In light of Perverted Priest Problem: Cardinal Baldiserri’s ‘LGBT’ Language is Terrible Timing

My latest from The Stream: July 31, 2018

We might as well call it the Perverted Priest Problem. Some men of homosexual inclinations are using their place within the Catholic Church to gratify themselves sexually. More disgusting than Cardinal McCarrick’s behavior is the widespread network of prelates who must have been covering for him. But even these men aren’t the whole story.

The very day the news about Cardinal McCarrick broke, the Vatican released the working document for the upcoming Synod on Youth.It used the “LGBT” acronym, the first such use in a Vatican document. This shows that high-ranking prelates are running interference for people like McCarrick. Continue reading “In light of Perverted Priest Problem: Cardinal Baldiserri’s ‘LGBT’ Language is Terrible Timing”

Cardinals Hurting Clergy: Speak for Yourself Cardinal Farrell

Do you receive the Ruth Institute newsletter? This is what you missed this week. Cardinal Farrell’s swipe at all priests really got my goat! Continue reading “Cardinals Hurting Clergy: Speak for Yourself Cardinal Farrell”

Cardinal O’Malley’s statement is not enough

Main stream news sources, perhaps surprisingly, seem to be taking Cardinal O’Malley’s statement about the McCarrick Queer scandals at face value. 

Reuters: “Top Cardinal demands Vatican get tough with bishops on sex abuse.”

The Boston Globe: “Amid new sex abuse scandal, “O’Malley issues warning to church.”

Only at the bottom of the Globe article, do we find this nugget:  Continue reading “Cardinal O’Malley’s statement is not enough”

Question for my SSA (Same Sex Attracted) friends

Cardinal McCarrick, Prince of the Church

What do we call guys like Cardinal McCarrick? (Please, no smart aleck answers.)  Terminology is extremely important in the on-going discussion about how the Body of Christ should address same sex attraction. We need to steer clear of 2 different pitfalls.

  1. “Pedophilia abuse” vs. “homosexual abuse.”
  2. “Gay” vs. “same sex attracted” or some other term.

Regarding #1: Continue reading “Question for my SSA (Same Sex Attracted) friends”

Speak for Yourself, Cardinal Farrell

My latest at The Stream (July 20, 2018) 

Cardinal Farrell

I was always taught to respect the clergy. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Should criticism be necessary, let it be as gentle as possible. But what do we do when the clergy harm each other? Cardinal Kevin Farrell’s recent comments about priests lacking credibility for preparing couples for marriage amounts to an attack on every priest in Christendom. He makes an unnecessary criticism, in a harsh manner. Worst, his comments bring disrespect to the priestly office itself. A bit of thought, plus a brief look into the Cardinal’s background, may help explain his comments, wrongheaded though they are.

Cardinal Farrell’s Claims

Let’s review the Cardinal’s comments:

During an interview … Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said that ‘priests are not the best people to train others for marriage.’

They have no credibility; they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day … they don’t have the experience.

Continue reading “Speak for Yourself, Cardinal Farrell”

Invite the Children of Divorce to the Amoris Laetitia Seminars

I see where Cardinal Cupich is planning a series of seminars on Amoris Laetitia. According to a letter obtained by the Catholic News Agency, the “New Momentum Conferences on Amoris Laetitia,” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” As someone who has listened to many victims of the Sexual Revolution, I am eager to learn about the “pastoral practice” these seminars will promote. I wonder if they will feature adult children of divorce or unmarried parents among their presenters.

I can still recall the first time a young person came up to me in tears after one of my talks. “This is the first time I have ever heard an adult say that divorce is hard on children.” She went on to describe her father’s intention of entering yet another civil marriage, this time, to a woman in her twenties.

My young friend was twenty-one.

Since that incident, I have heard from many people of all ages, whose parents divorced and remarried. I can remember sitting down to a post-conference dinner with one of the other speakers and his wife. She confided in me that she had run out of the room in the middle of my talk. She couldn’t bear to hear my description of children’s hurt from divorce. My talk stirred up pain from her parents’ divorce.

She was in her sixties.

I don’t see any mention of Leila Miller or Jennifer Johnson among the proposed speakers on the traveling Amoris Laetitia Road Show. Both Mrs. Miller and Ms. Johnson have written poignant works on the experiences of children of divorce. You may imagine what the adult children of divorce have to say about second “marriages.”

Or perhaps you can’t. So, let me tell you: they feel their parents’ selfishness and excuse-making made their childhoods miserable, and continue to cause problems even in adulthood. One anonymous author titled her essay, “How my parents’ divorce ruined holidays and family life forever.”

Perhaps some of the presenters at the Amoris Laetitia gabfests will offer practical tips for what a child, of any age, ought to do when their parents decide they can’t stand each other anymore. Will Cardinal Cupich “accompany” the children of divorce when they see no photos of themselves with both parents, in either of their parents’ homes? Will any of the presenters help the children of divorce “discern” where to direct their anger when their stepfather brings home gifts for his children and his wife, but nothing for them?

I wonder if Cardinal Cupich and his friends will discuss the inequalities that divorce creates among children, and between children and adults. Jennifer Johnson argues passionately that natural marriage and only natural marriage, can create and preserve equality among children, while divorce creates deep and lasting inequalities. Here is just one example:

I was the only one who had divided Christmases, divided holidays, and divided birthdays. I’ve seen this referred to as “two Christmases” or “two birthdays” in some divorce literature as a way to sugar-coat the vertical inequality. My dad wasn’t welcome on Christmas morning, and my mom wasn’t welcome on Christmas eve. I don’t think either of them would have come, had they been invited. They were too busy with their new families. When I got a little older and my parents lived further apart, I traveled alone during the holidays to see each of them. None of the adults in my life had to do any of those things. It was a requirement placed on me that made their lives easier.

No, I suppose they don’t have room for children of divorce and their lived experiences. After all, the seminars are already full of experts on women’s ordination, contraception, non-binary gender, and God knows what else.

Speaking of God: I have an idea that Jesus (remember him?) knows exactly what these children of divorce are going through. He told the apostles “in the beginning, it was not so,” when he instituted that whole one man, one woman, for life, thing. The apostles were freaked out. They thought it was too hard.

I bet Jesus saw the pain a little girl might feel when her mother asked her to be the flower girl in her second wedding. Even as a preschooler, she knew this ceremony meant that her parents would never get back together. She knew she was supposed to be happy for her mother on her special day. She faked it, but her heart was breaking.

Jesus foresaw every painful little incident, like this one:

When I was six or seven, I woke up from a bad dream in the middle of the night. I went looking for my mom but couldn’t find her. I wandered from room to room crying, disoriented and scared. But Mom wasn’t there because I was at Dad’s place, an apartment I went to once a month. My dad couldn’t understand why I wanted my mom so much. Nothing in the apartment was familiar, not even dad. He was hurt because of my longing for my mom, my house, and my own bed, so I did what a lot of children of divorce do: I bottled up my emotions to try to make one of my parents feel better.

Jesus saw how attempts at re-partnering would create a lifetime of difficulties:

At my biological grandma’s funeral, my siblings and I were left out of the family pictures. We watched our cousins treated differently just because their parents had remained married. We stopped getting invited to family reunions. Today I’m a stranger to most of my relatives on my dad’s side because growing up I saw him so little and them even less.

Maybe this sort of thing is why Jesus made such a stink about the indissolubility of marriage.

Perhaps some adult children of divorce will just show up at one of the meetings at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, or Santa Clara University. I wonder if anyone will let them have a turn at the microphone.

Maybe not. That might be just a little too much “accompanying” and “synodality,” even for Cardinal Cupich.

Originally published at Crisis on February 28, 2018 

More about Bai Macfarlane

As I said yesterday, Bai Macfarlane has resources available for Catholics who wish to defend their marriages in an annulment proceeding. Her website, Mary’s Advocates, has information and resources.

I have a high opinion of Mrs. Macfarlane and her efforts. As far as I know, she is the only person offering assistance to those who are facing an unwanted civil divorce or an unwanted Catholic annulment. (If anyone knows of any other resources, please let me know.)

I have heard from many Reluctantly Divorced persons, and I know they are hurting. When the Catholic Church grants their spouse an annulment, it adds insult to injury. When they have to see their spouse, in church, with a new “spouse,” both receiving communion, it is salt in an open wound.

Please note: I do not know whether Mrs. Macfarlane is correct in her interpretation of canon law. I do not know how the tribunals will react to the arguments and ideas that Mary’s Advocates provides. Respected canon law authorities disagree with her position.  Other canon lawyers evidently agree with her, at least in part. I am not qualified to offer an opinion on canon law.

I do believe though, that bringing the issue before the tribunals in a dignified and intelligent manner is worth trying. Reluctantly Divorced Catholics have few other resources (none, actually, that I am aware of) in trying to defend their marriages. This process of presentation and response has the best chance of discovering how the Church can serve those who wish to defend the validity of their marriages. As Dr. Ed Peters wisely commented after presenting his case,

Readers can form their own conclusions about which presentation is more likely correct and, more importantly, Roman authorities will certainly reach theirs in due course.

I want the Roman authorities to be presented as often as possible with this issue and others related to ending the scourge of divorce. Let’s put the arguments out there, in a forum where it actually matters, the tribunals, and see what happens.

If anyone has used Mrs. Macfarlane’s materials, I would be very interested in hearing about their experiences.

Bai Macfarlane and John Farrell

Some of my readers are familiar with the very inside-Catholic-baseball question about whether a Catholic is required to get the permission of his or her bishop before filing for a civil divorce. The extensive discussion of my most recent article on Crisis convinces me that people are indeed interested in this topic.

To the best of my knowledge, two people are promoting this view. One is Bai Macfarlane, who has a website called Mary’s Advocates. The Ruth Institute includes this site among our Links we Like for the Reluctantly Divorced.

The other person is John Farrell. To the best of my knowledge, he has never been published anywhere other than his own blog and a Facebook page.

Permit me to say that if you are interested in this topic, follow Bai. Ignore John. And I do mean, ignore him.

This man is not helping his cause, if that cause is to persuade the bishops to implement canon law in the way that he believes is correct. In fact, he is actively harming that cause.

Where Bai patiently answers questions, John just repeats his one or two talking points. He is rude. As a Southerner, (admittedly, an adoptive Southerner, but an appreciative Southerner) saying someone is rude is no small matter. Compare Bai’s comportment in the comments section of my Crisis article, with John’s behavior on this thread.

I am no expert on canon law. I have said so repeatedly. I have told John this privately, and publicly. I am not going to make a pronouncement on this topic, as I am not qualified to do so. I am trying to keep an open mind, and listen to what people have to say. Bai is worth listening to. John’s noise-making makes it almost impossible to listen, or to even think clearly.

Please do not encourage this man. Especially if you want to help end the divorce culture, both inside the Catholic Church and in the wider culture.

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