… they won’t always settle for an apology.
I was noticing the commentary at the Closed Cafeteria yesterday on Bishop Niederauer giving Communion to two people dressed in mockery of traditional religious habits. For this, the archbishop has been named “apostate” and “false shepherd” and “coward” and “rotten joke” and a member of a “mafia.”
I apologize to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and to Catholics at large for doing so. The manner of dress and public comportment of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is deeply offensive to women religious and to the witness of holiness and Christian service that women religious have offered to the Church and to the world for centuries.
Someone who dresses in a mock religious habit to attend Mass does so to make a point. If people dress in a manner clearly intended to mock what we hold
sacred, they place themselves in an objective situation in which it is not appropriate for them to receive Holy Communion, much less for a minister of the Church to give the Sacrament to them.
Therefore I conclude that the presence of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the Mass on October 7th was intended as a provocative gesture. In that
moment I failed to recognize it as such, and for that, as I have said, I must apologize.
Something akin to stunned silence follows. Comment #4 offers some good advice, but I tend to doubt it will be easy to swallow that elephant in the room. Naturally the very next comment is critical because the archbishop didn’t review what all the protesters already know. Apology deemed “partial” for catechetical fault. Whatever.
This post isn’t about people who approach Communion unworthily. That topic has been well-covered and I have nothing substantive to add. More than anything else, this post is really more about the Culture of Complaint as it has infected Catholicism. Which isn’t to say that people don’t have good reasons to complain. They bring their video cams to liturgy with the purpose of catching wrongdoers. Others criticize name-callers. Bishops screw up. Nobody gets it right. Somebody must be blamed.
One characteristic of the Culture of Complaint is that the ends justify the means. Don’t read me wrong: the ends are indeed very good things to which to aspire. We all share a high regard for the ends: a more peaceable, moral society with the good guys and bad guys getting what’s coming to them. I’ve always thought that’s more of an agenda for the life to come, but being a dreamer is okay with me.
Where the dream goes nightmarish is when people with self-recognized good intentions give themselves permission to do just about anything to make a point. Sort of like dressing up in rainbow colors to receive Communion. Or call a bishop a “rotten joke” to express the “power of the blog.”
I’m curious about the San Jose-based outing organization sending a person with a video cam to a Mass. What’s that about? Was trouble expected? Or is that just part of the modus operandi? How many liturgies do they record before they find something? A priest friend of mine, newly appointed to a parish, was once videotaped from the choir loft. Needless to say, it wasn’t part of a warm welcome for the guy. I wonder how a priest would react to a non-parishioner recording on the premises.
The blogosphere will be congratulating itself on a job well done, no doubt. You can bet that we won’t see 60-post apology threads, however.
I think this is less about the “power of the blog” than a 21st century expression of what happens when people talk and gossip about the way things bother them. Complainers have an easier time of it these days: just go to the internet and surf the ten blogs who think like you do. Everybody else is an apostate to complain about.