Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Thoughts On Boston

Up to now I have resisted posting any thoughts on Cardinal Law's resignation. For the most part, what is there to be said that hasn't been said countless times before? (Some bloggers should take note of that.) But the recent ridicule inflicted on Kairos Guy by G. Popcak has prompted some thoughts. Karios Guy, clearly expressing the frustration of a man who finds himself at ground zero, scolded St. Blog's for the self-rightous and venomous attitude many have expressed with regard to the Archdiocese of Boston's hierarchy and its rank and file.

It would be a wonderful treat to visit St. Blog's one day and see no scandal-related posts. No, I'm not talking about burying one's head in the sand. But there is something clearly unhealthy with the obsession over news and commentary (if you can call it that) on the scandal. For example, each and every day, Amy Welborn and others dutifully post all the latest news articles on the scandal, with some comment of how depressing or angering this latest bit of news is. Why? I mean at this point, are we really learning anything new? Yes, someone needs to keep track of and account for the full scope of the scandal. But average Joe Catholic? It seems almost masochistic; after reading a dozen letters praising the service of wrongdoing priests, do you really need to read the next one? I think there are a fair number of Catholics who don't want to admit that they don't know what to do next and they take some comfort -- even if it is painful -- in renewing the pain of the scandal each day by being able to focus it on someone else: Bishop A or Bishop B. Other otherwise worthwhile bloggers have let their writing devolve to downright name-calling and insults of the bishops. Calling for accountability and calling someone a "moron" or a diocese a "moral cesspool" are not the same thing. Comments such as "Oh, but I respect the office" or "I'm praying about this" are thrown in to be sure, but become difficult to take at face value based on what the blogger usually writes in the next sentence. The reality is that for many bloggers Law has never been a man but a symbol. In politics, there are those who look at it as a game or sport and those who take it seriously as a duty and an act of service. But both engage in political talk often as a sport or pasttime. Over the years, I've learned that discussing and commenting on the Catholic faith becomes a substitute for some. More often than not, these tend to be people who are fairly serious about the faith, but they sometimes lose sight of the distinction between talking about the faith and living it.

Update: I'm not sure if G. Popcak was referring to Integrity, but I have to assume he was in part given that the questions he quotes are the ones I raised above. As I said above, I'm not calling for people to bury their heads in the sand. But I am asking people to approach the scandal with more wisdom. Greg, it is simply not true that healing cannot begin until we know every last detail. And the great danger with becoming obsessed with the pain (which is what I criticized, not the mere acknowledgment or examination of it) is that you forget that in looking at the pain your purpose is to overcome it, not succumb to it. Just as some want to forget pain, others equally seem to want to forget hope.