I have to thank all of you who have read my recent posts and shared your thoughts and comments, showing incredible support. It is the kind of support I wish I had found years ago. I always had it from my family and loved ones. They knew the truth. Yet we were all powerless. We would begin to tell but found our words falling on deaf ears. The mindset that “these priests were ‘nice’ guys” was so pervasive. Newsflash: ‘nice’ ain’t gonna get you to heaven. The late Cardinal O’Connor of New York said he wanted to be remembered as a ‘good’ priest. Would that we had more of them now. And we do still have many. I pray that no one reads my accounts and thinks there is nothing but evil and malfeasance in the Church. But they wanted to protect the image of the Church, they say. Great. Let’s start by promoting and protecting the true image of the Church.
First and foremost that image is the crucifix. The God who created and sustains the universe, in an act of supreme condescension, took on our nature and allowed Himself to be put to death for us. It’s not surprising that so many in that crowd wanted crucifixes removed from churches.
Then there is the image of a man like Agustine who shows forth God’s forgiveness and mercy. There’s the image of Anthony who preached emphatically, testifying to the Truth with such grace that even fish in the sea listened to him. There’s the image of Mary MacKillop who exposed sexual abuse and suffered excommunication for it. There’s the image of Teresa of Calcutta who cradled the dying leper out of love for Christ.
There’s the image of my mom and dad who brought forth sixteen children despite being derided by men like Bergoglio as “breeding like rabbits”.
THIS is the Church.
But the Church is also the priest who visited me in the hospital at risk to his own future, the priest who serves tirelessly ministering to college students who have not been catechized and seek the Truth in a crazy world, the priest who answers the phone at midnight without hint of being annoyed because your 2 year-old niece has just drowned in a swimming pool. There are so many more of these priests then there are bad bishops.
Stand up, then, and fight! There’s a reason we have a male priesthood. We men are, by nature, pugnacious. We want to fight for and die for something greater than ourselves. God called me to do this for my beautiful wife and our children. Surely they can take care of themselves. Anyone who knows my wife knows how lopsided our relationship is in terms of our ability to make a mark on the world and yet this is what God called me to do – to die for them. Fathers, you love the Church. FIGHT for her. Tell your bishop when he is wrong. Demand he resign when it is clear he let us down and covered up crimes. Fight, dammit!
I just came from a baptism. Clearly there are still new members coming into the Church. In the rite, the deacon prayed that God would open the ears of the deaf and the mouths of the dumb. We who were baptized possess this grace. We need to use it.
Another painful memory that came to mind from my time in seminary was this. In my first three years in the college seminary I had a spiritual director of my choosing. I selected him because he seemed to me to be, well, pastoral. He had been a parish priest for years and seemed to know what he was doing. Toward the end of my three years as I was preparing to move on to the major seminary this man began pressuring me to spend time with him at his trailer up in the woods. Unlike all those with beach houses, this man had a trailer in the woods in northwestern New Jersey.
Do you know what saved me?
I freakin hate the woods.
Never suspecting anything, I just kept telling him “No, Father, that’s OK. I don’t do the woods.” I can’t stress how much growing up in New Jersey has affected my soul and in this case it saved me. He’d bring it up again and again. Finally I said: “Listen, why on earth would I want to hang out at a trailer in the woods? Mosquitos, heat… gross. I’d prefer to stay in the city with the concrete and air conditioning and stuff.” He countered, “I’m hurt. I thought you liked me.” I honestly believe I can just leave this story here. Make of it what you will. I think we all know where he wanted it to go so I don’t have to say it. I can tell you that this same priest around the same time asked one of my nephews to come help at the rectory with the parish’s computers. My nephew was a college student at the time and now works in IT. During the course of his job that day the priest asked my nephew to look at his personal computer. According to my nephew it took him all of a minute to discover the computer was running slowly because of the presence of gay porn on the hard drive. He finished his job and left and NEVER returned.
I didn’t know that story until some time later. But I think this is indicative of the kinds of things that were simply part of the culture in that diocese under McCarrick. Did it go on longer than that, after he left? Probably. His successor didn’t seem too interested in much more than securing his retirement home. Look it up. But a fish rots from the head. If the head is sane and sound and holy and healthy than the body will follow. Think about it.
More to come.
Pray for the Church.