How small-c catholic liberals attack what they don’t like

In the past I have mentioned that catholic liberals right now are using the clerical abuse issue as a blunt instrument with which to bludgeon any issue or any person they don’t like.
If they don’t like, say, the Church’s teaching about the impossibility of the ordination of women, the Church should change its “policy” because, of course, the bishops failed to prevent the sexual abuse of children.   If they don’t like that a bishop sticks to the Church’s teaching on contrary-to-nature unions, then he should just shut up, because bishops failed in the sphere of clerical abuse.  If they don’t like the new translation of the Missal, then no one should use it because the bishops didn’t handle the abuses thing well enough.

If they don’t like a particular bishop….  you get my drift.

Here is an example of this from National Catholic Fishwrap.

Sacrifice at the altar of God

by Thomas C. Fox on Jul. 09, 2011
NCR Today

Rita Ferrone, author of several books on liturgy, has written in the July 15 issue of Commonweal a searing critique of the New Roman Missal translation set to take affect in November.

These are tough years for the U.S. bishops who have fallen under dark clouds for their failings in their handlings [sic] of the decades’ long clergy sexual abuse tragedy in our church. To the failing of protecting our children from clergy abuse many will now be adding another: the failure to protect clear and simple — and meaningful — English in our mass liturgies from an assault by ideologically led bishops.

Here is how Ferrone concludes her remarkable Commonweal analysis:


Ferrone, whom I may look at more closely in another entry, goes on to sneer at the new translation along the same tired lines, concluding that people might get used it the new texts eventually but, she adds ominously, they shouldn’t.
Tom, Rita… I agree wholeheartedly!   If you don’t like the new, corrected translation, just say no.

Your best approach is to promote the widespread use of Latin so that no one is forced to suffer with the horrible new English translation.  Eh-vur.

In any event, this opening in the Fishwrap article was a good example of how liberals work.  If they don’t like someone or something they will make  a connection – no matter the stretch – with the sexual abuse issue, or will perform some other fan dance of moral equivalency.
Conservatives generally resist this sort of smear tactic.  They opt instead to stick to arguments rather than ad hominem attacks or these false comparisons.

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  1. r.j.sciurus says:

    The English IS meaningful to them. It is the incorrect English in the lame-duck translation that helped give meaning to their self-centered redefinition of Church teaching.

  2. Mundabor says:

    If we were to count how many of the paedophile priests defined themselves “liberal” or “progressive”, I think the NCR would shut up on the issue forever.


  3. Thomas in MD says:

    “failure to protect…English in our mass liturgies” is that a liturgy where we have a whole passel of folks playing guitars and banjos? So the new translation is ok in smaller liturgies?

  4. David2 says:

    The irony is that the argument that the clerical sex abuse scandal is a fruit of the “Spirit of Vatican II” is far less tenuous than that that advanced in this article. One could easily say that sexual abuse was just part of the tidal wave of sewage washed into the Church when the windows were opened too far in the 1960s, by the “let it all hang out” generation of NCR-readers.

    Of course, one could say that. But one doesn’t.

  5. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Re: assault on children = “assault on English in mass liturgies”

    It’s disgusting and despicable to use the rape of children for partisan, idealogical demagoguery. Of course they do this intentionally and dishonestly, and it is an evil intention. The Church doesn’t need enemies when she has flick like these.

  6. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Re: assault on children = “assault on English in mass liturgies”

    It’s disgusting and despicable to use the rape of children for partisan, idealogical demagoguery. Of course they do this intentionally and dishonestly, and it is a malicious intention. The Church doesn’t need enemies when she has flick like these.

  7. BaedaBenedictus says:

    (Sorry for above—iPhone issues)

    It’s astonishing to see the exaggerated hostility to the corrected translation still seen in some quarters, even though it’s long been a done deal. It’s also ironic to see their caterwauling about “rolling back Vatican II” and upsetting Joe and Mary Catholic when 40 years ago these same progressivists were jubilant in rolling back the tradition of *centuries* and didn’t give a da#n what Joe and Mary Catholic thought about it.

    This furor over the translation helps one to appreciate the difficulty the Holy Father has in fixing the deformations in the modern Roman rite. That is why such things as abolishing the indult for communion in the hand can’t happen until the generations change and the younger crop of priests will be willing to obey it.

  8. Glen M says:

    What’s deplorable about this all too common tactic is that the Church didn’t have a pedophilia problem – it had a homosexual problem. Acceptance of homosexuality is on the agenda of the modernist/liberal element along with female ordination, married priests, universal salvation, social justice, etc. Disregard for rules and teachings goes along with the moral relativism that convinces a supposedly rational and intelligent man that it’s ok to sodomize an adolescent or anyone else for that matter. Although there’s no hard evidence I’m aware of I doubt any of these offenders were sticklers for the rubrics and devotions. In their wake we’re left with massive debt, church closings and a loss of credibility in moral teachings. In their unbridled arrogance the instigators of this crisis point one finger at the traditional/orthodox while ignoring the three pointing back at them.

  9. Steven says:

    Trying to equivocate the sex abuse scandal with the new translations is absurd. Father, why do you bother? You’re just giving them more readership than they deserve. The loons like this can crawl into their dark little holes with their gee-tars and banjos and wymynprysts.

  10. Samthe44 says:

    Just posted a scathing comment on the Fishwrap website. My comment is under the name ‘Samthe44’ (same as here).

  11. benedetta says:

    I have to use strong words. This is a deception, the pretense that the translation lacks “meaning”.

    I feel that some are attempting to manipulate people in order to amass a sort of following, to be then exploited for purposes far from the goodness of God.

    I do not blame the people who accept these unquestioningly or without objective consideration of the facts, but I do feel very sad for the sort of suffering they may undergo in their search for the truth. But as to the teachers of this sort of thing, those who teach others to believe this as being the faith and the Church, who deprive of opportunity to know anything else, who discourage people from making a free choice to decide for themselves what the Church is teaching, I just don’t think that history will be that kind as to them.

  12. benedetta says:

    If this was in a different publication and the author a non-Catholic we would call it out as anti-Catholicism, as something from the point of view which assumes that the Church and all in communion with the Church is, bad, evil and the purpose is not to contribute constructively towards the faith in common but to prevent from prayer, belief, faith and to persuade others to distrust the sources of the faith, the prayers, and thus deter them from active participation. It is one thing for a person after reflection to conclude that they despise the Church and everyone related to the Church, it is another to expect others to discard faith and prayer in rage just because they say so.

    What is amazing is the freedom with which some feel totally entitled to rage on and on and direct others to do the same, without fleshing out reasoning, you can see by the language employed that this is an extremist, a fanatic, it is the language of anger and hatred. The basis is in anger, not rational and, of all things, in the way that bigots do, irrationally, it attempts to tap and fuel a different anger and have it join forces to serve the end promoted. Pretty horrific. I would say, no, this does not appear to be after all the spirit of Second Vatican. At all. Why should we listen, tolerate, or follow?

    We should compare to the quite reasoned and more polite civil discourse which occurred with the first translation. There were people who stated flat out that the translation was not worthy but they certainly did not rage away. I guess it is their children and grandchildren remaining in the Church now who will politely say to this tantrum/meltdown, “thanks, but, no thanks.”

  13. unsilenced says:

    I have to disagree. I greatly respect you, Father, but when you say: “Conservatives generally resist this sort of smear tactic. They opt instead to stick to arguments rather than ad hominem attacks or these false comparisons” I don’t think that is completely accurate. Most conservatives (at least the ones I see and hear on TV) also make ad hominem attacks and crazy connections. We all have lost the art of oratory and argument… it all has become soundbites and outrageous claims… the more outrageous the better.
    That said, Liberals have turned this into 6 degrees of sexual abuse… they can connect (or attempt to connect) any topic with the sexual abuse scandal with arguments that make no sense. We can raise above that by never making the same mistake.

  14. Tom T says:

    I am sorry Fr. Z. I can not help my self, but when you mention attacks by liberals it definetly
    gets me going. They have plenty of help from less than conservative and dysfunctional bishops.
    I have New York state in mind where a Gov. who has a live-in girlfriend and is publicly pro-choice
    and who sponsered and signed the gay marriage law, attends Mass in the Cathedral in Albany where Bishop Hubbard celebrates Mass in full view of the liberal media who to their delight sees all this and then he brags about having a picture of him and Archbishop Dolan shaking hands hanging in his office, who by the way (Archbishop Dolan) was away in Wash. at a meeting of
    USCCB while the battle came down to the finish lines, oh he did manage a phone call to a radio
    station, while the legislation, to use his words, “passed a law that threatens the core of civilization”.
    And couple all this with another Bishop Clark in Rochester N.Y. who has appointed 5 woman religious who are players in the womans ordination conferance, in charge of 11 Churches along with 6 lay woman who run 12 Churches and by the way they dont just run them, the priests assigned to them are assiting priests and are nothing more than sacramental ministers, the lay administrators give the homily, calls all the shots, answer only to the bishop, wear an alb,
    deliver the commentary during Mass, sit alongside the priest and preside over parish council
    meetings in violation of canon law and of course list their names at the top of the parish bulletin.
    Now my point is, it is very difficult to ward off the attacks from the liberals with so much going
    against the traditionalists when we are fighting sometimes what seems is a battle within our own
    Catholic structures. I am sorry but when you bring up liberals and their attacks, they have a lot they can throw at us and in New York they laugh at us because we are not a threat we are a joke
    who slow the movement toward left wing, socialistic,progressive liberal change that is speeding down the tracks to a new day in the Church. I so wish I could more than pray. Pax

  15. oddfisher says:

    I was with you 100% until the last 2 sentences. I know you used the word “generally”, and I would never claim that the majority of conservatives, of which I am one, indulge in this behavior, so I suppose that makes the generalization technically true. Still, my own admittedly unscientific perception is that conservative contempt, (not too strong a word), for bishops is becoming more intense and unbalanced. I’ve been shocked at the number of Catholics who really believe that the majority of influential American bishops are part of a socialist, homosexual plot to suppress the Catholic faith and that anyone who argues otherwise is a tool of Satan. Their rational is also the abuse crisis. Maybe I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd, but the number of people who talk like this seems to be growing.

  16. benedetta says:

    Well historically, if one objectively observed media spin of a given topic, it was true of a time that what would be heard on one side was distortion and ad hominem attacks whereas on the other there were reasoned arguments. Many have pointed this out before and it is easily verifiable by doing a little comparison on your own. Though in recent years it is true that there are a few on the conservative side willing to engage in that.

    I just don’t know anymore about publications which carry a label of being Catholic that act as repository of all things attacking and undermining the Church, first and foremost, leading with the assumption that one will separate from the Church so long as certain demands are not met yet state at the same time inexplicably that they, for the saying alone, are united. I don’t doubt that certain times call for the Church in unity and in love to openly confront an evil in our midst head on, yet (and this is just one example) these publications act as if and wish for others to believe something other than the truth and the facts which on this point show that Pope Benedict himself speaks of the sexual abuse crisis unfailingly, in substantive terms which are best heeded. These groups coalesce by defining themselves in anger and bitterness and while they reject certain exercise of legitimate authority at the same time they avidly follow and march behind leaders they select for themselves, with no difficulty showing obedience towards their own leaders.

    It is not an easy work for any Christian but I don’t get the defining one’s self opposed to other Christians while insisting that at the same time one is in communion. Our own pronouncements do not make it so.

    And with all that anger I just don’t know where it is leading, it is far from transparent, and it certainly cannot be deduced by reason or logic. Whereas with the sources of the faith one can easily verify and listen and discover the way.

    It does seem that the subtext of this article is to not trust in or pray the universal prayers of the Church itself. I agree, if one is so dissatisfied with others’ translation job why not just try the prayers in Latin.

    Of course even in the “simple English” idealized can it be said that one fully comprehends all, ever?

  17. Kerry says:

    To claim that bishops are “ideologically led” is in itself an ideological assertion. Which Bishops? All of them…? To the last jot and tittle of Bishopry? And by what authority does this writer presume to claim abused children, “our children”, are hers? Did the parents give her permission to speak for their children as “our children”? And to equate physical abuse with lexical changes…One is reminded of Twain’s quip, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” (Although in this writer’s case the difference may be as close as stink and stinkbug.) As the perfect is the enemy of the good, her fallacy is believing that a failure to completely “Be thou perfect” means any further attempts at virtue are futile and must be abandoned. It’s a sort of moral tantrum, “See! See!! These guys are just rotten! They screwed that up, they will screw this up.” However, that way both relativism, and “…madness lies’.

  18. chironomo says:

    Ms. Ferrone is a regular contributor at Fr. A.W Ruff’s “Pray Tell” blog, and this “article” is a condensation of comments and arguments she has made there regarding the new translation during the past year. For Ms. Ferrone EVERYTHING is connected to the sex-abuse scandal and the “hierarchy” (a favorite target ) cannot exercise any authority without having to jump over that hurdle first. Ms. Ferrone’s vision of a laity-led church in which the teachings of the Magisterium are replaced by the musings of theologians is well known, so the point she makes in this article is rather expected. For some reason she appears to resist being called a “liberal” though…go figure!

  19. Samthe44 says:

    This is my comment to the Fishwrap. Hopefully it will ruffle their scales.
    ‘The translations are beautiful! What is wrong with addressing God as a monarch? HE (not ‘she’ or a gender-neutral pronoun) IS a monarch. He is the Creator and Ruler of All Creation! Why do people here say it is bad to be humble and respectful to God? WE ARE NOT EQUAL TO GOD! What is great about God is that he still loves us, even though we are pathetic sinners nowhere near worthy of His Love The current translations are not poetic. And why is it bad that His Holiness guides the Church? Why should we try to make the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass likeable for the heretics? They are not true Churches. Trust me, I used to be an Anglican. Until the Extraordinary Form becomes the Ordinary Form, these translations will more than suffice. What is wrong with using ‘archaic’ language? So if The Second Coming happened tomorrow, would people address the Risen Lord by saying, ‘Hey J.C.! See ya in Heaven!’? And on to the argument of ‘lex orandi lex credendi’, the last time I checked, what we believe is in the Mass in Latin, not the woman ‘priest’, homosexual ‘marriage’, all-are-equal ideas which people here seem to want.’

  20. AnAmericanMother says:

    You inspired me to go over there and lob a comment over the transom. Funny, I mentioned the Anglican thing too.

  21. benedetta says:

    A lay run Church would not be perfection on the earth, certainly, nor would it for that characteristic solve or even prevent the problem of sexual abuse of minors. Lay people are not holier as a group than clerics and anyone who glances at the news nationwide can easily see that lay sexual abuse does occur, and female teachers involves with minors, their pupils charged to look after is just so horribly more and more frequent. The data in fact shows that it is more prevalent in those contexts right now than in clerical.

    I don’t doubt that we laity provide plenty of instances of bad example to young people in so many ways. And the laity dominant model where it is in effect, even as most of us have gone along with it without objecting, consenting and being patient, the reality is that it just has not been very fruitful for the Church. Whereas in the religious communities which have common prayer and challenge to a commitment to live so much as possible according to a rule, these are growing and they indeed work right alongside laity, laboring together each according to her or his state.

    VII is not about pitting one against the other, lay versus clerical, but about the states in life cooperating in communion according to vocation, and all to the universal vocation to holiness.

  22. Samthe44 says:

    Thanks @AnAmericanMother! Hopefully if we all defend the teachings of the Church on their comment-box, then the readers of the Fishwrap will begin to think about them, and then see them in their true greatness.

  23. Tony Layne says:

    I think what we’re seeing here is a variation of Godwin’s Law, which I’ve taken the liberty to name Layne’s Exception”:

    In any online discussion where the topic is the Catholic Church, its leaders or beliefs, the probability of a comparison involving pedophile priests approaches 1 (100%).

    Corollary 1: The comparison will be not only invalid but far-fetched.
    Corollary 2: The earlier the comparison is made, the greater the probability the rest of the discussion will follow the comparison down a rabbit hole.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  24. Nancy D. says:

    I am wondering why the local Bishop has not made it clear that the National Catholic Reporter is anti Catholic?

  25. Jerry says:

    @Nancy D. – “I am wondering why the local Bishop has not made it clear that the National Catholic Reporter is anti Catholic?”

    He did. In 1968!

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