The Church and the Press:
Shooting the Messenger
By Fr. Charles Dahlby
Roman Catholic Faithful
Downloaded January 12, 2003
Throughout human history when people have had to deal with a truth they do not wish to acknowledge, they have traditionally taken the option of “shooting the messenger”. I’m quite sure that in the old fable concerning “The Emperor's New Clothes”, the story ends too soon. I imagine that shortly after announcing that the emperor was naked, the little boy was torn limb from limb by the imperial guard. This is a risk that everyone who has ever been tempted to exercise the prophetic charism has had to accept. Recently I have heard a number of bishops ripping the press for reporting the many sex scandals in the Catholic Church. Now this is not right. The press is not at fault. They are doing their job and reporting the news. If the hierarchy and those who represent them want to crucify someone, don’t nail the one who is only the messenger – nail....me.
You see, for the last 25 years I have noticed problems in the Church, inconsistencies and even contradictions between doctrine and practice. I’m not talking about isolated cases of human weakness. I’m talking about glaring departures from the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church by those in positions of leadership. I have seen these contradictions cause great pain to God’s people and I have bent over backwards and tied myself in knots trying to find some justification or plausible explanation for what I was seeing. For twenty five years, I have had to do violence to my conscience, my common sense and my faith as I tried to reconcile many of the actions of the hierarchy with the Catholic Faith. But they’ve gone too far! Weakness is one thing, but evil is another! I have seen weakness and foolishness in every area of Catholic life and I have seen Popes abandoning their authority and allowing unworthy bishops to do whatever they wished, secure in the belief that they were completely unaccountable! I am ashamed of myself as I look back at the contortions I put myself through trying to avoid a truth I did not want to acknowledge, but let me give only a few brief examples of what has led me to be “disloyal” to my fellow priests and the hierarchy.
1. I have seen extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist pour the Blood of Christ into a sink which fed into a sewer. They did this with the full knowledge of the pastor. I have made this known to those in authority and nothing was done.
Conclusion: IT IS SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE THAT ANYONE COULD TRULY BELIEVE THAT THE EUCHARIST IS THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST AND POUR IN INTO THE SEWER!
2. ICEL has an incredible history of agenda-filled mis-translations of important documents and prayers. Rome (and everyone else) knows this , yet the bishops allowed ICEL to “translate” the latest edition of the Missal. Rome sent it back with a letter saying there were simply too many errors to mention.
Conclusion: THE AMERICAN BISHOPS ARE NOT TRULY IN UNION WITH ROME. FOR ALL THE POSTURING AND PIOUS WORDS IT IS CLEAR THAT THE AMERICAN BISHOPS THUMB THEIR NOSES AT ROME AND WHILE THEY PLAY “POWER GAMES,” THE PEOPLE SUFFER!
3. Bishops have protected and supported perverts and pedophiles for years, and only the threat of multimillion dollar lawsuits has moved them to what pitifully small action they have taken.
Conclusion: GIVEN WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT THOSE WHO “HARM MY LITTLE ONES” IT IS SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE THAT A MAN COULD BELIEVE IN JESUS AS GOD AND ALLOW AND AID IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THE INNOCENT!
So, the bottom line is that I have tried for a long time to make any excuse I could for them, but the facts are crystal clear and the truth is that we have many bishops in the American Catholic Church who have very little faith in Christ, they do not humbly represent the Church He founded, and they will sacrifice the bodies and souls of God’s people rather than let their weakness and evil be seen. We have a large number of unworthy shepherds and that undeniable fact leads me to the heart of the problem: A priest is to be obedient to Christ and to his Bishop. But priests have been put in a position where they cannot do both. Christ and many of the bishops of the Church are leading in different directions and so a faithful priest has no choice but to follow Christ. So when I saw what was happening to the children and I saw the participation of the hierarchy in this terrible evil I began to advise people about the futility of dealing with the pastor, or the bishop. I told people to go instead to the newspapers and the local law enforcement agencies. I pleaded with them to retain good attorneys and bring lawsuits. In fact I begged them to sue the Church for every nickel and dime, and piece of rental property we own! I do this because I know that beneath the lies, weakness and evil, there is a Church pure and holy, true to the teaching of Christ and beautiful to behold. The birthday of this Church was on Pentecost and it is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth! I believe Pope St. Gregory the Great was right when he said: “IT IS BETTER THAT SCANDALS ARISE THAN THE TRUTH BE SUPPRESSED!”. We could pray for no greater grace than to be broken and humbled so that we as a Church could return to the purity of true Catholic Faith, a faith that formed great saints, prophets, and martyrs. Until that happens, (or Jesus comes again) we must at least stop destroying souls by deforming them by the false spirituality of “this present evil age”! The truth is that Children are safer today, not because of the Bishops of the Church, but because of the press, and attorneys, and law enforcement officials, and very large lawsuits! To the extent they are true to their task to uncover and present the truth, lawyers, the police and, yes, the press are the greatest friends the true Church and the people of God have had for many years!
To have large numbers of unfaithful bishops in the Church is not new. History gives us hope! There are few things more uplifting than to study the lives of St. John Fisher, or St. Charles Borromeo, or St. Augustine! These were great men and great saints in the midst of men unworthy of their office. Until God raises up such men again we must pray that we can follow the first principle of medicine: AT LEAST, DO NO HARM! Thank God for those who can at least hold us to some accountability until God raises up saints to remind us of what we have forgotten.
Father Dahlby is a parish priest in rural Illinois.
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