Generating Controversy and Negative Press
Thomas A. Droleskey
According to a report written by John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, a document from the
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
banning men who are either practitioners of perverted practices and/or are attracted to such practices has been placed on Pope Benedict XVI's desk for his action. According to Mr. Allen, "
Privately, some [American bishops] hope Benedict will decide to put the document in a desk drawer for the time being, on the grounds that it will generate controversy and negative press without changing anything in terms of existing discipline". Ah, yes, the fear of generating controversy and negative press. Yes, wasn't it the fear of generating "controversy and negative press" that kept the first bishops of the Church locked up in the Upper Room in Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday after the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost, descended upon them in tongues of flame upon them and Our Lady? Not quite.
The Apostles did not fear the loss of their lives, no less human respect, by leaving the Upper Room on Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Catholic Church, and beginning the Church's missionary work by proclaiming in all boldness the truths of the Divine Redeemer Who had Ascended to the Father's right hand in glory ten days before. Consider this passage from the Acts of the Apostles:
But Peter seeing, made answer to the people: Ye men of Israel, why wonder you at this? or why look you upon us, as if by our strength or power we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged he should be released.
But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. But the author of life you killed, whom God hath raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And in the faith of his name, this man, whom you have seen and known hat this name strengthened; and the faith which is his by him, hath given this perfect soundness in the sight of you all.
And now, brethren, I know that you did it through ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God before shewed by the mouth of all the prophets that his Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Be patient, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. That when the times of refreshment shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send him who hat been preached unto you, Jesus Christ. Whom heaven indeed must receive until the times of the restitution of all thins, which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world.
For Moses said: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: him you shall hear according to all things whatsoever he shall speak to you. And it shall be, that every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. And all the prophets, from Samuel and afterwards, who have spoken, have told of these days.
You are the children of the prophets and of the testament which God made to our fathers, saying to Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. To you first God, raising up his Son, hath sent him to bless you; that every one may convert himself from his wickedness.
And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the officer of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead: and they laid hands upon them, and put them in hold till the next day; for it was now evening. But many of them who had heard the word eword, believed; and the number of the men was made five thousand.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their princes and ancients, and scribes, were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest and Caiphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest. And setting them in the midst, they asked: By what power, or by what name, have you done this?
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them: Ye princes of the people, and ancients, hear: If we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he hath been made whole: Be it known unto you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him this man standeth here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.
Now seeing the constancy of Peter and of John, understanding that they were illiterate and ignorant men, they wondered; and they knew them that they had been with Jesus. Seeing the man also who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But they commanded them to go aside out of the council; and they conferred among themselves, saying: What shall we do to these men? for indeed a known miracle hat been done by them, to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: it is manifest, and we cannot deny it. But that it may be nor farther spread among the people, let us threaten them that they speak no more in this name to any man.
And calling them, they charged not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answering, said to them: If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the thins which we have seen and heard.
But they threatening, sent them away, not finding how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified what had been done, in that which had come to pass. For the man was above forty years old, in whom the miraculous cure had been wrought. And being let go, they came to their own company, and related all that the chief priests had so to them.
Who having heard it, with one accord lifted up their voice to God, and said: Lord, thou art he that didst make heaven and earth, the sea, and all thins that are in them. Who, by the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, hast said: Why did the Gentiles rage, and the people meditate vain thins? The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes assembled together against the Lord and his Christ.
For of a truth there assembled together in this city against thy hold child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to do what thy hand and thy counsel declared to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto thy servants, that with all confidence that they may speak thy word. By stretching forth thy hand to cures, and signs, and wonders to be done by the name of thy holy Son Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was moved wherein they were assembled; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with confidence. (Acts 3:12-26; 4:1-31)
"They spoke the word of God with confidence." They were not afraid of generating controversy and the "bad press" of their day: the word-of-mouth whispering, detraction, and calumny of the Jews and the pagans. They were concerned about one thing and one thing only: fidelity to Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in order to re-generate souls held captive to the devil by means of Original Sin in the Sacrament of Baptism. They were not afraid of offending the Jews or sinners steeped in the worst sort of perversities. They were not afraid of losing any sort of "tax-exempt" status from the civil authorities. They were not afraid of being hated and rejected by their own family members. They were not afraid of being tortured and put to death, as each of the Apostles was with the singular exception of Saint John the Evangelist (who survived an attempt to kill him by being boiled alive in oil).
The fear of "generating controversy and bad press" is not a phenomenon unique to the Catholic bishops of the United States of America. The fear of speaking in authentically Catholic terms extends all the way to Pope Benedict XVI himself, who is most unlikely to speak in the manner of the first pope. Saint Peter himself, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles above. Oh, no, the conciliarist popes can't do anything to hurt "ecumenical dialogue," especially with those who deny the Sacred Divinity of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man in Our Lady's virginal and Immaculate womb by the power of the Holy Ghost. Why even the very dogmatic formulations the Deposit of Faith expressed by the Church herself under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost for nearly two millennia with respect to the necessity of belief in Our Lord and membership in His true Church might be seen as "impediments" to the spread of the Gospel! (See, for example, Christopher A. Ferrara's excellent review of Pope Benedict XVI's May 13, 2005, remarks as he took possession of his cathedral as Bishop of Rome, San Giovanni in Laterano, Fatima Perspectives.)
Whether Pope Benedict XVI will sign the document banning those who commit perverted acts contrary to the Sixth and Ninth Commandments and/or are inclined to commit them is pretty much irrelevant. Who is going to enforce such a ban? The pervert-friendly bishops who were appointed by Pope Benedict's predecessors, the late Pope John Paul I?. Archbishop William Levada, the incoming Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, whose record of protecting priests inclined to perversity has been very well documented in a number of recent articles, including in the SF Weekly newspaper (Archbishop Levada's Protection of Perverted Priest):
The pope's choice of Levada for this role seems highly unusual and, in light of months of investigation by SF Weekly, perhaps inappropriate.
The investigation shows that during more than nine years in San Francisco, Levada and his top aides have worked to keep complaints about priestly sex abusers shrouded in secrecy, particularly two complaints against Father Gregory Ingels, a widely known church legal scholar. After learning in 1996 that Ingels had been accused of sodomizing a 15-year-old boy, Levada allowed Ingels not just to remain in public ministry, but to flourish for years as a force in church legal matters. And Levada continued to support Ingels as a church official -- even after learning of a second serious allegation of sexual abuse by the priest.
With Levada's blessing, Ingels served as an adjunct professor at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park and performed parish duties at St. Bartholomew Church in San Mateo without parishioners ever being told that their priest was an accused molester.
Levada appointed Ingels chancellor of the San Francisco Archdiocese, a position reserved for a trusted lieutenant, whose duties typically include overseeing archival records and helping instruct other priests on liturgical matters.
Levada put Ingels in charge of the Permanent Diaconate, entrusting him with the job of supervising church deacons.
After prosecutors learned of sex complaints against Ingels, Levada finally removed him from public ministry -- but allowed the canon lawyer to keep his place on a tribunal that decides the outcome of marital annulment cases.
Indeed, during the years after Levada learned of Ingels' alleged misconduct, Ingels solidified a reputation as being among the U.S. church's leading experts on priestly sex abuse. As church documents and newly available court materials reveal, Ingels was used -- with Levada's approval -- to advise U.S. bishops and their aides on the handling of cases of clergy sex abuse in their dioceses. Ingels served as an expert witness on behalf of the church in cases all over the country, helping defend against legal claims by alleged clergy abuse victims. In addition, court records show, Ingels provided legal advice and spiritual counsel to priests accused of molesting children; published scholarly articles on the abuse issue under the imprimatur of the Canon Law Society of America, a group devoted to the study of church law; and lectured on the topic at clerical gatherings in the United States and abroad.
Incredibly, considering his background as an accused molester, Ingels also served -- again with Levada's blessing -- as the canonical prosecutor of notorious former Stockton priest and convicted child molester Oliver O'Grady, who is alleged to have engaged in sex with at least 25 children while a cleric. As the so-called "promoter of justice" in the case, Ingels played a key role in the church's frantic efforts to defrock O'Grady and thus avoid unwelcome publicity upon the Stockton priest's release from prison in the year 2000.
"As an emblem of the gross hypocrisy that exists in the Catholic hierarchy, that may have taken the cake," says John C. Manly, an attorney who has represented numerous alleged victims of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clerics. "Allowing one accused child molester to prosecute another is like putting [former drug lord] Pablo Escobar in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Thus, even if the document prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is signed by the Holy Father despite the fears of some American bishops about generating controversy and "bad press," there is no credible prelate (and some experts in curial governance might assert that there may exist no clear-cut authority to supervise the document's enforcement by any one particular dicastery) in Rome who is going to enforce such a document. Stating what should be obvious (that those inclined to perverted acts should not be considered as fit candidates for Holy Orders) is not a bad thing. The American bishops' own demonstrated antipathy to acting with apostolic courage in a defense of the Faith and/or in defense of the integrity of the priesthood instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper make such statements so much folderol that are dismissed by the bishops and their factotums as "pastorally counter-productive" or "unnecessary," thus consigning them figuratively to document-shredding machines. This is nothing other than self-serving cowardice bordering on a Judas-like betrayal of Our Lord and the sufficiency of the graces He won for the many on the wood of the Holy Cross by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood that is totally and completely unworthy of any baptized and confirmed Catholic.
Anyone who is possessed of the true sensus Catholicus knows that every baptized Catholic, whether a pope or a cardinal or a bishop or a priest or a consecrated religious or a layman or a laywoman, has the obligation to defend the Catholic Faith whole and undiluted without fear of any earthly consequences. Consider the wisdom contained in Pope Leo XIII's 1890 encyclical letter, Sapientiae Chrisitianae:
But in this same matter, touching Christian faith, there are other duties whose exact and religious observance, necessary at all times in the interests of eternal salvation, become more especially so in these our days. Amid such reckless and widespread folly of opinion, it is, as We have said, the office of the Church to undertake the defense of truth and uproot errors from the mind, and this charge has to be at all times sacredly observed by her, seeing that the honor of God and the salvation of men are confided to her keeping. But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: "Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.'' To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. Moreover, want of vigor on the part of Christians is so much the more blameworthy, as not seldom little would be needed on their part to bring to naught false charges and refute erroneous opinions, and by always exerting themselves more strenuously they might reckon upon being successful. After all, no one can be prevented from putting forth that strength of soul which is the characteristic of true Christians, and very frequently by such display of courage our enemies lose heart and their designs are thwarted. Christians are, moreover, born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: "Have confidence; I have overcome the world." Nor is there any ground for alleging that Jesus Christ, the Guardian and Champion of the Church, needs not in any manner the help of men. Power certainly is not wanting to Him, but in His loving kindness He would assign to us a share in obtaining and applying the fruits of salvation procured through His grace.
The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power. For, as is often said, with the greatest truth, there is nothing so hurtful to Christian wisdom as that it should not be known, since it possesses, when loyally received, inherent power to drive away error. So soon as Catholic truth is apprehended by a simple and unprejudiced soul, reason yields assent.
This, my friends, is Catholicism. This is the patrimony of the true Faith. This is the witness given by countless martyrs over the past two millennia, not the fear of "generating controversy and bad press." A passage from Saint Paul's Second Epistle to Saint Timothy, which is found in the Common of Doctors in the Immemorial Mass of Tradition puts the matter very succinctly:
I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom: preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine; but according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.
Be thou vigilant, labour in all thins, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and only to me, but to them also that love his coming. (2 Tim. 4:1-8)
It is not to be "uncharitable" or "lacking compassion" to call sinners to correction and/or to seek the conversion of everyone we know and meet to the true Faith. Consider this passage about the life of Saint James the Dismembered contained in Jacobus de Voragine's The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints:
Saint James, called the Dismembered because of the way he was martyred, was noble by birth and yet more noble by his faith. He was a native of the city of Elape in the land of the Persians, born of most Christian parents and wedded to a most Christian wife. To the king of the Persians he was well known, and stood first among his peers. It happened, however, that he was misled by the prince and his close friendship with him, and was induced to worship the idols. When his mother and his wife found this out, they wrote him a letter, saying: "By doing the will of a mortal man, you have deserted him with whom there is life; to please one who will be a mass of rottenness, you have deserted the eternal fragrance; you have traded truth for a lie; by acceding to a mortal's wish you have abandoned the judge of the living and the dead. Know therefore that from now on we are strangers to you and we will no longer live in the same house with you."
When James read this letter, he wept bitterly and said: "If my mother and my wife have become strangers to me, how much more must I have estranged God?" He therefore inflicted harsh penances on himself in expiation of his fault. Then a messenger went to the prince and told him that James was a Christian, and the prince sent for him. "Tell me," he said to James, "are you a Nazarene?" "Yes," James answered, "I am a Nazarene." The prince: "Then you are a sorcerer!" James: "Far be it from me to be a sorcerer!" The prince threatened him with many kinds of torture, but James said: "Your threats do not bother me, because just as the wind blows over a stone, your anger blows quickly in one ear and out the other!" The prince: Don't be a fool, or you may die a dreadful death!" James: "This is not death but should rather be called sleep, since in a short time resurrection is granted." The prince: "Don't let the Nazarenes deceive you by telling you that death is a sleep, because even great emperors fear it!" James: "We do not fear death, because we hope to pass from death to life!"
Upon the advice of his friends, the prince now sentenced James to death member by member, in order to strike fear into others. When some people wept out of compassion for him, he said: "Don't weep for me, but mourn for yourself, because I go on to life, while eternal torment is your due!" (pp. 343-344)
That any bishop, from the United States or elsewhere, is afraid of "generating controversy and bad press" is truly laughable in light of the courage and zeal of the martyrs, willing to endure everything to make reparation for their own sins and to defend the Faith without counting the cost. That any bishop is afraid of "generating controversy and bad press" when it comes to the matter of unnatural, perverted acts against the Sixth and Ninth Commandments speaks volumes of his own predilections in this direction and his belief that one can be a friend of Our Lord by persisting in unrepentant sin and/or actually looking upon such sin as an expression of "love" and "compassion," a more or less contemporary incarnation of Antinomianism (that one can be saved by having an interior faith in Our Lord even while living a life of persistent sin). Nothing eternal Hell fires await anyone who believes in such a thing to the moment of their dying breaths without repenting and seeking out absolution in the Sacrament of Penance.
As always, we turn to Our Lady of Fatima. She appeared in the mantle of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on October 13, 1917, as the well-documented Miracle of the Sun was taking place. On this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, therefore, we need to pledge ourselves anew as enrollees in the Brown Scapular (most of us who are in our fifties received the Brown Scapular on the day of our First Holy Communion, as I did at Saint Aloysius Church on May 30, 1959) to root out all semblance of sin, whether venial or mortal, so that we can be more fully purified by prayers and penitential acts to plant seeds for that happy day on which some pope--and we pray that it is Pope Benedict XVI despite all of the negative signals he is sending at present--will consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart with all of the world's bishops. Wearing the Brown Scapular is a sign of our belonging to Our Lady and our pledge to honor her with every beat of our hearts, consecrated as they must be to her Immaculate Heart. May our faithful fulfillment of the obligations imposed by the Brown Scapular and our Total Marian Consecration help us to live and to die in such a way that the merits we offer Our Lady will be used to renew the Catholic hierarchy worldwide with the courage of the Apostles and the martyrs so that all men on the face of this earth will never fear to "generate controversy" or to receive "bad press" in behalf of her Divine Son and His Holy Church.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.
All of the Holy Apostles, pray for us.
Saint Simon Stock, pray for us.
Saint John Fisher, pray for us.
Saint James the Dismembered, pray for us.