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Despair Sucking My Will to Live

So…we have unlimited access to the Archbishop of Cincinnati, who said of John Kerry that we should give him the “benefit of the doubt” (if only there were a doubt), accompanied by the “music” of David Haas-tile Reaction (when we all gather to sing “Song of the Near Occasion of Sin”), but we can’t have Father Altier, the voice of truth at the most faithful and successful parish in the archdiocese. The Arch had to save us from dangerous talk like this:

“The real tragedy is that now even within the Church there are many voices that are leading us away from Christ. We have priests and bishops who do not stand for what is correct. They do not have the guts to stand up for Jesus Christ, but instead being politically correct is far more important.”

And this:

“But for every bad pastor who refuses to preach the truth because they want to be liked by the people, for every one who allows general absolution or any other sinful practice, for every one who instead of requiring virtue and holiness of the people are actually encouraging them to do things that are not right, then in hell – where both will be – there will be a line waiting to condemn that priest or bishop for allowing such things to happen.”

I don't feel safer. I am lost without my wife here to moderate my abject despair. One may wonder why she’s gone for the weekend in far away Marathon, Wisconsin. It’s not to battle the invading Persians. The dangerous little group to which she belongs, Regnum Christi, has been banned from this archdiocese. The personal blessing of the previous Pope, unparalleled success at filling priestly vocations and the blessing that is the Familia program was apparently enough to get them the boot. So for every meeting they hold, they have to leave town. Of course, St. Joan of Arc is still here. Perhaps the memos got switched.

But then, there’s also St. John’s (where we have family and friends) having their fervent and faithful pastor sacked. And the liberal now presiding over the demise of Visitation (where we had family and friends and where we were married) after years and years of the faithful Father Pouliot. And now the pruning of Father Altier. These are anecdotal and personal observations, but a trend seems apparent.

Apparently Regnum Christi, in the eyes of the Archbishop, presented the potential for a “parallel” church, one that might pull Catholics away from mainstream diocesan life. But how can a group so closely tied to Rome be parallel in any way? Perhaps because in holding to Rome they are cleaving away from the USCCB. So, who is the “parallel” church? Rome issues priestly sex scandal guidelines and American bishops balk. Rome issues a list of over fifty liturgical abuses that must stop and American bishops ignore it. Rome issues a new translation of the missal and American bishops decline to use it. Rome issues a rule regarding homosexuals in the priesthood and American bishops openly defy it.

My patient wife would remind me at this point that these are our appointed leaders, chosen by the Lord to guide us. Also, she would remind me that a bishop’s duties are huge and that we the faithful are not privy to all the cares and concerns that go along with shepherding millions of people in a debased culture. She would point out that I am focusing on the high profile negative examples, that there is a rich lay renewal springing up all around. Look at the rise in vocations, the fecundity of our generation, the rise in adoration chapels, the blessing of both John Paul II and his successor. Finally I would be shamed by her reminder that as the Lord’s chosen we owe them every ounce of trust and reverence that we can muster regardless of our arrogance and/or paranoia.

But my wife isn’t here and I am running low on trust. And so I ask again, are we not approaching a de facto schism of the American Catholic Church from Rome? What percentage of parishes are not merely straight but actually reverent? Yes, we have a pro-life president, but how many Catholics voted for John Kerry? Yes there is Mel Gibson’s movie and the Narnia films, but what else? Yes there is Regnum Christi, Opus Die and many other groups doing wonderful things, but what do those numbers amount to compared to the listless masses mumbling though their prayers every Sunday? Yes, we have some wonderful bishops, but are they really extraordinary or do they only seem so in comparison to the majority? Yes, the Church is flourishing in Africa and perhaps Asia, but it’s dying in the cradle of western civilization, the civilization that has lighted the way for mankind, and Africa and Asia are not ready to inherit that civilization.

It is often said in these troubled times that the lay people will lead the recovery of the Church, but I don’t think it works that way. The Lord gave us a Church to lead us, to shepherd us toward the true and the good. Within that framework, the lay masses can move mountains with their faith. Outside of it, you have mere Protestantism at best. More and more, faithful Catholics in this country find their bishops irrelevant and look to Rome exclusively for leadership in this era of the new evangelization. I wonder how long it will be before that gaze becomes official and permanent.


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Comments (3)

In his October 30, 2005 homily, Fr. Altier said, "Once again the bishops of the United States are trying to cause a scandal and to destroy our children."

What justifies his imputing the worst motives of the US bishops?

It may have been this kind of rhetoric that resulted in the request by the Archbishop.


Yeah, he's got a way with words, huh? Altier is slightly odd, and I do not condone his open rebellion nor his wide generalization. No doubt he has been asked to tone down his "general absolution is a sin" and "end of the world as we know it" rhetoric mnay times. In truth such rhetoric is no different from the heterodox positions of which he is critical. And probably Altier's position on the sex scandal "education" program was the last straw.

Still, if the Archbishop is going to bring out the big hammer on Father Altier, why is he so soft on St. Joan's and the heterodox homosexuals? I have no problem with a bishop asserting authority, but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this Archbishop has no real problem with homosexuality and abortion advocacy among the faithful, but is deeply troubled by those who rock the boat and disagree with him.


It's more difficult to discipline the heterodox, because, by definition, they don't respond well to discipline.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 4, 2006 2:47 AM.

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