obedience school: Mahony & the rainbow

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 16, 2005

The annual Rainbow Sash Repentecost seems to have flopped yesterday, but the RSM's Joe Murray claims to enjoy the support of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, posting a letter from his flak.

May 13, 2005

Dear Joe,

Just a note to say that, as in the past, members of the Rainbow Sash Movement who come to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels this Sunday will be most welcome to attend any of our Masses. Over the years, Cardinal Roger Mahony has consistently spoken to the faithful in Los Angeles about being respectful and inclusive of our Catholic brothers and sisters who are gay and lesbian. All of us struggle to be better Christians, but I think a good number of our parishes in the archdiocese are places where people feel welcome and included, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Tod M. Tamberg
Director of Media Relations
Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

OK, this is an invitation to attend Mass, and (if we have the full text of the letter) it burkes the question of whether the Sashers can or cannot receive communion, so Cardinal Mahony hasn't technically defied Cardinal Arinze's directive to the contrary.

You teach obedience to others by offering the obedience owed to your own superiors. Military officers know that the men under their command watch them constantly to see how punctilious they are in carrying out orders received, especially uncongenial orders. Forget frank defiance: the officer's slightest departure from his instructions -- even body language that suggests reluctance or dismay -- sends the signal to the troops that permission has been given for general (if discreet) insubordination.

So let's admit it: Mahony has an out. But what example has he given his flock, what has he taught the faithful about obedience? Do what thou wouldst -- provided thou hast plausible deniability.

If Mahony were just another example of an over-promoted buffoon, fibbing his way out of embarrassments visited on him by his own incompetence, Catholics could treat him as figure of fun -- an ecclesiastical Colonel Klink -- and laugh it off. But it's not that simple. Even where we wish it were not the case, even where Mahony himself wishes it were not the case, he is a successor of the Apostles, charged with the care of souls in his diocese. And, like it or not, there are still Catholics who find themselves under fierce temptations and for whom obedience to the laws of the Church is so painful that the only reason they continue to struggle at all is their belief that it is God's will, not man's, that obliges them. For these people, wink-nudge episcopal cynicism can be heartbreaking.

Perhaps the Cardinal might object, "My pastoral tasks would be a lot easier without the insolent carping and ranting from the right-wing Catholic fringe." No doubt. Tell you what, your Eminence: give us a model of Christian docility in your implementation of the directives of the Holy See, the ones you find personally distasteful. You're the instructor here. Don't simply ask for obedience, show us how it's done.

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  • Posted by: Fr. William - May. 18, 2005 10:03 PM ET USA

    "...where people feel welcome and included, regardless of their sexual orientation." Does Cardinal Mahony include re-ordered trans-gendered orientation, and bestiality, pedophilia, ephebophilia, necrophilia, and the all the gravely disordered orientations? Nahhh. He couldn't mean that... for he is a successor to the Apostles. He is vowed to teach the Church's Teaching. Early retirement, Cardinal Roger, early retirement.. for the good of the Church and the people...

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2005 8:01 PM ET USA

    hUMPTY dUMPTY: To help your confusion you may want to read Canon 915, which states that those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion”. Supporting or being actively engaged in homosexual activity is grave sin.

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2005 5:46 PM ET USA

    "Lord, I am not worthy" applies to all of us. It's hard to accept the notion that someone who knows the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ stands in the communion line to make any point beyond that. Gay pride, indeed.

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2005 1:30 PM ET USA

    < Perhaps I am confused, but I have always regarded my Reception of the Eucharist as the way, I, a sinner, can be made worthy. E.G. where did this Jansenist idea that reception of the Eucharist was a reward for achieving "worthiness" creep into the Church's post-Pius X practices? Humpty > Yes, I think you are confused. A Red Sash is an in your face dissent from the teachings of the Church. To use the Eucharist for politcal gain is a desecration of the body and blood of Our Lord. Jansenism ??

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2005 12:29 PM ET USA

    I second the nomination, pseudodionysius, and I will gladly drive the cardinal to the airport on his way out of town.

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2005 9:28 AM ET USA

    I hope that Cardinal Mahony is promoted into obscurity and they can send in another Edmund Campion to clean the rot out in Los Angeles.

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2005 9:07 AM ET USA

    Wasn't it certain Bishops who made reception of the Eucharist into a political statement by refusing Jesus to those they deemed unworthy? Perhaps I am confused, but I have always regarded my Reception of the Eucharist as the way, I, a sinner, can be made worthy. E.G. where did this Jansenist idea that reception of the Eucharist was a reward for achieving "worthiness" creep into the Church's post-Pius X practices? AMDG

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2005 8:08 AM ET USA

    All I can say is, you all rock! Diogenes, you are a wise person to be sure; and most of the folks who comment on this web site do so with serious forethought and decorum. I salute you all and this site! I cannot really add anything more.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2005 9:09 PM ET USA

    So I suppose that the new rule in LA is: It's OK to go to Communion without confessing that one has committed adultery, etc., as long as one doesn't wear a sash.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2005 9:03 PM ET USA

    Well said. I spent 20 years in the US Army and you hit the nail on the head. A leader can complain and grouse with his peers "off-line" (at the Officer's or NCO Clubs for example) but never in front of the troops. You can dislike or completely disagree with instructions but you carry them out. Insubordination is the term.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - May. 16, 2005 8:15 PM ET USA

    I am told that the only reason Cdl Mahony is prelate in Lalaland, is that he gave a stirring pro-life homily on the occasion of Pope John Paul II's visit. If so, his whole career sounds rather Machiavellian.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2005 6:49 PM ET USA

    To sum up Cardinal Mahony.... can you imagine the largest diocese in the richest country in the world..... and it has no seminary....no high school seminary...no college seminary.... just the theologate at least for now. That's the legacy of Cardinal Mahony here in Los Angeles.... and by the way, where's the trust money that was set aside for these seminaries?? We have 20 times the Catholic population of Omaha and we produce half as many priests. "By their fruit you shall know them."

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2005 5:24 PM ET USA

    Cardinal Mahoney's letter (through his sidekick) is just like all half truths -- it is meant to mean something it doesn't. The half truth is one of Satan's most preferred tactics -- it sooths our sinful nature quite nicely. And it is the reason Pope BenXVI's first statement was that he will fight relativism as the core of his papacy.

  • Posted by: Eusebuis1 - May. 16, 2005 10:11 AM ET USA

    As Cardinal McCarrick (a brother in arms with Cardinal Mahoney most others in the USCCB hierarchy) stated concerning denying the Eucharist to politicians who persistently promoted laws to permit abortions, “I’d feeling uncomfortable.”

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2005 8:16 AM ET USA

    His Eminence will always be remembered for the devastation that he worked upon the Church through his incredible ego and narcissitic behavior. If it was only his soul that risked punishment, it would be of utter consequence to any loiving fellow. As it is, he scandalizes others in a manner more befiltting a Hollywood lout than a prince of the Church.