Mea Culpa

Well, one priest hasn’t lost a sense of sin, apologizing as he has for the bumbling, bungling hierarchy. I suppose if Pope Benedict can ask a whole nation to do penance for the sins of their bishops, the least a parish pastor can do is to offer an apology to Catholic women:

As we celebrate this great feast of Mary, the Mother of God [Feast of the Assumption], I want to take this opportunity to say to all of our wonderful and virtuous women that I am sorry. I apologize to each one of you for the insensitive and harsh words coming from the Vatican male hierarchy of the church.

I think we all realize we need to see more virtuous and holy actions coming from our bishops, especially the bureaucrats in Rome. Would that some of them could even make a start like Father Larry McNally did. The usual St Blog’s commentariat surfaced at America’s In All Things site:

The Pastor didn’t mention whether the “Anne Rice-esque quitters” came back, did he? 

Didn’t think so.

Too bad.

Because, don’t you know, the only alienated Catholics that count were the ones who stomped out of the 3AM Folk Mass in 1969.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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13 Responses to Mea Culpa

  1. FrMichael says:

    Another showboat of a priest doing something he has no authority to do. His “apologies” for the actions of the Holy See are no more legitimate than making a hypothetical apology for the Opium War or for the sun rising in the east. If he truly was a priest of integrity, he would resign his position or write a letter of protest to the Holy See and his ordinary.

    I cannot find a copy of his original letter to the Sun-Times. From the linked article it appears that he wrote that the Vatican equated advocacy for women’s ordination with pedophilia. If that is actually true than he is also guilty of violating the Eighth Commandment, as the Vatican did no such thing.

  2. Todd says:

    FrMichael, the same could be said of Pope Benedict and his suggestion to the Irish people for contrition and penance for the sins of their bishops.

    I didn’t find the original either, but we have to admit that the Vatican, rather than “equating” women’s ordination and pedophilia, “associated” them. That was clumsy, misleading, inappropriate, and costly to the credibility of the Magisterium.

  3. Liam says:

    I would prefer that such a priest apologize for the harm to others caused by his own cooperation (by acts and/or omissions) with sexist behavior within the Church.

    This apology has a self-serving quality to it that rubs me wrong, and would rub some women I know very wrong. It smacks of apologizing for someone else’s wrong so that you can smell like a rose to the audience.

    If one wants to sympathize with the pain others are burdened with, this kind of apology is not the right approach.

  4. Todd says:

    On the other hand, it might be that a parish pastor has the highest credibility among the Catholic clergy at this point in time for all too many Catholics. His apology, however self-serving, might be more believable than Cardinal Levada’s, or the pope’s.

    Ordination is also a unifying factor that both the institution and observers take seriously. We know priests have been tainted by the actions of others in their ranks.

    I would have to read or hear this apology expressed to be sure there isn’t too much of the self-serving quality Liam notes. Unfortunately, I don’t think Pope Benedict has escaped being self-serving in his pastoral letter to Ireland. Fr McNally, at least, as described his own sorrow and regret for people who have left the Church.

    That this “apology” has poked some consciences and elicited some inappropriate or interesting reactions is also telling. I’m not prepared to condemn it just yet.

    • Liam says:

      Oh, please, I agree about the self-serving nature of the erstwhile apologies from the prelature and the Vatican.

      I just think that self-serving comes in more flavors than that; and we need to be aware of how trying to run from one example can lead to a mirror image of the example.

      I’ve not condemned this apology, but critiqued its limitations, just to be clear.

      • Todd says:


        For the record, I can also see how this sort of expression can be empty. When I tried Mike’s link, I couldn’t get the text of Father McNally’s letter.

  5. David D. says:

    There’s very little mystery to this. Father McNally supports women’s ordination as indicated in the same bulletin piece setting forth his apology.

    “As I have told our parish students that in my lifetime, I will not see the ordination of women but I hope and pray that they will.”

    • Liam says:

      If support for the Church’s teaching on the ordination of woman requires one to be blind to sexism in the Church (I don’t think it does, but it seems others do, though not necessarily you), then something’s seriously incomplete about how that teaching is being supported. And that’s much more worthy of attention.

  6. Mike says:

    Carol Marin’s article “Church inquisition a warning to nuns” on July 25, is further evidence of the “Catholic Church street talk.” And that street talk is saying that the Holy Spirit must be under lock and key in the basement of the Vatican.
    How else can one explain that the Vatican would declare that on the same list, both ordination of women and pedophilia are grave sins? How else can one explain the inquisition of the religious women’s lifestyle while the male hierarchy of our church allows Cardinal Law to live in the lap of luxury.?

    How else can one explain that the male hierarchy of our church says we do not have enough money to care for the retirement needs of the women religious, who have dedicated their lives to the service of the Gospel (thank God for our generous, appreciative, ever-so-grateful laity who certainly do more than their part in the religious care), but then you come up with a million-plus to investigate the religious?

    How else can you explain that the male hierarchy would tell the religious that they have to help pay for the costs of the investigation and then tell the women religious that the report will not be shared with them? The “Catholic Church street talk” is also saying that if the women of our church went on strike, our church would collapse. And this is so very true!

    We ought to pay a king’s ransom to free the desperate needed Holy Spirit.

    Oops, I, like our male hierarchy, must have forgotten the King did pay the ransom by his death on the Cross.

    The Rev. Larry McNally

  7. Mike says:

    The above post is the text of the letter.

  8. FrMichael says:

    Mike, thanks for finding and posting the original letter. It now confirms that said priest is a showboat. His “apology” means nothing.

  9. FrMichael says:

    Liam, your comment of 19 Aug 6:56 AM encapsulates my thinking, in a far more succinct and less pugnacious way.

    Todd, like you I am sick of the calls from on high, be it the Pope, individual bishops, or priests calling for communal penance (clerics and laity) for the sins of clerical pedophilia and coverup. While I understand the impecable theology behind these calls, it is completely tone deaf to the scandal of the situation.

    It would be better for all priests and bishops in the US and other places tainted by these foul sins to have obligatory communal penances placed upon them. Your comment was spot on:

    “Ordination is also a unifying factor that both the institution and observers take seriously. We know priests have been tainted by the actions of others in their ranks.”

    Fr. McNally’s take on this is that a mere parish priest has some authority to apologize for the Church Universal. I believe the more correct application is communal penances given to the presbyterate as a whole. Right now there is a lot of talk from the Holy Father and others about the need for penance, but in the trenches of parish priesthood I don’t see or hear many priests even thinking in these terms.

    Maybe if the laity at large saw their priests actually doing penance rather than reading about it on some blog or Catholic newspaper, they in turn might choose to join in. This seems, to me, to be a far better way forward than indifferentiated calls to communal penance.

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