To call the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine’s piece,
“What I Believe” anything more than a poorly-written wretched Anti-Catholic screed would be a compliment. It is so bad it is literally unbelievable, and as usual, the response by the Archdiocese–that these days, is mostly run by Chancellor Jim McDonough, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and Jack Connors–has been nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Naturally, Vicar General Fr. Richard Erikson, who was quick to condemn us for exposing the truth of Fr. Bryan Hehir’s public dissent and undermining of Church teachings, has issued a strongly worded public statement condemning the Globe for their anti-Catholic screed. (NOT!) And of course, Cardinal O’Malley, who personally countered us by posting gushing praise for Bryan Hehir on his blog (after we exposed all of Bryan Hehir’s speaking engagements alongside gay activists) has been quick to exercise his role as bishop by responding with a teaching message that corrects all of the Globe essay’s misstatements. (NOT!) If you missed that, then of course there’s been the theologically rich statement issued by the $166K/year communications secretary, Terry Donilon, criticizing the Globe in the most politically correct of terms possible for offending Catholics who “love the Church.” (NOT!) Last but not least, all guns are firing about the Globe essay over at the newly launched Catholic Media group, who said upon their launch that “embracing new and state-of-the-art forms of digital communication to reach the faithful has been a top priority of Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.” (NOT!) Yes, readers, the full communications machine of the Boston Archdiocese that costs about $5 million a year to operate (PR, website, The Pilot, CatholicTV, and production/admin staff) is all over it, immediately correcting the scandalous piece and proclaiming the truth in-season and out-of-season so that hundreds of thousands Catholics who might have read it are not confused. Do us a favor–when someone finds just one comment from the Archdiocese on this, would you send it our way? And they wonder why people read our blog. Maybe we’ll send the Pastoral Center a bill for doing their jobs.
Almost every paragraph in this senseless drivel has something wrong with it, so I will just share a few of the most egregious problems with it. Our comments are in italics.
For starters, the author, Charles Pierce, describes himself as an “anti-Catholic Catholic.” His current religious “orientation” is based largely on some kind of attraction to the color purple (“I like my faith in purple”) and he says an “awful lot of my early theology was architectural.” Yet Pierce is quick to preempt any accusation that he is no longer Catholic. “Nobody gets to tell me that I’m not a Catholic.”
Readers with a weak stomach or high blood pressure might want to stop here.
The article cites the Pew Research study that one in ten Catholics have left the Catholic Church after being raised Catholic. And about half of those who departed and now identify themselves as “unaffiliated” left the church because of its views on abortion, homosexuality, and birth control.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. But ya know, if the other 9 in 10 of us have a smaller Catholic Church of people who actually believe what the Church teaches, that would be fine. As Cardinal Ratzinger said in an interview published in “Salt of the Earth” in 1997
Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world – that let God in.”
There are the requiste quotes from Richard McBrien, the dissident church critic and Notre Dame theologian whose writings have been condemned by the U.S.C.C.B. (and who also preached at Fr. Bryan Hehir’s first Mass after his ordination). McBrien says, “And the spiritual authority… of the hierarchy, up to and including the papacy, was diminishing in the minds of millions of Catholics long before the sexual-abuse crisis brought that issue to a conspicuous boil. “The hierarchy is largely irrelevant to any intelligent, educated Catholic.”
No, Fr. McBrien, for any intelligent, educated Catholic, it’s actually the case that YOU are irrelevant.
Pierce got input from his “friend,” Fr. Walter Cuenin, who he says was forced to leave his Newton parish because the archdiocese “didn’t approve of the way finances were being handled.” Cuenin also told Pierce that he preaches in homilies that the Buddhist and the Lutheran faiths are comparable to Catholicism as a means to salvation and heaven.
Um, I think it was actually misuse of parish funds by Walter to pay for his monthly car and alcohol bills, when those expenses should have been paid from out-of-pocket instead of from the parish donations. And never mind that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, following historic Christian theology since the time of the early Church Fathers, refers to the Catholic Church as “the universal sacrament of salvation” (CCC 774–776), and states: “The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation.”
In the Church according to Pierce, the “teaching authority is dependent wholly on the primacy of my individual conscience.”
This is flat out false. As Catholics, we do have an obligation to inform our consciences by the teachings of the Church, and if we reject those teachings, that is considered a sin. To say any “teaching authority” is dependent on a person’s “individual conscience” not only makes no sense logically, but it’s totally wrong. This means you make up whatever you want to believe in, right? I don’t think there is an organized religion that operates that way, except for maybe the Unitarians, but then again, maybe they are not an organized religion anyway.
Pierce says “ I simply don’t want what they call a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. …I do not need a personal Lord and Savior.”
If you don’t care about a relationship with Jesus Christ or about salvation, then why do you want to be Catholic?
No Globe piece critical of the Catholic Church would be complete without the requisite quote by the dissidents over at Voice of the Faithful. VOTF trustee Ron DuBois said, “I have my own theology. I do have a doctorate in philosophy and I’ve done a lot of my own reading. I think it’s an ongoing process by anyone who really thinks, especially in our country, with our emphasis on political democracy and a tradition of questioning authority.”
If he has his own theology, let him practice it and write about its core tenets in “Ron’s Church.” I thought VOTF had faded into complete oblivion, but apparently the liquidation sale for their remaining assets has not occurred yet. We’ll keep you posted when they have the yard sale.
The author quotes Garry Wills as though he is an authoritative source, when instead, every comment from Wills is wrong or misguided. “Wills points out how Vatican II defined the church as the entire ‘people of God.’ That being the case, one can find a way to remain a Catholic while not only distancing oneself from the hierarchy of the institutional church but also subverting it, in a kind of internal Reformation. Wills has said “The pope is a freak of history. . . . Peter was not a pope, or a bishop, or a priest – offices that did not exist in his lifetime.”
Pierce and Wills are simply wrong. At ThrowtheBumsOutin2010, they said it well–Pierce encourages people to ignore the Pope, the encyclicals, and the teaching authority of the Church since nobody can tell you these rejections are not Catholic.
There’s more, but that’s all we have time to pick apart today. Usually the Globe sends stuff like this over to Terry Donilon and the Communications office before publishing it. We wonder if that happened in this case. As if we have not had enough years of seeing the teachings of the Church distorted, now we have the Globe’s equivalent of a circus contortionist, Charles Pierce, an “anti-Catholic” wolf in “Catholic” sheep’s clothing who is twisting and bending the teachings beyond recognition to encourage “Cafeteria Catholicism” (best case) or further discourage Catholics from sticking with the true teachings of Christ’s One Holy and Apostolic Church. If the people responsible for public policy, communications, evangelization, and teaching in this Archdiocese do not respond to this essay from the Globe on Monday–and if the person charged with teaching, sanctifying, and governing doesn’t lead his team to respond promptly with some statement to correct everything wrong about the essay–then heads should roll. We’re serious.