OpEd piece for the Washington Post

TwitterSome of the commentators who have added their opinions in the combox after my OpEd in WaPo really need your help.

A few contributors can both read and think, but there are some deeply confused people over there.  And a couple are simply wackos to be ignored.

They go on and on (I am pretty sure few of them actually read the piece or thought about it for 15 seconds) about how the Church didn’t do this or that or some other thing, how the Church missed an opportunity, about how wicked or medieval the Church is because it won’t do what they think it should, etc.

The newest rounds of norms issued by the Holy See were revisions to an existing document.  The document had its own purpose and scope.   The document’s norms were restricted to the purpose of the document.

Those who are criticizing it for not having done A, B or C, miss the point.

And there are any number of other errors they are making.

Here are some their remarkable contributions:

  • The Church’s failure to take strong enough steps to completely eradicate pedophilia by priests is the same thing as condoning it…
  • … without sin the Catholic Church would lose control of its followers.
  • Again, the church has zero concept of humanity.
  • The absolute hatred of women in the Church is so obvious.
  • Look at how irrelevant your Church is, your words are, and your credibility has become. Your commentary made me ill.
  • It’s amazing to me that anyone who has ever read the Bible could imagine the Catholic Church is in any way affiliated with the Christian religion.

Go help them out, respectfully and concisely and keep it very simple for them.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ismael says:

    I wish they COULD be helped Fr. Z.

    If they did not bother to read your words… or to read or listen what the Vatican actually had to say, I doubt they will pay any attention to me.

    Sometimes I do bother answering to stupid comments on forums, blogs or youtube….

    … result is always like speaking to a brick wall.

    These people have already passed their sentence and are not willin to change their minds.

    They are blinded by either ignorance, stupidity or (often) hate…

  2. becket1 says:

    What do you expect from heretics and atheists!.

    Quote: “It’s amazing to me that anyone who has ever read the Bible could imagine the Catholic Church is in any way affiliated with the Christian religion.”

    Obviously this person is absolutely clueless when it comes to the history of Christianity in the first millenium.

    Quote: “The absolute hatred of women in the Church is so obvious.”

    Must be one of those Episcopalians. The same ones who no longer have a communion.

    Quote: “Again, the church has zero concept of humanity.”

    Definately an atheist!.

  3. S. Murphy says:

    “-The Church’s failure to take strong enough steps to completely eradicate pedophilia by priests is the same thing as condoning it…”
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Cdl Ratzinger should have known it was his duty, as Prefect of the CDF, to invent a time-machine, go back to ancient Mesopotamia, make sure none of that nonsense was going on in Abraham’s camp (who knows how long man-love Thursdays have been around?), worked his way up to the Greeks, and eradicated pederasty from western civilization altogether. And he didn’t. So he should be tried by a jury of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Eleanor Smeal, Ieyasu Tokugawa, Elizabeth I, Maria Monk, Jack Chick, Idi Amin, Oliver Cromwell, Domitian, Bismarck, and Satan.

    “-Again, the church has zero concept of humanity.”
    We’re moving up. Tacitus said Christians were known for their hatred of humanity.

    “-Look at how irrelevant your Church is, your words are, and your credibility has become. Your commentary made me ill.”
    You’re so irrelevant I had to read your article an comment on it.

    “-It’s amazing to me that anyone who has ever read the Bible could imagine the Catholic Church is in any way affiliated with the Christian religion.”
    Wherever DID the canon of the New Testament come from anyway?

  4. Father Z: You did a great thing; your article is so clear, cogent and direct.
    If the folks commenting can’t understand plain English, the norms of the Catholic Church, and Her right to make these norms, well, I guess they’re pretty small-minded and bigots.
    Yeah, bigots.
    Try pulling this kind of attack on Moslems; attacking them for their beliefs, practices and norms.
    You might get more than you bargained for. Like a bomb in your knapsack.
    Just sayin’.

  5. S. Murphy says:

    I made my comments. Probably erred on the side of not concise, but at least not as bad as that wacko with the incoherent capitalization an punctuation.

    Nazareth Priest – I think we should be careful about making these comparisons with the way people react to Islam. There’s some truth to it, but it just leaves us open to charges of hating Muslims, charges of racism (Muslims are non-white, even if they’re Bosnian or Chechnyan; that’s just how it is); it leaves us open to the charge by atheists that we’re always whining about why they attacked us instead of Muslims, and it makes us look like damned fools, whiners, weasels, and cowards when somebody like PZ Myers* DOES attack Islam along with Christianity.

    And, there’s only SOME truth to it. There are a lot of Muslims around who are as honorable as Saladin (I’ve served with some in the US Marine Corps); and we owe it to Christ to be honorable in our turn.

    *He’s a biology professor at a branch of the Univ of Minnesota. A couple years ago, he drew a lot of attention by throwing an allegedly consecrated Host in the trash, under a banana peel and coffee grounds, ALONG with a copy of the Koran (albeit maybe only a translation, but it was an honest effort) and a coy of _The God Delusion_ by way of proving atheists aren’t superstitious about their own prized possessions.

  6. S. Murphy says:

    By the way, Fr Z, it was a great column.

  7. Cath says:

    Fr. Fox is doing a great job in the comments section over at the WaPo. So many people see it as unfair that women can’t be priests based on nothing other than a warm fuzzy feeling to include everyone. They hear or read something that resonates with that idea and no amount of reason will stop them for repeating it loudly and often. The only recourse one has with someone who refuses to listen is prayer.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z,

    Are not some of these comments the same anti-Catholic sympathies seen during the 2000 plus years of the Church? I can imagine the likes of William Cecil, (Lord Burghley), Martin Luther, and even Thomas Cramner saying the same type of things, especially that the Holy Catholic Church is not “humane” and that it is “non-Biblical”. Heresy is really boring at best, and tediously repetitious.

  9. Elizabeth D says:

    I read “On Faith” at WaPo all the time, and try to comment constructively; unfortunately it is always like that. It mostly doesn’t have a sincere and thoughtful quality, there is a lot of drive-by nastiness and mockery and a good bit of the wacko nonsense posts, like demoniacs breaking their chains and howling and injuring themselves with stones. Some of the Catholic columnists themselves on there set themselves consistently as dissenters and critics of the Church, I was happy to see Fr Z on there!! And, I’m convinced it’s worth a few minutes to comment on WaPo, particularly because the comments are displayed right on the same page as the article.

  10. Eric says:

    Father Fox is holding his own.
    Hope he doesn’t get sleepy.

  11. moconnor says:

    I also get quite frustrated with the Protestants and Atheists who are gleefully attacking the Church in these comments. Their one trump card, in the end, is that bishops who transferred pedophile priests to situations where they would again be in contact with children have not been held accountable in many cases. I understand this to be a very complex political matter in the Church, but I do wish the Church would comprehend the confusion among the faithful as to why such abominations were tolerated and hushed. The outside world will be loathe to approach the altar of Christ until this barrier is removed, I think.

  12. Athelstan says:

    As is often the case with the Post and Times comboxes, many posters – particularly those of a certain bent – don’t really read the article. They only look for the subject in the headline (and if you’re lucky, the lead) and then immediately deposit their ready-made rants.

    Too few actually engage with what you write – no better example of the internet’s ability to generate more heat than light.

  13. markomalley says:

    Good column Father Z. I am surprised that WaPo would even allow such a factual analysis to appear.

    Having said that, as I read your reasoned approach, two words kept repeating themselves:



  14. I have gotten to the point where when I read such things, and it’s often clear they are not open for dialogue, there is only one thing left…

    Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them”

  15. Also, comments like those also remind me that some things are best left to prayer and fasting.

    The kinds of comments shown, convey that something to which they are attached, is something they are unwilling to let go of. They lash out at the Church, almost always on things like the pedophile scandal, or other things listed there. This is merely a mask for a deeper, underlying struggle in the soul. I have found that it is not likely to turn them with talk. Rather, it incites them to spew only more foul talk. Thus, the justification for the quote I put above: Romans 12:14.

  16. S. Murphy says:

    Yep, when somebody calls you “drones” who have “drunk the Kool Aid,” and then throws in the Nazi slander, it’s time to click away from the page and break out the rosary. Although I bet that individual isn’t really “done talking to you drones.”

  17. Horatius says:

    Wonderful piece, Father Z.

    The anti-Catholic blather, especially from ‘Renshaw,’ is typical of the last few years. It reaches back to the nineteenth century by sharing the prejudices and ignorance of the know-nothings, but its acid flavors have been mixed in a bath of American left popular culture, including a dose of militant left statism, a smattering of Dawkins and his professional atheist ilk, and a wash of bigoted internet chatter. It is a hardened character, at least behind the keyboard, which seems to be multiplying. A powerless creature of a day, it is easily defeated by good talk and good deeds and patience.

  18. irishgirl says:

    nazareth priest-you tell ’em!

  19. Andrew says:

    The hatred directed at the Church by some of those commentators is irrational. I don’t see how it could be based on anything reasonable. I could see someone not understanding why we don’t want to have priestesses. And that could be discussed, civilly. I could also understand someone opining that the Church has been too lax with sexual offenders. And that could be civilly discussed. I could almost accept someone thinking that the Church is irrelevant. But to hurl irrational hatred at all Catholics of every age: that is beyond anything that can be rationally accounted for. So the question is: how do I approach irrational hatred when civilized debate is not possible? Partially, I wonder if the Post is not to blame for providing a forum for unrestricted vitriol.

  20. Sam Schmitt says:

    This would be funny if it weren’t so sad – methinks the commenters protest a bit too much. They yell loudly that Fr. Z and the Church are completely illogical, but let’s look at their logic for a moment.

    They spend all this time telling people what is “completely obvious,” and that the Church should be ignored, that it has lost all credibility.

    If it’s so obvious, we do you need to tell everyone? It’s like going out of your way to state the sun rose this morning. If the church should be ignored, that it’s not worth their time, why are they not ignoring it themselves and spending their time telling others not to spend their time paying any attention to the Church? If the Church has lost all credibility, why do I need someone to tell me this? Does this somehow prove it? How do I know the person making this claim is credible?

    It’s all a bit suspect – I mean, I don’t spend time at websites commenting how discredited holocaust deniers, flat-earthers, 911-truthers, and other assorted discredited people are. I just ignore them.

    Yet somehow the Church can’t be ignored . . . .

  21. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Thanks for kind comments directed my way.

    I tend to think that comments in one of those threads don’t do a lot of good for the other commenters, but they may do some; they may do some good for anyone reading them.

    But the principal value is to me. Being forced to express an idea in a pithy way is–for me at least–a useful exercise.

    Some of the things we believe, as Catholics, often seem to take long explanations. Being successful at boiling long explanations down to short ones is something I find useful.

  22. Fr. Fox: Yes… that combox over there is a real challenge.

    There are good examples of stunning anti-Catholic bigotry, together with sheer dishonesty about facts. I grant that some of the comments stem from a less than well-honed ability to read for content.

    Anyway… I think some of us can live a bit in a bubble.

    Contact with this sort of combox is illuminating.

  23. PostCatholic says:

    For what it’s worth: My own minister also wrote a guest column for On Faith just under two years and expressed many of the same feelings. In her case the bigotry mostly came from the right, but it just goes to show you that there a lot of hurting people in the world.

    I thought your article intelligent and helpful.

  24. TJerome says:

    Great job, Father Fox!! By the way, I suspect some of the anti-Catholic comments were posted by Catholics of the National Catholic Fishwrap persuasion.

  25. Ugh. Any time there’s an article on Catholics, the attack dogs come out. Hopefully my comment over there will help some people understand why the Vatican doesn’t have a mandatory report order, and see that it has been handled (at least, here in the US) at a more local level. It’s a thing better left to a local level, where the Bishops will know what the local government is like and will do. I can’t imagine what would happen to both the accused priest and the victim in some places.

  26. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z,

    “bubble” living will lead to unwanted, unsought, martyrdom more quickly than not. Catholics do not have to be naive. “Be wise as serpents and guileless as doves”, said the Lord.

  27. DT says:

    Wonder article there, Fr Z.

    I read over the comment boxes on your piece and the one submitted by the “Women’s Ordination Conference”. It appears that Mr. Renshaw has his own struggles, and for whatever reason, has chosen to make the Church his scapegoat. With that said, it is unfortunate that he will not listen to any amount of reason, except for his own, however illogical that is.

    Kudos to Fr. Fox for his insightful comments on the WaPo site as well!

  28. Penguins Fan says:

    The Washington Compost is a refuge for those who cannot think for themselves. I could post something, but reading the stupidity in the Compost drives up my blood pressure.

  29. Cathy says:

    It’s hard to read the ugly rants against the Church, but they actually serve some good. When I was an atheist I used to occasionally hear/read those kinds of things, and it actually made me have a greater respect for the Catholic Church. The ugly comments just make the commenters look stupid and nasty. I often heard Catholics calmly and charitably speak the truth and while that wasn’t what brought about my conversion, those instances were certainly seeds that contributed to it. Have heart.

  30. chironomo says:

    The article and comments is proof of what I once heard said by a “prominent radio figure” concerning arguing with liberals.

    “Liberalism is a religion, so an argument against it is a religious argument, which as you know you can never win”.

    The problem (in their mind) is that Catholicism is not Liberalism, or Atheism, or Feminism, or Marxism, …….

    Try suggesting that a heterosexual married man be the leader of the NOW, or that a White man lead the NAACP…and you’ll hear that they are a “self-determining group” and have the right to choose and elect their own leaders. But to them, the issue of women priests is the same as women politicians or women managers…it’s an issue of equal rights. Even liberalism has it’s “Mysteries”.

  31. Andrew says:

    I wonder if the average reader is able to understand that these norms have to do with the Church’s internal affairs while (obviously) legal liabilities that apply to all citizens (including clerics) remain the same. Legally, as far as civil law is concerned, certain acts of sacrilege might not be punishable at all, while internally they would constitute “grave offense”. And, legally, certain crimes would be punishable by the State most severely, but be punished by the Church with a mere “excommunication” – hardly a significant punishment for someone of no faith. So the two – the internal norms and the civil law – should not be confused. But I wonder if people out there understand the difference.

  32. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Father, not that it is much comfort but vitriol is common in the comments over at WaPo. I stopped commenting long ago – its hopeless. The comments are always full of flame-throwing trolls. Apparently it is some sort of entertainment and doesn’t really have much to do with an article.

    Hard not to take it personally but it happens to all the articles there, in my experience.

    You wrote a good article, and those for whom it is meant, will appreciate it!

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