Goodbye, Good Girls

I Am a Little Sad Today

My 81 year-old mother would tell you that the reason she doesn’t look a day over 79 is that she was surrounded her whole life by children.  There were the 16 of her own, the 54 grandchildren, the now 13 great grandchildren, and the host of other people’s kids who, through association with us, were always in and out of our home.  The truth is that being around the young keeps one youthful.  I, too, had hoped to be surrounded by many children of my own but that wasn’t in God’s plan for me.  Instead He gave me two very precious youngsters on whom to focus.  But in an indication that God is the master of comedy He also saw fit to place into my life thousands of other young people.

Thanksgiving two years ago.  Freshman year seems so long ago.

As a once and future high school teacher I have been blessed to spend my days in the presence of the emotional Space Mountain that is the life of an average American adolescent.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret…  They are some of the craziest, most hormonal, cattiest, angstiest, and bizarre people you will ever meet.  But they’re also the most vulnerable, helpless, hopeful, kindest (when they think no one is looking), and beautiful people on earth.  The funny thing is that I never wanted to teach and it took me several years before I felt comfortable saying that I might be good at it.  Yet every single moment has brought joy to my life.

And every single moment has taken a few minutes back from the hand of time.  Although the white whiskers in my beard and the white hairs littering what’s left of my mane belie this fact, very few people would peg me for 41.  Those kids kept me young.  And I’m a narcissist so there’s that.

But every now and then God surprises in ways we don’t expect.  Two of my nieces (cousins to each other) are both college students here in town.  Since they reside 1500 miles from their respective homes and their dear “old” uncle lives 5 minutes away I get the pleasure of seeing them all the time.  One of the two even chose to live with us (saving on room and board) this year.  They are as different from each other as night and day.  Yet they compliment each other nicely.  Observing their daily lives has offered me a glimpse into what it’s like to be 20 years-old today and by osmosis has made me quite relatable to the college set.  I have learned that one can be an adult and have the heart of a child without possessing the mind of an imbecile.  In other words, I’ve found a new rivulet running from the Fountain of Youth and it flows straight into my home.

Oh God, I’m Starving.

One evening last week I was straightening up my kitchen late at night.  My wife was out of town and the college girls were sitting at the counter working on papers.  We all decided that food would be a capital idea at midnight.  Lacking Ramen noodles – I may have absorbed their youthfulness but I am still an adult with a job and some money – the three of us started searching through the cabinets and refrigerator.  The conversation went something like this.

Posing with a keg tree.  Kids today…

Niece 1: Nothing here.
Niece 2: Same in this cabinet.
Me: Damn, the wife left us high and dry.
Niece 1: I thought she said she did some food shopping before she left.
Niece 2: I miss her.
Me: The funny thing is that if she was here right now she’d brush past us, pull out a block of cream cheese, a crust of bread, and some spices and have a full-on meal prepared for us in minutes.
Niece 1: How does she do it?
Niece 2: I don’t know.
Me: I do…  It’s black magic.

Then I went to Taco Bell and we ate like we hadn’t eaten since August.

As the Kids Say

Another benefit of living with these two is picking up on the current lingo.  Over the past few semesters I have found myself dropping such words and phrases as “low-key”, “legit”, “get that bread”, “live your best life”, and my personal favorite “hoe”.  On that last one, it seems funny to me that society has spent countless years trying to “re-program” the younger generation into NOT using archaic slang terms for prostitutes to refer to women.  Yet, the college crowd could care less.  They really have no malice.  They’re just being mischievously rebellious.  And it is quite funny to hear.

Whatever Happened to Going into the Woods with a Six-pack?

The things they do make me laugh.  When I went to college I started smoking cigarettes.  I don’t recommend it unless you’re in a seminary.  I never drank until I turned 21.  I didn’t go to parties because I wasn’t popular.  I didn’t date because I was studying for the priesthood.  I am now low key weeping over my pathetic youth – legit.  Where was I?  Yes…  These kids have their share of fun.  But the most intriguing times to me are the moments when they show up at my house with carloads full of their friends.  My house is truly open to them and I love that they feel comfortable enough to bring them over.  Clearly, I am not an embarrassment to them.  And who doesn’t want a true home away from home at that age?  They will sit in my living room sipping on hard seltzer (the legal ones of course – of course), and hitting something called a juul.  It’s like an e-cig only more hip.  On one such occasion my niece misplaced her juul.  It happens all the time.  The dad in me felt it was necessary to do what came next.  I found a flash drive and handed it to her saying that I had found the juul.  Maybe it was the White Claw or maybe too many exams that week but she was within inches of corrupting my files before I slapped it out of her hand.  Her response to me: 
“Girl, get that hoe outta’ here!”  And then we laughed very hard.

There are so many other memories I’ve amassed from these two.  There was the time recently when it became obvious to me that one of them had not seen a news update in months.  “George Bush died?” she asked inquisitively.  “Yes,” I said, “Last week.”  There was a short pause and then “Oh.  Well, RIP him.”  Only she said the word “rip” before going back to her juul.  I’m not sure she gets that R. I. P. stands for something.  There was the morning when I returned from an early shift at work at 7AM to find one of them jumping on the backyard trampoline with my two kids in 30 degree weather without a coat because “they wanted me to.”  There were the many times I drove them places and they each played hours of Youtube videos for my amusement the likes of which included a man with Tourette’s Syndrome singing pop songs in a recording booth.  There was the time I discovered Cardi B and amazed them with how quickly I could learn her songs.  Hint: it’s mostly the f-word repeated over and over again.  There were the late night karaoke sessions in my living room because who wants to study?  And on all of these fronts I have been humbled to discover that the girls think of their dinosaur of an uncle as cool.  Who else knew all the words to Never Gonna’ Give You Up?”  Hell, I’m surprised they knew any of the lyrics.  Who else will jump right onto that trampoline with them even though he’s got a fused spine and probably shouldn’t?  Who else will laugh at the most inappropriate things because he was immediately infected with their joy?  Seriously, we have the most fun, low-key.  But it’s legit.

It’s Never Really Goodbye (I hope).

Last week one of them went home for Christmas early.  Since I was already flying up that way she simply joined me on my flight.  Initially seated one row behind me, when the cabin door closed and we realized the flight was not full, I invited her to sit next to me.  She handed her backpack over the seat, almost clocking the man sitting on the aisle.  As I gently attempted to move it under the seat in front of me with my foot I heard the words “Yeah, kick that hoe.”  And I acted as if nothing was strange about this.  She looked in amazed admiration as I matter-of-factly ordered a double gin and tonic at 7AM.  Glad I can be someone’s hero.  Unfortunately, she began suffering mid-flight from horrible sinus pressure.  I may have been legit litty – I was watching episodes of a show called Air Disasters on my laptop – but I noticed she had taken the air sickness bag out of the seatback and was reading the instructions.  OK, 1) It’s pretty simply.  You throw up in it.  And 2) God, was she going to throw up in that thing?  I placed my hand gently on her back and rubbed a little.  She looked up and said “God, are you comin’ for me?”  After landing we stood at the baggage carousel and she sang Tiny Dancer because, you know, it was stuck in her head and her generation has no filter.  Before I knew it I was singing along.  “Where’s my bag, you mother*&%$er…”

At the airport.  If you look closely you can see a tear in my eye.

This morning I drove the other niece to the airport.  Backing up a bit, she still had a paper to write and hand in by this morning.  Two nights ago she had a friend over and I went to bed while they sat in my kitchen at their laptops.  At 6AM I did what I do every morning.  I exited my bedroom to get my coffee.  I may have been in my boxers and a tee shirt because it’s my house and no one else is ever up that early.  And it’s my house.  I caught sight of the two girls still at my counter, still typing away, and ducked back into my room for a robe.  Upon re-emerging I asked if they had been up all night and how long of a paper this was.  “4 pages.  We’re almost done.”  “Girls,” I said, “4 pages does not require 6 hours.”  Again, the dad in me wanted to say “Next time ask for help.  I am a writer (in my mind) and you need sleep.”  I hope the friend wasn’t scarred by the sight of my legit white-ass legs.

I know it’s only for a month and they’ll be back.  Still I can’t help but think of the fun things I’ll miss while they’re gone.  I am grateful they are here and I love sharing my home with them and being “dad” to them while they’re away from home.  On that front I even made a point of showing my new Glock to the one niece’s boyfriend and regaling him with how accurate I am.  “Son, I can take out a pair of walnuts in a small wrinkled bag from 50 feet.”  “But sir, isn’t that an odd target to try to hit – oh wait…”

Merry Christmas girls!  Your uncle loves you and misses you already.  Hurry back.  I need to stay young forever.

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James

I’ve been silent for a few weeks.

There are times when the writer needs to take a break and absorb the world around him.

I’ve been writing on and off since the summer about my time as a seminarian in the Archdiocese of Newark under the episcopal leadership (if you can call it that) of Theodore McCarrick, the now-disgraced former cardinal of the Catholic Church.   “Uncle Ted”, as we know him, is, as I have stated, perhaps the most destructive force in the Church since Martin Luther.

One of the benefits of my quest to “absorb” is that I’ve come across the Youtube presence of Dr. Taylor Marshall.  For those who aren’t familiar, Marshall is a husband and father of nine children who lives nearby to me in the DFW area.  We even worship at the same parish church on occasion (he full time, me more occasionally).  We have never crossed paths that I know of.  I admire the man and his knack for taking his trade (and mine) of teaching the faith to the masses via social media.  Sidenote: on my many drives across the region as a medical courier recently, I’ve had many hours of downtime.  In the car I put my headphones in and listen to Taylor and his co-host Tim Gordon.  They help pass the time.

Tonight I finally got around to listening to Marshall’s most recent episode while I was lifting weights.  In this episode he interviews James Grein.  James, as we now know, was one of the earliest victims of Uncle Ted.  His story is compelling and I have prayed for him every day since learning about him.  A member of a family that more or less adopted McCarrick from his seminary days, James was the victim of sexual abuse by McCarrick from the age of 11.  My own son is 10.  When I think of these things it makes my blood boil.  I would straight up break the neck of any man – priest or not – who messed with my boy and I’d do it with my bare hands and I wouldn’t have qualms.

I’d like to take a moment to encourage the few hundred of you who read these pages to click this link and watch the video.  Listen to James.  Then share it with your friends.

I couldn’t make it through the whole thing myself – I’m going to return to it.  As I mentioned, the sight or mention of McCarrick turns my stomach.  It is hard to look at an image of someone you loved as a father knowing the evil he perpetrated.  James is a brother.  We’re from the same part of the world – both Jersey boys.  We speak the same language.  We both knew the same evil man.  McCarrick never got to me because I smoke cigarettes and have since I was 17.  McCarrick hates tobacco.  He tried so many times to get me to quit.  I’m buying stock in Phillip Morris.

Watch the video.  Subscribe to Marshall’s channel.  You will not regret it.

Pray for the Church.

Courage

I have been writing about the crisis in the Catholic Church for a while now.  I have been living through the crisis in the Catholic Church for a lot longer.  Today I came across an article at LifeSite that seemed to speak directly to me.  If you are, like me, tired of all of this crap please remember your “baptismal birthright” as the author of that article puts it.

Motivated by a desire to see change yet mindful of our weakness as human creatures I suggest a plea to almighty God for an infusion of His grace.  In particular I think we need to pray for courage.  Let me explain.

Her name is Siobhan O’Connor.  Until recently she served as an assistant to Richard Malone the current bishop of Buffalo, NY.  I have never met her in person, though we have recently communicated through social media.  I know people who know her.  She graduated from the same college as my wife.  By all accounts she is a wonderful woman who performed the duties of her job quite capably.  To me she comes across as what an old spiritual director once said of me – that she is the “strong, silent type”.  I laughed when my spiritual director said those words.  I am not strong.  And all too often my silence is a natural output of fear.

Apse-view (crucifix, tabernacle), St. Luke’s Church, Irving, TX

Silence is a virtue, to be sure, but Siobhan is possessed of something far greater than mere silence.  Let’s take the comma away and replace it with a dash like this: “strong-silent”.  See that?  Now it becomes something new and powerful.  Seen this way this characteristic is neither brute force strength nor fearful silence but something “wholly other”, to gleefully bastardize a phrase from Paul Tillich.  Strength feeding silence and silence fed by strength merge into courage – the ability simply to do what must be done.

Siobhan O’Connor has been described as a whistleblower.  I look at the situation and see a woman who encountered something that wasn’t right and did something about it.  And I wonder why so many of us (including our good priests) haven’t done the same.  And I think it’s because we lack that courage, that strong-silent quality.  It is a gift from God and we need to pray for it.

So I pray that God would bless me with courage to continue to stand up for the Truth.  I pray that God would bless journalists with courage to continue to seek the Truth.  I pray that God would bless parishioners with courage to stop feeding the beast with their donations.  I pray that God would bless abuse victims with courage to bypass the hierarchy and call civil authorities and do it immediately.  I pray that God would bless priests with courage to confront evil from the pulpit and in the confessional and even in the faces of their fellow priests.  I pray that God would bless bishops with courage to stop kicking the can down the road and either preach the Gospel – the WHOLE Gospel – or resign so we can receive true shepherds.

Thank you, Siobhan, for your courage.  You’ve done the right thing.  I pray for you!

Pray for the Church.

Bishop Serratelli

As I wrote to George Neumayr this afternoon, this one breaks my heart.

Over the past few months I have been forced to re-live a time in my life from which I had moved on many years prior.  From the day it was revealed that there were “credible accusations” against Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick until this week’s USCCB shitshow (sorry, the only other term to adequately describe the bishops’ fall meeting was “dumpster fire” and that’s kind of overdone at the moment) I have been drowning in memories of my time in the seminary.  And like anyone who is drowning I have had moments where I get my head above the surface and draw air but it always seems mixed with too much water.  And then I get dragged back under.

I am going to begin this new series (for I anticipate more posts on the topic) simply by saying the following.

Arthur Joseph Serratelli is the current bishop of Paterson, NJ.  This is a position he has held since 2004.  Prior to that he was an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark serving as both a regional vicar for Essex County and the Vicar General (second in command) of the Archdiocese.  He was ordained a bishop in 2000.  Prior to that he was the rector of the College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception/St. Andrew’s Hall at Seton Hall University.

Crucifixion, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Schulenburg, TX

In other words, he was MY rector.

For the better part of two years I lived five doors down the hall from Serratelli.  I remember well the day he was announced as our new rector.  He had a reputation as a tremendous Scripture scholar, holding both a doctorate in Sacred Theology and a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from pontifical universities in Rome.  McCarrick had appoint then-Fr. Serratelli rector when the previous rector was moved to become pastor of a parish.  At that point in time, Serratelli had been ordained a priest for almost 30 years.

I remember so much of our time together.  I remember admiring his intellect in particular.  His administrative skills?  They left something to be desired.  My best friend described the seminary at the time as “animal house” and I think many of us thought a different rector might have changed that.  But we cut the man slack.  He had been teaching in the major seminary for so long and had never expected to become a rector, let alone rector of a college seminary.  I remember meeting his family, his sister and his mother.  He certainly knew my family.  I remember his quiet demeanor and his wicked sense of humor.  I remember many conversations I had with him in his apartment over various issues.  I never would have considered him a “McCarrick crony” but what do I know?  And I remember a priest named Hernan Arias who was one of Fr. Serratelli’s closest friends.  Serratelli invited Fr. Hernan to preach a weekend-long retreat to us.  I always assumed the nature of their friendship was simply that – they were friends.  And I do not know any different now, nor am I trying to insinuate such.

But lately things are being written about Bishop Serratelli.  Things are appearing in print and online from sources I respect and some of whom, like Neumayr, I have come to know personally as this year from hell in the Church has unfolded.  If what is being said of him is remotely true it truly leaves me heartbroken and I didn’t think I could care anymore on a personal level.  This is a man whom I had asked to celebrate my wedding mass (though he was unavailable).

I’ll leave it at this.  Bishop, if you read this and if you’re able, drop me a line.  You have my email.  You’ve certainly used it in the past to express heartfelt gratitude to me after my words of condolence to you when your mom died among other times.  Don’t hide behind lawyers.  Don’t say “I can’t talk about that.”  Tell me straight up if what they’re saying is true.  Are you an upright man?  Are you harboring sexually deviant priests?  Were you part of the McCarrick “pipeline”?  What’s going on?

I don’t hold out hope that I’ll hear anything.

Pray for the Church.

And here, once again, is a link to do as I have done and donate to support George’s journalistic efforts.  As I’ve said, almost no one is covering this properly and among those who are, he’s got it nailed.

He Corrupted Generations -McCarrick was Satan’s Pawn

“He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests.”

These words, found in the midst of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s first “Testimony” of August 2018, though perhaps only glanced by many and glossed over by others, caught my attention and have remained locked in my mind ever since.

Vigano was, of course, referring to the now-disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.  He spoke these words to the Roman Pontiff, Francis, during a meeting between the two in 2013.  Francis had asked what Vigano “thought of McCarrick”.

I’ve been thinking of these words a lot lately.  As a writer I am at a loss.  Words usually come flowing from my brain and onto the page as naturally as beautiful notes would pour forth from the mouth of Sarah Vaughan.  When I have a hard time describing what I’m thinking or how I’m feeling then I find myself at a complete standstill.  It is one of the reasons I have not posted much of late.  Yet I find it incumbent upon myself to at least try to unlock this brain of mine for two reasons.  The first is that so many of you have been such a blessed source of comfort and refuge as I have shared a story I did not think I would ever have the will to share.  I appreciate that more than you know.  Second, if I don’t clear the lines out then it will be hard to move forward.  Be forewarned.  This might come out all garbled but come out it must.

Prior to June if anyone had asked me my thoughts on McCarrick I would have shared fond memories of a man who was truly like a father to me.  Every single story I have shared thus far about him had a different meaning to me.  I would occasionally come across his picture in an old prayer book and smile and think about the man who preached in so eloquent a manner – gentle, unassuming, at home with Leona Helmsley and equally with Joe the Barber on Clifton Avenue in the North Ward of Newark.  He loved us, so we thought, and we loved him because he knew us.  He came to the parishes.  He met with his flock.  He invited young men to consider the priesthood when no one else ever did.  He invited me to consider the priesthood and I had never given it a second thought before.  Was he a little too wishy-washy on some areas where politics intersected with the Church?  To be sure.  But we took that as a man trying his best to navigate the difficult terrain of life as bishop to the nation’s capital.

Then came the morning of June 20, 2018.

I awoke that morning to a text from my sister.

“Did you hear about McCarrick?” she asked.

“No.  Did he die?”

“Worse…” she replied.  “I’m sick.”

In the following days, coming to learn the exact nature of who this man really was, I was sickened as well. This was no father.  This was a monster.  He corrupted generations of priests and seminarians.  No words could describe him better.

In the months following the 9-11 attacks I would close my eyes at night as I fell asleep.  Within moments I was awake again because the vivid image of the South Tower exploding in flame kept playing in my head.

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Pieta – St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Dallas

Something similar has happened here.  Every time I see a picture of McCarrick in a Facebook feed or an article about his crimes my stomach turns.  I have to scroll past.  Looking at his face, to me, is like looking into the heart of Satan.  I think of the men who’s lives he destroyed and I think of how he very nearly destroyed mine but for the simple fact that I have a nicotine habit.  I think of how every one of those stories I mentioned suddenly had different meaning to me.  I think of how a man who was like a father was really a lying fraud.  No father treats his children like that.  My father treated us with love and kindness and he gave his life for us.  This scumbag used everyone in his path for his own evil plans.

My wife remarked recently that everything I’d ever told her about him now sounds so ominous and sinister.  That’s because it is.

I’ve remarked many times in this blog that interesting things happen to me; that sometimes the bizarre just unfolds in front of my eyes as if God wants me to chronicle the most unusual events in life because no one would believe they took place otherwise.  How’s this for a laugh?  Turns out I knew the most evil cardinal the Catholic Church elevated in 500 years and I didn’t even know it!

I take no delight in writing about him though.  It hurts.  It is painful watching what this man has done.  The Church – the Body of Christ, and yes I still believe that with everything I’ve got – is fracturing and splintering before our eyes, the crumbling of Her walls hastened by the sledgehammer McCarrick and the generations of men he corrupted.  He ordained hundreds of priests and dozens of bishops.  Many more bishops, like his successor Joe Tobin the current Archbishop of Newark (and a cardinal to boot), owe their position to his direct influence and so his presence still looms large.  He has not repented, not apologized and he likely never will.  He is still an archbishop.  Men he abused, meanwhile, have carried their scars for decades.

In corrupting these generations of priests and seminarians he unleashed on the Church a festering rot that has spread decay everywhere.  Satan couldn’t have planned this better himself.  Those of us sitting in the pews scratch our heads and wonder if his evil can be undone.  There are too many of them and too few of us.  We cling to the virtue of hope that Christ’s promise will stand and the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church.

And this week the American bishops meet as they do every November to discuss policy and hold elections for their major offices.  You can be sure that almost every one of them knew the score when it came to McCarrick and that there are other McCarrick’s among their ranks.  They hide behind lawyers and guards.  How many of them were corrupted by him?  When will Christ cleanse His Church?  What more can we do?

Blocked by a Bishop: Wherein I Let You Know What I REALLY Think of Bishop Stika

 

The current ordinary (that’s the bishop) of Knoxville, TN is a man named Stika.  That’s his last name.  You see, he goes by “Rick”.  Don’t get me started.  My late father was a Richard who, from the time of his youth (born in 1936) went by “Dick”.  He used to tell me to be wary of any grown man calling himself “Rick”.  I mean no disrespect to the grown Rick’s of the world; just relaying the words of my dad.

A few months ago Bishop Rick posted something on Twitter that I found repulsive and, to tell the truth, borderline sinful.  In reference to why Catholics should pay no heed to Michael Voris, the online broadcaster of Church Militant fame, Stika cited as evidence Voris’ “past”.  How very coy of the good bishop.  He raised an accusation without specifically citing it in order to drive people to search for those specifics.

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The Body of Our Lord Taken Down from the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Dallas

Anyone who’s followed events in the Church over the past few years can tell you all about Mr. Voris.  This “past” of which Stika speaks is something to which Voris publicly admitted in one of his own broadcasts.  He lead a sinful and debauched life throughout much of his youth.  He had fallen away from the Church and, by the grace of God and through the prayers of his mother, he returned, made a full confession, and re-dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel.  Specifically, he admits to having been involved in several homosexual relationships in his past.  As far as I’m concerned this is not only something that can remain in the past but also something Mr. Voris has no need to ever revisit again.  Like all faithful Catholics I rejoice in the renunciation of sin and the conversion of the sinne.

Stika presented this “past” in a salacious and titillating way as if to whisper “Don’t listen to Voris.  He used to be gay, you know.”

How repulsive of a shepherd of the Church to call out the previous confessed sins of a fellow Catholic for any reason.  But to discredit the man?

I was iridescent with anger at that tweet and I called him out on it.

And he promptly showed me the famous mercy and accompaniment so common in the era of Francis by blocking me.  Me!  I’m a blogger who sometimes reaches hundreds (not thousands, nor millions) of readers when I choose to post which, owing to my primary vocation as a husband and father trying to raise a few saints-in-progress, isn’t nearly as often as I’d like.  The man blocked little old me.

To that I say: “Coward!”  I’d say it on his page but, you know…

“If you’re going to hang out in the ghettos of the internet you need to expect to get a little banged up.”

Tonight I happened to stumble upon the good bishop’s Twitter feed without realizing that I was not logged in to Twitter on my browser.  What a treat!  I got to see his tweets again!  I’m so happy I could die.

What I’m actually happy about is the fact that I haven’t had to read the tripe that passes for a father’s love and concern for his children in the wise, 140 character instructions of Bishop Rick.

I perused just far enough to stumble through a string of tweets on gun control.  Here’s my favorite.

I wanted to reply: “Just because you carry a crozier and are trained to offer mass doesn’t mean you are possessed of towering intellect or personal holiness.  Many priests carry the burden of terrible bishops all their lives.  Many more faithful have to deal with your endless appeals for cash while you offer corporate apologies for allowing fellow bishops to rape seminarians in the name of dignity.”

I think that’s over 140 characters so I probably couldn’t post it.  That and he blocked me.

Here’s another gem…

The teacher in me wanted to have a field day with this. Let’s start with the to/too problems in the second AND third lines.  And how about that fragment at the end? Also, it’s a pretty stupid sentiment.

And another thing, Excellencies (for here I’m addressing the whole lot of the bishops who think it’s OK to insult folks like me); I AM a lawful gun owner.  I have been trained to shoot.  I shoot damn well.  I take target practice and every time I walk UNARMED into my house of worship on Sunday morning (following your dictates that I leave my piece at home) I fear for the safety of my family because there is EVIL in the world.  I’m a man.  I have this funny drive to protect my loved ones.  I am not, as Cardinal Farrell stated in an opinion piece a few years ago, a “vigilante”.  How dare any of you judge me for doing what I was called to do in the protection of my wife and children?  And how dare you assume I’m a criminal when I’ve never broken a single law?

Then again, I’ve been operating under the assumption that most of you are guilty as hell in your complicity in the McCarrick mess and the general state of the Church’s decline over the last few decades.

Bishop Rick, here’s some friendly advice I offered to your buddy Cardinal Joe Tobin recently.  If you’re going to hang out in the ghettos of the internet you need to expect to get a little banged up.  Blocking guys like me isn’t going to get you anywhere.  But at least there’s a possibility Tobin’s seen my advice.  He hasn’t blocked me.  Yet…

On Reporting Truth to Power: George Neumayr, the McCarrick Mess, and Where Is Everybody?

A friend who is a priest recently wrote me. I had shared an article by George Neumayr on my socials. This friend laid out a very thoughtful rebuke of this particular article. In short, he felt that the article – detailing Neumayr’s investigation into Cardinal Tobin of Newark and the potential object of his “mis-sent” “Nighty Night Baby” tweet – and Neumayr’s conclusions were simply implausible. I won’t detail where our conversation ultimate went for reasons of confidentiality.

However, the exchange got me thinking about something I’ve been saying for a month or more. Neumayr appears to be the only journalist in the world seeking answers to questions any journalist should be asking regarding the crisis in the Church. If you don’t know, Neumayr is an editor of The American Spectator who also does investigative reporting on this current mess. He is fearless, fair, and frank.

Look, I worked in news. I have a good sense of what’s what. I am a writer and I appreciate his style. As a Catholic who lived through McCarrick I greatly appreciate the work Neumayr is doing because I want to know the truth.

As I explained to my friend, a few months ago I don’t think any of us would have believed the things we now know to be true about our hierarchy.

My gut (and my head informed by experience) are guiding me in discerning all that is being reported and I find George’s reporting to be accurate.

I currently work as a courier while I take a brief break from the world of educational administration. Today I got slammed with work (not a bad thing). I live in the DFW area and got a midday call for a drive to east Texas. Five hours later I returned to the office where I was given my next job – an overnight drive to west Texas. Here I sit in the parking lot of American Airlines Priority Parcel Service facility at DFW Airport waiting for the place to open so I can tender this medical shipment and head home.

It is almost 4:30 AM.

The good news in all of this is that I finally got the chance to listen (on Audible) to all of Neumayr’s book The Political Pope. If you have not read it and are dying to know about the motivation behind Francis’ actions then check it out. The book is well sourced, well written, and a real eye-opener. Even I, who did not think I could be shocked by much of anything the current Bishop of Rome has done found myself shouting out “WHAT?!” more than once while driving through a driving rain in the dark on a west Texas interstate.

Trust me, it’s so much better than the AM band in the middle of nowhere.

The only thing I need to add is this plea to the author.

Mr. Neumayr, please consider me for voice talent on your next audio book. Not only have I worked in the field doing announcements for a local station in Florida (the wonders of MP3’s and a solid internet connection) but I possess a solid, smooth, and sure set of pipes.

Also, I wouldn’t repeatedly mispronounce the name of my friend and fellow Christendom College alum Mike Hichborn. 😎

And to my readers, once you’ve listened to or read the book or even and especially before you do, go make a donation to Neumayr’s journalism fund so he can keep doing his good work.

Pray for the Church.