Patting our pointy heads

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 15, 2003

Peggy Noonan tells us what she said to the bishops who showed up for last week's Orthodox Catholic Petting Zoo:

The non-Catholic public would probably assume that bishops and cardinals frequently talk with conservatives in the church. The non-Catholic American public would probably assume bishops and cardinals are the conservatives in the church. But this is not so. Conservatives in the church often feel that they are regarded, and not completely unkindly, as sort of odd folk, who perhaps tend to have a third hand growing out of their foreheads and tinfoil hats on their heads.

Well put -- although there are exceptions to the rule, notably bishops of the stripe of Cardinals Ratzinger and Arinze, and, significantly, the Bishop of Rome. Of course, while the orthodox locate the Pope on the ecclesial 50-yard line, the folks at the USCCB regard him as way to the right of midfield, hence they feel it their own duty to provide "balance." They may hear out Peggy Noonan (under duress) but it's Peggy Steinfels they fly in to instruct them. Commentator Gregory Popcak likewise had a somber and well-reasoned take on the meeting. I was struck by one of his observations:

Bishops are totally insulated from how bad it really is. For example, every single person in that room knew about the testimony given by Fr. [James] Keenan, S.J., of the Weston Theological Seminary to the Mass State Congress stating that there was nothing in Church teaching that opposed gay marriage. Everyone, that is, except any of the Bishops and the USCCB staff. (They were visibly shocked when we told them. But they literally had no idea.)

Well, maybe. But I find it infinitely more likely that the bishops and the USCCB staff were perfectly well aware of Fr. Keenan's testimony, and that it suited their purposes on this occasion to feign surprise and alarm. As a group they are exceptionally skilled at pretending to ignorance when ignorance absolves them of responsibility. Too cynical? There's a perfectly plain test to prove me wrong. If the USCCB president were truly surprised by and out of sympathy with Keenan's plea for gay marriage, he could pick up the phone and dial the Papal Nuncio, who could get a public retraction from Keenan (or his superiors) by the end of the week. Don't hold your breath, folks.

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  • Posted by: - Sep. 23, 2003 1:10 PM ET USA

    Gay marriage carries with it certain assumptions, one of them being that participants engage in sexual activity. Forget morality: homosexual activity is physiologically harmful because it allows the transfer of fluids from an HIV-infected person into the circulatory system of another. Don't believe it? Ask a physician. The question shouldn't be WHETHER to support gay marriages, but whether the USCCB should support ANY activity that is unhealthy or has potentially fatal consequences.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 17, 2003 7:54 PM ET USA

    Me thinks they should be called the US Conference of Cowardly Bishops!!!!

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2003 11:04 PM ET USA

    And, if the Bishops refuse to respond to faithful members of the Church, it is high time orthodox Roman Catholics began working toward a regularization of the de facto schism by petitioning Rome directly to reestablish the Heirarchy. That, of course, will only take a couple hundred years but, what the heck, we can continue the effort in Purgatory or Heaven.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2003 10:54 PM ET USA

    I wonder if there is a bishop who reads "Sound Off". CWN is available to them all and takes very little time to access. People are pouring their hearts out in this context and in several truly outstanding BLogs. Are they listening at all? If there is even one who does, would he please let us know. Just knowing that even one of them, in his ivory tower, is actually interested would be immensely encouraging. Taking Flannery O'Connor out of context, "If its just a symbol, to hell with it."

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2003 10:52 PM ET USA

    I know it probably violates Canon Law, and is a Formal or Material Fallacy, but if a layperson simply announces their *assumption* that silence on gay marriage and homosexuality implies a homosexual propensity on the part of the presiding diocesan bishop, would this provoke a bit of a hue and cry from the USCCB? Perhaps something more than a little throat clearing from the Bishops seated in the Box Seats at the Stadium? I realize they may be away from their seats at half time. But still.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2003 7:26 PM ET USA

    Looks like our Unites States Catholic hierarchy wants very much to look and work like the liberal branches of Lutheranism, Presbyterians and Episcopals. They are still mostly democrats and in love with the smarmy lefty idea of the Church of the 60's. Once a liberal priest told me he was waiting for the conservative hierarchy to die off so the Church could "move on". Seems to me that we will need another 10 or 20 years for the 60's liberals to go to the great USCCB in the sky.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 15, 2003 1:54 PM ET USA

    Not cynical. Merely an honest assessment. Will THEY ever learn to be honest ?

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Sep. 15, 2003 11:12 AM ET USA

    Ignorance of the truth is no excuse for an administrator. It is their job to know. It is a sin of omission not to know. I know that I myself am not guiltess in this regard, and would wish mercy, but it amazes me that the Bishops seem also to have no sense of the gravity of their sins. And woe to those that truly DO KNOW and are deliberately pretending.