Disagree, but Don't Be Disagreeable

Downloaded February 15, 2003


From a regular reading of his columns and his publications, I find George Weigel to be a keen observer and astute commentator on the workings of the Roman Catholic Church, especially at the seat of her authority, as well as the interplay of the key figures there. Certainly, I would not necessarily position myself within the skein of his theological bent, but even given the atmosphere of today's church, there should be room for variegated opinions.

We should be able to express ourselves frankly and then hopefully expect a critically responsive hearing. After reading Weigel's column about "the mythological resignation of Cardinal Law" (The Providence Visitor, Jan. 30), I found it to be much more about character assassination than about substantive refutation. In that column, Weigel opted to comment not so much upon the content of the 58 Boston priests' letter calling for the resignation of their archbishop, but on their presumed lack of fidelity to the church they love and serve so well. I would have to wonder who among us is without "major potholes," to put it not so gently. I found his remarks to be gratuitous and mean-spirited. Why can't we disagree on the issues, without stooping to the use of personal invective? It would also seem that our Roman insider wants to see the 58 signatories publicly brought to knee and end all public discussion of the matter. Somehow, I just cannot see the questions and challenges merely evaporating and then getting back to business as usual. Just maybe there is a new church coming to birth, one more concerned about service than about privilege.

After perusing the Boston letter and the names of its signatories, I recognized the names of men whom I know either personally or by reputation. To the priest, I find them to be dedicated ministers of the church, with many years of proven service behind them. Those I know, and presumably all of them, are good men, certainly not perfect, but good men nevertheless. Their letter evidences no small amount of pain, both personal and for their local church. Yes, their vision may be limited, but still it is theirs. They spoke honestly and courageously, again out of dedication to the church of Boston as well as loyalty to their shepherd. Yes, dispute and even refute them, but why excoriate and vilify them?

Father John J. Lavin
St. Joseph Church


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.