Sunday, September 3, 2017


Catholics comprise about one percent of the population of Macon, Georgia, yet the Telegraph, Macon's only newspaper, prints the disillusioned former ex priest, ex Catholic, ex Christian's commentary each Sunday with his basic message repeated over and over and over again, Pope John XXIII and the Church prior to Pope Paul VI was the apex of his former Catholic life. Sad for a man whose life is on the verge of concluding, tragic actually.

What do you think of a small southern town's newspaper printing this kind of thing over and over again?

Growing up – and out – as Catholic

Last week, Travis L. Middleton, one of my irritating Catholic critics, wrote that I am “a vindictive ex-priest who bamboozles gullible readers with razzle-dazzle-forkedtongued interpretations of scripture.” Strong language. But I must ask, “Am I?”
Many of us have put aside the religions of our youth. I know Jews who no longer attend synagogue and Muslims who never go back to their mosque. How many Presbyterians are now Methodists and vice versa? And who can count the number of Christians who no longer attend any church at all? That’s just a fact. But are they vindictive? Are they attacking what they used to revere? Why would they? And why would I?

I do not attack Catholicism, despite what Middleton constantly claims. I question it. I have fond memories of all things Catholic. I was born in an Irish Catholic neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Every home on 57th Place was both Catholic and Irish. We all marched to St. Ann’s Church every Sunday morning, the kids running and shouting all the way.

(We use to call these kinds of seminarians lifers, meaning they were spiritually, morally and psychologically stunted. And this is Bill's ongoing arrested developed mantra, almost a kind of OCD:) My high school and college years were spent in a monastic seminary, totally immersed in Catholic liturgy and I loved it. Later, I cherished chanting as a monk and serving as a priest and going to Rome to get my doctorate in sacred scripture. Most of all, I loved the man who opened my eyes to the value of questioning, Pope John XXIII. It was John himself and his famous, “Aggiornamento” (open the windows) that set me on my path of discovery.

I have been on this path ever since. I know my Catholic critics think I am vindictive because the bishop of California condemned me for heresy when I questioned if the two infancy narratives were written as historical documents. My detractors think I want to demean the faith of my Irish ancestors and turn Catholics away from Catholicism, but that’s the last thing I want to do. My columns are not written to bamboozle, but to question.

I feel like a retired general (with a bit of dementia?) who looks back on his battlefield days and makes informed comments. Just because neither one of us is still on the battlefield should not disqualify our remarks. When the retired general questions our war in Iraq or when I expose the early church’s misogynistic attitude toward women, we are not being vindictive, we are simply voicing our opinions based on long years of experience.
Why do some people feel we’re vindictive? Why are they so angry at our opinions? Why do they bristle when I laugh at religious explanations of natural phenomenon? Was I that way? When I was wearing the roman collar and faced a former Catholic who questioned my faith did I lash out? Did I label his motives as vindictive and evil?
(Keep in mind, his past is always greater than his present where the Catholic Church is considered) I remember this scene. I was a young priest, traveling to Rome on-board an Italian ocean liner. I was sitting on the top deck reading my book of Psalms when a well-dressed Englishman sat down next to me and began plying me with questions about Matt. 16:18: “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” He was not antagonistic, but he was insistent, “How could Jesus talk about a “church” he asked, “when all he knew were synagogues?”I knew the man had been a Catholic and a scholar and when he spoke about the scriptures he knew as much Greek as I did. I tried to defend the Catholic position on that scriptural text as well as the primacy of the papacy, but I didn’t do it very well.

(Uh, no kidding!) Looking back now, I know I was subconsciously angry. I thought he was just a vindictive ex-Catholic scholar trying to trap a priest in his own scriptures. Perhaps that’s how my Catholic critics feel. It might be how Middleton feels. I can understand that.
Contact me: .


Victor said...

He is right about one thing, aggiornamento as opening the windows, that is to say to let the ways of the world into the Church, allowing the hiding modernists to take over Her.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what some bitter, arrogant, old ex priest has to say. At least he had the honesty to leave the Church. The real problem is the ones who remain the Jesuits, Marx, Mahoney, Schunbourn, Weurl, Bergoglio etc. the list is endless. If only thise priest, nuns, bishops and opes who HATE the Catholic Faith how much better the rest of us would be.

Daniel said...

Say what you will about Bill, he is interesting, articulate & provocative. We are reading the column & talking about it, which of course is the point. If he were as irrelevant as the commenters above say, you wouldn't keep citing him. Under your skin?

ByzRC said...

Yet another way of bowing to the misguided pop culture 'who am I to judge' culture that flew into the open VII window. Useless to the 12% that still regularly attends in the northeast.

ByzRC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcg said...

I think your ire is misplaced. The poor old man is nearly insane. The editors have an anti-Catholic agenda or they would print such illogical garbage.

I am not a robot said...

I find that commenters on this blog generally stick to ad hominem insults -- "insane," "anti-Catholic," "illogical garbage" -- rather than responding to substantive arguments or even bothering to offer their own.

Proof: Somebody will call me a silly name in 3-2-1....

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

So what is it with this guy? Was he just somebody who loved Catholic culture, the Catholic Ghetto, so to speak, and never moved to actual love of Jesus Christ, the living God? In all of his Catholic exposure, did he never encounter the Holy Spirit, as on the day of Pentecost? Did he never have an experience of the Risen Lord?

Because each and ever person who only learns about Jesus, and never meets Jesus Himself, will remain an outside analyst pulling at the threads of the Scripture, the Magisterium, and history of the Church and never see the revelation of God. Jesus said as much to Nicodemus (unless a man be born again...).

I pray Mr. Middleton would have an experience much like St. Paul on his way to Damascus. May God bless him.

God bless,

TJM said...


There are millions of cultural Catholics who have no real understanding of the Faith. Though these folks existed before Vatican Disaster II, the numbers accelerated after the Council when the Church gave up teaching the Faith opting instead for teaching "love, love, and love." They forget of course, that even atheists love. So if that's all your selling, you haven't much to sell.

ByzRC said...

TJM said: "Though these folks existed before Vatican Disaster II, the numbers accelerated after the Council when the Church gave up teaching the Faith opting instead for teaching "love, love, and love."

This made me smile as, growing up during the 70s, this was all I heard in "catechism" class accompanied by textbooks with profoundly ugly photos. It was more of a love-in (absent, of course, were several major elements of such a gathering) than anything else. Very weak foundation laid there.

TJM said...


When my youngest daughter was born in 1989, my wife and I were compelled to go to a "Baptism" class prior to her christening. No priest was there, just a few nice lay people talking about togetherness and love, etc. I asked about the elements of the sacrament, and the group leaders froze. I then mentioned that if I wanted togetherness, I would join a country club. They were not happy with me!

Daniel said...

TJM, did you ask that question because you were genuinely unclear on the sacrament of baptism or just looking to embarrass the folks running the class with your superior knowledge? Did they "freeze" or just roll their eyes?

TJM said...


You must be a "liberal," always suspicious of other peoples' motives. They didn't roll their eyes, they were post-Vatican Disaster II trained ignoramuses. I was merely trying to give the "lesson" purpose.

TJM said...


Read this and you will see how twisted and sick are the Democratic Party and the "catholics" who still adhere to this intrinsically evil Party:

I hope you can stomach this

ByzRC said...


They froze for fear you would ask about that exorcism thingy.

While I'm sure the lay instructors were well intentioned and doing only what they were told to do, credibility goes out window when you waste people's time like that.

Daniel said...

"ignoramuses, twisted, sick, intrinsically evil." And those are the Catholics.
I think you are better off not bothering with that "togetherness" thing.

TJM said...

Daniel (Kavanaugh),

"It profit a man nothing to lose his soul for the whole world, but for Wales?"

ByzRC said...

Daniel -

You said based upon conversation between TJM and myself: "I think you are better off not bothering with that "togetherness" thing."

Do you think or, do you know for sure?

I sense a teaching moment from your perspective based upon the intermittent feedback. Curiously, what are you ultimately trying to accomplish with your questioning and feedback/conclusions?