Note: this piece is a long read, so..
Actually, he does cite one statement in quotes: “Oh to heck with that stupid bishop, he’s just an idiot and shill for the left. He’s all wrong on immigration, and doesn’t emphasize abortion enough in his sermons and letters…to heck with him.” However, I googled that quote - and can find no postings with that phrase (with the obvious exception of Msgr's). So who's saying that? If it's being said in public, there's no reason whatsoever to demure about citing the name of the individual who uttered that statement. However, if no one is saying that, Msgr should not be implying that to be a quote of anyone via his use of quotation marks.
In the comment section, we see quite a discussion. Those who seem to be agreeing with Msgr suggest praying and writing letters; they (e.g. Diane at Te Deum) also seem to advocate an obedience to the bishops which can only be called blind. To wit: "God has summoned us to unity and obedience. And unity and obedience should not be reduced to theoretical concepts. There is an actual and real bishop to whom you and I each owe respect and obedience." Msgr needs to be careful here. The laity are not vowed to the same degree of obedience as are the clergy, who take those vows during their ordinations. In fact, the laity enter no vows at all. The bishops lead us in matters of faith and morals as they teach in union with the Holy Father. That's it. We owe respect to the bishop as he sits as an apostolic successor, but I see nothing in tradition stating that laity owe the bishop obedience in matters of prudential judgment. That doesn't mean their opinions are to be disregarded, but unless they are teaching on matters of faith and morals, we may have honest disagreements on prudential matters.
Msgr seems to place a premium on unity. However, true unity is preserved only so much as the basis of authentic unity remains intact - and that is adherence to the Magisterium and to the Holy Father. Therefore I ask:
- Was unity preserved when Cardinal McCarrick offered prayers to "allah" on the campus of Catholic University?
- Was unity preserved when Cardinal George stated that the Church's teaching on homosexuality was "an ongoing discussion"?
- Is unity preserved when Cardinal Wuerl and so many other clergy refuse to obey Canon 915?
- Was unity preserved at the 2009 Red Mass when, in the sight of all the attending bishops, a woman was banned from attending the Mass simply because she wore a shirt with the words "Pro Life"? Please watch the video of the woman as she calls out to Bishop Gonzalez (whom she personally knows) who does nothing and watches as the police take her away.
What seems to be inplied throughout Msgr's piece is that we are expected to pray, maybe write letters - but then be silent about what we see and experience. At the risk of causing much anger, I'll say that the admonition to silence by a perpetrator to a victim is typical abusive behavior. For instance, we have heard so much of pervert priests cajoling their victims to remain silent - and the abuse continued. Do I think Msgr is guitly of such abusive behavior? Not at all. But there has been too much of a cult of secrecy within the various facets of church life that has had its origins in a grossly mistaken concept of "unity" and "obedience".
This blog and the older website were started precisely because our letters and phone calls were falling on deaf ears. (If Diane at Te Deum is reading this: you forgot to mention that all letters should be sent "certified - return receipt requested". I found early on that such measures are necessary to prevent letters from becoming "lost" ahem). I and many others realized that we laity must shine the light on the mess that does ooze out of our chanceries - hence our blogs and websites. We do realize that some find our efforts to be irritating - but perhaps it's seared consciences that are being pricked. By the way - not only have I exposed public scandal by clergy on this blog, but I've led many public pickets of said events. Every one of those pickets were preceded by phone calls/letters/emails begging for the events to be canceled. While some were, most weren't. Those pickets were needed remedies to the public scandals caused by ill-advised clergy.
This of course is something that the clergy cannot accomplish as they are indeed vowed to obedience (although no vow can compel one to commit actual sin). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out that Msgr Pope wrote his piece at the behest of the DC chancery. His is not the first such piece I've seen - I have reason to believe the earlier piece also was requested by some DC higher ups. Of course I cannot be certain, but I do sense a pattern here. Again, since vows of clerical obedience would be in play, the priests in question cannot be faulted. Also, I cannot say for certain that there was archdiocesan impetus behind Msgr Pope's piece, but the possibility does present itself for several reasons.
The first has to do with the timing of this article. I do not believe it's any accident that this coincides with 1) the well-deserved outcry that Cardinal George occasioned with his "ongoing discussion" remark, 2) the scrutiny that Bishop Ochoa is receiving on the occasion of his attack on Father Michael Rodriguez, 3) the scrutiny that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is receiving in the light of the Bishop Zavala scandal and 4) the attempts by someone in the bowels of the Detroit chancery to harrass Real Catholic TV.
Another is Msgr's apologetics that he seems to offer for the CCHD (see his post's comment section, Jan 12th at 1:37pm as he replies to "Jo the Housewife"). Whether he intends it or not, it's the same old party-line we've been hearing all along to cajole intelligent Catholics into contributing to the CCHD collections. The justifications that he puts forth in his reply are simplistic at best - but incorrect nonetheless. He focuses on the lack of malice of the local grantees that he does acknowledge to be Alinskyan in origin. For the sake of argument, let's accept that premise. The fact remains that the bulk of CCHD monies collected at Masses goes to the national CCHD; only 25% remains to be disbursed at the local level. That means for every dollar collected from a Catholic in the Archdiocese of Washington, at least $0.75 will likely wind up with a malevolent organization - even if that organization is across the country. Second, I don't know how Msgr can claim that the local groups don't refer to Saul Alinsky when their websites link to their national offices, which most certainly do refer to Alinsky. Some of them advertise the fact that they helped Obama get his start in public life. Either Msgr is touting an Archdiocesan party line with respect to the CCHD or he is woefully ignorant of the history of CCHD (founded by an Alinskyan trainee), its purposes and operating tactics.
I'm sure the archdiocese is reading this. So please be advised that this blog and those of my colleagues will continue to operate and to shine the light on scandals. We do so for love of the Church and so that corrective action will (at last) be taken to restore the Church to a healthy state.