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April 15, 2004



It's a start.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Well, Amy, if the good archbishop (and his "brother bishops") are really concerned about abortion, they would

1. Encourage adoptions
2. Join with other denominations to build centers where unmarried, pregnant women can have their babies safely, and maybe get some job training or a GED.

As always, our brilliant shepherds are more concerned with exercising political influence and defining who's "in the group" than with saving lives.

Besides, I wonder what the good bishops would do when confronted with a candidate who steadfastly supports capital punishment for murder -- in direct opposition to the revisionist, abolitionist position promoted by this Pope (in contrast to Scripture and Tradition, btw)?

Mary Jane

In response to Mr. D'Hippolito's remark, I would comment that many dioceses operate adoption bureaus and shelters. And that there is a good record of cooperation between Catholics and Evangelicals on this issue. In New York, the late John Cardinal O'Connor repeatedly proclaimed that any woman in a crisis pregnancy could come to him for help.

So, in my opinion as we say here in Florida, "that dog don't hunt.

I appreciate Bishop Chaput's succinct and charitable but firm statement of the Church position.


I think that the bishop is getting the tone just about right. If this becomes a personality driven story we will get nowhere. The media loves this kind of story because it is easy to understand but it creates lots of heat without shedding any light.

If Kerry is refused communion, it will become that kind of story. Heroic and independant senator Kerry against the closed-minded bishop X.

For years we (including me) have been complaining about bishops ignoring the abortion issue because they don't want to be unpopular. Now they are speaking up like Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal George and we still complain.

I for one really appreciate it and now if they would just combine it with refusing honors and speaking engagements at Catholic colleges, we would have a policy that is clear and to the point. If John Kerry wants to take communion while promoting the murder of innocent children, let him answer before our Lord and Savior on his own. Just don't let him claim that it is an honorable position because of "Vatican II" without a counter and highly public response.


The Archbishop is soooo right. Unless we can look after the most vulnerable and the most defenceless we won't be able to look after any one else let alone ourselves. I know for sure in this country there's a programme whereby those feeling strongly about abortion can put their money where their mouth is and contribute to a special fund administered by the Bishop and which is specifically aimed at helping those who for financial reasons are looking to abort their babies.


His Excellency is right on the money. I don't think I've heard any Bishop so far speak this directly.

As for Joe, I don't know why anyone in St. Blog's is still actually allowing him to post comments in their boxes, but that's entirely up to everyone else. He's been banned from mine for months for exactly the same kind of comments as seen above.

Virginia Kind

There is no way my conscience could allow me to vote for George Bush especially since he has abandoned the Palestinians to the clutches of the Israelis. Look at how many Iraqi women and children have been killed by the US - more than by Saddam. Remember that ole 'shock and awe'?

Al least no one is forcing anyone to have an abortion. They do however use our tax dollars to purchase abortions for the poor - what did dear old George do about that. Nothing!

Mark Shea

In the interest of saving innocent lives, Joe, have you ever gotten back to Dale Price when he asked you if you retracted your repeated urgings that we indiscriminately massacre the men, women and children of Tehran, Damascus, Medina, Mecca, and Tripoli? Or if you retracted your urging that we kill the children of Muslims "in spades"? All Dale and his readers got in response to that question was the sound of crickets. Before lecturing everybody on what Real Care for Innocent Human Life looks like it might be helpful if you showed the slightest interest in taking your own advice. Or the slightest knowledge of what bishops like Chaput are doing on the ground to help the unborn.

One gets the strong impression that the prolife movement irks you because it throws a spanner into the works of your mindless American jingoism and your equally mindless hatred of the Catholic Church.

So tell us, Joe. What do *you* actually do on behalf of innocent life besides attack people who speak out on their behalf and urge that we add millions of more innocent lives to the roster of those murdered in the past century?


I'm still waiting for Rod Dreher to post. Wait, I'll do it for him:

What's the big deal? Are we supposed to cheer when a bishop just does his job? What a sorry state we are in when people feel compelled to praise a bishop for an act that should be as automatic and unnoteworthy as drawing a breath!

John Hetman

I worked for Catholic Charities, Department of Family and Aged Services for three years--right next to the Adoption Department, which was the flagship of the organization. The Catholic Church has always worked very hard to ensure adoptions of children. As for centers for expectant mothers, that too is a major focus of the Church. This is in the Chicago Archdiocese.

So, I have no idea what D'Hippolito is talking about. Nor, do I expect, does he.

Many Church leaders have certainly not been a consistent on the issue of abortion and those Democratic Party politicians who support this horrid crime. Perhaps now, the issue will be aired.

It is vital that we place everything in the Lord's hands and not worry about media or liberal Catholic reaction. In the end, fear God and not the reactions of mere men.

Donald R. McClarey

Bravo to Archbishop Chaput! As usual, he is the moral compass of the American episcopate.

Mok of MN

Bravo for Archbishop Chaput! I'd love to listen to a public discussion between him and the actor Martin Sheen. I think Mr. Sheen has a good heart, but I sure wish Dorothy Day were alive to set him right on abortion. He doesn't accept the Church's teaching on the sanctity of unborn life. While claiming to be a devout Catholic, Mr. Sheen signs celebrity petitions supporting pro-abortion marches on Washington.

Christopher Rake

The "clutches of the Israelis"??

The U.S. has killed more Iraqi women and children than Saddam?

Virginia, please. There are principled reasons for not voting for President Bush. International ANSWER-type fantasies about him are not among them, and a real disservice to the dignity of the thousands if not tens of thousands of Iraqis Saddam's forces murdered and dumped into mass graves.

Bravo to the bishop. I see plenty of political downside to Kerry being denied communion, and as a Bush supporter I shudder to think of the results of a Kerry presidency. But the more I think about it, the more clear it seems. Something has to be done.

Rod Dreher

Well, you've got that right, Jerry. I'm glad the Archbishop spoke out, and given the hapless bench of bishops we have now, I suppose we should be surprised and grateful for bishops doing what they ought to be doing anyway. So, woo.

But I'm curious about something. I wonder why it is that the Archbishop found his voice on this issue, but has been virtually silent on all these grave issues raised by the scandal, when clear and courageous leadership by any bishop, certainly a bishop as prominent as Chaput, was greatly needed. I'm wondering if it could be that an American bishop would get no credit from Rome for speaking truth to power in the scandal, had he done so, but would win great credit among Vatican power brokers for speaking out against pro-abortion American politicians.

It's a thought.


Er, hello, Joseph! Add the Cleveland, Ohio area with Birthright and Womankind who do wonderful work in assisting mothers-to-be. Many of our parishes support them.

Mark Shea

Jerry, Rod:

I don't get the "damned if they do/damned if they don't" logic of your approach to bishops who do something good. It would be one thing if, after issuing this statement, Chaput then turned to the public and said, "Praise me! Aren't a I good boy?" But he didn't. He just did his job as a teacher and a Father in faith. People are glad he did so. Yet, somehow, it's wrong for people to be glad. I don't get that.

In a covenant and Christian relationship, as distinct from a business one, it is normative to extend good will to our brothers (and fathers) in Christ, not because they earned it, but because they are our brothers and fathers and because love does not operate on the basis of "Why should I praise somebody when they do an ordinary workaday good thing? It's the least I expect. Unless they are extraordinary, they can expect nothing but scorn from me." Try treating your own family that way for a week. It's a disastrous approach. I'm grateful when a bishop does the right thing because gratitude should characterize our response to good things, even from insensate phenomena rain that falls on the just and unjust. All the more, we should be grateful when a bishop does the right thing because, as we know, they might have done the wrong thing. You call that childish and treating them like kindergartners. I call it the normal way we all treat family in a daily basis. Most of us aren't extraordinary. Yet, in a reasonably healthy family, we still find things to praise and be glad and grateful for on a daily basis. A family where everybody is so stingy with praise and gratitude for one another that the working motto is "Why should I praise you for doing something good? It's expected. But I will constantly give you hell when you fail to measure up" is a family where bitterness, not charity, will reign.

Mark Shea


And yes, I do think that setting up a criteria which says, "No bishop who does not take out a full page ad in the NY TIMES denouncing other bishops is worthy of any praise" is an extraordinary and frankly preposterous criterion for making the grade. Even Bp. Bruskewitz, who rightly spoke of our hapless bench of bishops has limited his public criticisms of brother bishops to pretty much that. Now either it's the case that even Bruskewitz is a cowardly member of the good old boys network or, just perhaps, there are other genuinely theological reasons for not taking this particular course in fraternal correction. I, for one, have no idea what good bishops, disgusted by the scandal, have been up to in attempting to correct bad bishops. But the notion that all praise should be withheld from them and words of praise for them should be ridiculed as a salve for the egos of men with childish egos seems to me to be simply and obviously wrong on the face of it. No family--hell, no office--could function for a week if we treated each other this way.

Bleat over.

Rod Dreher

(Mark, in Jerry's defense, I think he was making fun of me.)

Mark writes: No bishop who does not take out a full page ad in the NY TIMES denouncing other bishops is worthy of any praise" is an extraordinary and frankly preposterous criterion for making the grade.

Mark, you have this habit of restating arguments you disagree with in cartoonishly extreme terms, and then proceeding to knock down the straw man you've set up in the previous sentence. I certainly don't require that Chaput tear into other bishops. I would have liked to have seen something from him during the scandal (which, btw, is still ongoing). He is the one that so many orthodox Catholics look to as a voice of fidelity and courage relative to most of the American hierarchy. But he said very little, at least to my knowledge (I would be pleased to be shown that I am wrong here). Why didn't he speak out? Only he knows.

But it would have cost him something to have been the "moral compass" for the American bishops and the Church they lead during their time of ignominy, when all of us were looking for some bishop to show himself a Christian man, and stand up for truth-telling and justice. You know as well as I do that if Chaput or any bishop had had the courage to do that, so many of us would have been cheering in gratitude. But not one did, or does.

So as grateful as I am when one or more finds his voice to condemn pro-choice Catholic politicians, there's a part of me that wonders where their courage was when they had the opportunity to lead the other bishops through the crisis that they, the bishops, had made. Are there any leaders at all on that hapless bench of bishops?

I can hear the usual crowd now, crowing, "Rod Dreher says that no bishop who didn't speak out on the sex-abuse scandal has the right to speak out on any other issue, ever." No, that's not true. Bishops not only have the right, they have the obligation to do that. Chaput, at least, recognizes that, unlike most of the hapless bench, at least so far. However, for their rest of their careers they'll be dogged by the Mote-Plank Factor every time they open their mouths. They've earned it.

Besides, I well remember the archbishop writing me personally in the beginning of 2002, urging me to go easier on his brother bishops in my writing on the scandal. He and I had previously enjoyed a pleasant correspondence, and I thought maybe he didn't quite realize how bad things were. I sent him a sheaf of e-mails I'd received from Catholics around the country who had written to me to thank me for drawing critical attention, as an orthodox Catholic, to the scandal, and they told of how they and/or their families had suffered from clerical sexual abuse, and how cruelly they'd been treated by Church authorities when they'd sought redress. His Excellency had nothing to say about those cases. I told him that the bishops simply had to face this crisis squarely, but on evidence of their past behavior. I told him that I had little faith that this would happen, though, because it seemed clear to me from the evidence that the only thing that forces bishops to act against predator priests is the prospect of lawsuits.

He replied that that conclusion was "not just insulting, but unjust and wrong." And he asked if I really believe that, "why would you remain Catholic?"

I replied that I remain Catholic because I believe that the Catholic Church is what it claims to be, not because I have faith in the integrity of individual bishops. And that was the end of our correspondence. But his was a telling comment, one reminiscent of Donatism, and a comment I haven't forgotten.

Frankly, I'm not at all sure how thrilled I want to get over a bishop who is all het up to whack bad Catholic politicians, but who finds it impossible to call oneself a Catholic if one cannot affirm the personal worthiness of Catholic bishops. Like I said, the Mote-Plank Factor here is galling.

Rod Dreher

Let me put it more personally: it came as a real blow to me to learn that the one American bishop I had by far the most respect for not only thought the work I was doing on the scandal was wrong (which I must admit is a fair opinion, though obviously not one I agree with), but also that he effectively told me that my faith as a Catholic was null and void because I didn't trust the American bishops to handle the scandal with integrity. That hit me hard, let me tell you. I thought: if Chaput thinks this way, what hope is there for the rest of them?

So yeah, maybe I'm tougher on him than I might otherwise be, but we have a history.


Rod, you told Archbishop Chaput,"I remain Catholic because I believe that the Catholic Church is what it claims to be, not because I have faith in the integrity of individual bishops. And that was the end of our correspondence."
I haven't an original comment on that but it reminds me of the reply of Erasmus to Martin Luther's exhortation to ditch that Catholic outfit and come over and join he and his friends in the Reformation. Erasmus told Luther, "I stay with the Church in the hope that she will improve and the Church stays with me in the hope that I will improve."

In all of this scandal and it's not merely an American scandal: THERE IS FAR TOO MUCH FINGER POINTING. Catholics all over the world are going to be humbled by the Holy Spirit because of this "holier than thou" attitude and the sooner they become both humbled and humble, the sooner the Church can get on with the job it was left to do by Jesus Christ; i.e. help save souls.

Nearly fifty years ago Flannery O'Connor wrote to a friend saying, "The merit of the Church doesn't lie in what she does but what she is. The day is going to come when the Church is so hemmed in & nailed down that she won't be doing anything but being, which will be enough." How right that lady was.


Mark, Rod's right, I was making fun of him. If Andrew Sullivan's pole star is homosexuality, Rod's is the RC bishops and The Scandal. It informs, and in my view warps, his perspective on ANYTHING a bishop does. If an American bishop were martyred tomorrow, Rod's column would begin: "Bishop _______ finally took some small steps towards reestablishing witness and leadership in the American episcopacy. But perhaps this was too little, too late."


"They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature.

They're called "sinners," Archbishop Chaput. You may have heard of them.

Patrick Sweeney

If the sexual abuse scandal has taught us anything, it is that bishops choose words carefully and are not above justifying equivocation for their own purposes.

I believe both Cardinal McCarrick and Archbishop Chaput are engaged in a sort of Dick Morris-style triangulation:

(1) State (forcefully) the pro-life principles of Pope John Paul II in a diocesan paper, but don't apply them with the unique authority of a bishop in a way that would make Catholic voters stand up and take notice.

(2) In fear of losing their tax exemption they put at risk their souls and the souls of the faithful by not naming names and acquiesing to reception of Holy Communion of political officials who are Catholic and are abortion advocates.

With the exception of the bishops who have declared Kerry a grave public sinner according to canon 915, the rest measure out what they can say that gives them cover from criticism from activist pro-life Catholics that they are saying little and doing absolutely nothing.

The reason for the focus on the behavior of the bishops in the sexual scandal should be obvious:
It was their single greatest challenge and they were spectacular public failures -- and by pronouncing the scandal as 'history' without a single bishop being disciplined or even criticized for his role in it, it shows they have learned nothing while eventually paying out a billion dollars to settle lawsuits. Mistakes were made.

Meanwhile, Kerry and the other pro-abortion Catholic pols laugh at the impotent divided Church They expect a majority of Catholics to continue to vote for them and that, friends, is all that matters.

John Hetman

Patrick Sweeney:

"Meanwhile, Kerry and the other pro-abortion Catholic pols laugh at the impotent divided Church They expect a majority of Catholics to continue to vote for them and that, friends, is all that matters."

Perhaps, out of all the comments here, Mr. Sweeney hit the nail on the head. As for Mark Shea's "family" analogy, it doesn't work in most cases. Their may be individual bishops who act like brothers and fathers, but most are CEOs of their dioceses.

I remember the hooplaa when the late Joseph Bernadin came to Chicago and highlighted his dialogue with his fellow priests by signing off as "Your Brother Joseph." This was in the wake of the old curmudgeon, Cardinal Cody, who had soured relationships with many of his priests by being a genuine CEO.

I had the honor of meeting Cardinal Bernadin as a coordinator of a lay group working on the issue of homelessness. If anything, our brother Joseph was a fastidious, shrewd, and self-contained man. I left the meeting feeling that I knew who wielded power and it was not a paternal feeling that I had for him (RIP).

I am put off by trying to may a silk purse out of a sow's ear, in this case, the phony analogy of the Church as family members. We are not a rabbi with twelve disciples. That ended a long time ago. Instead, we are an enormous body of conflicting and disparate views, trying to hold off outer destruction while being eaten away from the inside.

I, too, waited for words from Archbishop Chaput, whom I had deeply respected, on the problem of homosexual abuse among priests with adolescents. I heard none. His silence was deafening. And Cardinal George was not much better.

We have timid CEOs afraid of losing their "market", lulled by past success, unsure of themselves, doubting their Church, and hiding from their God.

For the most part, they could being leading United Way instead of the appointed diocese.


Most of my family live in Denver and I grew up there so I keep an eye on the Archdiocese. I have always been very impressed with Archbishop Chaput.

Also, Joe, in a brief review of the Archdiocese' web site, I noted a link to Catholic Charities of Denver (which includes adoption and other services) as well as a Respect Life Office which supports life from natural beginning to end, including Project Rachel, the Gabriel Project, and Intercessors for Life. hmmmm. Maybe they really are pro-life out there in Denver.


Peace, all.

A most illuminating thread, especially for Rod's testimony on the bishop in question. I might suggest that if Chaput is indeed the moral compass of the USCCB, then the magnetic poles have already begun their flip-flop.

Mr D'Hippolito, whatever his failings on other thread comments, has a better measure of what's needed here. The archbishop, though intellectually correct on right-to-life as The Issue, is lost at sea otherwise.

Equating any single candidate's position on abortion, even a potentially Court-packing candidate, overlooks the sad reality that abortion is part of Western life. After some years, a president might manage to push the numbers slightly (by a few tens of thousands at most) one way or another. There will be no Golden Day of total reversal, just as Roe v Wade day two didn't mean abortion number one for America.

Chaput and other bishops might do well to work out their penance (little evidence I've seen of it so far) as Mr D'Hippolito suggests. That St Blog's has registered in with silence on his specific proposals suggests they are affirmed without contest. When the Archbishop of Denver sells the episcopal mansion to house women who need shelter and education, and when Catholic Charities of Denver can make the adoption process more facile, let's then (and only then) suggest where the compass is pointing.

Till then, no cheers or thumbs up for the flick Lost At Sea


Perhaps a reason why the bishops are hesitant to speak is fear. Fear of being labeled closed-minded both by the press and by their flocks. Let's face it, ignorance about the faith is rampant. The average Catholic who gets the news from TV or the daily papers and has no solid background on the teachings of the Church, would be quick to add his/her voice to the chorus decrying the bishops "interference".

If some Catholics (even some priests) are not able tell you why non-Catholics cannot be admitted to Communion, they will not be able to understand why some politician like Kerry can be barred from receiving Communion for his public stance against Church teaching. Excommunication is no longer effective.

The proponents of "the wall of separation" have managed to instill in the public the perception that the so-called wall extends to private beliefs being expressed in public. "I will not impose my moral beliefs on anyone" is a frequently heard expression.

The bishops need a heavy dose of boldness to stand up and proclaim the truth "in season and out of season" as St. Paul instructs Timothy, regardless of the consequences. That is their duty. Their duty also includes teaching the faithful what we believe and why, something that has been sorely neglected in the past 40 years. Massive catechesis is an absolute necessity.

Mike Benz


He "effectively" told you that your faith was null and void.

If you don't mind me asking, what did he actually say?

Steve's quote from Erasmus is really wonderful, by the way. Remember all, we are not the first generation to be disappointed by the Roman Catholic Church from time to time. Nor are we the last generation to benefit from its ministries.

Mike Benz

Father Wilson

I saw this exchange between Archbishop Chaput and Rod at the time. I can only characterize it as appalling.

As I recall, there were about twelve exchanges. The further along they got, the more carefully Rod was explaining his point of view. But he was getting absolutely nowhere. It was within the first four or five months of the breaking of the scandal, and by then we were acutely aware of many serious problems in the episcopate and of the utter lack of will as far as real reform goes. But Abp Chaput was absolutely impervious to any such considerations.

When Rod asserted that it was quite clear to him that there were bishops in the Church who had put protecting the Church from scandal over the protection of innocent children, Abp Chaput simply exploded with indignation. The dumbest thing he said was that he couldn't see why Rod would remain a Catholic if he felt that way -- as though anyone has ever become/remained a Catholic because of the bishops.

I have never forgotten the shock of reading that correspondence, from a bishop for whom I had had respect up to then. It was so completely disrespectful. Here is a professional man, a young father, a faithful Catholic distraught over the horrific dimensions of the scandal and over episcopal complicity in it, and Chaput not only lectures him as though he is a little boy, he LIES to him, pretends that it's unthinkable that he could assert that bishops would behave that way.

Just from the point of view of this being an exchange between a Priest and a layman and father distraught over the scandal, it was an appallingly lousy performance.

Since then, watching the sordid details unfold over these eighteen months, I have often thought back to the Archbishop who said, in all seriousness, that he couldn't see why anyone would remain a Catholic who thought bishops could put protecting the Church from scandal before the protection of young people.

Mark Shea


I really wasn't trying to do a cartoon of your argument. It's just that...

Hmmm. Perhaps some family background is in order. I grew up in a family where my Dad's working motto (he told me this himself) was "If you do the right thing, why should I praise you? But when you screw up, you'll hear about it." Consequently, I heard a great deal about what a screwup I was. On the other hand, my father told me, "I love you" *twice* in my life--once in anger and once shortly before his death. So I'm a bit sensitive on this issue because it's only taken me about 45 years to get over this disastrous method of child-rearing.

Now the bishops are not our children. And I'm not really interested in defending Chaput personally. I don't doubt your account of things. What gets under my skin is simply the notion that any move by a layperson to praise a bishop for something he does is "giving them a cookie for being a good boy" and worthy of scorn. It's not. It's just the normal way in which human beings rub along, praising virtue and condemning vice. Remove this normal lubricant from our relationship with bishops (who, in any case, are probably not avid readers of blogs or their comments) and nothing good is accomplished. It simply increases bitterness.

Mike Benz

Fr. Wilson-

Thanks for the clarification. Did the Archbishop and Rod actually correspond by letter? Or was it via email? Either way, how did you happen to "see" the exchange, if you don't mind me asking? I wasn't around the blog scene at the time. So I'm a bit ignorant about what you're referring to.

Mike Benz

Steve Skojec

Mark - you're right about the balance of praise and criticism that are part of a good relationship.

I also agree that bishops should be praised when they do something that they are expected to do. This is a common theme with children who are misbehaving on a regular basis - move away from negative reinforcement and look toward positive reinforcement. The bishops have been behaving badly. Positive reinforcement is in order. I'll be the first to buy them a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch if they get together on this issue and do something about it.

In all seriousness, however, it isn't the praise of good actions that's bothersome to me, or likely to Rod either. It's that we are so unaccustomed to them doing the bare minimum that everyone is falling all over themselves every time they finally raise an eyebrow at a heretic who has been taunting them.

It would seem far more appropriate to simply say, "Good first step. Now please, keep going."


I live in Denver, and I love my Archbishop.

In truth, we haven't been touched much by the scandal here. Cardinal Stafford left a good sexual conduct policy in place, which Abp. Chaput inherited, then modified slightly to comply with the norms approved in Dallas.

We did have a few problems in the 80's. When they came to light, then Abp. Stafford dealt with them, and put a policy in place to prevent it from happening again.

Denver is in good shape, Abp. Chaput has done his job.


Father Wilson, you shouldn't encourage Rod. I don't care what stupid or insulting things he heard from the Archbishop. He should be able to bring himself to praise brave words spoken by a bishop in the defence of orthodoxy and the lives of innocents without simultaneously slipping in the shiv over past grievances.

Joseph D'Hippolito

If Fr. Wilson's comments about the exchange between Rod Dreher and Absp. Chaput are correct (and I have no reason to assume they aren't), then Absp. Chaput really has no more moral credibility than Cdl. Law. Remember, Cdl. Law was considered by many to be one of Rome's major advocates for its "pro-life" agenda.

To those who inform me about their dioceses' and parishes' non-political attempt to restrict abortion: That's a step in the right direction. But when are we going to hear bishops and priests encourage such cooperation from the pulpits, from where it must ultimately eminate?

To Mark Shea: When you start treating Catholics who disagree with you as "family" instead of as "lidless eyes," "pope-haters," etc., then I'll take you seriously. Until then, why don't you perform some penance on yourself by rooting for the Mariners?

Joseph D'Hippolito

BTW, why is this Kerry issue coming to the forefront now? Obviously, because he's running for president. But how long has he been a Senator? For that matter, how long has Edward Kennedy been a Senator? Methinks the Massachusettes hierarchy is (was) more infatuated with Kennedy-ism (and attraction to power and those who hold it) than with their pastoral responsibilities.

Regarding the hierarchy's attraction to power, the clerical abuse crisis in Boston proved that.

Let's not be so gullible as Catholics to believe that our bishops actually give a damn about truth, God, Jesus or the Gospel, OK? Or, at least let's admit that they care only when it suits their purposes.

Rod Dreher

Mark, honestly, I'm not opposed to praising bishops for doing the right thing. It's just that I don't want to be played by Chaput. Here's a man who lifted barely a finger to speak out on behalf of abused Catholic children and families, and to speak prophetically to his own brother bishops, even though he certainly knew how bad ordinary Catholics were suffering (and if he didn't know from his own experience, he should have known because of all the letters I sent him from self-identified orthodox Catholics who had suffered) -- and yet we're supposed to consider him a Jeremiah of the Rockies when he speaks prophetically to a pro-abortion Catholic politician, a move that, while praiseworthy in and of itself, costs him exactly nothing? Sorry, no can do.

The context of my unpleasant exchange of e-mails with the Archbishop was the initial commentaries I did for National Review Online about the scandal in January of 2002, when the Geoghan horror was first splashed over the pages of the nation's newspapers. As I recall, the Archbishop's correspondence was prompted by this column of mine.

I do not believe I'm at liberty to publish in a public forum the text of a private letter. I will summarize. His tone was quite cordial. In the main, he chastised me for being unfair to bishops in my writing, for not understanding that bishops had to treat priests (and laypeople) like their own children, whether they liked it or not, and he told me I would accomplish a lot more if I would quit writing about the scandal with "melodrama." I will post here my reply:

With respect, Archbishop, I believe you are greatly minimizing the scope of what happened in Boston, and elsewhere. What Geoghan (to take one example)did was not only sin, it was a *crime*. It was 130 crimes. And yet he was given chance after chance by the leadership in Boston. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but do you not understand that raping children is a very grave crime? Even as late as 1996, Cdl. Law wrote Geoghan a letter praising his "effective ministry," marred only by his little problem. I absolutely reject that the love a bishop feels quite rightly for his priests necessitates this kind of indulgence; indeed, the coldness this kind of "love" displayed toward the faithful, particularly defenseless children,
borders on hatred. Yes, hatred: the hatred of indifference.

And it is morally obtuse, to put it charitably, to believe a bishop might
excusably err in these grave matters out of balancing concern for his
priests with concern for child victims. If my grown son had a problem raping boys, I would do everything in my power to make him stop. If that meant turning him in to the police, I'd do it with a broken heart, but without blinking an eye, for the sake of his own soul and the welfare of those he would harm.

[Here the Abp. remarked on a case he'd been personally involved in, re: an accused priest, in which the press reported as true things that he knew were untrue. This taught him, he said, to be very skeptical of the media. I replied:]

Good point, but I want to ask: what has the Boston Globe reported that has turned out not to be true? The court documents are there to be examined. Anyway, the archdiocese of Boston has *admitted* is utterly damning. As someone who has had to deal with spokesmen for bishops in my capacity as a reporter, I can tell you the cause of truth in reporting would be helped if dioceses would be more forthcoming with information to back up their claims.

A friend of mine used to be a spokesman for a small diocese in the Midwest. He burned out in the job because he was taking a beating by the press, but the diocese's lawyers wouldn't let him say much of anything. When heinous allegations are made, and the Church remains silent, it is natural for reporters and readers to wonder, "What are they hiding?" It is a matter of
public record that Church leaders have been very, very concerned about asecrecy in these matters. Neither reporters nor the public any longer trusts
that bishops to be straight with them in these child abuse cases. It is terrible when the press, whether through sins of omission or commission,
report inaccurately in such a way as to damage the Church. I can tell you, though, if an individual diocese has nothing to hide, or believes in the justness of its case, it would do better to be as honest and forthcoming with the media as it can.

Right now, there's a nasty case going on in the diocese of Scranton, involving charges of financial and sexual misconduct made against a
traditionalist religious order, the Society of St. John. A layman who used to work for the order claims to have affidavits and other documented
evidence to support his charges. He and his allies say they went to Bishop Timlin on several occasions, asking him to take care of the matter, but he failed to act. This man, one Jeffrey Bond, has gone public with his evidence, and is willing to lay it out for the media to examine. The bishop
is in full siege mode, issuing to the media a short statement expressing faith in the integrity of the religious order's leaders, and directing all future questions to the diocesan attorney. Now, if you were a reporter in Scranton who wanted to get to the bottom of this scandal, what would you do? The official Church has said only, "We're innocent, talk to our lawyers."

The men making the allegations are willing to be open with their evidence. Inevitably, the bishop is going to come off looking bad in this kind of
case. If the charges really are false, then surely there's a better way for the bishop to handle things as a public matter. If they are true, and that is why the bishop is being so secretive, then he has forfeited the expectation of sympathy from the laity.

[Then the Archbishop chastised me for making what he considered an unwarranted assumption that the Boston bishops were concerned about Geoghan, but not his victims. Chaput said, "You don't know that." He quoted a previous letter of mine in which I said, "bishops don't seem to care, except insofar as it affects their finances." His Excellency said -- and this I will quote directly -- "Well, I know bishops a lot better than you do, Rod, including their many weaknesses. To suggest that they protect their
resources before they protect their people is not just insulting, but unjust and wrong. If you really believe that, why would you remain
Catholic? If you don't really believe that, why would you say it?"]

I responded: Name one instance in which a representative of the archdiocese of Boston went to a victim's family to comfort and support them. It didn't happen.

Victims have said this time and time again, and not only in Boston. Fr. Tom Doyle told me (and I quoted him on this in my NR piece) that in the hundreds of victims he's visited, he has yet to meet one who says he or she has had a kind word from a priest since making the allegations.

On your second point,I used the word "seem" to indicate that I had no proof of what's in a bishop's heart, that I can only judge by a bishop by his actions. You must
know that I am hardly the first Catholic to conclude from the record that the American bishops have by and large only acted decisively to deal with pederast priests when they've had to pay out massive settlement claims.

Priests who heard Cardinal Egan's speech about sexual abuse to the
presbyterate last summer -- a talk Egan gave with a representative of the archdiocese's insurance company at his side -- described it to me as being more a session about protecting the Church from material loss than protecting potential victims from predators. These priests who told me that are orthodox men, well-respected in this archdiocese. They are not gadflies
or dissenters.

So yes, I believe it to be true, in general, though I am sure there are
individual exceptions. Why do I remain a Catholic? Because Catholicism is true. Because the clergy are part of the Church, not *the* Church, as clericalists mistakenly believe. Because Catholicism is no less or no more
true now, under the holy Karol Wojtyla, as it was under the wicked Rodrigo Borgia. Because the Roman Catholic Church is the Body of Christ. Because the Magisterium teaches infallibly on faith and morals. Because the Sacraments
are valid whatever the spiritual or moral condition of the priest
administering them. Because when I say the Nicene Creed, I believe every
word. Because, finally, I won't let corrupt priests and the bishops who
cover for them drive me out of the Church.

You wrote yesterday that I sound like a disappointed suitor who has found
out some terrible flaw in his beloved. This is condescending and wrong. I am
well aware of the flaws in the Church, and have been from the beginning,
when I walked out of an RCIA program in which doctrines I knew from my study
to be incorrect were being taught by a priest and a nun. I knew if I stayed
there, I would have no more idea of what it meant to be a Catholic when I
finished than I did going in. I found a trustworthy priest who instructed me
more fully in the Catholic faith, not the wan and misleading facsimile on
offer at the university Catholic center where I had been studying. I helped
lead the woman who became my wife into the Church, and a big part of that
was having to explain to her why the Church is what it claims to be, despite
the fact that parish life is dead, and priests rarely if ever preach
chastity or defend unborn life from the pulpit (I haven't missed a Sunday or
holy day mass in nine years as a Catholic, and I have only once heard an
openly pro-life homily -- it was given by Fr. Thomas Morrow at St. Matthew's
Cathedral in Washington on Respect Life Sunday in 1994 or '95, I can't
recall; it was so rare that I remember these details). I have had to take my
family to an Eastern Rite parish because the Roman parish to which we should
belong is run by a priest who wisecracks through the liturgy, and who denies
Catholic truth in his liberal homilies. I have been a Catholic for nearly
nine years now, and nothing surprises me about the Church's failings. But
she is still the Church, and I love her, and will fight for her -- even if
it means standing up to priests and bishops.

[Here the archbishop encouraged me to keep pursuing this story, but asked me to "tone down the melodrama in the way [I] think and write." I responded:]

I cannot believe an archbishop of the Church is telling me that outrage over
priests sodomizing little boys and bishops facilitating it is "melodrama."
My God. This is patronizing and arrogant, Excellency, and I would have not
expected it of you. You really don't have any idea how much Catholic people
are hurting over this. Tell me, what part of serial child rape, seminaries
functioning as gay brothels, blatant lying and cover-up in chanceries,
lawyerly intimidation of victims, gay-porn websites for clergy, homosexual
blackmail and the entire stinking lot of corruption is *not* melodramatic on
the facts alone? Is stopping the evil going to take the bankrupting of
dioceses and the selling off of parishes and schools built with the sweat
and sacrifice of lay Catholics? Will it require criminal indictment and
jailing of bishops on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges? (It
almost happened in France last year, you know). How much more disgrace and
betrayal will the laity and the good priests who serve us, and who suffer as
much as we do, have to take? If lay Catholics had been more "melodramatic"
with their bishops in years past, perhaps the Church in America wouldn't be
in such dire straits today.

I guess it really is true what several priests from around the country have
told me in the course of my reporting on the crisis: that if this cancer is
going to be removed from the Body of Christ, the laity are going to have to
do it themselves. Onward, then.

Thank you for hearing me out.

Rod Dreher

Mike, Fr. Wilson came to see it at the time because he is a close friend and my spiritual director, and I wanted him to tell me if I was overreacting to the archbishop's letters.


Rod says, "But I'm curious about something. I wonder why it is that the Archbishop found his voice on this issue, but has been virtually silent on all these grave issues raised by the scandal, when clear and courageous leadership by any bishop, certainly a bishop as prominent as Chaput, was greatly needed. I'm wondering if it could be that an American bishop would get no credit from Rome for speaking truth to power in the scandal, had he done so, but would win great credit among Vatican power brokers for speaking out against pro-abortion American politicians.

It's a thought."

And a very uncharitable thought with nothing but your prejudices to inform it, Rod. How about this: put away your old correspondence, re-read the quote at the top of this page, and commend the Archbishop for his words without kicking him in the goolies while you do it. Instead of egging you on, Father Wilson might refer you to the autobiographies of some of the gentler saints to put you in the proper frame of mind.

Rod Dreher

Always looking on the bright side of life, eh Jer? Hmph.

Rod Dreher

By the way, I've provided a copy of the correspondence (the letters I referenced above) privately to Amy and Mark S., and asked that they not blog it. I only wanted them to have a copy so they could vouch for the accuracy of my paraphrasing. I don't want anyone to have the idea that I'm trying to make the Abp. say something he didn't say, or am trying to spin his words. If Amy or Mark do believe I mischaracterized his letter in any way, I invite them to say so, or inform me privately and I'll make a public correction.

Mike Benz


I now see that you do indeed have a "history" with the Archbishop. I certainly didn't mean to dredge up something so serious and so close to the heart. Sorry about that.

Mike Benz

Yann The Frenchman


Did you read Rod's long post before commenting?

Steve Skojec


I just wanted to say that I respect the courage with which you've undertaken this attempt to help repair the Church you love, despite opposition from all quarters, even those most unexpected .

I think that the assessment of your actions and words as uncharitable is a poor one. Even the gentlest saints felt outrage at seeing the body of Christ torn and broken by scandal - and often those who point out the scandal are treated as Our Lord's abusers, while the real culprits slip away.

Charity requires more than gentleness or turning a blind eye - it requires a certain boldness of action to defend what is right. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, and like Christ, She will suffer greatly. It is reasonable to believe that she will appear dead before she is risen up again.

I, like you, wish to emulate the apostle John, and stay by Christ's side, rather than running from his wounds. This may be the suffering that the Church is destined to undergo, but our compassion wants to heal each wound, as did Mary's while watching the Passion of her Son - despite the fact that she knew he must die to make things new.

I would rather, when standing before the Judgement Seat of God, be accused of too much Zeal for my Faith, than not enough.

Fight on, Rod. And keep praying, as I am sure you already are, that you stay on the right course and show the proper docility and respect. Your love for this Catholic faith you have found is evident.

Joseph D'Hippolito

And now, another thought...

Perhaps if celibacy were voluntary instead of mandatory, bishops would be far better able to empathize with abuse victims and their families than with "celibate" perpetrators, and would have been better able to deal with the crisis forthrightly.

Rod feels intense passion about this issue not only because of the obvious immorality (which some of you bloggers don't seem to recognize) and his contacts with victims and their families, but also because he has young children. Chaput's reponse (like those of Law, Mahony, O'Brien, McCormack, Daily, et al) reflects that of a man who never had a family of his own, and could only care about children in a theorhetical, esoteric, theological sense -- at best.

I'm not saying we should junk celibacy entirely. I am saying, however, that we must look at the role celibacy has played in the hierarchy's collective apathy toward doing anything about this issue (unless pressured to do so) -- and that includes this Pope.

Steve Skojec

Joe -

Maybe Christ should have been married too, because he probably didn't get it either.

Come to think of it, how could any man understand what it's really like to have children, since they didn't actually give birth to them. They could never have the same connection that a mother could!!

What an absurd sense of logic you employ...

Mark Shea


Like I say, I'm not particularly writing with regard to Chaput and I'm not trying to dispute anything you've said about your correspondence. That's a separate issue.

My sole point was with the respect to the question of praising a bishop when they do what they should do. I've never understood the "Why should we praise them for that?" reasoning. That was all I was writing to say. Nor, in Chaput's case (but it could be most bishops we are speaking of) do I understand how Chaput is "playing" you or anybody. The guy wrote a good teaching piece on how to approach the upcoming elections. He did good work and people were happy to see it. I don't understand how his doing this constitutes "playing" somebody. As I say, if he had written the piece and then followed it up with some sort of self-aggrandizing press conference in which he boasted about what a marvelous bishop he was, I could understand this. It's what makes Mahony such a revolting specimen. But the guy just did his job well in this piece and asked for nothing personally. Then, a number of people said, "Thanks God for a bishop who did his job well in this piece." I don't get why this is a problem. I can get why his correspondence with you is a problem. But I don't get why any praise for any bishop who does his normal job is somehow coddling them.

Am I making sense?

Mark Shea

Oh, and Joe:

You still haven't answered Dale's questions.


Steve, Rod said the only reason Chaput spoke forcefully in defence of the Church's position on abortion and the duty of public Catholics to support it was to curry favour with the power brokers in the Vatican. His "evidence" (he is obviously not a lawyer) is that Chaput was virtually silent in regards to The Scandal, which Rome wanted to keep quiet. This is, quite simply, slander. An unsubstantiated slur. Rod's skills as a writer are manifest and when he offers an accusation like this without support it cannot be attributed to sloppiness or incompetence, just bad faith. And yes, it is uncharitable.

Han Ng

Mr. Dreher, if I may...

Other than the excerpts that your provided, I have not read the correspondance between His Grace and yourself. However, from the "melodrama" part, I wonder if His Grace's point was that you were causing scandal--in the technical sense of the word--by exposing the sins of others. The sin of scandal is not the same as the tort of slander or libel (in the American form). Whether or not the underlying charge is true is irrelevant; what is important is to not expose the faults of others--to clothe their nakedness if you will.

Let us all stipulate that there was a serious problem of abuse on the part of many priests against many boys. Let us also stipulate that the bishops, by in large, were negligent or complicit in allowing this to happen and/or continue. Let us finally stipulate that for either selfish or misguided reasons, the bishops did not take proper action to console the victims and deal with the problem. Nevertheless, the public exposure of such evil brings the Church into disrepute, and it destroys the lives of the perpetrators (and however much these perpetrators deserve punishment, as an ultimate matter, it is not our call, and as an immediate matter, it will only make the victims whole from secular standpoint).

Here is where it gets difficult. On the one hand, what we know about the problem suggests that the American episcopate has become very secular and they see themselves as CEOs rather than shepards, and so therefore they are likely to respond only to secular-type pressure (media frenzy and lawsuits). On the other hand, I cannot see things will be improved by encouraging more media frenzy and lawsuits. It will only make it even more secular. I think that His Grace has a point when he asked you to trust the bishops. It is not that they are worthy of trust, but rather that despite their unworthyness, God has put the Church into their hands. It is a plea to trust in God' providence. On a more practical level, it seems that at the time of your correspondance with His Grace, the secular media were already doing a pretty good job exposing the problem. It is likely that the bishops at that point knew that they had a serious problem that they would need to address (whether they would do it correctly is another story). Would your denunciations prompt better action on their part, would it bring any true solace to victims, or would it sinmply make more of us bitter, angry and less charitable?

I think the difference between the sex scandal situation and the Sen. Kerry situation is that the former involves grave sin, but nobody anywhere believed that sodomy of boys by priests was part of the deposit of faith, whereas the latter involves grave sin that threatens to spread a modernist and syncretist heresy amongst the faithful if they are not warned. The former involves dealing with the existence of sin and the effect it has on individuals and the Church, a failure to properly address it is a failure of the bishops' pastoral role. The latter involves the same, but also with the problem of influential persons calling evil good and good evil. A failure to deal with it is not only a failure of the pastoral role, but the bishops' magisterial role. For this reason, I think that the proper way of dealing with the sex scandal is to quietly get rid of offending priests, to clean up the seminaries, and to visit and console the victims--I am not sure that public denunciation of other bishops is part of it (although bishops must ocrrect other bishops privately). To deal with the latter, the bishops must continue to counter heresy with verbal statements as well as take action by denying communion to high-profile heretics.

Thanks for reading,


While I don't agree with everything you say Han, I do agree that not all of the remedial efforts for the abuse situation should be undertaken publicly. However, prepare yourself for an onslaught of criticism from the Dreherites. Nuance (if that word is acceptable post-Kerry) is not part of their approach to dealing with the issue.

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

I somehow KNEW while I was watching many of the Bishops grow a spine during all this abortion/Kerry/communion stuff that it would never be good enough for the Great Phosporant One.

As for the Bishops growing a spine. I think it is proof that Grace DOES come from the Sacrament of Orders & it doesn't seem to be folly to trust in that.

Gregg the obscure

Another Denverite here.

The scandal hasn't been a huge issue here, largely thanks to the good job done by Abp. Chaput's predecessors. As mentioned above, there was a problem in the 1980s that Cdl. Stafford addressed appropriately.

Abp. Chaput is an excellent homilist and a good writer. He focuses most of what he says for public consumption on the universal call to holiness. That's where he clearly sees his vocation - much more so than in governance per se. He takes the prophet and priest offices very seriously.

I think very highly of Abp. Chaput. At the same time, I know many people whose opinion of him is not as elevated as mine. Those people usually complain that he is condescending, short-tempered and/or mean-spirited (FWIW, also things often said about me). Perhaps these people are expecting greater deference to their own opinions or perhaps there's something to their criticism. Probably a little of both.

He holds himself to a high standard and he holds those around him to a high standard. I know of cases where he's chewed out priests to a degree that has shocked others.

Abp. Chaput is a man who has an uncanny degree of respect for authority. I know he disagrees with Cdl. Mahoney on many issues, but when the local Jesuit college invited the Cardinal to speak, Abp. Chaput's cordial welcome went well beyond the call of duty.

He's not a plaster saint. He's passionate about doing the right thing as he understands it. Sometimes that passion comes out in ways that are very human. From the little that I know him, I can see how he might not respond well to Rod's correspondence above. At the same time, I'm not trying to imply that Rod was somehow obligated to frame things differently.

We don't yet have the luxury of having sinless beings leading other sinless beings in a perfect Church. By God's grace we may get there. So long as we're on this earth, the mystical body is going to need an immune system and, right now, it looks like Rod has something of a role there. So long as it doesn't become an auto-immune disorder, things ought to work out.

Mark Shea


re: the "phony analogy of the Church as family members."

I'm sorry but you are just wrong here. When you are baptized, you are baptized in the New Covenant. A covenant is a bond of sacred kinship. We are truly members of a family. It's not even an analogy. The Church is the True Family by virtue of our baptism. Earthly family are the analogy, just as earthly marriages are merely an image of the True Marrriage that is Christ and the Groom.

Gregg the obscure

Clarification - when I said "we may get there". The Church will get there. That's completely certain. I hope she gets there including me. Of that, though, there's no guarantee.



You keep up the good work. The bishops have not shown one iota of sincerity towards any victim (to the best of my knowledge).

To the rest of you: when you sit through Masses said by federally-convicted kiddy-porn priests, HIV+ priests, and fugitive-from-justice priests, AS I HAVE, then you can condemn Rod. When you attend a priest funeral where his "housekeeper" is the executrix, and the homilist eulogises the deceased as being "an individual" (to the snickers of the priest mourners) and the pastor of that same parish is involved in a LTR with a woman and the parish is forced to suffer in silence, then you can talk.

Until then, my suggestion to all is to take advantage of this Easter, and especially Divine Mercy Sunday.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Steve Skojec: My logic is not absurd. Of course, fathers cannot personally experience what mothers go through in childbirth. Nevertheless, most fathers feel at least a minimum of responsibility toward protecting their children precisely because they are fathers. Priests and bishops who have neither wives nor children of their own cannot empathize with parental love or responsibilities to the same degree, regardless of how compassionate they might be. And if compassionate priests and bishops have their capacity for empathy reduced by a lack of personal experience, what about avowed hierarchical careerists?

My logic also doesn't apply to Christ, Who is the Second Person of the Trinity (i.e., God). His mission in life was not to be married but to atone for sin and thereby redeem humanity (at least, those who place their trust in His salvific work). As far as imitating Christ is concerned, why don't you ask married Eastern Orthodox priests if they feel any less constrained to imitate Him. For that matter, if you're married, why don't you ask yourself?

Mark Shea: You criticize my lack of appreciation for innocent life. If I had such a lack of appreciation, why would I advocate in my first post on this thread adoption and centers for unwed mothers to help prevent abortions, instead of parrot "pro-choice" propaganda?

Furthermore, my comments on another blog on a completely different subject are not germane to this discussion. The only reason you bring them up is to get me involved in a flame war that would ban me from this blog. As I mentioned on Patrick Sweeney's blog, our feud is over. If that bothers you, then get another hobby.

Mark Shea

Talk is cheap, Joe. And you *still* haven't answered Dale's questions.


O.k. Call me a Dreherite.

I do praise Father for speaking out about Kerry but have a hard time when he speaks about how Bishops deal with abusing priests as children.

Mark speaks of the familial relationship we have with one and other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Last I checked we are children to priests as well. That's why I chose to call Bishop Chaput first as father in this post. If someone came into confession and confessed doing some of the things that the abusers did, I imagine the bishop or any bishop would not be the gentle fatherly type. They would more likely tell the person to turn themselves in so they could pay the price of the crime and get the professional help they needed. Maybe the bishops encouraged the priest abusers to turn themselves in, but it doesn't seem from the evidence of the last eighteen months that they did.

A different standard for priests. That's what still gets me. When we are all supposed to be children to the bishops.

So, I think Rod has a point.

Kathleen the Dreherite

Mark Shea

Hmmm.... If it will help to keep the discussion from getting more polarized, permit me to call myself "Mark the Dreherite."

Please hear me: I'm not here to say "Abp. Chaput is above criticism." I'm not here to say much about Chaput in particular at all. What I was taking issue with was Jerry's post (written tongue in cheek, but nonetheless reflective of remarks Rod has made numerous times in the past: "What's the big deal? Are we supposed to cheer when a bishop just does his job? What a sorry state we are in when people feel compelled to praise a bishop for an act that should be as automatic and unnoteworthy as drawing a breath!" I did not not know Jerry was being tongue in cheek, but it doesn't matter, because I've read *exactly* this sentiment several times in St. Blog's comments and I just don't get it.

*Please* do not turn the conversation into Sheaites (sounds Islamic) vs. Dreherites and start choosing sides. I'm not faulting the critique of bishops when bishops deserve critique. What I'm questioning is the critique of people for praising a bishop who does a good thing. That, I just don't get.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Kathleen, the fundamental problem is that Church authorities treat all their subordinates as children, whether it's the bishop-priest or priest-lay relationship. While I understand that image is intended to promote a sense of pastoral care, the truth doesn't come close to the image. We "children" not only are expected to "pray, pay and obey" but also to act like mushrooms (you know, sit in the dark and get fed a lot of pseudo-intellectual fertilizer). Why do you think the bishops and their superiors in Rome are so feckless and clueless concerning the clerical abuse crisis? Why do you think Absp. Chaput had the audacity to question Rod's faith when confronted with the results of Rod's findings?

Why do you think so many "good Catholics" (including a few on this thread) have taken Rod unjustly to task for asking legitimate questions, let alone telling the truth? Because by doing so, Rod exposes these "good Catholics" for the fools they have become after giving unwarranted deference to bishops acting as demi-tyrants.


One more Denverite here: Chaput has his flaws, as Gregg suggested, but Gregg and Jerry are right. Moreover, Chaput didn't just discover his spine on this issue -- I cannot tell you how many times I've heard him speak to these issues in homilies and in talks, and in his writings. Moreover, he does have something to lose -- Colorado is, right now, facing the John Kerry issue in a very important U.S. Senate race, where the pro-abort "Catholic" is, unfortunately, highly respected in the state, by Catholics, for his Catholicness. I would suspect Chaput's timing has a lot more to do with local politics -- and being an actual pastor to his COLORADO flock -- than the cynical flush Rod puts on it. Abp. Chaput may look back someday and think he should've taken a greater, or more public, leadership role in cleaning up the mess of the scandal. He may not -- I don't know. Maybe, God forbid, he saw his role in cleaning up the scandal as one of actively evangelizing and actually teaching his flock, and -- here's an idea -- starting a new, orthodox seminary brimming with young men madly in love with God. I for one have been a bit disappointed that he hasn't been more aggressive regarding the scandal -- but I'm not quite ready to cast him into the seventh circle of Hell for it, either.


I agree with Mr.Dreher when he says we are being played. I expect complete and total honesty from the leaders of my church, but where the scandal is concerned what we usually get are half truths at best. It takes true courage to speak out when an injustice has been done if the powers that be would rather you were silent.


I once heard a seminary professor explain how we know that the bishops are truly the successors of the Apostles: because the Apostles, at the time of Our Lord's arrest, either betrayed Him, made a cowardly dash for the tall grass, or openly denied Him. Sounds about right to me.

That said, I'm a lot more interested in how a bishop governs his own diocese than in whether he denounces misbehavior by his brother bishops in other dioceses. If Chaput had been presiding over a nest of pederasts in Denver, then I think Mr. Dreher would have a lot more ground to complain about him. As it is, I think Dreher is letting himself get way too swayed by hard feelings stemming from his private correspondence two years ago, in which Chaput said his approach to The Scandal was wrong-headed. (Yes, I agree that Chaput's question about why Dreher stays in the Church was ill-thought-out, but I wouldn't conclude that Chaput is therefore a crypto-Donatist.)

While we are never permitted to do evil actions, we are not obligated to do all conceivable good actions (such as denounce bad or negligent bishops). Indeed, there are times when considerations of prudence might dictate that we refrain from doing certain good actions. Since there's no evidence that Bishop Chaput himself has been harboring pederasts, his dispute with Mr. Dreher strikes me as one over the prudence of competing approaches to the problem. To condemn Chaput for that disagreement is like condemning Pius XII for failing to say as much as the critic thinks he should have said about Naziism.


Joseph, you are not really comparing like with like when you compare the "religious authorities" who persecuted Christ with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which He founded.

Fr. Matthew K

What is it, gentle reader, that made you scroll this far
down on such a discusion? Without trying to
comment on all the discussion so far, I would
agree that some of Dreher's writing during the
long Lent of 2002 was overly emotional and critical
of bishops in general to a fault. Bishop Chaput
may well have "lost it" and said something uncharitable
as a result. Both men are Catholics that I have
much appreciation for. I do find one of them somewhat
wiser in his public statements than the other.

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