Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"We are in this for the long haul."

It's all over the Catholic blogosphere by now, and you're all hanging by a thread waiting for my personal spin on it. But first, the story:

In a talk last week in a small chapel on Washington's K Street, the heart of the lobbying community, Archbishop Wuerl distinguished between doing nothing and teaching.

He had said Mass for an overflow crowd, most of which stayed for his talk on a renewed openness to Catholic teaching that he said he sees among young people.

When he took questions, a woman asked how be would respond to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.

His response was "teach."

"That is what Jesus did," he said. "Did everyone accept that teaching? No.... But he didn't stop teaching. We are in this for the long haul."

He noted that he sometimes gets letters from Catholics demanding to know what he will do about such situations.

Let's take a break for a moment. Earlier this month, the Discalced Yooper gave us a commentary on how, since Ms Pelosi is not permanently domiciled in Washington, she does not fall under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Wuerl, and would therefore not be subject to his censure. Something like that. Now, the Yooper is a smart guy, and he's gotten our endorsement here at mwbh. He might even be right on the money, as he usually is. But if only he, a) read more about the section of canon law that includes "quasi-domicile" and so on, or, b) were a canonist himself, I might have something to work with here. But I don't for the moment. All I have is this incident.

Now, back to our story, and the thrilling climax:

His temptation, he said, was to reply with, "What are YOU doing about it? How is your voice heard?"

There was a smattering of applause from his listeners.

Okay. Here's my question to His Immenseness: What if the questioner had an answer for you?

Our posturing prelate will never know, having been saved by the adoration of sycophants, of which he will never be found wanting for the rest of his life. You see, most of us in the pews don't have people lining up to kiss our ring (or whatever we choose to expose for veneration). Some of us have to walk the walk lest we be written off out of hand. And if this little Love Fest is any indication, the Most Reverend Archbishop of Washington doesn't have to know the damn difference.

But those of us who know, that being called "Father" is more than a title to wave like a stick over someone's head, know better. We know there is more to "teaching" than nearly spouting off words. We have to take the broad leap and set an example, or correct the miscreant in question. Sometimes we have to correct the miscreant in public. And when we do, it is because we have no choice; the misbehavior is public, our other children are watching, are taking mental notes, and are learning from what is being "taught."

Dom Bettinelli is one of them who gets it:

Son: Dad, I think you should know that my older Brother is doing some pretty immoral things, including encouraging his no-good friends to commit crimes.

Dad: That is pretty bad. He shouldn’t do that...

So, this week's Tip of the Black Hat goes to the questioner who had to endure the humiliation in Christ's name, at the behest of one who has to wear a title like a sign around his neck to do the same. I know what you're thinking: "Hey, Mister Black Hat, what are YOU doing about it? How is your voice heard?"

Glad you asked. If you read this far, you have your answer.

Any questions?


Anonymous said...

No wonder we had the pedophile-homosexual crisis in the Church. Archbishops like Wuerl who are gutless and useless in one area are usually gutless and useless in most other areas. That so many politicians who trash just about every Christian moral value and precept can put "Catholic" as their religion is a clear indictment of the horrendously weak leadership of the Church in this country. At least in most other countries those politicians who trash Christianity and the Church don't usually have the audacity to parade around as Catholics.

Anonymous said...

I try not to play a canonist. I think there is authority there. I think if Archbishop Burke were Archbishop of Washington that he would not impose discipline on a congressman from another diocese. Such an action would really be a slap in the face to the congressman's bishop. We are not exactly speaking of an area where the Archbishop of Washington would have specific knowledge that the congressman's regular bishop lacks.

I certainly understand the sentiment you express. I'm not even opposed to expressing an expectation for action. I'm just not thinking the words of others, particularly in places like the Cafetaria is Closed where one commentator was wondering if A.Bp Wuerl had excommunicated himself, are particularly productive.

We are up to about 5 dioceses where the bishops are actively disciplining those in the pro-abortion movement. Let's work on increasing that.

David L Alexander said...

"I think if Archbishop Burke were Archbishop of Washington that he would not impose discipline on a congressman from another diocese."

But IS she from another diocese? If she lives here much of the here, does this not constitute domicile? And what is to prevent Wuerl from calling out by name, those who threaten the spiritual welfare of those who ARE from his diocese? His act as reported in the Post-Gazette was bullying, and cowardly, and played to a room full of cowards. Worse than that, he is being asked to assume very little personal risk in exercising his apostolic office. The most he has to lose is a few party invitations. Pathetic!

Here's a question, one father to another: When the neighbor's kids threaten the safety or welfare of yours, do you twiddle your thumbs until their parents show up?

Nah. Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

That is a different question. I don't need permission from someone else to protect my own children. Let me pose the scenario to you slightly differently than what I gave you on my blog.

If you had a nephew staying at your home and you knew his mother was vehemently opposed to you spanking him, would you spank him for what you considered to be a spankable offense?

David L Alexander said...

"[W]ould you spank him for what you considered to be a spankable offense?"

Good one.

First of all, his mother would know the rules in the house, and so would her son. Second, if it were understood that he wouldn't be spanked, he would at least be corrected. Third, failing to reform with that, he would be removed or otherwise contained. All told, this would be for my own obligations to justice and order, and my own children's right to live with the same.

What I would NOT do (and what Wuerl is determined to do) is be seen doing nothing. Now you know why.

Pro Ecclesia said...

Outstanding post, David. I wondered why I was so bothered by Wuerl's response to this woman, and you put your finger on it. He acted like a bully and humiliated her.

Something he'd NEVER dream of doing to "Nancy".

Anonymous said...

Now in nearby Diocese of Arlington, Bishop Loverde has not directly addressed his policy or recommendation for pro-abortion politicians who attend Mass in his diocese. However, his column in today's Arlington Herald at least did not give a pass to the "I am personally opposed but will represent the will of my constituents" argument.

For some, there is the belief that being religious and participating in the political process cannot coexist. I would like you to consider, though, that just as it is our civic duty to vote in elections, so too it is our moral obligation to defend the teachings we hold close to our hearts.