UPDATE 22 May:
Fr. Robert Sirico responded to Mr ex-priest, angry lib Carroll, also in The Atlantic.
Sirico’s piece is as measured as Carroll’s is unhinged. It is as succinct as Carroll’s is prolix. As clear as Carroll’s is muddled.
____ Originally Published on: May 21, 2019
At that bastion of liberalism The Atlantic is a piece by the angry Irish ex-priest son of a Irish Catholic mother immigrant. The writes is James Carroll, author of such books as Constantine’s Sword, every word of which is a lie, including “and” and “the”, as the saying goes.
Understandably, the disillusionment could drive one to anger, and even rage. It could compel one to avoid going to church for a while, depending on the parish situation. However, anger can also make you stupid. There is righteous anger, which looks especially to that which is owed to God, and rightly to man, and there is misplaced anger, which does not concern the good of God and man, but usually only one’s own self in a closed-circle manner of speaking.
The Irish ex-priest writer, mentioned above, was so angry about The Present Crisis, especially in the clerical abuse dimension, that he wrote…
I bring all of this up to make the point that, by the summer of 2018, as a still-practicing Catholic, I harbored no illusions about the Church’s grotesque betrayal. So it took some doing to bring me to a breaking point, and Pope Francis—whom in many ways I admire, and in whom I had placed an almost desperate hope—is the unlikely person who brought me there.
For the first time in my life, and without making a conscious decision, I simply stopped going to Mass. I embarked on an unwilled version of the Catholic tradition of “fast and abstinence”—in this case, fasting from the Eucharist and abstaining from the overt practice of my faith. I am not deluding myself that this response of mine has significance for anyone else—Who cares? It’s about time!—but for me the moment is a life marker. I have not been to Mass in months. I carry an ocean of grief in my heart.
I get this, sort of. I get being so angry and hurt that you don’t want to go near even something or someone dear.
But the ex-priest goes on.
After he adds his paean to a modernist version of the Church – a vision forged in those halcyon days of rebellion and Vatican II – he refers to the Church as “the largest nongovernmental organization on the planet”. I didn’t find any reference to how the Church views herself, and how the ex-priest should have learned to understand her. For the ex-priest, the Church is an NGO. I don’t sense that it is anything more than that for him.
My priesthood was caught up in the typhoon of the 1960s and ’70s. Ironically, the Church, which sponsored my civil-rights work and prompted my engagement in the antiwar movement, made me a radical. I was the Catholic chaplain at Boston University, working with draft resisters and protesters, and soon enough I found myself in conflict with the conservative Catholic hierarchy. It only gradually dawned on me that there was a tragic flaw deep inside the institution to which I’d given my life, and that it had to do with the priesthood itself.
Do you all remember my repeated descriptions of libs of a certain age? As mentioned above, caught up in the halycon days of revolt against authority, and in these USA, the anti-war movement, all in a slurry with the lies they heard about Vatican II, it’s “spirit”? That’s why these types have a nearly pavlovian response to the sight of a biretta or the sound of Latin. The switch in their brain blows and the fog and static begin.
The ex-priest then waxes about his hopes for Francis. Now, of course, he is disillusioned, because Francis hasn’t lived up to his expectations as an iconoclast.
Anyway, after a long rant about how awful every aspect of the priesthood is – which he has conflated with a shallow and stereotypical notion of the “clericalism” that everyone is rattling on about instead the real roots of the problem, the ex-priest writes, “The very priesthood is toxic…”.
One can understand being upset to the point of hiding away for a while. But being purposely obtuse.. stupid… is harder to understand. He goes on:
I want to be part of what brings about the liberation of the Catholic Church from the imperium that took it captive 1,700 years ago.
But to simply leave the Church is to leave its worst impulses unchallenged and its best ones unsupported.
The Church is the people of God.
What he wrote is just plain stupid. And it is so long and so rambling and so incoherent that it won’t have much impact.
He, in effect, wants a complete destruction of the priesthood, with all functions carried out by lay people.
In effect, he’s nothing but a low church Protestant – if that. At the core of all attacks on the Church’s unity, are attacks on the priesthood. That was the heart and soul of the Reformation: attack on the priesthood.
However, remember how libs work. This was in The Atlantic. Through creeping imcrementalism, libs work in small gains. And they put aside their differences to coordinate in their destructive intents.