Being Catholic Now. Q1 a2

Vatican II stalls

Whosoever knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by God through Jesus Christ would refuse…to remain in Her could not be saved. (Vatican II Lumen Gentium 14)

On the one hand: She is the Mother of the People of God. She is the eternal Israel. She gathers where Satan has scattered.

You need the gift of divine faith to see this. But not blind faith.

After all, where do cultures intersect, enrich each other, and bear fruit in genuinely peaceful human interaction? In the Church. Where do people come together, help each other, and form a real family that transcends blood and tribe? In the local parish church.

What institution has preserved the facts about Jesus Christ? What Christian community can, with perfect truthfulness, claim Him for Her founder?

And what religion has a single leader who can truly unite the world?

…On the anniversary of the appearance of the Lady in white to the children in Fatima–May 13, 2001–I gave my life to the holy Roman Catholic Church. With total faith and trust, I, along with my seminarian brothers, promised to serve Her all our lives long. I still love Her like I did then. No, I love Her a hundred times more.

After we made our promises, then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, duly appointed Archbishop of Washington, ordained us transitional deacons. That was our “wedding day.” The beginning of long, happy, fruitful lives as clergymen, in the bosom of Mother Church, dedicated to helping our neighbors get to heaven.

On the other hand: McCarrick should have been in jail that day.

Last week, our dear bishop of Richmond gave us a pastoral letter. In it, he wrote the following:

“I support, and promise my full co-operation, with any independent, lay-managed, authoritative investigation into the scandal of Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.” (page 4)

Problem is: The day before Bishop Knestout gave us this letter, the president of the US Conference of Catholic bishops met with the pope. According to Cardinal DiNardo’s own statements prior to that meeting, he had traveled to Rome to ask the Holy Father to authorize an investigation into ‘the scandal of Theodore McCarrick.’

But Pope Francis authorized no such investigation. After the meeting in Rome, none of the participants so much as mentioned any investigation.

Ergo: We will never know how and why a dangerous criminal became a Cardinal. And flashed his red hither and yon for seventeen heady years. Making a mockery of pretty much all of us–all of us east-coast-USA Catholics aged 35-70. No one will ever be held accountable for this utterly crushing betrayal. The pope appears to have no intention whatsoever of holding anyone accountable for it.

And none of us can reasonably believe that the very bishops who flat-footedly stood by, as McCarrick took all the limelight for himself during the Scandal of 2002–thereby making a pathetic mockery of all of them— None of us can reasonably believe that any of them will stand up like men and vindicate their own honor. By personally punching McCarrick in the face.

In fact, none of us can reasonably believe that the course of justice will move forward in the McCarrick case at all.

Maybe sometime next year we will learn that the pope quietly laicized McCarrick. And that, supposedly, will satisfy justice. When the good faith of thousands of American Catholics has been cruelly mocked.

…By the way, I wish McCarrick nothing but grace from God. I bear the man no ill will. I hope he gets to heaven. I have no doubt that he has more right to go to heaven than I do.

But when you minister as a priest and then as a bishop, and when you represent the holy and Apostolic See as a Cardinal, your crimes touch the faith of all the souls around you.

How will any of us find peace? Unless those crimes get reckoned with, publicly, by a competent, impartial, honest judge. Which would certainly embarrass all of McC’s cynical accomplices. But isn’t such crushing embarrassment precisely what they deserve?

Anyway, you know we have reached an abysmal low point when the one person who makes sense is: Theodore McCarrick’s lawyer. Last week the New York Times quoted the lawyer saying, “the accusations are serious and McCarrick looks forward to invoking his right to due process at the right time.”

Amen to: The accusations are serious. And Amen to: Due process.

So the question:

What kind of institution is this? This institution necessary for the salvation of the human race. With which no one could safely choose to associate him- or herself–at least not anyone who prizes honesty and integrity, and who has ever heard of Theodore McCarrick.

…Just to repeat: The “Scandal” is not (and has never been) that so-and-so sexually abused so-and-so. Painful as it is to face, such things happen. And they will continue to happen, until the Last Day.

The scandal is: So-and-so abused so-and-so, and so-and-so, who was supposed to deal with it, to help everyone move on, by reckoning with the crimes publicly, did… [crickets].

In the case of Theodore McCarrick, The Scandal continues, unabated.

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“I received from the Lord what I handed on to you.”

bassano last supper

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians to encourage them. And to correct them.

We might call the first part of the letter a “dossier”—a dossier of the corruptions of the church in Corinth. Factionalism, sexual immorality, incorrect doctrine, pride and complacency—St. Paul accused the Corinthian Christians of all these faults. As we read at Holy Mass today, he even accused them of selfishly neglecting the sacred worship of the holy Church, the banquet of the Body and Blood of the Christ.

But let’s take heart in how St. Paul explained the Mass to the Corinthians. St. Paul received the Mass. He received the tradition that began in the upper room on Holy Thursday night. St. Paul received the authority to celebrate the Eucharist. And St. Paul handed it on to the Christians in Corinth.

He handed on the ceremony; he handed on the authority to celebrate it; he handed on the entire divine mystery. Not as something that belonged to him or to them. As something that belonged to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, as a whole.

El Greco St. Paul in St LouisIn other words: At the heart of the life of the Church, we find this mystery which Christ Himself gave us. This mystery which is Christ Himself. It came from Him; it is His gift to us—His gift of Himself, of His love.

This holy mystery, the Mass, makes the Church the Church. And it doesn’t come from us. It comes from God. It is God, made man, in the flesh.

St. Paul wrote to correct the Corinthians. But he also wrote to encourage them. And he encourages us, too. At our altars, we proclaim the death of the Lord Jesus, until He comes again. Jesus ordered us to do it, so we do.

We all have plenty of faults, and plenty of cares weigh down our minds. But when we celebrate the Holy Mass together, we stand in harmony with God. And He Himself is with us–the true Lord of our Church–in the flesh.

Another Open Letter to His Holiness

Your Holiness,

I do not trust you because you have misinterpreted what the moment demanded of you, from Day One.

Your predecessors gave us the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Out here in the parishes, we did not languish in doubt regarding the teachings of the Church. We did not hanker for verbose Roman Synods. To the contrary, on the day you took office, our parishes were humming with the business of communicating the teachings of the Church, contained in the Catechism.

We did not need a “new pastoral paradigm” to govern the relations between priests and their people. What we needed–it is now painfully obvious–was greater discipline in the ranks of bishops, and in the Vatican.

In the US, we have suffered a crippling scandal. All of it is attributable to the negligence of bishops, including yourself. The documents that scandalized people in Pennsylvania–all of them had been in the custody of the bishops there for twenty years or more. And bishops, including you, knew about Theodore McCarrick. Only you bishops had the authority to do anything about him.

Holy Father, you have spoken over and over again about the primacy of mercy. You misinterpreted what the moment demanded. For over a generation, no one has had any doubt that the Church knows how to act with mercy. The obvious problem we have is: the Church has forgotten how to act with severity. How can you not see that your former-Cardinal-Priest Theodore McCarrick has–in his brazen recklessness–exposed this colossal weakness?

What did the moment demand, when the first of McCarrick’s brother bishops learned of his predations? Mercy? Hardly. What did the moment demand, when you learned of it? Mercy? No. The moment demanded the just application of strict rules.

Do you not see how desperately the Church needs a severe father right now? A fearless and exacting enforcer of rules. A man whom sinners behold, and tremble.

Holy Father, by the year 2013, we parish priests–at least in the US–had made good headway in restoring order to parochial life. You have sat on the Chair of Peter for five and a-half years since then, and there is less discipline, less accountability, and less openness in the Vatican than when you arrived. There is less discipline, less accountability, and less openness in the Vatican–not to mention all the diocesan chanceries I know–than there is in the typical American parish.

You have gravely misjudged what the times demanded of you, Holy Father.

 

Your Son in Christ, Father Mark White

 

Death Trophy

Whoever wishes to come after me must take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)

Among Christians, to speak of one’s ‘crosses’ has become a metaphor for all kinds of difficulties in life. Illness, career setbacks, the untimely loss of a loved one, the betrayal of a friend—just to name a few examples. ‘Crosses’ to bear. [Spanish]

But:  We cannot use the word ‘cross’ as a metaphor for our own hardships if we do not first consider the literal meaning.  We cannot forget what the cross essentially is.  The cross is an instrument of one thing. Namely…

Correct. Death.

chastity-ring-crucifix-r16613I am not trying to be morbid here.  I am not the one who said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  The Son of God said it.

When Christ originally said this, the cross was the implement the Romans used to kill their worst criminals.  The cross may mean many things to us, but when the Lord first used the term 2,000 years ago, the cross meant one thing: execution, the death penalty.

So let’s take full stock of what He said. Take up your cross. If that means anything, it means: Face death.  Embrace death, like He did.  Lift death up. Hold death lovingly in our arms. Carry it around like a prize.

There’s more. We use this symbol of death in artwork and jewelry. We trace the symbol of death on our bodies whenever we begin to pray. We ask priests to trace the sign of death on our babies’ foreheads. We ask priests to trace the sign of death over a whole family before a trip. Or over a sick person. Or over anyone who needs God’s help.

It sounds morbid, but I am not the one who made this up. God Himself became man and founded our religion. In the religion God gave us, you cannot shake a stick without hitting a cross. The sign of death is everywhere. In the Church, you cannot take a breath—you cannot turn your eyes in any direction—and not come face-to-face with death, because the cross is everywhere. The implement the Romans used to kill people is everywhere. Because our Lord explicitly told us to hold fast to that very thing.

Now, the reality of human death was never a big secret. The fact that death is inevitable is not something Christ revealed. The human race already knew that death is inevitable. And we knew that death can come at any time.

The apse mosaic of San Clemente

Nobody over the age of ten can really think that he or she is going to be able to avoid dying.  Death will come. We are afraid of death; we do not generally want to think about it. Many of us try to run away from death by futile attempts to turn back the clock on age and illness. But deep down we know perfectly well: death will come.

So when Christ tells us to face the reality of death, He is not giving us a newsflash. But what He says is new. Christ’s teaching about death is a revelation, because He Himself died in an utterly unique way. Countless criminals died on crosses during the time of the Roman Empire. But no one died like Jesus Christ died. The cross does not signify death in general. It signifies the utterly unique death of Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus lived a holy life of poverty, enlightenment, and love. Then, when the time came, He bowed His head to the plan of the Father. Jesus allowed Himself to be condemned unjustly by wicked men. He took the cross in His hands and carried it to Calvary without a complaint. Then He spread out His arms and asked forgiveness for the men who killed Him, while they drove the nails into His hands and feet.

We know that the Lord Jesus did not want to die; He didn’t have a sick death-wish. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ pleaded with the Father. “Father, let this cup pass from me.” But the Savior knew what He had to do, and He was obedient unto death. “Not my will, Father, but yours be done.”

“Not my will, Father, but yours be done.” Then, Christ marched straight at the enemy. He strode fearlessly towards the thing that we fear the most. The will of the Father was:  Head straight for death. Do not swerve to the right or left. Attack death!

So the Lord Jesus attacked. He loved life; He did not want to die. But He wanted above all to fulfill the Father’s plan. So He took the cross, the instrument of death. And by perfect, humble obedience, Christ turned the cross into the weapon that conquered death.

He died, He was buried. On the third day, He rose again from the dead. He ascended into glory.

So when the Lord Jesus tells us to take death into our hands and carry it, He is not ordering us to shuffle off in fear and shame towards endless darkness. Nor are we Christians crazy to embrace His command with enthusiasm, emblazoning everything we have with the symbol of death. Christ has given us every reason to hold the cross like a prize. Because the cross of death conquered death and became the trophy of eternal life.

Increasing Sense of Helplessness

greengrass united 93

Paul Greengrass made the 9/11 movie–United 93.

Everything in the little worlds of FAA Headquarters, and Newark airport, and the regional air-control centers in New England and New York–everything began normal, a lovely late-summer morning. Then chaos, and a sense of utter helplessness, builds little by little. For two agonizing hours.

Yesterday, in holy Mother Church, the sense of utter helplessness built a little more.

Beautiful West Virginia had a bishop from Philadelphia. He used to run the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and I knew him then. He and I had a run-in with then-Cardinal McCarrick over a homily I gave at a friend’s first Mass.

Your humble servant celebrated Mass in Bishop Bransfield’s diocese just last Wednesday, the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, while I was on a little vacation in Berkeley Springs, WV, with my dear mother and brother.

We prayed special for Bishop Bransfield at that Mass, because his 75th birthday drew nigh. Time for a transition, since bishops must resign at that age.

Yesterday things got weird. The Pope accepted Bishop Bransfield’s resignation, effective immediately. The Archbishop of our ecclesiastical province left Baltimore to go to West Virginia. To investigate Bishop Bransfield’s evils. Without any public explanation of what those evils are.

Weirder still: The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, in Texas–Daniel Cardinal DiNardo.

Eleven years ago, Texas dispensed with any statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of sexual abuse of minors.

Cardinal DiNardo’s right-hand man for Hispanic ministry is Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez. Turns out that he has just been arrested by the police. For alleged crimes that occurred about twenty years ago.

He was arrested while Cardinal DiNardo was in Rome to meet with the pope to plan out how to deal with the crisis.

pope dinardo gomez

Paul Greengrass could not make a movie more excruciating than this. And the worst part is the utter meltdown of effective communication.

Archbishop Lori, of Baltimore, issued a statement, touching on “the troubling allegations against Bishop Bransfield.” What allegations? Over a decade ago, an avowed pederast priest accused Bransfield of sexually abusing a minor. It was a pure-hearsay allegation. The minor himself (now an adult) testified that Bransfield had never done anything wrong.

While Cardinal DiNardo exchanged jokes with the pope, his Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston issued a defensive statement of self-contradictory bureaucratic gobbledegook to explain the Father LaRosa-Lopez affair.

Paragraph one narrates a course of events in which the principle of zero tolerance for sex abuse of minors was manifestly not followed. Then the concluding paragraph of the statement insists that the diocese simply will not tolerate sexual abuse. And the entire upshot of the statement is: If there are any problems here, it is the fault of the victims, their families, and Child Protective Services. Not our fault. At all. Not us.

…Meanwhile, the pope announced a synod of all the heads of the national bishops conferences, to deal with the crisis. In February.

What will happen? The same thing that has happened over and over again for years and years.

The pope will tell the bishops conferences that they absolutely positively have to deal with this problem. The bishops conferences will say, there’s nothing we can do. Only the Vatican can deal with this. Then everyone will congratulate each other and go home.

Good Morning to the Admirable Atheist

Grunewald the Small Crucifixion

Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if He did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 324)

From the grudging respect department. Some people say: How can I believe in God, when I see so much evil?

Two things to respect here:

1. Having the honesty to see evil and call it evil. Doing so is actually an act of faith in the goodness of God. Because to call evil evil requires measuring it against good. If you don’t measure evil against good, evil isn’t evil. It’s just “stuff.”

For instance, Pontius Pilate would not have described the crucifixion of the perfectly innocent divine Lamb as “evil.” The Roman historian Tacitus wrote in AD 64: “Christus, from whom name of the sect has its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius.” Calling evil evil is good. Calling evil by a bureaucratic euphemism is evil.

2. The one who says, “I won’t believe, because I see so much evil,” also deserves credit for this: Taking us believers at our word when we say we believe in God Almighty.

You cannot compromise with the word omnipotent. God is omnipotent. There is nothing at all, except what He wills. He wills good. He wills to permit evil.

If God isn’t omnipotent, He’s not God. We tend to imagine God as a kind of nice pet who soothes our feelings. We want Him to follow the rules of niceness that we follow. Except that He obviously doesn’t.

So we concede the admirable nobility of mind that moves someone to say: I won’t believe, because I see so much evil.

We respond:

Amen. We don’t believe in Mr. Nice Happy Pet God, either. We fearlessly gaze at the evil you see, and we give it its proper name. We don’t believe in Mr. Everything is Lovely Everything is Great God.

But you have not grasped Who we believe in. You think we believe in a god who engages in some kind of on-going competition with Satan, as if the two were on the same plane.

No. We believe in the one and only true, omnipotent God: Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the eternal Father. Jesus Christ crucified and risen. There is no God but He.

From His point-of-view, and from His point-of-view alone: it all makes sense. He knows all the good that comes even from the gravest evil. He knows the all-conquering power of divine love. On the cross, we see that He knows it.

We do not claim to know it. We only claim to believe in Him.

Merciful Like Chrysostom Says Easter Is

St John Chrysostom in St PatricksSt. John Chrysostom died 1611 years ago tomorrow. He was a Syrian. He suffered at the hands of hostile secular rulers. He suffered at the hands of jealous fellow clerics. He lived an endless love affair with Christ, with learning, and with his flock. He bequeathed to us an all-but-bottomless treasury of Christian love, rendered in writing.

At Holy Mass today, we heard the Lord Jesus command us: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.

How?

One way to answer that question might be to meditate on another question: To whom does Easter belong? Here is St. John Chrysostom’s answer to that question:

Are there any who are devout lovers of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Are there any who are grateful servants? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord! Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; if any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt, for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate, but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first….

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day! You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it. He destroyed Hell when He descended into it…

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Names, Mary

Seems a shame to name a hurricane after such a lovely place, where they have Michelangelo’s David, Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, the Medici Palace, the Duomo…

king davidToday the Blessed Mother received the ancient name of the woman who sang the canticle of Hebrew freedom, after they crossed the Red Sea dry shod.

A lot of our loved ones have the same name. We rejoice today especially for the gift that all our beloved Marys are for us.

Let’s also remember: Every Christian name is sacred. When someone receives a name at the baptismal font, it’s forever—a name for eternity, a name written in God’s book.

Mary lived Jesus’ beatitudes. She had no earthly authority or wealth. She suffered and wept for justice, for the truth, for love of God incarnate. She hoped in nothing other than God.

Now she reigns in eternal splendor. She reads the eternal book with all our Christian names written in it. Can we not imagine that she runs her lovely finger along the lines of that book, passing her fingertip across each of our names, her heart filled with tender love and encouragement for the one she has in mind at that moment? Let’s imagine her, and let it dispel all our fears about anything.

How to be Catholic Now. Q1 a1

Greenwich Village twin towers

 

On the one hand, the unity of the apostolic Church consists of the allegiance of every baptized person to the successor of St. Peter.

On the other hand, human decency demands: Whenever someone in authority exploits someone vulnerable, that crime must be brought to light and punished justly, to the satisfaction of the victim.

These look like the Twin Towers of September 11, 2018, for any Catholic not living as a hermit.

On the one hand, many good Catholics rightly observe that calling the pope a bad pope can hardly do any good. He is the only pope we have. It’s not for us to judge his badness or goodness; that judgment belongs to God alone. We all have our own personal spiritual and moral lives to work on. We fail in humility, and we damage the unity of the Church, when we do not give our prelates the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, many good Catholics, not to mention the non-Catholics paying attention, hear what Pope Francis has said–and not said–these past few weeks, and they stop short. They reasonably conclude: This man intends to use his untouchable status as the one and only pope to trick his audience. Trick us into doubting our incandescent outrage over a fact that stands undisputed, and painfully in front of our faces. Namely: someone pulled the curtain back to show us the inner-workings of our hierarchy, and we see a pile of stinking garbage.

Who can honestly abandon either fidelity to the successor of St. Peter or Christian solidarity with the victims of abuse?

Will these Twin Towers come crashing down in a colossal mess of lethally toxic debris?

I say No. I say: Jesus Christ. The heavenly Father. The grace of the sacraments. Faith, hope, and charity. St. Augustine. St. Francis. St. Thomas. St. John Vianney. St. Therese. The Catechism. The People of God. Parish churches all over the world with saints on their knees at this very moment.

I say: Your Holiness, I’m not going anywhere. I wish that you would. And I will keep wishing it until you own up to every bit of the truth that you haven’t owned up to yet, and then admit that it’s too much to expect us to continue to believe in your leadership.

But I’m not going anywhere. Maybe this is like taking a knee, a la Colin Kaepernick. But not during the national anthem at a football game. Rather during the prayer for the pope during the canon of the Mass.

Not that I will literally take a knee at that point, since the rubrics call for taking a knee at other particular times.

And I do pray for the pope with love, and pray that he will do the right thing, acknowledging that I certainly do not have a lock on knowing what that right thing is. But seems to me: Replace all the Cardinals by randomly selecting from among the world’s parish priests, then step down.

I don’t have the hair to be Colin Kaepernick. And I’m not as talented or good-looking. I’m just trying to be Catholic right now. Without making myself sick to my stomach when I think about the difference between what this past summer could have been, and what it actually has been.

In Love with a Tattered Scarlet Rag

Trump Little Sisters Cardinal Wuerl White House religious freedom
far left

Donald Cardinal Wuerl loves. He loves his scarlet robe.

Not because of the Precious Blood of Christ, and the blood of Christ’s martyrs–which the robe fundamentally represents. Rather, Cardinal Wuerl loves the prestige. And the deference that the robe seems to demand from the sycophants who surround him.

But a painful fact gnaws at the Cardinal’s heart. Namely this: A little New-York leprechaun wore the robe before him. And that fork-tongued bastard sullied the robe. He covered it with dirt.

Theodore McCarrick wore the scarlet robe of the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C. He, too, gloried in the prestige and the deference. He even stood in front of all the news cameras in 2002, to trumpet the ‘great achievement’ of the Dallas Charter.

And the whole time: he belonged in jail.

…Last month Cardinal Wuerl gave two interviews. To try to comfort the faithful upon the release of the Pennsylvania grand-jury report on clerical sexual abuse.

Nikki Battiste of CBS asked the Cardinal, “How does it feel, knowing that children were sexually abused at the hands of priests under your watch?” The Cardinal would not, or could not, answer the question. Instead, he said: “Well, that’s why, if that came to the light, we moved to remove that priest.”

linus security blanketI, for one, still want to hear the answer to the question that Ms. Battiste asked. (More on that below.)

But, if you’re the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, why express your own emotions? When you have the power to manipulate the emotions of those around you, who have no choice but to serve you?

In the second interview, referring to disciplining priests who had sexually abused children, the Cardinal said to Tom Fitzgerald of Fox 5 DC: “How we dealt with things in the late 80’s/early 90’s is different from the way we would today.” To which Mr. Fitzgerald responded: “What could possibly ‘evolve’ when it comes to understanding child sexual abuse?”

Dear reader, please go ahead and watch both of these interviews in their entirety. The second one is both long and enormously painful to watch. But click the links, and see for yourself. Then ask yourself this question: Who could come away from watching these interviews and think that this man is honest? Who could think that he has a grip on reality?

…The sitting Archbishop of Washington has the duty to help his people to cope with the gut-punch: his predecessor belonged in jail. During his entire tenure. The former Cardinal Archbishop of Washington. Should have been in jail the whole time.

Not easy to cope with. But someone has to master his emotions about it, and then help the rest of us cope.

Problem is: Cardinal Wuerl needs someone to help him cope. He obviously cannot cope. The thing he has loved for so long–his scarlet robe, with its prestige, and a cortege of sycophants trailing along–this treasured thing isn’t worth a damn anymore.

St Matthews CathedralWhy not burn the red cassock on the steps of the cathedral? And yell every curse word you can think of, in a fit of rage against the leprechaun from New York? All on camera. That would comfort the faithful a million times more than the two interviews above.

What we are witnessing in the Church of Washington is this: the pathetic spectacle of a delirious man, in love with a tattered rag, clinging to it with childlike desperation. And demanding that those around him pretend that the garment is still shiny and new and lovely.

Please, please, please: Step aside, your Eminence. Find a cozy, shaded sun-room somewhere, and do crossword puzzles. We need a man willing to cope with reality.

Sitting on the throne of St. Matthew’s Cathedral doesn’t mean prestige anymore. It means a long, hard, quiet struggle. People spitting in your face, and you saying in reply, “Bless you for your honesty.”