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Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Best are Still the Best

This is not a golden age for the Church. It is anything but. However, despite all my negativity - and I am the first to call myself a hypocrite here - despite all my negativity, two Catholics have jumped to the fore in recent years. They are quite simply, Cardinal Collins and Archbishop Prendergast.

I have criticized them in the past, sometimes to their faces, sometimes under my breath, sometimes with indirect allusion. But, compared to these two, I am the one seriously lacking.

Archbishop Prendergast is one of my best friends in the world, and as those who know me know, I don't like anyone. The more I have come to know him, the more I have come to esteem him. He is a father and a confidant, one of the only people - perhaps the only person - whose opinion I trust always.

Cardinal Collins once disappointed me when he was my rector in the seminary, and however one might split hairs about who was right, today he is the one expending every last ounce of his introverted strength (which, believe me, as an introvert myself, is hard!) over the cause of euthanasia. A friend stopped by yesterday who happened to be in the Toronto Archdiocese on Sunday when the Cardinal's message was delivered in all the parishes. Based upon this friend's description, I called it "a model and a case study for the new evangelization."

All of this is preambulatory to my notice here that I am removing the blog, Sign of Contradiciton, from the SCCB list. I have a pretty liberal policy here. I list a lot of blogs, some of which I don't wholly care for. Previously I have only felt the need to remove one other based upon its content. I am doing this because this blog is discouraging of two pastors who are, frankly, the best of us.

Some of us have a immature sense of the priesthood. It's not that there is anything wrong with models like St. John Vianney and St. Charles Borromeo. It is that the critics of our two great bishops don't recognize that (a) the lives of our saintly models were much more complex than many books lead us to believe, so much so that most of us would not even have recognized that these were saints had we come across Vianney and Borromeo in their lifetimes, (b) the good that our two great bishops do is truly heroic.

As a student of history, I happen to know that all saints did not appear as saints in their lifetimes. Sts. Ambrose and Augustine did not care all that much for each other when they met. Borromeo and Neri seemed to have disliked each other (I think I am right about this latter one, if memory serves me).

When I was a young, idealistic convert, I looked down on the married vocation. I thought it was in essence lukewarm Catholicism. From my immature vantage point I could not see the complexity, difficulty, self-sacrifice, discouragement, perseverance, etc., that went into holy Catholic marriages.

I spent two years living with priests when I was a young man. What an important experience that was. I saw what priests do. It's not glamorous, but it is worthy.

Glamour was one-tenth of one-percent of the lives of Vianney and Borromeo. It is perhaps even less for Collins and Prendergast. But does this not prove how heroic their ministry really is?

Sure, us armchair bishops know what bishops are supposed to do. How great are we! We all know what they should do about the Catholic school system, the parishes, the pro-life movement, wayward politicians. But not every bishop was born with this kind of infused knowledge, and so they have to look at the complicated facts at hand, the inside-knowledge to which they - not we - are privy, and so on.

The fact is, laity, your lives are a mess! Did you raise perfect Catholic children? Doubtful. How, then, do you suppose that bishops can do so for thousands of souls when you can't even do it for a few?

For as critical and negative as I am, I will not be a party to the discouragement of the best of us, and the best of us are Collins and Prendergast.


19 comments:

  1. Colin, very sorry to hear you banned my blog Contra|Diction from the site. You do realize that the Catholic Bishops constantly tout dialogue? What would your esteemed Archbishop say?
    I do not take lightly at all my criticisms of Priests or Bishops. The very future of our nation is on the line and Catholic Bishops have the mandate to bind or loose demons. My goal is always for rational conversation aimed at discovering/presenting the truth while not losing sight of the demands of charity. If it can be shown that I have failed in this regard or have falsely accused any person I will be the first to confess my sin and do penance.
    If fellow bloggers wish to treat me fairly it is incumbent upon them to enter into dialogue rather than simply dismiss my thoughts outright or remove my platform. What is needful in this matter is more speech and not less. It speaks volumes about people and their very character when they respond to arguments by slamming the door shut on them. How exactly are we to be lead into the truth?
    Nevertheless people will hear what they want to hear.
    Some have called me grandiose and overly idealistic in my thinking. I make no apology. As far as expectations go I expect what the Church indicates is possible (and strive for it), not what I or others may think is practical or realistic.

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  2. Colin, I just want to commend you, and applaud you, for being diligent in your duties as the moderator of the SCCB.

    To a (still-somewhat) young man like myself, as well as the generations below me, we HATE this kind of garbage, hypocrisy, etc. from those senior than us, liberal or Traditionalist Catholic.

    Unfortunately, this sizable number of "injustice collectors" online and in their communities within dioceses, do not understand the difference between respectful dialogue, and the works of the Devil: slander, calumny, and gossip. They think they are doing good works when really are un(willing?) participants of the Devil in creating internal division in the Church. I regard this as an even greater sin than the attacks of our non-Catholic and non-Christian brethen in the world. They even go so far as to become practicers of, what Pope Francis recently called, the sin of corruption. They close their souls to the Lord and His Holy Spirit, even if they underwent the Sacrament of Confirmation.

    Anyways, I'm not surprised you had to ban ELA (formally Eric Lea Alcock.) Two years ago, after witnessing multiple attacks on the blogospehere against my Eminence, ++Collins, I felt it was my duty as a blogger, one who partakes to a degree in Catholic Traditionalism, and a sheep with ++Collins as my shepherd who loves the young people of the Church, to admonish the sinner, who was calumnying and detracting my cardinal archbishop. I did so here (http://torontotlmserving.blogspot.ca/2014/05/may-posting-1-trad-behaving-badly-and.html,) and even did my best to alert his current bishop at the time in PEI. All that did was get me a public condemnation on his blog, and my personal correspondence with his bishop leaked by someone in the St. John's archdiocese. Not to mention it's useless now as it seems he moved back to Oshawa.

    In a way, and likely ELA will read this, I do feel sorry for his state. ELA as shown here http://qualitypainters.ca/About_Us.html he was a convert from Evangelicalism to the Faith. Converts usually are the best proclaimers of the Church and the Gospel and go on to do considerable work online and in evangelization (e.g. EWTN speakers, those asked to speak at Serviam Ministries seminars,), but at times the can suffer a commonly observed distress, where their "zeal" can overcome them and they go to the far right in their "love" of the Church. This could also be due to the failure to keep what was formerly, their tendencies in their thought processes and logic and reasoning obtained from their education in non-Catholic Christianity.

    I would also apply the above problem to those social/liturgical causes of the Church that Catholics latch on to. Instead of worshipping Christ IN the said activity for His Kingdom (e.g. Abortion, the Latin Mass), HE becomes lost eventually and the activity becomes the center of the fervrent activist. Sadly, when these people do that, they become the rotten apples that spoil the bunch, and result in the others who fight for that cause, or in the case of the Latin Mass, the "Glad Trads" being identified in the same pool as their radical, misrepresenting brethen, which results in those causes being ignored in the Church and Society, or villified even more by the very people they are supposed to be winning over to their "cause."

    Colin, you have made me proud as a SCCB blogger, and as one of your students of the SINE institute. You are clearly not just a professor who talks a nice Churchy game. You actually walk the walk, and in this necessary administrative act and witness of the Faith and our Church, you've proven yourself a true actor and teacher. Thank you. Christ Bless You.

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    1. Colin, I think you should remove this man's blog for his public calumny against a Catholic brother, Mr. Alcock.

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  3. I meant, ``failure to remove what was formerly, their tendencies in their thought processes ....``

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    1. Julian, there you go again. By the way young boy, have you gone to confession yet for publicly calumniating on your pathetic blog that my wife and I are living in adultery? Shame on you.

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    2. Go fight somewhere else, boys.

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  4. Julian, you would do well to remember that falsely accusing someone of slander, calumny, etc. may well be an act of slander, calumny, etc. Beware being hoisted by your own petard.

    ELA, I've addressed some criticisms to you at your blog. On the notion that "people will hear what they want to hear," I guess the thing to focus on is precisely *not* doing this. (Right?) Now I'm in no position to judge the 'heroism' of the ministry of Collins and Prendergast and I think this kind of language is rash. But it is better to err by thinking too well of someone (by flattery) than by thinking too ill of someone (being quarrelsome). That said, ELA is just a guy, and it seems to me that we should be able to do better, as a community of Catholic bloggers, than simply censoring guys like ELA who get caught up in a narrow and unreasonable crusade. Instruct the ignorant. Now are Collins and/or Prendergast even aware of ELA? Probably not. But does ELA raise legitimate issues of general concern? Yes. Do our bishops make serious (heroic?) efforts to instruct the faithful about there position in respect of such concerns? Not that I'm aware of. Is their failure to do so a culpable dereliction of episcopal duty? Maybe (I would let God be the judge of that). Does ELA's approach to the issue constitute a culpable lack of reverence for these pastors of the Church and a misunderstanding of his own role and competence within the mission of the Church? Probably (again, I'll let God be the judge of that).

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  5. aw suck - I hate it when I use the wrong "there/their"

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  6. thanks everyone for your thoughts. No one should doubt that there are serious issues bishops and bloggers have to deal with and that this is a critical time in the life of the Church in Canada, with encroaching Marxism altering the formerly liberal landscape of free exchange of ideas into one of imposing a view of the good by force of law.

    I think I made clear in the post (maybe not), but there is a limit to criticism in the Church and that is determined by charity, not the bald 'pursuit of truth.' Charity is a personal matter. I found contradiction getting too personal with people I respect and perhaps know better than many do. People should not 'get away with stuff,' of course. However, Contradiction has not presented an accurate view of these bishops' ministry but a one-sided negative account. If it was accurate it would have, for instance, recorded Collins' extraordinary intervention in the euthanasia debate, which he could have left to COLF to do, for instance. Collins has also been an extraordinary force in the fight against the redefinition of marriage with the Synod. He risked his personal advancement in the Vatican with that. So too did Dolan, whom I did not like at all until I saw that. It is easier to fit the narrative to fuel my dislike of Dolan, but that is a personal vendetta, not a service to truth. Dolan did a great thing there and I have to acknowledge that.

    As for Prendergast, this is the man who taught me that there is a whole lot of stuff going on below the surface that outsiders know nothing about. Bloggers have a right to ask for explanations for seemingly scandalous things, but not to rush to conclusions.

    I am no fan of the Pope, but even I know that things are never as simple as headlines make them appear.

    As a Christian I have some duty to exercise moral judgement. I too have suffered censorship and complaints concerning my blog. I never question other people's right to object to what I write. Being zealous for the truth does not trump all other things - especially when it blinds you to the good that is present too. If you have a right to push, others have a right to push back.

    I think it's good when every once in a while we say, "Whoops, I went too far there!"

    The fact is the world rarely changes from one blog post, so let's temper our anger here and there. Anger is one of the seven deadly sins and needs to be checked.

    There are bad, devious, unChristian people out there. It's just that Collins and Prendergast are not among them.

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  7. Hey Colin, I'm a firm believer in the principle of free speech, even if that speech is offensive. I also don't think we have a right to not be offended. Being offended is permissible. I personally would not have censored Contradiction. I think it is your perogative to "excommunicate" Contradiction since this is your your own personal blog roll. However, if this is really a "society" and you are the elected official running it, then I would have checked with the membership first to get their thoughts. Anyway....at this time, while I respect your freedom to act as you wish, I'd like to leave you and your readers with a very important story to reflect upon. It's called, "Yertle the Turtle" by Dr. Seuss. There's an important lesson in that story for all of us.

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  8. I will have to look into that story, since I don't remember it.

    1) I don't think you (or anyone) believe in free speech to the degree your comment implies - what if your wife, children, etc., were being called immoral/bad people, etc.? I am sure you would think differently.

    2) Catholics have some duty to their pastors, although it is hard not to be critical. But you have to draw a line somewhere.

    3) I don't have a duty to support everything everyone says. No one does. I am not trying to shut his blog down; I am just not posting a link to it. Freedom of speech does not imply that I have a duty to promote opinions I disagree with.

    4) If people want to vote as members of a society, I will charge membership fees and be happy to abide by the majority decision, or if I cannot in good conscience go along with the majority withdraw my membership and let someone else take over after a buy-out. lol.

    I am enjoying this discussion, btw.

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  9. 1) The only limit to free speech I would impose would be if the speech is calling for death or harm to someone. I would shut it down in that instance. Other than that, I can't think of any other reason to limit someone's speech. Just because I would allow the speech doesn't mean I agree with it. Again, no matter how offended I would be at a person's speech to myself or my family, I would permit it, and just ignore it. "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me."

    2) I like to think that I have the courage to stand in front of any Catholic priest/clergy to prevent actual physical harm against them. But I would never stop speech that may be offensive to them. It's not for me to stop the offensive speech. I can always challenge the speech and rebut it, going to the priest's defence, but I wouldn't shut down the free speech of the offender. Perhaps this is where we think differently.

    3) I agree, you have no duty, and I never implied that you did. You are perfectly free and in your right to do what you did because it is your own personal blog roll. I personally would not have done the same, and would not have let it get to me personally (I understand it's easily said that done).

    4) If you charge membership fees, I would ask what other benefits I would get...like on my home or auto insurance rates! Making money isn't easy!

    Yertle the Turtle is available on YouTube!
    https://youtu.be/9FFfbSWbLWw

    God bless, and Happy Easter!!

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  10. To reiterate, I would advocate a middle ground.

    Insofar as charity rules, it has to be applied to all. If someone shows a lack of charity, the answer is not to treat him uncharitably. The answer is to question, to remonstrate, to show him his error, explain it, instruct the ignorant, spiritual works of mercy, that kind of basic, bedrock Christian stuff.

    But if such charitable efforts fail to bring about an improvement in objectively unacceptable speech, then I don't think there's much of a case for thinking it would be wrong to "count him all one with the heathen and the publican" (i.e., less melodramatically, remove him from a Catholic blog roll). If the purpose of the blog roll is to be of some humble service to the Church, the sole criterion of calling for death or harm to someone is surely too narrow in relation to remaining faithful to that purpose. There's no reason to think that James 3:5 only refers to calls to kill/physically harm someone.

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    1. ... but no human being can tame the tongue ... (James 3:8)

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  11. Dr. Kerr,

    I'm a little late for this one...

    You removed the blog Contradiction from the list!

    Yet, another example of letting personal associations interfere with getting to the crux of a matter. I know a long-suffering, persecuted priest, loyal, orthodox, whose experiences with your friends Collins and Prendergast very much contradict the view of them presented in this post - and that's speaking euphemistically.

    You removed blog Contradiction, but not mine?

    Accordingly, please seriously consider removing my blog from the SCCB list. It would be much appreciated if you decide to do so.

    TH2/The Heresy Hunter

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  12. Sorry to hear this, TH2. I always find you rather entertaining.

    I have no doubt that these bishops make mistakes. I am close friends with P and would certainly not be friends with someone who was perfect. That'd be way too irritating.

    I am not friends with C. He kicked me out of the seminary - well, he told me to take a year off because I was too young (21, and conservative) while homosexuals went on to ordination. Do I still bear him resentment? Not at all. Why would I? We do the best we can with the information we have at the time. The number of wrongs I've done to people since I was 21 deflates my sense of entitlement.

    Finally, I don't police people's blogs. I don't have time to and certainly lack the interest to do so too. When something egregious is pointed out to me, I think about it. We can all be a bit kinder, I think. And my zeal for freedom of thought doesn't override that. If I have to play nice, everyone has to.

    Anyway, one parting shot before you go: the only person who has so-far asked me to unlist them was a woman. lol. Bye!

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