The Missouri Connection

The atheists, as you know, are targeting us. “Leave the Church,” their ads urge.

David Gibson suggests some of our own are already doing the urging on behalf of the non-believers. Are they doing an even better job? Best to check in the epicenters of scandal: Boston, Philadelphia, and perhaps Missouri.

Laurie Goodstein reported yesterday the pressure’s on SNAP. Do St Louis and Kansas City legal action for information constitute a coherent national plan to silence what Bill Donahue considers “menace to the Catholic Church”?

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the US bishops says there is no national strategy. I’m inclined to agree. The bishops can’t even get together on mandates, and most of them still believe they are as innocent as doves when it comes to the cover-up of sexual crimes. For some bishops, feeling the heat, perhaps there is a sense that Mr Donohue is right on this point:

I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.

Altar boys. Interesting denial there.

As for the connective tissue across the Show-Me state, I can think of one person: Bishop Robert Finn. St Louis is where he served in ministry before he was sent to the other side of the state. And if David Clohessy of SNAP is feeling the pressure, I must imagine that the prospect of going to court, let alone paying fines or serving prison time is a substantial shadow over the bishop’s life these days.

When Mr Clohessy went to Kansas City, his interrogators seemed less interested in the particulars of the legal troubles of the diocese and more curious about SNAP’s money and people.

It was not a fishing expedition. It was a fishing, crabbing, shrimping, trash-collecting, draining the pond expedition. The real motive is to harass and discredit and bankrupt SNAP, while discouraging victims, witnesses, whistle-blowers, police, prosecutors and journalists from seeking our help.

Marci Hamilton, Yeshiva University law professor and victim advocate:

If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced, it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.

I don’t think that the harassment of advocates has proved to be an effective long-term strategy. The comments on the NYT site are illustrative of mainstream Catholic thinking on this–more than the conservative Catholic blogs. The latter are the faithful believers who, like me, are unwilling to be dislodged from the Church.

But we live in the new efforts of a new evangelization. And reaching out to the terminally embittered is a needful part of Jesus’ mandate. Bitterness implies that a person once felt strongly enough about the faith to get angry and cut ties. While the pope and conservative darlings drone on about homosexuality, relativism, and politics, the Body is hemorrhaging. Is anyone attending to the wounds?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to The Missouri Connection

  1. Liam says:

    Boston started its annual Catholic Appeal (f/k/a Cardinal’s Appeal before the Fall of Law) on the First Sunday of Lent. May be shifting a contribution to SNAP would be in order.

  2. crystal says:

    “Bitterness implies that a person once felt strongly enough about the faith to get angry and cut ties”

    I’m feeling pretty bitter. While the bishops appear to be going after a group that helps abuse victims in your neighborhood, here the church has cut off funding to a homeless charity because the director’s personal opinions aren’t congruent with the church’s teachings. You ask if anyone in the chuch reaches out to those who are becoming bitter: all I’ve encountered is indifference. I don’t think it matters to anyone if I stay Catholic or not, much less if my feelings are addressed.

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