print provocative snippets from what is said in the Church, by the pope or bishops, in order to incite 'right wing' Catholic bloggers and independent social media news sites? If that 'conspiracy theory' is correct, I'd say it's working.
Yesterday, I mentioned in a comment, now deleted, that I watched Charlie Rose Friday night. He interviewed Peggy Noonan, a writer, a journalist who never lets you forget she's Irish-Catholic. She's an incredible witness in the marketplace and in media. She's a great writer - surpassing most contemporary Catholic bloggers and writers. Highly professional and well spoken, not given to gutter-snipe or character assassination - many so-called social-media-journalists would do well to study her.
To be sure, this discussion and outing of bishops and cardinals is beyond my expertise, likewise the subject of French revolutionary ant-clericalism and its parallel to what is going on today, is over my head.
Fortunately few people read me and what I have to say is inconsequential. It's just a mystery to me how people can remain faithful Catholics while tearing down the hierarchy by engaging in detraction, calumny, and scandalous gossip. It's especially sad considering the state of the world and the persecution of Christians and terrorism. What are we doing to one another?
Moving on now - talk amongst yourselves.