Sunday, September 7, 2014

Msgr. Charles Pope and The Herd Mentality of Catholic Blogging

Sometimes I think that almost all Catholic blogs are written by just one person because they all sound exactly the same. No one ever seems to have an original thought. An example this past week was the explosion that happened across the Catholic Internet when Cardinal Dolan said he did not have a problem with the organizers of the St. Patrick's Parade in NYC allowing gay activist groups to march in the parade. Every Catholic blog I read had the exact same knee jerk reaction - Dolan has completely fallen off the rails and is out to destroy the church. He must be resisted!

Even the headlines of the posts sound the same. Here are just a few:
Cardinal Dolan and the Shameful NYC St. Patrick's Gay Parade 
A ‘dereliction of duty’? Catholics react to Cardinal Dolan’s role in St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Dolan to Catholics: Everybody Into the Ghetto

Cardinal Dolan and His St. Patrick Day Parade Abomination - St. Patrick, Pray for Us…

The Saint Patrick's Day Massacre

Cardinal Dolan: Does His Capitulation To Gays In St Patrick's Parade Constitute Cooperation With Mortal Sin?

Cardinal Dolan's St. Patrick's Day Parade Float: A King Size Mattress He Calls The Church of Pope Francis

Dolan once again proves himself a huge disappointment

What Would St. Patrick Say? (St. Patrick must be spinning in his grave.)

Millstone for Cardinal Dolan -- Again!
BREAKING: NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Goes Gay - Dolan Cheers! (You knew Michael Voris could not resist going after Cardinal Dolan once again)
I did not see even one blogger at least attempt to moderate his or her response by saying something like, "I don't understand this.  It doesn't seem like the best move, but I will show respect for the hierarchy of the church and just step back in prayer and let it play out."  Oh no, all the bloggers went right for Cardinal Dolan's jugular vein in full and complete condemnation.

And the blog posts I read on this subject were almost entirely comprised of opinions.  No one looked to see if or how this could possibly fit into the role of evangelizing those who are so militantly opposed to the Church as the homosexual movement is.  No one looked into Cardinal Dolan's past actions regarding the homosexual movement to see what his true motives might actually be.

As far as I know, I am the only blogger who brought up the fact that Cardinal Dolan is on the Board of Courage, the Catholic ministry that helps LGBT persons come out of the homosexual lifestyle, or that Cardinal Dolan was the first and only bishop of NYC to prohibit St. Francis Xavier Church to carry their church banner in the Gay Pride Parade.

GLAAD protestors at St. Patrick's Cathedral
No one seems to remember the incident from May of 2013 when members of GLAAD protested at St. Patrick's Cathedral [HERE] because of a blog post written by Cardinal Dolan in which he stated the following [HERE for the full post]:
The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a woman or man with a same-sex attraction . . . while reminding him or her of our clear teaching that, while the condition of homosexuality is no sin at all, still, God’s teaching is clear that sexual acts are reserved for a man and woman united in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, loving bond of marriage.

. . .

We are part of a Church where, yes, all are welcome, but, no, not a Church of anything goes.
Nope, not one Catholic blogger brought any of this up.  They just wrote scathing, condemning diatribes against this Prince of the Church.

Among those who condemned Cardinal Dolan was a respected Catholic priest. No, I'm not talking about Father Z (although he was just as guilty [HERE]), but about Msgr. Charles Pope, who wrote a post on the website for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. that was pulled shortly after it was posted. That only incensed Catholic bloggers en masse who, almost in one voice, included Cardinal Wuerl in their condemnation of Cardinal Dolan.  Ah, but the traditionalists proudly proclaimed that Cardinal Wuerl did not out think them. This wonderful gem by Msgr. Pope was copied by others and saved for all the world to see.

So what was in this post?

Msgr. Pope started out his post with a truly bewildering statement:  "The time for happy-clappy, lighthearted engagement of our culture may be nearing an end. Sometimes it takes a while to understand that what used to work no longer works."

At what point in Church history did she engage the world in "happy-clappy, lighthearted engagement"?  Well, Msgr. Pope would have us believe that the Al Smith Dinner, held every year in NYC, is just such an example.  

The Al Smith Dinner is held once a year when the Archdiocese brings together political enemies and asks them to put aside their differences to raise money for poor kids. This, of course, reached a crisis stage when Cardinal Dolan invited President Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, and Catholic bloggers came together in herd mentality to condemn His Eminence. When Msgr. Pope condemns the Al Smith dinner, he is passively aggressively condemning Cardinal Dolan. And everyone knows it.

Msgr. Pope tells us that bringing politicians together years ago wasn't a problem, but now with the such issues as abortion and homosexuality, we can no longer be doing such things.  

I wonder if Msgr. Pope has ever read I Corinthians 5, in which St. Paul tells the Corinthian church that yes, they must separate from the sexually immoral.  However, this is in regard only to those who are in the Church (verses 9-13).
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.
Hmm.  "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?"  That has such a familiar ring to it.  

Ah, yes. Cardinal Dolan when asked about Michael Sam's homosexuality: "Good for him. I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. I don't think, look, the same bible that tells us that teaches us well about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So I would say, 'Bravo.'"

Judging from the reactions of of the Catholic blogosphere to Cardinal Dolan, there can be little doubt how they (and Msgr. Charles Pope) would have treated St. Paul.  

In his post Msgr. Pope next states, "Now the St. Patrick’s Parade is becoming of parade of disorder, chaos, and fake unity. Let’s be honest: St. Patrick’s Day nationally has become a disgraceful display of drunkenness and foolishness in the middle of Lent that more often embarrasses the memory of Patrick than honors it."

The St. Patrick's Parade is "becoming" a parade of disorder, etc. etc.???   That statement would cause the rest of New York City to scratch their heads and wonder what world Msgr. Pope lives in not to know what the real reason for the parade has always been.  [Hint:  It's Party Time!]  

My husband had his 15 minutes of fame back in the 1950's when, as a little boy, my mother-in-law took him to the St. Patrick's parade in NYC. After the parade, they went to a restaurant with a bar. The bartender asked my husband if he had been to the parade.  My husband replied yes, and the bartender said, "Every good Irishman who goes to the parade goes to a saloon on St. Patrick's day."

After that, my mother in law took my husband to the Steve Allen Show which was filmed at NBC studios. My husband was picked as a "cute Irish kid" and interviewed by Steven Allen on the show. Steve asked the "cute Irish kid" what he did on St. Patrick's Day? The answer: "I went to a saloon like every good Irishman." The studio audience roared. Why? Because they knew how true this statement was even in the "innocence" of the 1950's. Just as an aside, Steven Allen liked my husband so much that he was actually on the show a couple of times and he still has a picture personally autographed to him and his mother by Steve Allen.
Here is a news flash for Msgr. Pope:  there has never been a time when drinking and carousing were not a part of the St. Patrick's Day parade, especially here in New York.  

Msgr. Pope then decided that Catholics need to actually make St. Patrick's Day of time of prayer and reparation:
It’s time to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner and all the other “Catholic” traditions that have been hijacked by the world. Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick’s Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses. Let’s do adoration and pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet unceasingly for this poor old world.
I would never disagree with anyone's decision to set aside a day for prayer and reparation.  If you want to do it on St. Patrick's Day, all the more power to you.  But as I stated in my previous post, this is also an excellent time to engage with the world when they come to celebrate one of our days.  We cannot go to their events such as the Gay Pride Parade, but we can most certainly invite them to celebrate a non-religious event with us like St. Patrick's Day or the Al Smith Dinner.  We can use these opportunities to show the world what we are made of, to let them know that although we reject their sinful actions, we love and accept them as human beings.  It is, in other words, a perfect time for true evangelization. And there is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what Our Lord would have done.  

Msgr. Pope and the Catholic blogosphere would have us turn our backs on the world and shut them out while we go into our churches to pray for them.  My reply to this is why can't we both pray for the world and engage them in acts of personal evangelization?  I hope that not one day goes by when Catholics are not in prayer for the world.  But it is also important to follow the example of Our Lord who went out into the world and engaged with sinners without engaging in their sin.  As Pope Francis has told us, we need to get the "smell of the sheep" on us.  And we can't do that if we just hide away.

It is important to note that although Msgr. Pope never actually mentions the name of Cardinal Dolan in his post, there is no doubt as to whom he was directing his comments.  Msgr. Pope was standing in condemnation of a Cardinal of the Church and inciting other Catholics to do the same.  And Msgr. Pope succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.  

In place of the deleted post Msgr. Pope has put the following statement [HERE]:
Many of you have expressed concern about a blog post I wrote on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was removed. I am grateful for your concern about this and all the issues we discuss here. I removed the post upon further reflection due to the strong nature of the language I had used in parts of it. I apologize if the language I used caused offense.

I remain concerned about the central point of the article, namely, how we as Catholics can effectively engage a culture that increasingly requires us to affirm what we cannot reasonably affirm. There are many prudential decisions involved in the answer to this question, and my intent is not to directly criticize any bishop or diocese. But this is an issue we must all collectively wrestle with as our culture and our faith reach deeper differences.

I am grateful to the Archdiocese of Washington, which has generously sponsored our conversation on this site for five years. I am also grateful to all of you who read and comment. I ask mutual charity and understanding for all parties involved. The beautiful motto of James Cardinal Hickey, who ordained me, rings just now in my heart: Veritatem in Caritate (the truth in charity).
Msgr. Pope is apologizing for the "strong nature of the language" he used, but he is still standing behind the sentiments in the post.  Even in his retraction here, he is still attacking Cardinal Dolan, albeit in a passive aggressive way.  Notice his statement, "I remain concerned about . . . how we as Catholics can effectively engage a culture that increasingly requires us to affirm what we cannot reasonably affirm."  He is subtly implying that Cardinal Dolan - by agreeing with the decision of the St. Patrick Parade organizers - is affirming homosexuality.  If that is the case, then can we assume that Jesus Christ was affirming the sin of the prostitutes and other sinners He hung around with?

We, as Catholics, need to get out of the herd mentality of those around us and starting trusting Holy Mother Church.  If you identify yourself as Catholic, then you believe that the Church is led by the Holy Spirit.  That does not mean that every action and word of Church hierarchy is inspired.  It certainly doesn't mean that church hierarchy can do no wrong.  But it does mean that we should always, always, always give the benefit of the doubt to those who are in charge of our souls.  If they are wrong, they will answer directly to Our Lord.

We must remember that God almost never works in ways that we expect.  I think of this often when I meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary.  Who would expect a poor young girl from an oppressed people to become the Mother of God?  Who would expect Our Savior to be born in a dirty, vermin-infested cave surrounded by equally dirty animals with only a feeding trough filled with straw as a bed?  Who would think He and His family would have to flee over many hundreds of miles to a strange land to escape being murdered?  Who would think that the God of the Universe would allow Himself to be mercilessly and ruthlessly beaten and killed like a common criminal to save us from our sins?

We must never think that we know the Mind of God. We must never think that He thinks like we do. We must empty ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us. We walk by faith, not by sight. The Holy Spirit knows exactly where He is leading the Church. He knows far better than we can ever know just how to engage with the world.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the Magnificat, which Our Lady recites when she is greeted by her cousin Elizabeth. In part of it, Our Lady tells us:
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
I have not seen a lot of "lowliness" among Catholic bloggers. The Catholic blogosphere has shown itself to be poisoned with pride and self righteousness. They, for the most part, think they have everything they need. They are "rich" in spiritual knowledge and wisdom, They know better than a Cardinal or even the Pope, and they do not hesitate to voice these opinions. However, Our Lady warns us that the "rich He has sent away empty."

I say to the Catholic blogosphere, now is not the time to turn away from the world. The world needs us more than ever. Cardinal Dolan understands this and is bravely going out to face a world that hates everything he represents. He needs us to stand behind him.

The purpose of this post is not to condemn Msgr. Charles Pope in any way. I really don't know anything about him other than this one post, and that is all I have discussed. I have no reason to doubt that Msgr. Pope is a good priest who loves Our Lord and loves the Church. But he was very wrong to write the now deleted post. He had no right as an ordained priest to attack the actions of a Cardinal. His post served to incite the laity against Church hierarchy, and that is never excusable.

To the rest of the Catholic blogosphere, I would urge you to break away from the herd mentality that seems to have taken over. How? All you need to do is be a good faithful Catholic. Trust our Lord. Trust the Holy Spirit that He will always guide the Church and never let us go astray. Realize that it is not your duty to try to set things back on course. We as human beings have very limited vision of the events around us. Our understanding is even more limited. Follow the example of Our Blessed Mother when she said,
Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done unto me according to your word.
Walk by faith, not by sight.


  1. I started to get uncomfortable with the phrase "like-minded people" as though we are all clones. I must be the only other person who sees things as you do ;)

  2. We can never go wrong by staying close to Holy Mother Church. That is the beauty of being Catholic. No matter how the boat may toss and turn in the turbulent waters off this world, we will always be safe as long as we stay within the confines of that boat.

    God bless you, Jackie!

  3. Well might be the only blogger, but you are not alone.

    God bless for your voice.

  4. The problem with the critics is they refuse to make a clear distinction between saying "I think this is a very bad idea or I think this is very imprudent" vs saying "I think this is a sin".

    Thus they are creating dissension where none is needed.

  5. I have to say that over the years I've read him (I stopped a little while ago), Msgr. Pope has become increasing bitter in his writings. He was quite the jolly fellow (might I say happy-clappy?) in his younger days.

  6. FYI: Cardinal Dolan is the Catholic guy who's following the herd.

  7. Corinthians 5 St. Paul great instructions for followers of Jesus. What you failed to mention was the scalding comment of Paul concerning the guy who was sleeping with his mother in law. Paul in no uncertain terms told the community to kick him out. And send him to satan rather than contaminate the flock with severe bad example.

    What has all this “tolerance” done to the Church? Two generations ago, Catholics knew that sodomy, abortion, bestiality, adultery and all grave sins were mortal sins. Now those who openly flaunt practice of those grievous sins are praised and included as if their life styles are sanctioned by Jesus Himself. What is love, really? Telling people the Truth or allowing them to condemn their own eternal souls by grave mortal sin. St. Patrick, as all great saints, knew what Jesus commanded and obeyed His Words. This generation is like the confused souls in the Book of Judges who “do what is right in their own eyes (rationalized mind). Read that Book if you have any doubts where we are headed.

    If anything brave Monsignor Charles Pope didn’t go far enough in his incisive comments about one example of crisis in the Church. Too bad the higher ups stifled his comments. They are going to have a lot on their plates at the final Judgment. Can you imagine Jesus condoning sodomy or adultery or abortion? Remember every sinner that ever came to Him was told to sin no more. To change and turn away from their sins. And He certainly didn’t take a “let’s all get along attitude” with the moneychangers who were desecrating the Temple.

    1. The man who was sleeping with his mother in law in I Corinthians was a member of the church, which is totally in line with the verse I quoted in my post.

      The only ones who were ever condemned by Jesus Christ when he walked the earth were the people who felt they were the most righteous - the Pharisees.

  8. Don’t make any mistake about it. These people have an agenda and it’s certainly not repentance. They want Catholics to accept and condone their mortal sins. And accept a lifestyle that Jesus condemns. By tolerance and association.

    Remember, Jesus is also the God of the Old Testament Who spoke in no uncertain terms about the evil of sodomy.

    1. And these are exactly the people that we as Christ's followers are sent into the world to minister to. They are not our enemy. They are the ones for whom Our Lord died. Marching alongside them in a cultural, secular parade does not constitute endorsement of their sin. It is recognizing an opportunity to witness to them of the great love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

  9. Wrong, the Pharisees were hypocrites who pretended to follow God’s Commands and didn’t. They also made up their own rules…sounds familiar to what’s going on nowadays….

    Lev. 18:22, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
    Lev. 20:13, "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act"
    1 Cor. 6:9-10, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
    Rom. 1:26-28, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions… And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."

    Homosexuality is clearly condemned in the Bible. It undermines the basis of God's created order… His command to fill and subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28). Homosexuality holts the God-ordained means of procreation.

    If they do not seek forgiveness, they die in their sins and face God's holy condemnation. Without forgiveness (repentance and turning away from sin), they will have no salvation. Without salvation, there is only damnation in eternal hell. We don't want this for anyone.

    “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, but reprove him openly, lest thou incur sin through him.” Leviticus 19:17 We are commanded by God to rebuke those who have strayed and call them to repent of their sins, members of the formal Body or not. Parade like what is now proposed is just an insult to St. Patrick who converted pagans not condoned their sins. Guess the sinners at one point called him self-righteous too.

    1. Of course homosexual acts are condemned in the Bible and by the Church. That is why Cardinal Dolan is on the Board of Courage, which is a Catholic ministry to help homosexuals come out of that lifestyle. He has written and talked about it many times.

      As far as the Pharisees are concerned, we all need to make sure that we don't fall into those kind of self righteous attitudes, and I include myself in that. The Pharisees were always condemning people. Sound familiar?

  10. "Marching alongside them in a cultural, secular parade does not constitute endorsement of their sin". Where did you get the idea that the St. Patrick's Day Irish Catholic Parade was secular?

    Looks like all that parading and dining over the last 50 years is a miserable failure: States now with same sex marriage laws, abortions unabated, considering assisted euthanasia, pagans laughing at us for our “tolerance” and potential converts turning away in disgust because we don’t insist on high moral behavior as demanded in God’s Word. Remember He said He would spit us out if we remained in the “tolerating” middle ground. Our grandparents knew better than to condone. They rather called sinners out. How many did they save by their tough Love that we have since lost?

    1. In a previous post I did on this subject, I quoted the following from a Huffington Post article:

      "Philip Lawler, the Boston-based editor of the theologically conservative Catholic World News, said Dolan should step down as grand marshal.

      "My phone has been ringing off the hook with people who are upset," Lawler said. "Cardinal Dolan said, 'I'm sure there have been lots of homosexuals marching in the parade before,' but homosexuals identifying themselves seems a contradiction in honoring a Catholic saint."

      Lawler said the New York parade is more of a civic event that has already lost much of its ties to religion. "Why don't we just admit it has no religious significance?" Lawler said."

      As you can see, this is someone who agrees with you but also admits that the parade has no religious significance. The parade has always been about the celebration of being Irish. It has always been much more cultural than religious.

      I very much agree with you that our society has lost all moral foundation, and so does Cardinal Dolan and the rest of Church hierarchy. The question is, how do we deal with it? How do you approach people who have no fear of God and no sense of right and wrong, who think the only sin is "intolerance"? As Cardinal Dolan and Pope Francis have shown us, we do it by showing them that, even though we disagree with their life style, we value them as human beings and that Our Lord loves them. This is how Our Lord approached sinners, and we need to follow His example. You will never get people to listen by being a condemning shrill, and I'm afraid that is where far too many Catholics are coming from.

  11. "The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of judgment." (Psa. 37:30) 1Corinthians 1:10 ". . . be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

    Paul REBUKES Corinthians for NOT judging: "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, …" (I Cor. 6:1-5)

    Apples and oranges... Define terms. No one on earth or in heaven has power to condemn except the One Who can condemn the soul eternally to hell. Jesus only has that Power. Pharisees may have thought they had that power but it was a satanic illusion. They looked down on others through their self-made burdensome, goofy, thousands of useless, so called manmade laws. But those rules of rationalizations and deception were what Jesus cornered them on- their hypocrisy at making rules that had nothing to do with God’s Law. They stupidly used their own yardstick to look down on souls who didn’t obey their self-made rules or who questioned their actions or judged their deviant behavior as contradiction to God’s Law. Sound familiar?

    We are required to make judgments about our own lives and those of others who stray so we don’t fall into the same ditches. We are also required as brothers and sisters in Christ to measure by the yardstick He gave us. Silence, condoning, pretty words won’t do it. Most times, fallen humanity has to be firmly rebuked using God’s Word, and made aware that they are in eternal danger. Otherwise, humankind gets the false impression that grave sin is not all that bad…another satanic illusion. Eternity in hell is gruesome …away from all Goodness and Beauty…much more gruesome than a rebuke.

    Jesus whipped physically when the offense was grave. His Words had no effect on that particularly rebellious lot. Jesus fully expects us to state loud and clear His Word to a fallen world. That’s not happening obviously. The techniques of “tolerance” and “get along” haven’t spread His Kingdom. Quite the contrary has been the result.

    He told one of His best friends, “Get behind Me satan” when that fellow just didn’t get it. If one carefully looks throughout Scripture Jesus never minced words. Some stayed. Some left. Some plotted His demise. But He never left anyone neutral and He certainly shook all to their core.

    Why is St. Patrick’s name on that parade? The religious aspect had overwhelming significance originally before it was degraded over the years by just this same type of gradualism into the banal and …..

    1. Again, the scripture you quote in which St. Paul admonishes the Corinthians is directed to those inside the Church. We definitely have to make judgments in regard to sin - we need to point out the sins of abortion, homosexuality, etc. - but it is not the job of the Church to judge individuals who are outside the Church.

      I will again repeat, the only sinners Jesus Christ ever condemned were the religious figures of His time who should have known better. He never condemned the prostitutes, tax collectors (who were, in reality, professional thieves), etc. He did not even condemn those who crucified Him, instead saying "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

      Homosexuals and others who are caught up in their sins do not need our condemnation. They need us to bring them the saving message of Jesus Christ, and that is exactly what Cardinal Dolan wants to do.

      Read this beautifully written article by The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, entitled, "Dolan is charged to model Christ, not the Pharisees."

      You will probably still disagree, but at least give it some thought.

      Why is St. Patrick's Day name on the parade? Why is St. Valentine's name on that day? Both have become completely secular. The Church celebrates these days as religious days (although the Church no longer recognizes February 14 as St. Valentine's Day), but the world sees them merely as secular holidays, and that is exactly what the St. Patrick's Day parade is.


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