I have to say something about the breathtaking ignorance of almost all of your regular columnists when they write about the Catholic Church. They sound like they are venting issues from their childhood. They are so wrongheaded in their understanding of the Church that they border on anti-Catholicism and some go over the line. Those claiming to be Catholic are the worst offenders.
They write as if those who believe in and accept what the Church teaches somehow approve of the sexual abuses and their cover up. This broad-brush stuff is beneath a paper like the Globe. The term "laity" is used as if it were synonomous with the constituency of Voice of the Faithful. It is not. So much of what these writers say qualifies as have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet journalism.
The cliches and stereotypes (eg."Blind followers" "Pay, pray and obey" border on bigotry. In short, the Globe is losing credibility on this matter, at least as far as your columnists go. There has to be some counter-balance.
I think it would add to the level of discussion and provide some much-needed balance--and sell some papers. When you published my op-ed before it was at the top of your "most emailed articles list" for about 24 hours.
I am a layman, a Catholic journalist with a BA in theology from Boston College and an MA in theology from Franciscan University. I am presently contributing editor for Inside the Vatican magazine. I formerly had a column in the Daily Oklahoman. A Lexus search on my name would bring them up, plus many other items. I was the editor and communications director for the the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, and am a Boston native. John Geoghan was my parish priest at St. Paul's in Hingham when I was a child. I know whereof I speak.
A new feature on Mallon's Media Watch. I have written (see above) to the Boston Globe on the attitudes of certain of their columnists who border on — and sometimes cross the line with — Anti-Catholicism. They replied that they do not print rebuttles to their columnists in op-ed form but do publish letters. I have sent several Letters to the Editor rebutting Globe columnists that went unpublished, so I will publish them here.
The Globe did tell me, however, that they would be open to consider op-eds I send them.
Eileen McNamara, in her column of March 9, "Still Catholic but Changed," asks, "How can the rituals of this season of reflection and repentance seem anything but ironic to Catholics in light of the Boston Archdiocese's escalating legal war against victims of clergy sexual abuse?"
The answer is that Lenten practices involve the soul and one's personal relationship with God; they not are not intended to appease priests and bishops whom dissenters cast as "enforcers of rules."
This ingrained attitude that the Catholic Church is about "keeping rules" instead of the soul's love affair with God is rampant in the media's coverage of the Church. This kind of legalism is also rampant among dissenters, who are so hung up on rules. They are, as St. Paul said, "In bondage to the Law." They don't know that the law is love, which leads you to love the written law, which is in our hearts (See Psalm 119). This is orthdoxy.
One does not fast so as not to "get in trouble" with clergy, but to open one's heart to God. There are no "Lent Police." This lack of understanding and conversion is the Church's biggest challenge today.
Yes, the bishops often bungle things, but exactly who is being punished if Mrs. Doyal doubles her meat intake? The evil and stupidity done by some clergy ought to make us cling more tightly to Jesus, who Himself was put to death by the high priests. This is what Lent reminds us of. Our identification with Christ is what Catholicism all about. The clergy exist to help facilitate and mediate this love affair, but as human beings they sometimes screw up and obstruct it instead. Dissenters, in their legalism, are also stark clericalists placing too much on the clergy and not shouldering their own responsibility for their faith and eternal destiny through God's grace.
Abuse by priests can bring us closer to Him who is the Healer. This is not easy. But our relationship to Christ and our eternal salvation is our responsibility, and we must not let anyone stand in the way of that including priests who have gone bad. Catholics need the Church and need priests but our own response to God's love is up to us.
WASHINGTON - A profound and lasting realignment is likely soon to take place in American politics. Catholics, who for historical reasons have largely voted Democrat, will abandon the party in droves (just as social liberals have been, and are, abandoning the Church).
The realignment has been a long time coming. But it is unlikely to be possible any longer to ignore the fact that Church doctrine is incompatible with the policies of the party of the left. ...
"A month after the leadership of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops met privately with a group of prominent Catholic laypeople, the conference president has agreed to hold a second gathering with a group of conservative Catholics concerned that the first meeting was dominated by liberals."
Michael, Michael, Michael...
So, a month ago the bishops met with "prominent Catholics" now they have a second meeting with "conservative Catholics?"
Michael, why is it that so many of us who have been banging around Church controversy for about 20 years never heard of most of those "prominent" Catholics?
Michael, I'm not picking on you, but have you read Bernie Goldberg's book, Bias?
"The dissenters have moved from claiming the right to disagree to insisting that no one has a right to affirm Catholic teachings. Orthodox ideas are not to be protected against the attacks of dissenters, but dissenters are to be protected even from the mildest affirmations of orthodoxy. "
'Bias and judicial nominees' Redux: Professor De Bow has already mentioned this excellent op-ed in one of his earlier posts, but after reading the piece I felt compelled to put up a brief post to strongly second the good professor's recommendation. We link to a lot of articles and op-eds here at SA, but this one is especially good--a must-read if you will. John Mallon (of the Washington Times) slaps Ralph Neas and his anti-Catholic cohorts around like red headed stepchildren.
John Mallon's Tuesday diatribe, "Bias and judicial nominees," builds a sweeping accusation of religious intolerance around an incomplete and therefore misleading quote from my appearance on the "Hannity and Colmes" show.
While being repeatedly interrupted by Sean Hannity as I was answering one of his questions, I said, "Our position at People for the American Way is to oppose those nominees who have an extreme right-wing judicial philosophy, including opposition to reproductive rights, civil rights, and many other issues." Mr. Mallon leaves out the reference to civil rights, which is clearly audible on a tape of the show, in order to try to bolster his case that the debate about judicial nominees is a question of nominees' theological position on abortion rather than about their judicial philosophy regarding the Constitution and laws.
That is a distortion not only of my comments, but of the entire judicial nominations controversy. I was making the point that opposition to Bill Pryor and other far-right Bush nominees is based not on any single issue (and certainly not on religious beliefs), but on a judicial philosophy and approach to the law that would turn back the clock on many social justice gains of the past seven decades, regardless of the nominees' underlying motivation. That includes not only a woman's right to choose, which is supported by a majority of American Catholics, but also civil rights enforcement, environmental protection, privacy, religious liberty and much more.
In addition to misrepresenting the substance of my remarks, Mr. Mallon's article includes contemptuous remarks about my faith — I am a lifelong Catholic — that are appallingly beyond the pale. His article is part of an unfortunate and deeply offensive campaign attacking Catholics in public life based on the selective enforcement of theological orthodoxy. (Mr. Mallon does not address, for example, church teachings on the death penalty or artificial birth control. Does he believe people who support access to contraceptives or who support current death penalty laws are anti-Catholic?)
I am proud of People for the American Way's work to preserve constitutional rights and liberties, including the separation of church and state. And I am proud to be part of a long and still vibrant tradition of Catholic social justice advocacy.
RALPH G. NEAS
People for the American Way
Ralph Neas accuses me of distorting his remarks in my Op-Ed, "Bias and judicial nominees." He says, "Mr. Mallon leaves out the reference to civil rights, which is clearly audible on a tape of the show, in order to try to bolster his case that the debate about judicial nominees is a question of nominees' theological position on abortion rather than about their judicial philosophy regarding the Constitution and laws."
This is not true, as I was working from a Lexis-Nexus transcript of his remarks that did not pick up the "civil rights" reference, and did not have access to a tape. But it makes no difference. To a Catholic who thinks with the church, it is an oxymoron to use the term "civil rights" in the same sentence with the ideological euphemism "reproductive rights," used here to mean the snuffing out of the lives and civil rights of the unborn.
He asserts that "a woman's right to choose" (another offensive ideological euphemism) is "supported by a majority of American Catholics." I question those statistics, but, even if true, then those Catholics will have to take that up with God, either here or in the hereafter, assuming the notion is not too quaint for them, because in terms of Catholicism, they are in grave error. Not that I can convince them, but here is what their church says on the matter:
"It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application." (Declaration on Procured Abortion, No. 22, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Nov. 18, 1974)
As I said in my article, if one chooses to see this as so much poppycock, that is his or her freedom of choice. The problem is claiming to be Catholic while doing so. But my article was about integrity. Speaking of which, Mr. Neas mentions the death penalty. A Catholic of integrity may support the death penalty because, unlike abortion, in terms of moral theology, executing a convicted criminal is not an intrinsically evil act. It is permissible in certain cases, while directly killing an unborn child is not. As for birth control, science is revealing more and more the abortifacient (abortion causing) effects of widespread chemical methods.
Mr. Neas says my article "includes contemptuous remarks about my faith — I am a lifelong Catholic — that are appallingly beyond the pale." On the contrary, it is the public scandal of Catholics promoting abortion that is contemptuous of the Catholic faith and appallingly beyond the pale.
In short, despite Mr. Neas' assertions, any "social justice" advocacy that includes a "right" to abortion is not Catholic, and for many Americans, not the American way.