Thursday, September 11, 2008


Archbishop of San Francisco, George Niederauer

A self-proclaimed "Catholic" site (Catholic Culture, a new manifestation of Catholic World News) published an anonymous "news analysis" piece on September 5, 2008, entitled "Archbishop Niederauer's inadequate response to Nancy Pelosi." Right away, the world "inadequate" strikes a keen reader as, well, worse than inadequate. Something is amiss. How is it that a news service that proudly proclaims itself to be Catholic, could countenance using a title that refers to the actions of a bishop of the Church as "inadequate"?

In the article, the author (who was not credited on the site) criticized the archbishop of San Francisco, George Niederauer because his response to house speaker Nancy Pelosi's erroneous remarks concerning the Church's stance on abortion came "late" (two weeks after they were made) and contained neither a threat nor a promise of disciplinary action; but instead included an invitation to Pelosi to come and speak with him privately.

The comments at the end of the anonymous analysis piece were (mostly) even more critical of the archbishop's statement.

First of all, how does a self-proclaimed "Catholic" news organization come off making definitively critical statements about the actions and teachings of a bishop of the Church? Other bishops may respond differently (and have indeed responded differently) to politicians who make the same or similar errors that Nancy Pelosi has made. Does this fact make Archbishop Niederauer's response incorrect? No! Catholic Culture and Catholic News Service have no authority to analyze and critique the decisions of our bishops.

The only Catholic who has the authority to publicly correct or criticize the actions or teachings of a bishop of the Church is the Holy Father. And what would the Pope do if he felt that the archbishop were in error? Would he publish an article that openly rebukes him for his position? No! In fact, he would invite his brother to meet with him privately, in order to try to resolve the problem. What does this description of the process remind me of? Let's see...

Oh yes, wasn't it the Gospel for that very Sunday's liturgy?
September 7, 2008, Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mt 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector...

Concern for the lives of those in the womb should never lead my brothers and sisters in Christ into the error of forgetting that we are children of Holy Mother Church. The children don't point fingers at their Mother but rather seek to understand her reasons when what she teaches doesn't agree with their sense of justice.

As for "two weeks" being too long to wait for a response from the Church, well, the Church is slow for good reasons. The Church doesn't wish to forfeit her right and responsibility to ponder and pray over her words and teachings. I wish Catholic Culture had taken time to reconsider the scandalous way in which it dares to publicly criticize the Church.

If the author of this news analysis piece would like to speak with me privately, I would welcome the chance to discuss this matter more fully.


Dcn Scott Dodge said...

A foul, indeed. There is another little Catholic news outlet known as California Catholic Daily that takes to frequently attacking the Church. These are the people who truly believe that they are more Catholic than either pope or their bishop.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for this, Deacon Scott. I feel just as if someone had spoken slightingly about my mom!

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."