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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

That ship sailed long ago. Then it was torpedoed, hit an iceberg, and was swamped by a series of rogue waves before being eaten by the Kraken.

Fr. Thomas Massaro would like you all to calm down.

I'm not going to fisk this, because it's an admirable sentiment, as far as it goes. Which means it stagged a step or two before dropping in a messy heap.

Yes, it would be nice if things in the world were more civil and respectful. That's fine.

But the problem with his call for civility is that he sees the white-hot anger as the problem rather than the symptom. It's not--the real problem goes far, far deeper than that, and has been savaging the Body of Christ for decades now.

The HHS mandate is just the catalyst causing it to explode to the surface.

The real problem is that the Church in America has fractured into at least two churches. If it hadn't been this issue, it would have been a dispute over the language of the liturgy, or the latest pronouncement from the Vatican, some university conferring honors on someone who is an open enemy of Catholic teaching or even the renovation of the local cathedral church. The struggle--more bluntly, low-grade civil war--between the churches has been going on since the last bit of incense dispersed at Vatican II. We don't agree on how to worship, what our schools should teach, what laws should be enacted/opposed, what canons apply and when or even what our parish church should look like. In fact, we can't even agree on whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead.

And for forty five years, our shepherds have been trying to keep it together by careful tacking, including soothing rhetoric, trying to give everyone half a loaf or so (depending on the year, bishop and constituency) and generally trying not to see the coal pile in the ballroom.

But there's no avoiding it here. Every. Last. One. of the episcopate has weighed in against the assault on the Free Exercise Clause. Yet many self-identified Catholics see no problem with the attack, and significant numbers even support it. Which means those Catholics are in the wrong, and need to be called to account.

No amount of soothing rhetoric can do anything other than paper over what have become irreconcilable differences. Calling for a time-out, and a mutual affirmation of The Other not only misses the point, it actively makes things worse by forcing a suspension of moral judgment.

Winston Churchill once said "I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire." However well-intentioned, that is precisely what Fr. Massaro is trying to be, and worse, he is ignoring the facts on the ground.

The time for mediation has passed. It is now time to choose sides.


  1. Oh. He teaches at Boston College School of Theology. That pretty much explains everything.

    Maybe Prof. Kreeft will saunter over and give this pantywaist a civility sandwich upside his head...

  2. Flambeaux:

    I have the Chouan badge printed up on photo paper and framed in our sitting room.

  3. This would be the same Father Massaro who signed a petition supporting Sebelius, the political ally and protector of the later Tiller the Killer for HHS.

    I do not believe for a second that Father Massaro cares a fig for civility. He is simply on the side of the Obama administration and all this fuss is hurting his team.

  4. I rather think that the wholly appropriate response to the outrageous political decision of the current administration blatantly to attempt the coercive violation the conscience rights of the taxpaying citizens of this country, as well as those of employers, is (obviously) outrage. I am wholly inclined to agree with Mr. McClarey's assessment.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer