For decades, Mr. Phil Lawler has written about the problems in the Catholic hierarchy. He just announced solemnly that he cannot do it anymore. Combat fatigue.
The straw that broke his camel’s back? The appointment of a new bishop for West Virginia. From within the Wuerl-Lori-McCarrick-Bransfield Edifice of Lies. An institution some of us call ADW, Inc. (ArchDiocese of Washington)
To reply to Mr. Lawler:
On the one hand, we understand and sympathize. His Excellency Mark Brennan certainly arrives in West Virginia already compromised.
How? Allow me, dear reader, to explain what I mean.
At some point in April or May, someone on the inside of the ecclesiastical Bransfield investigation went to the Washington Post with two sets of scandalous revelations.
1. Details about former-WV-bishop Bransfield’s lavish spending.
2. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori’s active suppression of the fact that: some of that spending was bribes paid to him.
(“Wait!” Mr. Aw-shucks by-gosh Bill Lori says, “I told you they were not bribes!” To which the reasonable people of Planet Earth reply: Sir, the recipients of bribes rarely recognize the unreasonable gifts they receive as bribes until after the briber’s wrongdoing gets exposed by someone else–the wrongdoing that you ignored, because it was your ‘friend’ doing wrong.)
Anyway: the leak blew the lid off the church-mafia’s attempt to scapegoat Bransfield quietly, without any public airing of details.
Now, where did Mark Brennan sit when the leaker leaked? At the table in the backroom meeting where everyone “agreed” to remove the list of bribes from the Bransfield report? Only God and the insiders know the answer to that.
But: wherever he sat exactly, His Excellency Mark Brennan had an obligation to do something as soon as he became aware of Lori’s dishonesty. Namely to denounce it openly.
He did not do that; he has not done that. Brennan sang Bill Lori’s praises to assembled reporters in Wheeling on Tuesday morning.
So: Mark Brennan sits on his throne, compromised. Just like Wilton Gregory sits utterly compromised on the throne in Washington, smiling endlessly at the exposed liar Donald Wuerl.
But, Mr. Lawler: Please take this on board. You acknowledge that you do not know Mark Brennan. I do.
In the photo above, he stands in front of the doors to St. Martin of Tours parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He served there as a genuinely generous shepherd for thirteen long years. I have admired Mark Brennan ever since I first met him, in 1997.
So your unworthy scribe can say, with some insight: Among the made men of the ecclesiastical mafia, Mark Brennan stands out as an extraordinarily humble and honest person. He actually knows how to put in a hard day’s work, as opposed to just talking endlessly about doing so. Mark Brennan has more intellectual curiosity in his little finger than a banquet-room full of Loris, Wuerls, McCarricks, and Bransfields all nervously slapping each other on the back.
Problem is: This relatively honest and fatherly mafioso has managed to let Pope Francis gaslight the living daylights out of him.
Allow your servant to try to imagine a bishop tasking me, as follows:
‘Er–Father White: You will succeed a pastor of thirteen years incumbency. He retired ten months ago. After he retired, I determined that he did some real bad things and launched a ‘probe.’ But the details are all top secret.
‘You, Father White, will: Take over the parish. And you will negotiate your predecessor’s penance with him. And enforce it.’
Now, hearing such an assignment put to me, I think I would say: ‘Hold the phone there. You expect me simultaneously
a) to sympathize with and comfort the poor, faithful people who my predecessor harmed, and
b) sympathize with and comfort the poor, faithful people who found a way to love him anyway, for thirteen long years, and
c) serve as my predecessor’s impartial judge, jury, bail bondsman, and baseball-bat-wielding repo man?
Instead of replying brainlessly, “Thanks for your trust in me, chief!” I think I might say something that rhymes with Duck Crew.
“Shouldn’t you, Excellency, our superior, take care of judging and punishing my retired peer? Shouldn’t you do your job?”
What honest person can simultaneously embrace the flock left behind as a shepherd and give a fair trial, and impose a fair punishment, on the accused malefactor? Not possible for one person to pull off. This is why professional jurists do things like recuse themselves from cases in which they have a personal interest.
Bransfield does, after all, have a right to a fair trial, like anyone else. He may be guilty of serious wrongdoing. But not a whole lot more guilty than most bishops. He’s hardly one black sheep in a flock of whites. He’s a gray among grays, when it comes to spending faithful Catholics’ donations on nouveau-riche creature comforts for themselves.
I would feel sorry for my old diocesan brother Mark Brennan. If it weren’t for the fact that he owes it to the world to speak the truth. Bransfield is hardly the only straight-up fraud and liar on the stage right now. Lori, Wuerl, and Bergoglio are all straight-up frauds and liars, too.