09 April 2010

Will Dowd raise the white flag?

Writing in the National Review Online, Kathryn Jean Lopez takes Maureen Dowd to task in her editorial titled, "Calling for Surrender."

But first let's take a look at Dowd's recent editorial, "The Church's Judas Moment," in which she responds to remarks made by the Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

Here follows Dowd's piece, with my emphases and comments:

I’m a Catholic woman who makes a living being adversarial [rather than being adversarial, it seems much more like spreading falsehood]. We have a pope who has instructed Catholic women not to be adversarial [Has he? I don't remember him saying that. Has Ms. Dowd not read Saint Paul's admonition to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)? Has she forgotten that the teachings of the Church are not her own?].

It’s a conundrum.

I’ve been wondering, given the vitriolic reaction of the New York archbishop to my column defending nuns and the dismissive reaction of the Vatican to my column denouncing the church’s response to the pedophilia scandal [because it was not accurate], if they are able to take a woman’s voice seriously [they are, if the voice of the woman is serious and honest]. Some, like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, seem to think women are trying to undermine the church because of abortion and women’s ordination [What ever would lead them to think women who argue for abortion (a grave moral evil) and the ordination of women (which the Church has no authority to do) seek to undermine the Church? Ms. Dowd needs a bit of a reality check; neither of these issues having anything to do with the matter at hand].

I thought they might respond better to a male Dowd [if he thinks along the same lines, don't count on it].

My brother Kevin is conservative and devout [we'll see about that] — his hobby is collecting crèches — and has raised three good Catholic sons. When I asked him to share his thoughts on the scandal, I learned, shockingly, that we agreed on some things. He wrote the following:

“In pedophilia, the church has unleashed upon itself a plague that threatens its very future, and yet it remains in a curious state of denial [he apparently also hasn't read the Pope's letter to the Irish]. The church I grew up in was black and white, no grays. That’s why my father, an Irish immigrant, liked it so much. The chaplain of the Police and Fire departments told me once ‘Your father was a fierce Catholic, very fierce.’

My brothers and I were sleepily at his side for the monthly 8 a.m. Holy Name Mass and the guarding of the Eucharist in the middle of the night during the 40-hour ritual at Easter. Once during a record snowstorm in 1958, we were marched single-file to church for Mass only to find out the priests next door couldn’t get out of the rectory.

The priest was always a revered figure, the embodiment of Christ changing water into wine. (Older parishioners took it literally.) The altar boys would drink the dregs.

When I was in the 7th grade, one of the new priests took four of us to the drive-in restaurant and suggested a game of ‘pink belly’ on the way back; we pulled up a boy’s shirt and slapped his belly until it was pink. When the new priest joined in, it seemed like more groping than slapping [as sad and unfortunate as it is, that is the action of one priest, not of the entire Church]. But we thought it was inadvertent. And my parents never would have believed a priest did anything inappropriate anyway. A boy in my class told me much later that the same priest climbed into bed with him in 1958 at a rectory sleepover, but my friend threw him to the floor. The priest protested he was sleepwalking. Three days later, the archbishop sent the priest to a rehab place in New Mexico; he ended up as a Notre Dame professor [what has become of him now?].

Vatican II made me wince. The church declared casual Friday [No, it didn't]. All the once-rigid rules left to the whim of the flock [Maybe they should sit down together and read the Council documents]. The Mass was said in English (rendering useless my carefully learned Latin prayers) [But the official language of the Mass is still Latin, despite was is most usually heard. Everyone is still supposed to know the basic texts of the Mass in Latin]. Holy days of obligation were optional [What kind of nonsense is this? They are not optional, even today]. There were laypeople on the heretofore sacred ground of the altar [it still is sacred ground] — performing the sacraments [they most certainly were not!] and worse, handling the Host. The powerful symbolism of the priest turning the Host into the body of Christ cracked like an egg [and I'm supposed to supposed to believe he is a "conservative and devout" Catholic?! Hardly! He doesn't know the true faith any better than his sister].

In his book, ‘Goodbye! Good Men,’ author Michael Rose writes that the liberalized rules set up a takeover of seminaries by homosexuals.

Vatican II liberalized rules but left the most outdated one: celibacy. That vow was put in place originally because the church did not want heirs making claims on money and land [that's not quite true; Saint Paul himself strongly encourages celibacy, as does Jesus. Perhaps Ms. Dowd should return to the Scriptures]. But it ended up shrinking the priest pool and producing the wrong kind of candidates — drawing men confused about their sexuality who put our children in harm’s way.

The church is dying from a thousand cuts [it isn't dying. She has apparently forgotten Christ's promise that the gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church]. Its cover-up has cost a fortune and been a betrayal worthy of Judas [that's a fair statement, I think]. The money spent came from social programs, Catholic schools and the poor [in many cases it actually came from the sale of property and from insurance companies]. This should be a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance [Yes, it does. And those who are guilty will answer for their sins]. I asked a friend of mine recently what he would do if his child was molested after the church knew. ‘I would probably kill someone,’ he replied [that really has nothing to do with the question at hand].

We must reassess. Married priests and laypeople giving the sacraments are not going to destroy the church. Based on what we have seen the last 10 years, they would be a bargain. It is time to go back to the disciplines that the church was founded on and remind our seminaries and universities what they are [this coming from one who doesn't know the faith]. (Georgetown University agreeing to cover religious symbols on stage to get President Obama to speak was not exactly fierce.)

The storm within the church strikes at what every Catholic fears most. We take our religion on faith [obviously]. How can we maintain that faith when our leaders are unworthy of it?” [The faith is not about individual leaders, but about Jesus Christ. What faith does Ms. Dowd hold to? Maybe she'll tell us next week. It certainly doesn't sound like the faith of the Church.]

Now, here follows Lopez' response, with my emphases and comments:
Maureen Dowd, unsurprisingly, hits back at New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan today (who has criticized some of her columns on the Catholic Church as well as the New York Times itself), though not substantively so much as with sarcasm and a total lack of appreciation of the role of women in the Catholic worldview, once again.

There are many things to say both about her column and about what’s going on in the media and in the Church (and what the media says is going on isn’t quite the story). But what sticks out from Ms. Dowd’s column today is this closing line: “How can we maintain that faith when our leaders are unworthy of it?” [This very question demonstrates a lack of faith; even the Apostles were unworthy of the mission given them by Jesus.]

Reading that line made me jump right back to this, also from her column today: “The priest was always a revered figure, the embodiment of Christ changing water into wine. (Older parishioners took it literally.)”

If the pope himself were possessed, if every priest and religious were evildoers, there would still be Christ and there would still be the fact — which, if you’re Catholic, you believe to be true, or so claiming to be Catholic suggests — that He died for your sins. If the pope were corrupt, I’d like to think I’d still have faith. It’s not the human leaders with free will who are at the heart of the faith — and the Church — but the Eucharist, literally [excellently said].

Mercifully, evil has not overtaken the pope or the Church. And the Catholic Church is not dying. There have been crimes. There are sins. But much of what is being reported on does not always live up to its billing. And the solutions pundits present are not all that they think they are.

For one thing, celibacy is not the problem. It’s easy to see why people who live in a culture that has made a religion of sex — believing it is the road to love and fulfillment rather than the expression of it — would insist that a man surrendering it, as well as his whole will, to Divine service, is simply impossible. In truth, the problems that have led to all kinds of “filth” — to use the former Cardinal Ratzinger’s term of disgust for crimes and sins that he was made aware of while a cardinal at the Vatican and did not tolerate — and breakdown in so many American and other seminaries and dioceses stem from issues of integrity and fidelity, not the existence of celibacy.

And, by the way, I don’t blame Maureen Dowd for her misunderstanding of the Catholic Church’s love for her in all her femininity — if by “the Catholic Church” one means what she teaches in her doctrines and papal encyclicals and in the very architecture of St. Peter’s in Rome. Maureen Dowd attended the same Catholic university that I did, which, at the time she attended, was mixed up in a fog of dissent that took away from its ability to teach its students what exactly is at the heart of the Church and what we truly believe as Catholics.

All of these crimes, sins, and confusions are fruits of Catholics not being Catholic. Fidelity is the key to renewal, integrity, faith, hope, and love. And while being the father of fraternal correction, crackdown, and cleanup, Pope Benedict XVI, in word and deed, is teaching and modeling what exactly being Catholic means to a few generations who haven’t been clear on it. He is an example of a leader who is living up to his office, while calling others to account. If there were easy, across-the-board solutions that would do away with sin, I’m sure he’d be all for it. The truth is that there aren’t. The answer to preventing moral breakdown — whether we’re talking about the Catholic Church or a marriage — is fidelity [That may be the best paragraph I've read yet on this topic].
The Church will listen to the voice of this woman because she understands the heart of the matter, both of the faith and of the scandal of sexual abuse.

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