An Open Dead Letter To American Priests – A Fisking

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.

About thelarryd

LarryD resides in Michigan with his wife and 2 sons. He's been blogging on Catholic topics since March 2008, providing orthodox commentary on heterodox hooliganism, with observations on the culture, trends, and the Church. His goal? Inject humor and fun into the New Evangelization, with the gentle reminder that everyone's taking themselves way too seriously.
This entry was posted in Catholycs, Dissent, HADAR, National Catholic Distorter. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to An Open Dead Letter To American Priests – A Fisking

  1. jim says:

    Just become Episcopalian, Mary Gordon, and stop scandalizing those trying to remain faithful to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and its unerring Magisterium. Ugh! These people drive me crazy. I’m a convert and zeal for Christ’s Bride consumes me and these types of Catholyc traitors make me sick. Mary Gordon has placed her soul on the road to perdition. We must remember that Jesus said MOST will go to hell and that the gate is narrow. We must be sure to keep our own house in order and to remain faithful to Christ and His Church (and Her teachings–which come from the Most Holy Trinity) so that we can avoid hell and its torments. Gordon and all the rogue priests and the “Magisterium of Nuns”, etc., are playing Russian roulette with their souls. May God have mercy on them and bring them back to the fold before it is too late. As for me, I’m not messin’ around; I’m partaking frequently of the Sacraments and staying out of mortal sin as much as possible. Love your blog, LarryD. You are shouting the truth from the mountaintops.

    Like

  2. Shadowlands says:

    I wonder if she prays her rosary? It’s a great means of surrendering the will without sensing any ego loss. It’s power almost sneaks in to one’s self will, without one realising and before you know it, you are at peace with the Church’s teachings.

    Regarding the first comment above, which is similar to a lot of perhaps more ‘ Catholic traditional’ type views, also fundamentalist protestant type attitudes, I don’t think our personal response to fellow Catholics who see things differently to ourselves should be one of condemning them to hell, or wishing their speedy return to the dust from which they came (which seems to be being promoted on certain blogs, including a well known priest’s blog, a Doctor actually cursed a nun by wishing her speedy death and the comment was allowed to stand).

    Better perhaps, to pray one of the Fatima prayers, authored by God for these times and given by Mary to the three children:

    ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, lead ALL souls to heaven, ESPECIALLY those most in need of your Mercy.’

    Is that where our hearts and prayers are, regarding sinners (as we perceive them)? Or do we relish their judgment day like a bloodthirsty spectator in the Colosseum?

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    • jim says:

      Funny…I thought being faithful to the infallible doctrines of Holy Mother Church made me “Catholic” and those that weren’t were “heretics”. This new fangled language of “traditionalist”, etc., confuses me. Mary Gordon does not see things differently from me, she sees things differently from the Church which receives its teachings from God. I DO NOT JUDGE ANYONE, but I do reiterate the teachings of the Church. If I am offended by those within the Church who spew heresy, it’s because I love the Church so much.

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    • thelarryd says:

      I don’t see where Jim is relishing their judgment day like a bloodthirsty spectator. Rather, I think he fears for them – and himself, which is why he stated he frequents the Sacraments.

      I share in his frustration.

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  3. Shirley Knopp says:

    The overt disdain for their vows of poverty, chastity and OBEDIENCE continually makes my jaw drop; I should be accustomed to this behavior by now it is so pervasive!

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  4. tantamergo says:

    The average age of the priest she is writing to is about 70. Perhaps a bit more. That is the average of the heterodox “spirit of Vatican II priest.” This is quite the geriatric brigade she is striving to mobilize.

    What is sad, even beyond how so many of these men have utterly failed to ever understand the Divine, and the sublime nature of the vocation they have held, is how they have persecuted, and persecute, faithful priests, especially those young ones who DO believe what the Church believes. It’s going on in our Diocese right now. A young priest is forbidden to wear traditional vestments by his pastor because they are too clerical. Likewise with having parts of the Mass in Latin.

    I pray for these men.

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  5. Shadowlands says:

    “The average age of the priest she is writing to is about 70. Perhaps a bit more. That is the average of the heterodox “spirit of Vatican II priest.” This is quite the geriatric brigade she is striving to mobilize. ”

    Well the Holy Spirit mobilized our present Pope when he was well into his seventies, do you see him as part of a ‘ geriatric brigade’ too? This insulting of people due to their age is becoming more common amongst ‘faithful’ Catholics, thanks to Fr Z’s term ‘biological solution’ and his band of commenters.

    It doesn’t make it right though. Argue with people’s doctrine or lack of, but don’t use non-Christian insults. If these people were babies in the womb, you would be defending their right to be born and not ‘wishing them back to the dust they came from’ as one Doctor K did, on Fr Z’s blog the other day. The comment (curse)was allowed to stand.

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    • jim says:

      It seems your beef is with Fr. Z. Take it up with him. What faithful Catholics desire is for dissidents to have a conversion of heart or to leave and not give scandal. If death is the only way for these dissidents to stop scandalizing the faithful, then so be it. And by the way, Shadowlands, your comment that one eventually becomes “at peace with the Church’s teachings” is telling. Faithful Catholics revel in God’s law (as the Psalmist did) rather than find a way to be “at peace” with God’s law. Why do I suspect that you have an “Obama 2012” bumper sticker on your car and you drive it to Mass?

      Like

      • thelarryd says:

        Why do I suspect that you have an “Obama 2012″ bumper sticker on your car and you drive it to Mass?

        That’s unnecessary.

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      • Shadowlands says:

        “If death is the only way for these dissidents to stop scandalizing the faithful, then so be it. ”

        You see that’s where your zeal begins to scare me. Only God has command over life and death and to use language that suggests certain Catholics have been given authority by Him, through their ‘faithfulness, to issue such statements is dangerous. I will continue to point these types of unchristian statements out when I see them.I don’t see or hear fervent Catholicism, more like echoes of the Hitler youth Movement.

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        • thelarryd says:

          Well, I doubt Jim is advocating that they get rounded up and shot a la firing squad. He’s stating a fact – kind of like, if death is the only way that I’ll stop blogging, then so be it.

          Let’s not forget that Christ told us the wheat and weeds will grow together, and that they will be separated on the threshing floor. It’s not our job to do the separating. But it is our job to be faithful, and to judge trees by their fruit.

          This particular tree – the open letter itself – has yielded some bitter fruit.

          Like

    • thelarryd says:

      I agree that the comment you are referring to at Fr Z’s blog was pretty nasty. But tanto’s comment regarding the age of the priests the writer is speaking to merely reflects the demographics of those who oppose the “reform of the reform” and the revised translation.

      I appreciate your comments, Shadowlands, and it must be remembered that *all* are created in God’s image and likeness, and we all are in need of God’s mercy. Possibly me more than anyone.

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      • Shadowlands says:

        “I appreciate your comments, Shadowlands, and it must be remembered that *all* are created in God’s image and likeness, and we all are in need of God’s mercy. Possibly me more than anyone.”

        Amen!

        Like

      • abigail says:

        That’s pretty par for the course on the Fr. Z site. He seems to relish the spewing, as long as he agrees with it. If he doesn’t, then he happily and snarkily spews at the commenter. I’ve quit his blog entirely, as have others due to his unfortunate arrogance and nastiness.

        Like

  6. Mack says:

    Same old cliche’-sodden twaddle. Yawn.

    Like

  7. Scott W. says:

    Note that there is not one substanitive point in her letter. Just bald assertions once again proving progressives have no points, just distracting noise.

    Like

  8. catholicboyrichard says:

    Reblogged this on catholicboyrichard and commented:
    This is SO good…like so many, I have become sickened by the distortions of, not those from without, but those WITHIN our beloved Church. The issue is not whether a woman can speak out or minister. The issue is, will she do it according to the understanding of her Church? And if she has a different understanding, will she have just enough testosterone to move onward rather than attempting to usurp the valid authority of the hierarchy, or will she just stay and give the rest of us acid reflux in the process? Be prepared for some sarcasm here…but be even more prepared for some truth. I stand with Rome. More so, I stand with Christ. And Christ never authors the kind of confusion this person advocates.

    Like

  9. catholicboyrichard says:

    This is SO good…I reblogged it and hope that is okay. If not just let me know and I will take it down. But like so many, I have become sickened by the distortions of, not those from without, but those WITHIN our beloved Church. The issue is not whether a woman can speak out or minister. The issue is, will she do it according to the understanding of her Church? And if she has a different understanding, will she have just enough testosterone to move onward rather than attempting to usurp the valid authority of the hierarchy, or will she just stay and give the rest of us acid reflux in the process? We must stand with Rome. More so, we must stand with Christ. And Christ never authors the kind of confusion this person advocates.

    Like

  10. Teresa Rice says:

    This is a great post. I love your commentary of rebuttals which show charity in truth in response to the whining opinions of Mary Gordon who has rejected the Magisterium’s teachings in exchange for the “feelings only matter” mantra of the Left. Yea, let’s throw out truth and Jesus’ Gospel all for the sake of feelings. I pray for the conversion of the dissenters. These people also irk me to no end because they’re misleading misinformed laity and leading them astray from the Church and Jesus purposefully. I can’t stand the fact that some priests, nuns, and laity prey on the confused and distort the teachings of the Church. We just need to continue defending the faith and correcting those whose views are contrary to Church doctrine. We are soldiers battling against evil as St. Michael the Archangel said. God Bless.

    Like

  11. joekstl says:

    Some comments on LarryD’s redaction. First – as far as our hierarchical leadership – has anyone noted the hypocrisy of Rome’s papal practices? Pope Paul VI changed the leadership role of Bishops to require submission of a letter of resignation at the age of 75. I wonder why this does not apply to the Bishop of Rome – Pope. The hubris here is unbelievable. (And consider that Pope John Paul II was totally out of it in the last years of his Papacy.)

    As to the little dispute over the sacramentary translations: the “many” – fine; but please do not use the same argument as to authenticity of the English translation when “chalice” is erroneously substitued for the Greek “cup.” And, as to “I am not worthy – – – – -” please do not tell me that the Biblical words allow the subsitution for “and my servant shall be healed” to “my soul”. This smacks of Gnosticism, or even worse Manichean dualism.

    Lastly – I don’t know what the reference to removal of tabernacles is supposed to involve. I know of no Catholic church building that has removed tabernacles. The purpose of a church is to assemble the Catholic community for celebration of the Eucharist as Jesus commanded. Therefore the altar table is the center of the Church building – and its purpose. The proper place for reverence of Jesus’ presence outside of the Eucharistic celebration is a separate space for the reserved sacrament – usually in a separate space. One of our local parishes is contructing a separate, secure building for 24 hour prayer space for believers – separate for security purposes. Again – the purpose of our church buildings is for the community to do what Jesus said: do this in remembrance of me.

    Peace,

    JoeK

    Like

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