The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


“In the end, it’s not about them…”

posted by jmcgee

That’s how Melinda Henneberger concludes this heartfelt explanation of why she remains Catholic:

Though Benedict has his admirers, I’ve not led any parades for him, and this is not my first or second rodeo with the rest of these cowboys, either. So when I’m asked how I could stay in a church whose leaders are so obtuse, it’s not as if I don’t understand where they’re coming from. A few weeks ago, Bill Maher asked me on his HBO show why in the world I hang in there. On Good Friday, our Politics Daily colleague Bonnie Erbé asked me on her PBS show, “To the Contrary,” whether I thought attendance at Easter Masses would suffer on Sunday as a result of the current crisis.

Well, not only was our church packed, but a diverse group of 16 adults were baptized and confirmed at our Easter Vigil on Saturday night. One woman in particular among them looked as though she had just won an Oscar, and another wept for joy. (My own Easter metaphor for the chilly wind I felt from Rome: inexplicably, someone had cranked up the air conditioning, which was blowing right on me throughout a freezing 2-hour-40 minute service that my 14-year-old son likened to “Lord of the Rings” 3: “It could have ended so many times, but didn’t.”)

Nevertheless, there I am and there I will stay. Why? Well, to return to the world of politics for a comparison, say you were a lifelong Democrat who had learned that those running the DNC had betrayed your trust in just about every way you could think of. You’d be angry, yes, and I wouldn’t want to be the poor guy trying to get you to open your wallet for the next cycle. But would their perfidy turn you into a Republican? No, you’d keep right on living life as a Democrat because that’s who you are. In the end, it is not about them.

She makes some good points, but doesn’t quite plumb the depths that Elizabeth Scalia did a few days earlier.

For another analysis, from a lapsed Catholic, there’s this take from Delia Lloyd:

I respect the views of all concerned and I strongly believe that everyone has to find their own way toward religious practice. Lord knows I do. But personally, I’m not convinced by this idea that we’re free to ignore the Pope. I’m currently contemplating becoming part of a faith — Judaism — which has its own issues. (Among others, it’s not at all clear that they’d be willing to take me.) But even if I were contemplating re-entering Christianity, I doubt that I could stomach becoming a Catholic right now, despite being raised in an observant Catholic family. And while the sex abuse scandal wouldn’t be the only factor, it would certainly weigh heavily in my thinking.

This point was driven home to me this past weekend, when an old friend from the States came to visit us at our home in London. She’s a practicing Catholic who would very much like to raise her children in the Catholic Church. But she’s increasingly troubled by the sex abuse scandal, and has refused to give the church any money since the scandal first broke in America back in 2002. Her husband, an attorney who was raised as a Baptist but — other than the scandal — is reasonably comfortable with Catholicism, wonders whether his wife would be willing to continue to be a member of any other institution where all of this was going on inside it.

He’s got a point. You certainly wouldn’t keep sending your kids to a school whose management tacitly condoned pedophilia or looked the other way. Nor would you work for a business that did so. I doubt anyone would even join a gym with this track record, no matter how much they liked the equipment and the staff.



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Gen X Revert

posted April 8, 2010 at 7:36 am


And then there are those of us who are Catholic because we believe it is the one true faith. The truth is, despite all of us bloggers who live and breath (and love) the ‘institutional’ Church, that for most Catholics the Church is a spiritual home of believers. We do not go to Church because we agree or disagree with the leaders, because we like or dislike the priest, or each other. We go to worship God through the Church He established. The scandals really have nothing to do with any of that, except show the need to rid the Church (and the world) of evil, which we have been trying for 2000 years.



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:36 am


“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
During Sunday sermons or in speeches given by various preachers, teachers, ‘theologians’ etc., occasionally I try to count the number of times the priest/deacon mentions the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I do the same when reading these personal testimonies. I know, I’m childish, maybe evil and should not be so petty. But, I have my reasons.
These recently posted articles are very moving testimonies as to why we remain Catholic in spite of its warts. However, for me, it’s not so much about the Church but more about Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him. He is the reason for our being Catholic. If the Church assists me in my relationship with Christ, (which, for me, it does primarily through the Mass and the sacraments) good all the while keeping in mind that I know what I need to do and it’s solely up to me to do it.
For that, the Pope, the Cardinals, those in the hierarchy, the clergy or anyone else who “represents the Church” can’t be much help unless, of course, I am in their prayers. In a general way, I am sure I am as they are in mine. However, my Christian faith centers on Christ and no one and on thing else. This is a fact and has helped me tremendously in not only dealing with the scandal but by more effectively developing my spiritual life.
Today, I believe one could be thought of by others as being a “faithful Catholic” by his/her participation in good works, by “loving one’s neighbor”, by making tremendous sacrifices of time and treasure and, yet, be unfaithful to the first and the greatest of the commandments given to us by the Lord Himself.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”



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Klaire

posted April 8, 2010 at 10:58 am


I know I quoted this on the “old bench”, but here it is again:
St. Francis De Sales, on the Scandals of the Clergy:
“Those who commit scandals are guilty of the spiritual equivalent of murder by destroying other people’s faith in God by their terrible example… But I’m here among you to prevent something far worse for you. While those who give scandal are guilty of the spiritual equivalent of murder, those who take scandal–who allow scandals to destroy their faith–are guilty of spiritual suicide!”
My best answer as to “Why I’m still a Catholic (and always will be): SALVATION
FYI, while the church clearly teaches one does not have to be a Catholic to be saved, it just as clearly teaches that any who LEAVE the Catholic Faith put their salavation in great peril.
Besides, who would ever willingly give up the Eucharist?
Lastly, thank God for such a holy pope as Pope Benedict.



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Evan

posted April 8, 2010 at 11:08 am


I came into the Church 3 years ago. So I was already well aware of the clergy sex abuse scandal, which started to come to light in the early 90’s but finally came to a head several years ago. I didn’t become Catholic because I believed the Church was picture perfect. Shoot, just study the history of the Christian faith! All branches of Christianity have checkered histories, alas. Why? Because there are people in them! There’s probably no better case for original sin than the fact that we sinful humans can misuse anything, even God’s Church.
But I stay Catholic because I refuse to go the way of Protestantism. I believe the Catholic Church has the truth and is Christ’s mystical body that He founded. The Protestant way is to divide, divide, divide. And often Protestants don’t splinter from each other for theological or other weighty reasons; much of time it’s just over petty church politics. A group can’t have their way about something or other, so they decide to go start their own little club. But seriously, the Protstant way of handling strife is often to further fragment into new denominations or independent congregations. Sorry, but I believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I remain in the Church out of my love for our Lord who founded it, and thus I will stay with it through thick and thin.



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Klaire

posted April 8, 2010 at 11:34 am


Great post Evan. I too became a practing Catholic at the height of the Chuch abuse scandal. In all honestly, it was my “last straw” as in “leaving guilt free once and for all.” Consequently, I was determined to “prove the Church wrong on just one teaching”, so starting “reading away”, espeically old papal encyclicals.
Not only did I begin to see and understand the great wisdom of the CC, but also, in trying to find the smoking gun, came to realize what great attack it was under now and forever, convinced by the fact that it HAD to be the one true church.
While I make no excuses for child molesting priests, or the sins of the Catholic Church, I also always keep in the mind the REAL enemy, satan. I’m convinced we are in the rage of the great spiritual battle, which is all the more reasons why we need to pray espeically hard for our clergy.



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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted April 8, 2010 at 11:40 am


Ah… the self-aggrandizing cry of the spiritually pure and the litmus test of who is a “good” Catholic.
*deep sigh*
I really do enjoy your blog Greg, you know that. The comments are always like a stroll through park of vitriol and venom however. I do find it so tiresome.
As for Melinda’s piece, she is a friend and I respect her position. As to whether she elucidated her position in the same way as Elizabeth… I do not know Elizabeth, but I suspect that they are simply very different people of the same faith. We are many parts, we are one body.



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm


>>>I’m currently contemplating becoming part of a faith — Judaism — which has its own issues.
The above quote was written by Delia Lloyd who was excerpted in the second half of Deacon’s post. I hope nobody here knows this woman because I am about to comment (not very flatteringly) on what she wrote.
It may not be wise to make this kind of call based on a single quote, but, I like living on the edge. :-)
Delia’s a poorly catechized ditz. She’s a traitor to Jesus Christ. She’s no different than Peter who also denied His Lord and Master. She’s a ‘fair weather’ friend which is no friend at all. She’s a ‘what’s in it for me’ Christian which, literally, is not a Christian.
Delia Lloyd, measured by the world’s standards and giving her the benefit of the doubt, is likely a ‘good’ woman. However, she is an example of what I wrote earlier today. How can anyone ever deny their Savior who gave them life, who maintains their life, and who loves them more than they could even love themselves unless they never regarded Jesus Christ as their Savior to begin with?
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.



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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted April 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm


Well if she is like Peter, I’d say she is slated to do well then.



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jim

posted April 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm


which early church bishop could meet the requirements of being an apostle ? the apostle paul said he was the last apostle ( 1 cor 15 : 7-9 ) a true church is one who teaches the true gospel of justification by faith alone in christ alone by grace alone. the rcc affirms ” ” if anyone says that by faith alone the impious is justified , let him be anathema ” can you repeat w / me ” ” not of works lest any man should boast “.



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm


Hi Jim
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0303sbs.asp
————————
>>>Well if she is like Peter, I’d say she is slated to do well then.
For her sake, we can hope. But, it takes courage and humility to admit one is wrong and then to repent for our error.



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cathyf

posted April 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm


However, my Christian faith centers on Christ and no one and on thing else. This is a fact and has helped me tremendously in not only dealing with the scandal but by more effectively developing my spiritual life.

Yeah, I’m with ya’, HC, but it’s a place I’m a little afraid to go.
If you listen to the more unhinged criticisms of the hierarchy (like from my mother-in-law *sigh*) they come down to more or less the same accusation: that the bishops did not use their magical powers to protect the victims. That’s a fairly easy thing to defend the bishops for — but it leads us straight into the Problem of Evil. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. God knows, with total certainty and great specificity, exactly who is telling the truth and who is lying. He has jurisdiction over everything and no statute of limitations and answers to no one but Himself. He could have fixed this, prevented this, in any of a number of ways…



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Your Name

posted April 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm


“He has jurisdiction over everything and no statute of limitations and answers to no one but Himself. He could have fixed this, prevented this, in any of a number of ways…”
…and He WILL…but not in this world.



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Your Name

posted April 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm


…and not how each of us wants it to happen either.
Why do y’all look for justice and fairness in THIS WORLD?
Seek ye first the Kingdom…



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blueenigma

posted April 8, 2010 at 6:16 pm


Suggested reading, “God’s Problem” by Bart Erhman:
http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Problem-Answer-Important-Question-Why/dp/0061173975



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joyce macnamara

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:19 pm


You’re assuming that all the management in on board on the coverup. Come on. Very few.
Thought it is scandalous, it has nothing to do with what we….I…believe. Christ came for
us sinners…all of us….and that has not changed. Because some sinned, why discard what
Jesus came to give? It doesn’t make sense. It gives the sinners all the power. all the importance. j



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:39 pm


Ah yes…..the problem of evil and how we are to deal with it?
With due respect, it will be a snowy day in Montego Bay before I read the philosophy/theology of an Evangelical Christian when I have a canonized saint and Doctor of the Church who has already spoken so eloquently on this very subject.
The booklet was given by a certain woman to everyone who attended the service for her young child. The child died tragically and unexpectedly. I believe this young woman knew what it meant to suffer and she also knew how to deal with it. Over the years, I’ve read this same little booklet at least 2 dozen times and have given copies to friends who I though would be helped by it.
——————————–
>>>Prosperity does not lift me up, nor adversity cast me down,” added the monk. “I direct all my prayers to the end that God’s will may be done fully in me and by me.” “That raid that our enemies made against the monastery the other day, in which our stores were plundered, our granaries put to the torch and our cattle driven off —did not this misfortune cause you any resentment?” queried the abbot.
>>>No, Father,” came the reply. “On the contrary, I returned thanks to God—as is my custom in such circumstances—fully persuaded that God does all things, or permits all that happens, for his glory and for our greater good; thus I am always at peace, no matter what happens.” Seeing such uniformity with the will of God, the abbot no longer wondered why the monk worked so many miracles
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/alphonsus/uniformity.html



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plavo

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm


Klaire: any Pope can be “holy” living in renaissance splendor, haveing maid service and a bevy of attendants; not having to get up in the middle of the night for a sick child, or attend to the foibles of a spouse, and write beautiful words, nor contend with the neighbor’s car, dog, or kids……hmmmm…..in what consists holiness?



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blueenigma

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm


Respectfully, if “Evangelical Christian” is a reference to Bart Ehrman, he isn’t an Evangelical
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bart_Ehrman



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 8, 2010 at 10:33 pm


>>>Respectfully, if “Evangelical Christian” is a reference to Bart Ehrman, he isn’t an Evangelical
I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I was incorrect.
From wikipedia:
>>>He [Ehrman] now considers himself an agnostic.
This is an even a greater reason for not reading or recommending his books.
Evidently, you’re not Catholic. There could be no other reason for you to recommended the works of an agnostic especially when you now know that a saint and Doctor of the Church wrote about the “problem of evil.”



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Sandra

posted April 9, 2010 at 12:00 am


“He’s got a point. You certainly wouldn’t keep sending your kids to a school whose management tacitly condoned pedophilia or looked the other way. Nor would you work for a business that did so. I doubt anyone would even join a gym with this track record, no matter how much they liked the equipment and the staff.”
Except, this DOES happen in many public schools, and most grievously in so many public high schools. Predatory adults seeking sexual gratification from teens is not all that new.
Frankly going back to the accusations… not every accusation made equals an incident that occurred. Not all mind you, but there are many frauds in the line of those ‘claiming victim,” pick a dead priest that might have been near where you were and volia! You got a case.
These stories, tragic as they are are decades old, that was then, and NO WHERE, not one institution public, private, secular or religious has been immune, nor HOW IT WAS HANDLED, the Catholic Church handled it about the same way the local public high school did.
No, this new series of attacks is “pay back” for being “pro-life,” “pro-marriage,” “pro-family” and teaching that there are moral absolutes in this life.
Hindsight is always better than 20-20, and no matter
‘how” it was handled, because it is the Catholic Church it’s not good enough.
And for those that would accuse me of being “soft” and pedophiles, our daughter (adopted) was raped, repeatedly while in a government run/funded treatment facility at age 12. Not only could we not help her, we had to go to court to get her out of there! We still cannot get a case filed against the “employees,” don’t dare tell me it’s not the same!



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