Cum Grano Salis

Harry has taken me to task for my representation of the story of a pastor denying a lad First Communion. I welcome such interaction. It’s good for all of us, and good for this blog. I put speculation into some posts here, and readers, especially ones who don’t know me well, are quite right to take my opinions with a grain of salt.

In the original post, I commented on three things: a secular news story, a reaction on the most-traveled Catholic blog, and a quote from the US bishops.

When a person is quoted for having been offered Anointing instead of First Communion, my comments were limited to what I did know: clergy citing canon law. This was a misuse of canon law and betrayed an ignorance of sacramental liturgy as well as the pastoral response of the Church to people with disabilities.

Father Z and his followers may have never encountered such a situation. It’s not common for people with cerebral palsy to surf the internet and engage in the Catholic blogozone. If all your experience is with church texts, then you may well be out of your element in the discussion. So part of my post was to offer a serious caveat. Psst: WDTPRS is not 100% reliable.

Now, it might be that the pastor in question was absolutely sincere. But as a parish priest, he doesn’t get a pass for sincerity when his real flaw may be a lack of information. It might also be that he knew of the diocesan initiative for people with disabilities. If so, I’ve offered no speculation on that point or others. He cited canon law. That was mistaken. I commented on that.

I was also careful to comment in the original post that the family seemed misinformed about Anointing, so it might be that their formation on other sacramental points was lacking as well. As Joyce put it, if they had known to contact a diocesan representative who could have assisted them–and initiated the contact months ago–bad feelings and publicity would have been totally avoided. This would have been a feel-good feature in the diocesan organ instead of an international incident.

I’ll repeat my own principles, which I attempt to follow.

I assume what are presented as facts on reputable web sites are indeed facts. Secular stories in particular tend to get religion wrong. So I will often fill in appropriate details a religion reporter might miss.

If I have nothing to add to a story, I don’t often post it. I have no desire to run a “ripped from the headlines” site. There are plenty of such sites in the Catholic blogosphere, and most readers here know where to find them.

I do try to decline from labeling people and calling names. I do fail at this on occasion. And there are times when, by labeling actions, it seems I am calling someone a name. I can make two appeals: your reading comprehension and that I am an affirming parent (“You are a good person, but your action was wrong.”)

I think tart conversations are interesting, and I admit I post provocatively (in favor of the conversation) in order to spark a dialogue, especially with some of my more conservative readers. People don’t always take the poke, and as a result most posts cycle to the bottom of the silt here, as it were.

Long-time readers will know that if I have misrepresented the situation, I have no problem offering a retraction and an apology.

To conclude: thanks for the many comments over the years, especially the ones with different views.

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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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