Kathryn Jean Lopez (NRO) on Maureen Dowd (Hell’s Bible)

The present wave of attacks on the Church are being used by liberal activists both inside and outside the Church, both secularist and nominally religious, to promote two agenda items: the ordination of women and the abolition of clerical celibacy for the Latin Church.

I didn’t want to fisk the ever more acid Mo Dowd of Hell’s Bible.  But Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, responded.

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?[Dowd is shallow.]

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. [Exactly.]

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.  [It has ever been so.  After all, 1/12 of the first bishops sold the Lord and the rest of them ran away.  The first collegial act of bishops.] 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  [I do.  She knows better.] — 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. [I have been pounding for years now about the project of this pontificate: the revitalization of Catholic identity.] 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.

Well done.  Kudos to  Ms. Lopez.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Yes. Ms. Lopez. Thank you.
    But, maybe she has a point.
    If Ms Dowd was brainwashed in higher education; it may not completely be her fault; who were her teachers? can we just outright condemn her? But she has to seek the truth. Now, that’s another matter.
    I’m guessing the said Ms. Dowd is probably my age, maybe younger.
    Those years of college/graduate school were a quagmire of confusion, dissent, rebellion. Most places.
    We gots to pray for Maureen lady. She need da prayers; now.

  2. “It has ever been so. After all, 1/12 of the first bishops sold the Lord and the rest of them ran away. The first collegial act of bishops.”

    Heh. The Judean Conference of Catholic Bishops in action…:)

  3. Kerry says:

    The validity of the Catholic Church is not contingent upon the good behavior of those who profess to believe in it.

  4. Bornacatholic says:

    Dowd ought to be thanking the Catholic Church because it routinely presents evidence to her that it is not worthy of her and that, apparently, is enough to justify her perfidy.

    One sees this all the time – the behavior of the craven always pointing to this or that failure of this or that Priest or this or that Prelate or condemning Doctrine that refuses to change with the times – it is the safe haven of the craven who seeks cover to hide from their own cowardly weakness.

    It’d be so much more honest if she had the courage to confess – I quit the Church because I wanted to contracept, fornicate, engage in adultery, plump for abortion etc etc, but, the liberal always wants to blame the Catholic Church as a way to rationalise and justify one’s perfidy.

    “I am a nice person and I’d still be Catholic if there were not so many sinners in the Church and if those fools just changed those rules everybody knows needs changing.”

  5. B flat says:

    Ms Lopez is kind and understanding towards Ms Dowd.

    Is it beyond Ms Dowd’s natural capacity as a human being (even allowing for a warped education) to do at least as much when writing about the Pope, or the Church as whole?

    I still think she did a hatchet job on the Pope, on no evidence, and should lose her job; I wrote to the editor of the NYT to say so.

    At present, I am not in a conciliatory mood with the enemies of Truth or their journalist minions.

  6. PostCatholic says:

    This liberal activist is all for you guys keeping clerical celibacy and an all-male priesthood. Please alienate as many people as you can.

  7. robtbrown says:

    This liberal activist is all for you guys keeping clerical celibacy and an all-male priesthood. Please alienate as many people as you can.
    Comment by PostCatholic

    In what way are you an activist?

  8. Rafa Nascimento says:

    Dear All,

    See below a website in support of our beloved Pope. This is a site to suppor the Pope “this site provides individuals with a way to pledge their love, prayers, and support for Pope Benedict XVI, as well as our bishops and priests, in the hopes that if it gains enough momentum, he will hear of our sentiments.”


  9. TomG says:

    Hey, “Post-Catholic”, the Archdiocese of Baltimore baptised more than 1,000 adult converts in 2009. Guess we’ll have to work harder on our “alienation operations!”

  10. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I do not put my trust in princes, not even Princes of the Church. Christ entrusted His Church to the man who denied Him three times in His hour of greatest need and declare that “the power of Hell shall not prevail against it. I can therefore look to that same Church to be the minister of His grace through sinful men, of whom I am one.

    I recall the words of St. Thomas More in Dialogue on Conscience:

    I never intend, God being my good Lord, to pin my soul to another man’s back, not even the best man that I know this day living: for I know not where he may hap to carry it.

    PostCatholic, please be good or be gone.

  11. quovadis7 says:

    Fr. Z,

    Great post, emphases, and comments!

    But hey, when you said (as you have been saying for a LONG time now) this:

    [I have been pounding for years now about the project of this pontificate: the revitalization of Catholic identity.]

    Isn’t it about time for our Bishops to put together and promote their own plans for the “revitalization of Catholic identity”? Something similar to what Bishop Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa promoted last Fall (although an objective timetable would be nice too, which even he didn’t provide)?

    Don’t the Bishops collectively need to also warmly embrace and promote Pope Benedict’s “Marshall Plan”? Without the Bishops’ collaboration, I just don’t see that Pope Benedict will be able to impact the Church nearly as much or as quickly as we’d all like to see it happen.

    With Pope Benedict being the “General” and our Bishops being the “Lieutenants” (very good analogy, I think, for us as the Church Militant!), if the latter don’t implement the “battle plan” how WILL it truly happen??? And, having dissenters actively causing disruption within the ranks (e.g. the likes of Fr. McBrien, Sr. Chittister, CHA, CCHD, Sisters of the LCWR, etc.) certainly fouls up the “battle plan” too. Enforcing discipline and obedience within the ranks NEEDS to be a VITAL priority! Did Catholic OBEDIENCE get tossed out the window after Vatican II???

    I mean, c’mon, how many of our Bishops are REALLY doing their very best to ensure that the faith is being fostered and that a strong and unabashedly Catholic family faith life is ACTIVELY being promoted? My answer – NONE that I know of!

    If any of you WDTPRS fans out there can prove me wrong and point out ANY definitive pastoral plan ANYWHERE in the USofA where a Bishop has truly implemented in his Diocese anything remotely similar to Pope Benedict’s “Marshall plan”, please do so. Has Bishop Nickless’ pastoral plan for the Diocese of Sioux City actually been implemented yet? If not, what’s his timetable? A LOT more Bishops need to follow his lead, AND commit to a timetable for implementation….

    It’s high time that we, the faithful, call-out our Bishops for failing MISERABLY in their duty to instill in us the Catholic faith. Catechesis since Vatican II has been an utter and unmitigated DISASTER for the Church, and not just here in America….

    Sure, the Bishops can’t force us to drink from the Fountain of Life. But, they DO have a God-given DUTY to lead us with PASSION and CONVICTION to Jesus Christ our Source, to ENTHUSIASTICALLY promote the fullness of the Catholic faith, and to revitalize His Church.

    It’s about high time the Bishops got off their soft and lazy keisters and finally did their JOBS! We, as the laity who are diligently striving to be faithful, need to make them feel our displeasure and frustrations.

    Or, maybe the Bishops think that the “first collegial act of bishops”, as you put it so well Father, is something to be proud of and/or to emulate??? The Bishops long-standing inaction and/or ineptitude in the matters of catechizing and revitalizing their flocks seem to imply that they do.

    Sorry for my rant this morning, but it’s high time for something other than just talk about Pope Benedict’s “Marshall Plan” to truly happen in the Church….

    Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

    Steve B
    Plano, TX

  12. spesalvi23 says:

    This PostLutheran (very militant ex Lutheran, btw.) dominant, educated woman is very proud to have found the truth.
    Martin Luther is a local hero around here. Considering my wonderful (cough) stubbornness and genetically inherited loyalty problem, I’m quite amazed and very happy that I was able to see it so clearly and finally took the right step!

    I work in a male dominated field and I do agree that women have certain advantages – in many ways.

    Nevertheless. Female clergy? Sorry. No!!

    It’s fine to disagree. It’s not fine to spout cynicism.

  13. wolfeken says:

    One of Dowd’s tricks is to complain how Vatican II wiped away Latin and all the smells and bells — then she makes the case that should be restored while women priests and abortion also get a green light by the Church. A loopy argument.

    Plus, she is a liar. I have personally invited her to the traditional Latin Mass she claims to miss and love. Strangely, she has never showed.

  14. Liam says:

    Taki in last week’s Spectator Magazine attacked Maureen Dowd

    Part of his amusing put down:

    “[…] we all know that Irishmen turn Tory upon acquiring a horse, but one Irish–American old bag, Maureen Dowd, seems to have turned anti-Catholic the minute she became a horse’s ass. Which she always was. Dowd writes a column for the New York Times, a newspaper whose anti-Christian in general and anti-Catholic in particular agenda suits her meagre talents perfectly.”

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