ARLINGTON, VA — I am writing this series as a Catholic. I must
ask: Where is my Church in this struggle? Has She not been part of
And it is with shame that I must answer: Yes, and in two respects:
in Her sufferance, if not outright guilt, of scandal, and in Her lack
There can really be no argument on this point: The struggle against
abortion is the cause célèbre nonpareil of our era. A
free citizen living in these times is morally challenged as profoundly
as an American living through slavery or as a German during the years
of Hitler’s madness.
We are morally defined by our response to the existential demands
of our era. No Yankee or Southerner in antebellum America was left
unscathed. No German in the time of the Third Reich avoided Divine
scrutiny. Few of us today will be able to stand before God pleading
total innocence of the blood of these 50 million children. I include
myself among the guilty because I have lacked the wit and the passion
to save a single one of them.
So, too, has my Church lacked the wit, the passion, the holy rage
to bring an end to this moral abomination, staining us all.
Let us first address the Church’s sufferance of scandal.
Does it not give scandal to the faithful, to those who possess a
degree of passion about abortion, to see many of their bishops reluctant
to chastise Catholic politicians for their public support of abortion?
To see their priests and bishops, with no apparent thought for the
heinous sin of sacrilege against the Body and Blood of the Lord, distributing
the Eucharist to these very public sinners? To witness the most prominent
of these public sinners, Ted Kennedy, being celebrated like a modern
Galahad at his funeral Mass, with the primate of Boston in respectful
Why was there not unanimous episcopal condemnation of President Obama’s
commencement address at Notre Dame in May? This is the most pro-abortion
president in American history, and he makes no apology for it. Have
our bishops forgotten the obloquy still visited on German bishops for
their failure to denounce en masse Nazi persecution of Jews?
The other scandal is difficult even to talk about.
I have known many priests. Most have been an inspiration to me, some
of them very holy, almost to a man good and masculine, well educated,
and committed to their vow of celibacy. Some of these good men have
been unfairly slandered in the recent atmospherics surrounding the
real scandal of priestly pederasty, stoked by press hysteria, the
greed of lawyers, and poor or “recovered” memories of
My mother died in 1983. I waited in the parlor of her parish to discuss
funeral arrangements. A delicate little man in a Roman collar came
prancing into the parlor, greeting me in a lilting way (not at all
appropriate to the occasion), extending his fingertips to be limply
grasped, and chattering away in empty pleasantries. He was completely
unembarrassed by, perhaps unconscious of, his effeminate mannerisms.
I knew then that the Church had a serious problem on Her hands.
The Church rightly teaches that individuals afflicted with the “objective
disorder” of homosexual inclinations are children of God to be
treated with dignity and respect. I believe that God permits such afflictions
as a powerful call to sanctity, just like any other cross of personal
The Church in general and American bishops in particular, however,
erred grievously in permitting such individuals access to Holy Orders.
This was an open invitation to the disaster that has now occurred.
Entire dioceses are being forced into bankruptcy by settlement claims;
seminaries and chanceries are being converted into “pink palaces” and
hotbeds of open heresy and dissidence; the victims of this evil —
along with many of their relatives and friends — are being alienated
from the Church and Her sacraments.
In the context of the pro-life struggle, the worst consequence was
the severe blow dealt to the Church’s credibility in all things
moral. It will take decades or generations for this gaping wound to
be healed. Healing will require a degree of courage the Church as a
body unfortunately has yet to evince in this struggle.
Bishops, on the whole, attain their rank by steadily building a reputation
as administrators, fundraisers, and builders of schools and hospitals.
None of the holiest priests I have known ever came close to being raised
to the episcopacy.
Bishops are terrified, accordingly, of losing their tax-exempt status
as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. I have shown elsewhere (Homiletic
and Pastoral Review, August-September, 2009, 62-67) that this fear
is completely unfounded. The IRS’ enforcement record is too shameful
to expose to judicial scrutiny, and a full-throated embrace of First
Amendment freedoms would overwhelm the flimsy statutory base of the
In any event, even if the IRS were a sleeping dog, the Church was
at its most glorious when it was poor, hounded, and martyred. Who would
not prefer such an honor to the shame we now experience?
The Unrepentant Traditionalist is copyright © 2010
by Frank Creel and the Fitzgerald
All rights reserved.
Frank Creel, Ph.D., a columnist and author, was an English teacher
in the Peace Corps in Turkey. He is fluent in the Turkish language
and in Arabic script.
See a complete biographical sketch.
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