I had this note from a priestly reader:
Thank you for drawing attention to the Mme Defarge rhetoric of the Left (Catholic and otherwise) and for pointing out the danger of letting the Left provoke us also into a lynch mob mentality on our side. Remember St. Thomas More’s warning against those who would sweep away all law and due process to destroy the wicked wholesale! Everyone needs to take a breath and calm down about the McCarrick business.
Yes, those rumors have been around a long time; but without evidence or reliable testimony, it would have been detraction (and legally slander or libel) to destroy his reputation by proclaiming these things as certain. It’s different now that there is evidence; that was not so before. [I think there was evidence, it’s just that those who had it didn’t want to risk themselves by going public with it.] Many of those bishops and clergy who are now bitterly denounced by Right and Left as complicit really could not act upon mere rumors or suspicions. As with individual offenders, each case needs to be considered separately and according to evidence. We should not resort to collective vengeance, without regard for personal culpability. Beware of a lynch mob mentality: [NB]unsubstantiated accusations can be used to attack great priests like Fr Frank Phillips. The casualties of “total war” will be on both sides. It’s starting to sound like the French Revolution or the lead-up to the Spanish Civil War. [Which scares me. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve taken up this issue.]
Orthodox and conservative and traditional Catholics need to remember:
one of the most destructive errors of the Left that it allows the idea of institutional/structural/collective sin to obscure personal sin and redemption. But don’t we hold out the possibility of redemption also for Cardinal McCarrick though he, of course, has to answer for his actions? If a bishop needs to resign or be punished, should not the way be open for hope and redemption even at the end of that road?
Didn’t Cardinal George warn against a kind of secularized Calvinism that declares that some are “totally depraved” and beyond redemption? [Indeed he did. He also made the observations that Americans are simultaneously hedonistic and puritanical. He was on the right track with his readings of polarization.]
The Church needs to follow canon law and due process and not resort to media lynchings and extra-legal penalties. It’s the mentality of lawlessness that has got us in this mess in the first place. I am alarmed when a perceptive commentator like Hillary White begins to talk of “do-it-yourself gallows” for complicit bishops.
People are really upset. Hillary White has the right to be upset. However, “DIY gallows” should be out of bounds. I dragged the Tricoteuse of the catholic Left, Madame Wile. E. Defarge over the rhetorical coals for his image of the guillotine for those with whom he disagrees. I don’t think that “DIY gallows” is any better. When we start talking – publicly – about enemies up against the wall, then we’ve started to visualize doing such things.
We don’t have to play bean-bag with each other, but some images are over the line.
Hillary, who is really angry, is probably trying to cause some bishops to feel some pain and fear with the gallows image.
John Zmirak at Stream has a suggestion that might in fact scare bishops a lot more than gibbets. Let’s see what he has to say.
How Can Catholics Fight Back? With the Power of the Purse.
I once tried to explain the problems faced by faithful Catholics to my good friend Eric Metaxas. [author of good books on Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce US HERE – UK HERE] “Imagine you felt your salvation depended on staying inside a Church with apostolic doctrines, which is run by liberal Protestants.” [Yeah.]
We Catholics have faced some version of that for most of my lifetime. In theory, the bishop is meant as the heir of the apostles to be the main teacher of doctrine. And a model of holiness.
No surprise that bishops find allies in pro-choice labor unions. [Ouch!] And in money-sluicing Democrats who promise to keep the Church’s “charities” on life-support as government contractors. Remember when one brave bishop, Thomas Paprocki, ordered his local Catholic U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, to stop receiving Communion? That was after Durbin voted to keep on killing pain-capable, almost viable unborn babies. The very next week, the cardinal in Chicago, Blaise Cupich, did a Skype call thanking Durbin for his help on immigration. Just to make sure that Durbin suffered no political damage. And to slap Paprocki publicly in the face.
The only reason these Mainline liberal Protestants serving as Catholic bishops aren’t facing empty churches like their Episcopalian colleagues? That would be immigration. Some 40% of native born Catholics leave the Church. But Catholic numbers stay flat, instead of declining, thanks to Latin American immigration. One in four Catholic adults in the U.S. was born in another country. When many bishops tell us that immigration is the “future of the church,” they never say why. It’s because they’ve given up on the rest of us — the people who grew up here in their churches. Whose ancestors built the parishes they wreckovate. Who are still paying their bills with our donations. [I just had to clench my hands a bit in anger.]
Many of those bishops have virtually ceased to preach, teach, or evangelize the faith. They’ve decided to simply import people, who (wouldn’t you know!) just happen to join up en masse as liberal Democrats. So the Democrats are the allies. Nasty, “harsh” Republicans (so what if they’re pro-life and pro-marriage?) want to shut down the blood transfusion. Then everyone would see just how ghastly sick the patient really is.
Lay Catholics have very little power to influence our pastors. Or our bishops. We used to wait for the papacy to fix things. To send letters to Rome, in the hope that the Vatican would rein in local abuses. We imagined that faithful orders and solid dioceses would simply outproduce the dying liberal religious orders and lavender seminaries. [That’s the Biological Solution. Recently someone else said that the Biological Solution wasn’t working. It is still working, but it is working on all of us. Hence, our side has to work harder. But here we go with the practical suggestion from Zmirak.]
One leverage, other than prayer, which faithful laymen have is financial. As much as they draw from the taxpayer, the bishops’ main source of income is Sunday collections. (They get 8%, every week, from every parish.)
How much will these bishops get? That is in our hands. Quite literally, in the checkbooks we hold. And there are things we can do. On a grand scale, I’d like to see faithful Catholics of means set up formal escrow accounts. (For the national initiative, we could lightheartedly take the name “St. Escrow’s.”) Those accounts will receive the monies those Catholics would otherwise have given to their bishops. Annually, a board of faithful laymen will review each bishops’ decisions, and pay him what he deserves.
For ordinary Catholics? Well, a very faithful priest in an appallingly liberal diocese once offered this suggestion. If you have a good pastor and parish, but don’t want to fund your bishops’ open-borders or big government activism — or his gay-dominated seminary — do this: Each week or month write your pastor a personal check.Make it out to him, not the parish. He can do it with it what he wills, and you’ll trust him to spend it wisely. The bishop’s not entitled by any law, canon or civil, to one red cent.
According to the Precepts of the Church, we have an obligation to support the Church materially. How we do that is not spelled out. The obligation is a serious one, however.
I think gallows rhetoric is over the top. I also think it is less effective than checkbook rhetoric. You have to consider your audience. Whom are you really trying to persuade? And to do … what exactly? After the venting is done, and you feel a little better, what is it that you truly want to accomplish?
The end, the point or purpose, of rhetoric is to discover the best means to persuade, to move your listeners to do something, to feel something, to learn and be edified. First of all, you have to know clearly what you want to accomplish. Aristotle in his writings on rhetoric talks about the personal character of the speaker: we have to know ourselves. He says you have to know your audience. Then you have to choose the topics, arguments, words and ornamentation of language which will bring the audience to the goal you have determined.
What is it that we want to accomplish?
Do we just want to hurt or ruin or is it something else?