Cleansing Fire

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The moral authority of professional Catholics

February 16th, 2012, Promulgated by Mike

Over the last several years I have noticed increasing numbers of a certain kind of professional Catholic. These are people engaged in Catholic media in a wide variety of formats and specializing in a broad range of subject areas. They all, however, share one thing in common: Each has pretty much spent his or her  career studiously avoiding one particular, serious problem within the American branch of the Catholic Church.  This problem is not abortion.  It is not the shameful rate of divorce among Catholics. It is not even the push for same-sex “marriage,” so called.

No, the problem these people with the EWTN television shows, the radio microphones and the book publishing contracts all treat like a third rail is the scandal of American bishops who have betrayed the Church and have effectively left their flocks to wander in the wilderness. And it is not just those bishops who have done so in the past, but those who continue to do so today.

I was reminded of this situation this morning while listening to Teresa Tomeo’s Catholic Connection show on Ave Maria Radio.  The subject was the Obama administration’s recent health care mandate and what our reaction as faithful, lay Catholics ought to be.  Early on in the show Teresa offered the following, obviously unscripted comments on that topic (my transcription from the podcast beginning at the 10:55 mark) …

This is our time to stand up and back up the bishops and be their foot soldiers and engage the culture in a loving way. I can’t stress this enough. And, again, as I said yesterday on my show when I had a long talk with Al Kresta and Nick Thomm about this, I’m hearing, still, a lot of angst with people saying, you know, it’s the bishops’ fault we’re in this mess in the first place, yadda, yadda, yadda, because of the lack of teaching over the years.

If you have that frustration, again I’m going to caution you greatly, that that is very damaging and that is also what the devil wants.  We are under such grave attack right now from the culture, from our own administration, and now we’re going to attack each other and eat our young?

You know, Al and I have certainly not been shy in mentioning when we think there’s  issues, when there’s lack of teaching.  EWTN is not shy about that.  Mother Angelica began this network because she saw what was happening in this country, that she needed to re-catechize a country and prevent it from falling over into the deep end completely.

We are here to evangelize but we are also here to catechize and to re-catechize and it does no one any good to spew any anger or frustration we have toward what has happened in the past.

Now, do we learn from our mistakes? Absolutely. Do we do things differently and better? Absolutely. But now is not the time to sit there and say, “He should have done that, he should have done this, he needs to do this.” What are you doing to help the bishops who are doing a great job right now?  And the sad thing is the bishops who are running this right now are not even the ones who caused the problems in the first place: the Bakers, the Chaputs, the Vignerons, the Cordileones, the Carltons.  I mean, we have amazing leadership right now. And if you allow yourself to get caught up in anger and frustration about something that’s hap…  I’m not saying that we deny that we, all of us, have done a poor job in the past.  But I just really want to encourage you to stand up for the truth and back the Church right now. And if you’re upset then go and kick a garbage can, scream into a pillow, but tell your bishop you will support these efforts to stop what is happening.  Because I’ll tell you right now, if this mandate continues and if this is allowed to stand, we’re not going to be able to teach about anything.  Who knows what they’re going to try to do to EWTN. Who knows what they’re going to try to do in the churches.

So we need to stop the infighting and we need to love our bishops and to love our Church.  We are all imperfect. The only two people who ever existed, Jesus, being fully God and fully man, and Our Lady.  We all have planks in our eye that we can pull out.  And this is not minimizing anything that has happened in Church history.  But the infighting is not going to help us, it’s only going to hurt us and it’s what the devil wants: Divide and conquer.

Halfway through this commentary I emailed the following to Ave Maria Radio…

We have amazing leadership right now?

While that may be the case in some dioceses, it is far from a universal truth.

You don’t live in upstate New York, do you?  Have you ever heard  of Matthew Clark or Howard Hubbard?

I wish you and the majority of the “professional Catholics” out there would get your collective heads out of the sand and take a good look at what is going on in some dioceses in this country, not in the past, but RIGHT NOW!

We are living in a wilderness here and most of you people with the microphones and the publishing contracts couldn’t care less, as is evident from your collective lack of attention to our plight.

Sorry, Teresa, but some of our bishops are currently doing Satan’s work and I and my friends refuse to be silent about it, no matter how much you would like us to have a united front.  We have consciences, too.

Needlessto say, I was a bit surprised when Teresa mentioned my note on the air (my transcription, same podcast, beginning at the 44:24 mark) …

I just received an email from a Mike. I don’t want to say where he’s from because I don’t know if what he’s saying about his bishops are true and I would want to give, with all due respect to the hierarchy, them a chance to explain, but he’s saying that we have our heads in the sand and that we think everything is wonderful – I’m paraphrasing here – wonderful and hunky-dory because there are a lot of bishops who aren’t doing anything and my response, and I’m writing him back right now, is, what’s the point of this, how is your whining going to help anyone. If your bishops aren’t doing anything, do something yourself.  Sitting there complaining is only going to make matters worse. What have you done and what are you willing to do?

That was some paraphrase. How she got that out of my email escapes me. I said nothing about the response of area bishops to the Obama mandate, but that’s what she chose to read into it. Very telling, however, is that my assertion that some “bishops are currently doing Satan’s work” seemed totally invisible to her. And this is not the first time that Teresa has ignored negative comments about sitting bishops.  Within the past year I have heard her effectively cut off two callers who had critical things to say, and I only catch her show once or twice a week.

So now I am faced with this question: Should I listen to someone who has, over the years, willfully or otherwise, turned a professional blind eye to much of the episcopal misfeasance and malfeasance that is largely responsible for the mess we face today?  Should I stop my “whining” about ongoing heterodoxy and heteropraxis for what she believes to be the greater good? Does her record in this area give her the credibility, the moral authority, to even make that request?

If it were someone like Michael Voris asking, I’d have to give it serious thought.

Teresa Tomeo?  I think not.

 

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16 Responses to “The moral authority of professional Catholics”

  1. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Thank you for this, Mike! I couldn’t agree more with your statement and the fact that we are ignored. It’s a better story for them if they ignore reality. Their narrative works for them and they’ll just stick to it instead of looking at the facts. If they took the time to educate themselves on the facts, I think some of these celebs would fall off their chairs.

    When SSM passed in NYS, I sent the following message to more than one media outlet:

    subject: national Catholic media is missing the story on SSM in NYS

    It pains me to see the national Catholic media dropping the ball and missing much of the story on the passing of SSM legislation in the state of New York. Do you have any suggestions for getting the national Catholic media to acknowledge that at least one (probably 2 or more) bishop of NY actually helped create an environment where SSM legislation would be possible. This is not about the last few weeks, months, or even years. Bishop Clark of Rochester (and Hubbard, I believe, but I don’t know as much about him) have been subversively (and sometimes openly) endorsing the homosexual agenda for decades! Archbishop Dolan has failed to address this. Will anyone in the national Catholic media prove their worth and report the full story? Any advice you have would be much appreciated. If you’re willing to tackle it, I can give you heaps of evidence to support my claim. Thanks again for your amazing work! I have learned a great deal from you (both knowledge and more importantly learning how to think critically)

    God Bless,
    Ben Anderson
    cleansingfire.org

    Except for Thomas Peters (AmericanPapist/CatholicVote), I got no response.

    Along these lines, Fr Z had an interesting post today:
    “In order to avoid conflicts, they let the poison spread.”

    “[I]t is true that the Church may never simply align itself with the “Zeitgeist” [spirit of the times]. The Church must address the vices and perils of the time; she must appeal to the consciences of the powerful and of the intellectuals, not to mention of those who want to live narrow-minded, comfortable lives while ignoring the needs of the time, and so forth. As a bishop [of Munich] I felt obliged to face this task. Moreover, the deficits were too obvious: exhaustion of the faith, decline in vocations, lowering of moral standards even among men of the Church, an increasing tendency towards violence, and much else. The words of the Bible and of the Church Fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs; in order to avoid conflicts, they let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.“

    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium. An interview with Peter Seewald. (Ignatius Press, 1996, pp. 82-83)

    If inaction is repulsive to our Holy Father, I wonder what he would call intentional attacks against the Church from those whose job is to defend.

    I think some of these Catholic media folks would do well to take that quote to heart.

  2. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    This combined with Leonardi’s departure from TSRMS… I am considering removing my support from the radio.

  3. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I agree Ben. Marvelous God has given the bishops and priests a teaching moment as Vorheis has said. I think they are letting this moment go down the toilet. It breaks my heart when I see the lack of response from our leaders.

    And as I watch EWTN, I think they are more interested in promoting their own careers in broadcasting. I am afraid we as a Church are going to go lower and lower. We have not hit rock botem. Not by a longshot.-

  4. avatar Nerina says:

    Oh, Mike. How can she not know of the reputation of both +Clark and +Hubbard? She didn’t want to say where the e-mail came from? Teresa has been a cheerleader for the hierarchy for a long time, and I must admit that I stopped listening to her a while ago. I still think she does a good job in preaching the Good News, but she consistently denies the troubles that still exist in many parts of the country – most especially in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

    I’m happy for those areas with good, strong, faithful bishops – but NY is not one of them. Even when they muster enough energy to address an issue, they do so in such a mealy-mouthed way that it is almost pointless (see Bishop Clark’s recent handling of the HHS mandate). A letter inserted in bulletins? That’s the best he can do? That’s how a shepherd cares for his flock? And where has he been for the last 20 some years? Has he preached about the damaging effects of contraception? NO! And now every one can claim “well, 98% of Catholic women approve of birth control!” (a contrived and highly manipulated stat, by the way).

    So Teresa may want us all to line up and get behind our Bishops, but I’m afraid some of them haven’t earned our unfettered support. When a bishop can demonize faithful groups like the Catholic Medical Association and forbid them from meeting in our diocese, there is clearly a problem. Mike, if I were you, I’d give her more than enough information about our diocese and the problems that have existed for too long. Let’s see if she is prepared to be the voice that exposes the malfeasance. Until she’s willing to do that, her words ring hollow. Oh, I can just feel my blood pressure going up!

  5. avatar LarryD says:

    There’s a simple – and perhaps cynical – reason why the professional folks won’t level any criticism towards the bishops, even when it’s justified. Because then they won’t be invited to speak at functions and conferences in their dioceses and archdioceses. And it would jeopardize their broadcasting privileges as well. Ben hit the nail on the head in regards to Rich.

    Which means, then, that their reporting really isn’t reporting – in some respects, they’re no different than the Democrat party shills on MSNBC or CNN.

    Yes- give credit to the bishops where credit is due, and support them. But level criticism where it’s due as well. Treat the bishops – and their listeners – with some modicum of respect, as adults. Do they really think, for instance, that if they criticize the bishops, they’ll be mistaken for the Catholycs at the National Catholic Distorter? Do they think we’re that stupid?

    Which is why Voris will never get approval from Detroit, even though none of his work contradicts Church teaching. It’s because he’s not afraid to call things for what they are, and isn’t afraid of stepping on toes.

  6. avatar LarryD says:

    BTW – good post, Mike!

  7. avatar Dr. K says:

    A letter inserted in bulletins? That’s the best he can do? That’s how a shepherd cares for his flock?

    And it’s likely to be the last time he’ll speak on this subject too!

  8. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    The NCCB is in an informal theological schism with Rome and is pursuing its own aggendum to save itself. Many of the bishops were beckoned to the position by the career ladder and the rewards of clericalism. They are still throwing around their weight like thay still have a power base.

    I am reminded of the story of the crowd running by an old woman sitting in her window in Paris in 1798 and she asked them what they were doing? “We are in a revolution”, they replied as they ran by. A few minutes later an old man hobbled by and she asked him where he was going ? He said he was trying to catch up with the crowd. She said” they are headed for trouble, why are you following them”?? The old man repled” I have to catch up to them, I’m their leader.”

    GET GOING BISHOPS!!!!!

  9. avatar Gretchen says:

    A great post, Mike. You spoke the truth and unfortunately, there is a class of devout Catholics who prefer a particular narrative about the hierarchy. This is my response: “They must find it difficult, those who have accepted authority as truth, rather than truth as authority.” ~ Gerald Massey

    Gretchen from SOP

  10. avatar Susan of Corning says:

    Loved your e-mail, Mike. And I believe LarryD is right about the Catholic pros being worried that “they won’t be invited to speak at functions and conferences in their dioceses and archdioceses.”

    While I pray that our Catholic bishops and Catholic professionals continue to strongly lead re: the HHS mandate mess, I’ll keep my eyes open and do what I can in this corner of the world.

  11. avatar Monk says:

    Mike,
    I have always considered evangelization as the most valuable and effective role of Catholic media. They have significantly strengthened the faith of many lukewarm Catholics, brought many fallen away Catholics back to the faith, and reached out to our separated Christian brethren. They have in their own way, done what you are asking. They have contributed greatly to the new springtime we see emerging in the U.S Church and the final demise of Bishops like +Clark and +Hubbard.

  12. avatar Mike says:

    Monk,

    I pretty much agree, as far as that goes.

    What galls me, though, is people who have spent their careers actively ignoring certain serious problems within the Church somehow believing they have the right – to say nothing of the street cred – to tell the rest of us that we have to shut up about them, too.

    That’s pushing their willful ignorance a bit too far.

  13. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    My wife and I are in boston. At the same hotel there is a Harvard sponsored meeting titled” The United Nations, National Workshop: 2012> Over 2000 of the brightest college students are participating.

    Some of the topics are UNESCO and Human Rights. This is an affront for abortionon demand, homosexuality, birth control and population control.

    This is massive. These people will be tomorrows leaders. More of what O’Bama and the pro aborts want. The destruction of the Christian society.

    And what are our bishops doing to counteract this? NADA.

    They can’t even get catechesis to address these issues with our young people. You have to admire the zeal of the Culture of Death and you have to hate the lukewarmness and often cold response of our bishops to this crisis.

  14. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I would also agree with you, Monk. However, I’d note 2 things:

    certainly not everyone should be tackling the bad bishops issue because they simply wouldn’t be able to be heard as they are, HOWEVER:
    1) those who pass on the bad bishop stories should not scold those who don’t
    2) claiming to cover national Catholic news and yet ignoring the story of actual, live, bad bishops is somewhat a lie
    3) trying to use the false dichotomy that you’re either critical of your bishop (aka – simply being Catholic in our case) OR helping out the Catholic cause is simply lamentable. What happened to the grand ole Catholic BOTH-AND?

    Finally, in regard to my comment about perhaps removing my support… I don’t wish to give the impression that Catholic radio isn’t a very good thing. However, as Mike hinted at, our #1 priority should be fighting liberalism (our Bishop’s agenda). And thus, I may be making a re-prioritization of my support to reflect this. Without the effort to directly attack the tentacles of liberalism head on, what are we converting our people to? When we get people into pews in which they hear garbage (or worse, don’t hear about the great treasure that Catholicism is), or don’t worship as we believe, or pretend that all spirituality is equal, then we are doing a disservice to them. Even if they are hearing a better message on the Radio, if they still get liberal junk on Sunday (I now consider a lack of proper doctrine and worship as liberal junk – ignoring truth is just as bad as promoting error), it makes them think that Catholicism allows for both, meanwhile it does not. We have vast amounts of people who are out of communion (perhaps not even knowing it) with their Church and yet receiving communion each week. That is not a good thing.

    In fact, in might even lead to a certain amount of inoculation. Imagine the confusion that will come if our next bishop simply acts like a Catholic bishop is supposed to… ensuring the mass is properly celebrated, weeding out bad teachers, women “priests”, etc. For our outside influences to fail to speak to this issue means we have a lot of people thinking they are believing and worshiping as Catholics ought, meanwhile they are actually involved in a psuedo-protestant parish. I’m not saying every national Catholic media outlet is to blame – I’m just saying that I may choose to support an effort that more directly helps us out.

  15. avatar JLo says:

    I gave up on Theresa Tomeo after her appearance on Marcus Grodi’s program, “The Coming Home Network”. I’ve never seen so much trumpeting of oneself as I witnessed during that broadcast. She never let go of her story of how wonderful she is. On and on it went. Actually, I can’t believe I watched that half hour to the end, it was so very sickening. The lady is all about herself and her oh so wonderful accomplishments. I believe Grodi was uncomfortable with her “performance”. All in all, that particular radio/TV personality is no one I would ever trust.
    +JMJ, please bless America.


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