Friday, May 30, 2014

MANIPULATION BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL MANIPULATION


It is one thing for children who are children to manipulate their parents to get their way by telling them that their parents don't love them since they can't do what other children are allowed to do in their homes. But it is quite different when adults who profess to be Catholic do the same thing to the Church.It is a crass form of manipulation which is understandable in the immature but to be castigated in adults!

So I print this anonymous statement from the Macon Telegraph this morning concerning the  situation of a Catholic institution striving to recover its Catholic mission:

“Our families are hurting. We feel scorned by our church, which we have dedicated our lives to,” the letter reads in part. “From coaching sports teams, to leading canned food drives, to going to Church every single Sunday -- we feel abandoned by the Catholic Church. We know God has not abandoned us. Our friends, loved ones, and many others in our community have not abandoned us. But we feel the hierarchy of our Church is denying us the pastoral care and love they are called to do.”

Let me just say that part of the pastoral care of the Church is to point out sin and corruption and to call people to repent and go to confession. Every person who goes to confession has in one way or another sinned against God and they do not make excuses for it, they do not blame anyone else for it and they do not disagree with the Church that the sin they are confessing is in fact a sin. In that context and as a priest representing both God and the Church I can forgive them acting in the person of Christ.

If someone came into confession after having sinned not only privately but also in the most public way possible and told me that she disagreed with the Church's teaching and castigated me for promoting the Church's teaching on adultery, fornication and publicly denying a basic tenet of the Church, I could not give that person absolution.

Some public sins in the Catholic Church, when the public sinner persists in them in the most public way in order to call into question the Church's sure and certain faith and morals can lead to public excommunication apart from being fired from employment in a Catholic institution.

Excommunication is pastoral. It is to call the one excommunciated to publicly repent and be reconciled to the Church.

Those trying to use an ideology that is opposed to the Church and in fact hates the Catholic Church need to recognize that the Church has every right to proclaim the truth and not be manipulated in any way from doing so.

27 comments:

Gene said...

I see where three board members from MDS resigned…good riddance. This is the crowd that believes that "good feelings" trump right belief. Believe it or not, this is exactly what things like the charismatic movement, making roans gestures during Mass and, yes, ad orientum engender.

It is axiomatic in group dynamics that you do not allow the minority to control the majority. We have never learned that lesson. The Church and the country are being controlled by a very small, but very loud, percentage of disordered people and their misguided supporters. Really, at this point, to have any sympathy for them or to give them any support is to surrender the fight. I am comfortable letting God deal with them. We need to tighten our helmet straps and "lock and load," as it were.

Gene said...

I hate this spell checker. My post should have read "orans" gestures, not "roans" gestures. Sheesh!

Fr John said...

Since when has excommunication ever been 'pastoral' - what total nonsense. It's purpose has always been to estrange, alienate, isolate and cut-off someone. Next you'll be telling me that a death sentence is pastoral because it brings you to God sooner.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Fr. John are you Catholic or Anglican and do you know anything about southern Church history in the USA and that the Archbishop of New Orleans publicly excommunicated a Catholic politician who publicly opposed the archbishop's plan to integrate the Catholic schools of his archdiocese in the 1960's? It indeed was pastoral as this politician was causing great division in the archdiocese by publicly opposing the Archbishop's leadership, the hierarchy's leadership, eventually the politician repented and was publicly reconciled to the Church.

I'm not saying this case rises to that but Catholics who disobey their bishop and call into question his three-fold ministry to sanctify, teach and govern a diocese in union with the pope are on thin ice.

Henry said...

Although public scandal calls for public correction, the principal purpose of excommunication is not exemplary, but to call to repentance the sinner whose soul is in mortal danger. What might be a more pastoral intent?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Fr. McDonald for your work in promoting reverent liturgy and for your great blog. I read it daily and would like to be able to share some of the articles. Have you considered adding links to Facebook to the pages? Thank you again for all that you do.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks Henry, exactly! And this little humble blog has already gone to far and wide as it is and I'm awaiting a smack down any day. Not sure I sure promote it further, plus I don't have anyone helping me with it, like editing, spell check, proper grammar, etc. But thanks for reading and the compliment!

another anonymous said...

Fr John: Since when? Well, Canon 1312 defines excommunication as a medicinal penalty, which gets us back to 1983. The Catholic Encyclopedia also describes excommunication as "a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, being intended, not so much to punish the culprit, as to correct him and bring him back to the path of righteousness." which gets us back a hundred years. And if you read such sources as Eusebius, you get back another 1700 years or so.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

Were you at the Board meeting? I was not.

I do know two of the Board members who resigned very well. They are personal friends of mine. Indeed, one of them was the best man at my wedding. And the term “best man” applies in more than one sense. The other is also one of the best women I know.

I have not spoken with either of them about their precise reasons for resigning. If and when they want to tell me, they will. I can tell you that, as well as being fine people, they are fine lawyers and fine Catholics. They are a credit to the profession, a credit to the Faith, and a credit to the species. I feel sure the same is true of the other person who resigned.

In no way is this meant to imply anything negative about those Board members who did not resign. I know some of them too and they are also wonderful people. Neither of us was at the Board meeting and neither of us is privy to all the relevant considerations that went onto a judgment to resign or not to resign. For all I know, had I been on the Board and privy to those considerations, I might have felt the need to resign too. Come to that, so might you.


Anon friend said...

Sure are a lot of lawyers in Macon... (:

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, there are and the Church is almost as discredited as they are! :)

Gene said...

The Church is dying and is under assault from all sides and all people like Anon 2 can do is mealy mouth and double talk and contort themselves in every way trying to convince us that we can pick a turd up by the clean end. We are really in serious trouble.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

Let’s agree that there is a serious problem in the Church and let’s agree to disagree about how to frame it and what to do about it. I wanted to reply to your earlier militaristic comment about helmet straps, “lock and load” by repeating what I have said before in slightly different language: You can’t fight a third generation war using second generation weapons and tactics. This is not being “ashamed of the Gospel,” to use Robert George’s phrase. It is being smart about it. I repeat that in my view this is a time to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves when bearing witness. As I see it, Pope Francis understands this. Many, and here I include you, do not yet get it. But as I said I do not expect you to agree. That’s fine. You can bear witness as you feel called to do. I will bear witness as I feel called to do.

More generally, you should not go around spewing judgments about good people without knowing all the relevant facts. The Board of Trustees and Mount de Sales School have suffered a significant loss with the resignation of these Board members.

Even more worryingly, the way many people have reacted to this incident in the (anti)social media – on both sides – is doing Mount de Sales no favors. It was an excellent school before this, and it will be an excellent school after this when the turmoil dies down as it inevitably will. People need to see beyond this particular incident to the underlying reality of the school.


Anonymous 2 said...

By the way, Gene, have you watched the video Father posted? I would be interested to know what you thin k about it.

Gene said...

Anon 2, You mean that third way thing. No.

Novum Auctore said...

A2,

In charity, I think you are being too hard on Gene. Consider:

Huge controversy surrounds MDS and nearly simultaneously three board members resign. Not at all a big leap to conclude that their resignation was prompted by opposition to MDS's action. Circumstantial, but strongly so. And if true, then it isn't at all clear that the resignations weren't motivated by a belief that the Church is bigoted--i.e., a doctrinal and not a tactical/pastoral objection, especially since we've had several self-identified Catholics denounce the Church's doctrine over the MDS affair. They apparently resigned in protest; I think it's a perfectly normal thing for people to wonder precisely what they're protesting.

Since you know these people so well, I'd be interested to know if you've discussed this issue with any of them. If so, can you tell us whether they accept the Church's teaching that homosexuality to be disordered or not? It's a simple question. If not, I would respectfully have to state that your characterization of them as "fine Catholics" is erroneous.

I know from personal experience that at least some people who have joined the Church during the new evangelization have done so without "informed consent" since I watched, first-hand, the priest who ran the RCIA program grossly misrepresent the faith with regard to some of the usual hot-button issues, presumably to make it more palatable to people who might otherwise be turned off by it. Further, various comments and actions of the hierarchy over that past decades--some of them quite recent--either ignoring or (at least apparently) condemning doctrine show that there's no lack of this mindset. The very fact that a number of Catholics have castigated the Church over the MDS affair (and the Charlotte Catholic High School affair) for not being tolerant of homosexuality shows that they either don't know Catholic teaching regarding authority and homosexuality (in which case shame on the hierarchy for tolerating and contributing to this ignorance, leading to many people who believe themselves to be Catholic but who really aren't) or they don't care (in case shame on them for holding themselves out as Catholic and scandalizing the faith).

While I both think and hope that this sort of misrepresentation/blind eye/dissent isn't what you're advocating, and even, sometimes, may not be what is intended by the hierarchy, it's been happening a lot in recent decades--an awful lot. Based on my casual experience and anecdotal evidence, while you may think Gene's approach turns people off (probably does in many cases), have you considered that your approach, in practice, may result in people--lots of them--coming in under false pretenses, in such a way that in actuality they aren't in communion with the Church at all?

I think that Gene's point is that doctrinally the Church has been doing a lousy job of policing itself since VII, either through negligence or even intent, and that all this "dialoguing" (is that a verb? I hate it when people verb nouns) hasn't seemed to have improved the Church a lot. Quite the opposite.

You may be right about people bearing witness as they see fit, but Christ preached some hard truths in hard language on occasion. At some point, to be in full communion with the Church, people are going to have to hear and deal with some hard truths. I'm not sure that it isn't better to give them these truths up front. I think there's an excellent argument to be made that soft-peddling it has contributed to the current crisis (and I'm not talking about the MDS controversy).

Anon friend said...

Novum Auctore, you may be yet another lawyer ("circumstantial" a clue?), but I'll underscore your reply in boldface type! Thank you for saying so well much that has been in my head, but I simply don't verbalize as well as you did here. Yes, Gene's approach is not one I would use, and I have been personally scorched by him in the past on occasion. His bluster can surely send the faint-of-heart packin'. But I am FAR more worried about A2's approach. I too have watched the results over the years in RCIA classes go way beyond "progressive": one RCIA director here actually referred to the Real Presence as "myth").
Just like A2, I have known and do know many with the opposite sexual persuasion to mine--friends (one the Best Man in my wedding), a family member, and I worked for a year seeing patients in the HIV/AIDS clinic back when. I have a respect for all of them as children of God and created in His image. But I cannot soft-sell (is that a verb?) the teaching of my Church. I have to believe that the Truth will eventually set everyone free, but living in this time is certainly unnerving, to say the least.

Anonymous 2 said...

Novum Auctore:

Thank you for your comments. I think you have supported my point very well by recognizing that no-one really knows the reasons for these resignations. Even if the three Board members resigned in protest at the School’s actions, this fact would not tell you what in particular they found objectionable about those actions. And yet Gene knows the reasons merely from the fact of their resignation and concludes that the Board is well rid of them. This is remarkable as he does not know these people. I do know two of them very well and I do not know their reasons. So I am amazed that Gene does. They have not told me and I have not asked. I will respect that.

I do not wish to say any more than this. I have already probably said too much about these resignations. But I do not particularly like to see the reputation of people I know and greatly respect, indeed admire, besmirched by people like Gene who sound off without knowing the facts. I know many people really love to do this nowadays in our coarsened culture but it is a bad tendency. I am not being too hard on Gene. He should know better.

My characterization of the two people I know well is based on what I know about them. I do not recall having a conversation with them about their position on homosexuality and same sex marriage. Why would I? Until this past week there was no particular reason to do so.

I do not wish to say anything further about this topic, and I hope that you and Gene and others will have the common decency not to draw any unwarranted inferences from my reluctance and will refrain from engaging in any more idle speculation about these resignations. Thank you.

Gene said...

I think my assumption was accurate. If it was not, then prove it by telling me why they resigned. I do not have to know them or attend a meeting to make a reasonable assumption. So, why did they resign? Was it because they felt the school did not fire the teacher sooner? Was it because they were overcome with such spiritual zeal that the very discussion of homosexuality caused them to flee the association with even the mention of it, knocking people out of the way to get to the Confessional? Come on, enlighten me. You seem to enjoy trying to do that...

C Reyna said...

The church has a right to excommunicate. I would argue that those who judge it applicable do so arbitrarily. Of the hundreds of priests judged guilty by the Vatican for sexual abuse, how many have been excommunicated?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

How many have been suspended, defroked and are in prison would be a better question. Let say that the offending priests belonged to a secular group that promoted under aged sex then certainly Catholic members of that group, laity and clergy should be excommunicated and the clergy defrocked.

I'm not opposed to automatic excommunication for those who abuse children, but I think defrocking is a more serious penalty and can't be reversed but excommunication certainly can be reversed through repentance. In fact the whole point of excommunication is a call to repentance and a return to the full communion of the Church through sacramental confession. If the excommunication is pubic the reconciliation public also.

Defrocking is not for the purposes of reconciling the offending clergy back to his office. It is permanent.

So you make a straw man here and are comparing apples to oranges and perhaps for ideological reasons?

Novum Auctore said...

A2,

I'll accede to your request and not press you on your friends' position. In answer to your rhetorical question "Why would I?", though, I'd respectfully say that if they were as interested in matters Catholic as you, and as close to you as that, it's reasonable and even likely that the topic would indeed have come up among you before given these troubling times. Just sayin'.

I will say in closing, without specific reference to these three people, that given the amount of open doctrinal dissent these days, and consequent scandalizing of the faith, by people who identify themselves as Catholic, speculation about your friends' motivation is practically inevitable, whether or not they or you choose to seek or provide more information. Further, to the degree that such speculation about such cases (not your friends' in particular) gives rise to an honest discussion about self-identification as Catholic and how it relates to the requirement that Catholics by definition accept the Church's authority and teachings, it isn't a bad thing. It's been my experience that the last thing dissenters want or will tolerate is honest discussion, so anything that puts dissenters on the spot in this respect is good. That may put your friends into an unsought limelight, but at least they do have the recourse of saying "no comment." But it's just human nature that in the absence of comment, and in an environment where dissent clearly exists, some people are going to label your friends (in the phrase of McCarthyism) "Fifth Amendment Communists." It may not be true, and it may not even be just, but it's going to be.

Respectfully submmitted.

Anonymous 2 said...

Novum Auctore:

Well, you will just have to take my word for it. I do not recall the subject coming up. I will concede that I do not remember every detail of every conversation we have ever had, so maybe the topic did come up at some point over the years. If it did, I do not recall it. But I suspect it didn’t. There are so many other things to talk about with friends and colleagues other than matters of Faith, and in matters of Faith there are so many other things to talk about than this particular topic. It is very easy for people to lose a sense of perspective if they just focus on a few hot button issues. Just sayin’. =)

I concede that speculation is inevitable. But speculation is one thing; asserting a definite conclusion is another. Gene was doing the latter. If you are indeed a fellow member of the legal profession, you should understand this point quite well.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene:

Please see my response to Novum Auctore. I do not have to prove anything to you. Nor do they.



John Nolan said...

Novum Auctore

'I hate it when people verb nouns'. Brilliant - there must be a literary term for statements like this.

I don't get your moniker, though. 'Auctore' is the ablative singular of the noun 'auctor' whereas the adjective 'novum' is either masculine accusative singular or neuter nominative/accusative singular. Shouldn't it be Novus Auctor or Novo Auctore, depending on the case?

Anonymous said...

John Nolan, Good for you! Novum Auctore, I appreciate very much your approach to both Gene and Novum Auctore Everyone, too many different people using "Anonymous" does not work. Use your name, a distinctive pseudonym, or (as I do) sign your name (or some identifier). As I have said before, I do as I do because I do not see how without a credit card or something to do otherwise.

- Ancil Payne

Anonymous said...

I mean, I appreciate Novum Auctore's response to both Gene and Anonymous 2.

- Ancil Payne