The beat goes on at the NCDistorter. This time it’s an “Open Letter To American Priests”, written by Mary Gordon (Mary Gordon is an American writer and the McIntosh Professor of English at Barnard College). I’ll jump to the pertinent parts. The blue in the brackets are my comments.
I have been silent in the face of my outrage at the latest enormities [heinous crimes? Really?] committed by the hierarchy, because I have no hope that any words of mine could have any impact upon them [soooo…she’s keeping silent by writing a letter that will have no impact, except to rouse the rabblers. Got it.]. But I have also been silenced by a disappointed sadness at what I feel as a failure on the part of a group of men whom I have greatly admired, respected, often loved, who have been important sources of strength and inspiration to me.
That is to say, I am writing to priests whom I think of as “the good guys” [which implies there are “bad guy priests”, right? Such as, the ones who might be faithful and obedient?], often heroic in their steadfast perseverance in living a Gospel life of service to the people of God [all code for “ignoring Rome and following their consciences”].
I think I understand (though there may be no more obnoxious phrase than, “I feel your pain) the isolation and loneliness that priests of good will and a progressive disposition must experience, an isolation that has been exacerbated by the shortage of priests [by shortage, she means fewer and fewer “good guys”]. But I fear that this very sense of isolation is working against you. I know that many of you must be as disturbed as I am at three recent actions by the official church [“official church”, like “official Magisterium”, which means there’s some better, higher “unofficial” church that we should aspire to].
First there were the changes in the liturgy — most important, the change from “all” to “many” at the consecration [Christ said “many” – it’s right there in the Gospels Her issue is ultimately with Christ]. Then there was the behavior of the hierarchy in regard to the controversy surrounding the funding of contraception — and the cynical political use to which it is being put [Crazy – she wants religious freedom to disobey Rome, but wants to deny that same freedom to the hierarchy to preach and live the faith]. I am even more sure that the grossly insulting behavior of the official church [there it is again – “official church”] towards American nuns must be abhorrent to many of you.
My sadness and disappointment, then, stems from the fact that you have not come together to protest these bad behaviors, publicly, as a united cohort [like those brave fellows in Austria and Ireland, or even those who supported the “What If We Just Said Wait?” campaign]. The bosses and bullies who, for the most part, are now in charge of the church have succeeded in creating a climate of fear that has silenced you [“bosses and bullies” – you mean like the guys from the past who removed tabernacles and statues from the sanctuaries, or wouldn’t permit Perpetual Adoration, or refused to allow the Latin Mass…what goes around, comes around, and what’s coming around is a restoration of authentic Catholic teaching and a fuller expression of our Catholic identity].
Many of you are at an age where the youthful enthusiasm for risk-taking has vanished — like a full head of hair or a flat belly. I understand that there are economic anxieties that could contribute to your silence; it’s fine for me, with a salary, health insurance, social security, to take a stand. [What stand is she taking? And if she risks nothing, is she really taking a stand, or just complaining?] I can very well appreciate the anxiety that would attach to losing your only economic security, and facing an old age with no economic or social safety net. [How can she appreciate it if she’s unwilling to do it?]
Yes, I understand, and indeed sympathize. But the way of the Gospel is not the way of risk avoidance [Risk avoidance? That’s what the Gospel is about? “Blessed are the risk-takers”? The way of the Gospel includes obedience – like Christ, obedient even unto death]. Nor is it the way of isolated individualism. I am afraid that the very structure of the priesthood — each pastor the lord of his own demesne (however poor and paltry it might be) — does not contribute to a habit of mind that leads to collective action [like, say, unions].
In this as in so many areas, you might take a leaf from the book of the nuns, your sisters [cos that’s working sooooo well for many of them, right?]. There is a way in which the shortage of priests could serve to your advantage [get this]: if you all stand together and form a critical mass [why not just say Mass, huh?], they can’t afford to lose you. They can pick you off if you stand alone [such violent rhetoric!]— but if you stand shoulder to shoulder, hundreds of you — well, either they have to massacre you (which would certainly make the evening news) or they have to contend with your witness [she just compared the hierarchy to, say, the Mexican government of the 1920’s. What a load of rubbish. Here’s the thing – the hierarchy would indeed contend with their witness – by reminding them of their vows and their grave responsibility for the caring of souls. Is she implying that if Rome were to not capitulate, the priests would go on strike? Does she really think Rome would compromise with lies? The Church has never done so, and never will. She will permit herself to be martyred first, for the truth, than to accept lies. As in Mexico in the 1920’s.].
I am writing to you because I and many people who share my views feel newly and radically abandoned [it’s all about feelings]. We are used to turning our faces away from the hierarchy saying, “The Vatican, the bishops, are not the church.” [openly admits to disobedience, and is encouraging priests to do the same, publicly. Brash, very brash] But you, in your connection to the people are the church [the “unofficial church”], and the people, suffering and scandalized, require your witness and your leadership [if what she’s describing leadership and witness, I don’t want it. I’m not suffering and scandalized, because I know that, unlike this woman, it’s not all about me].
If this woman contemplated less about her feelings, and more about the life of Christ and the witness of real, legitimate martyrs, I guarantee you that she would have stronger faith and a clearer resolve to spread the Gospel. Instead, she’s feeling sorry for herself and blames the “official church” for her sadness and disappointment. Sorry, dear – those are all on you.