Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Thursday, February 10, 2005  

When you care so much that it hurts

Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News (registration required and so no link except for Amy Welborn's here) has a column excoriating the Catholic Church again for its gross dereliction of duty, honor, and inability to police its ranks.

Father Matthew Bagert, a Grand Prairie priest, was picked up on child pornography charges last week. Days later, Bishop Charles Grahmann turned up in the parish pulpit, weeping and telling the flock to "welcome him back," as Jesus supposedly would have. Once again, a bishop counsels cheap grace to thwart justice, corrupting the concept of Christian mercy as part of an excuse-making strategy for the clerical class.

And you know what? It works. If the recent past is any guide, Father Bagert's ultimate guilt or innocence won't much matter to most Catholic men, who remain largely mute and accepting as unspeakable things come to light.

Why aren't the men who run the Catholic church raging against the cruelty of priests who prey on kids? Why do so many good priests and Catholic laymen remain as docile as eunuchs despite it all? Do we think we're not going to have to answer to God for our moral cowardice?

Within the church, there is a culture of what C.S. Lewis called "men without chests." Most of us go along to get along, shirking our duties as Christians and men to protect the weak and guard the integrity of the religious community.

I sympathize with Rod, but have tried to give up caring. After an absence of nearly two years, I returned to Sunday Mass going a few months ago. I give enough money to pay for the electricity and I now take a spiritual book to read during the homilies. The book forestalls my fuming in anger over the horrible pretense of an exposition of wisdom by totally incompetent messengers of God's thought.

I like the Mass over all over practices of worship. That's all I can say. I am glad there are people who wish to serve as priests and deacons - these are vital spiritual functions to human life - and yet, I have so little respect for the intellectual and spiritual quality of the general mass of such men.

Yet, I do not wish to think of myself as superior in any way to them, but I have always found it impossible to tolerate abuse of authority (which is probably why I've never had a position of authority). I simply cannot go along to get along. I always end up causing trouble which never comes to any good since it is not as if organizations wish to improve or become more accountable.

I have learned that institutions depend on leadership to do well. There are simply very few good leaders among men. Mediocrity is the norm and nothing can be done about it.

Rather than being futile, resistance is total. Human beings resist with every ounce of breath the opportunities of becoming wise, good, reflective, and holy.

Thus, I go to church and try to ignore what I cannot affect in the slightest. What can you do? I used to rail against the sheep, the pew potatoes, but now I'm one of them.

Yes, other churches are more dynamic, active, and eager to teach and build but that's not what I'm after. I want a moment of peace with my neighbors for an hour a week. That's hard to find when the pastor does everything possible to ruin the liturgy, but a little is better than nothing.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:18 AM |