Last week Cardinal Donald Wuerl lodged a complaint against me with my editors at TAS, via his communications director, Chieko Noguchi, after my article, "Cardinal Wuerl's Dereliction of Duty," appeared.
This is pretty much what I expected. Wuerl is notoriously thin-skinned about sharp criticism from orthodox Catholics. And since he likes to operate in the shadows -- confrontation is "not his style of pastoral ministry," he told a reporter in 2007 -- he had his paid PR agent do the dirty work for him. Say this for Tod Tamberg, Cardinal Roger Mahony's former spokesman: he at least wrote a straightforward letter to the editor denouncing me after I criticized the former Los Angeles prelate. Two, actually. In the first, Tamberg dismissed me as a "medievalist," which should give you a sense of the low esteem in which Mahony holds the age of Aquinas. In the second, Tamberg accused me of sloppiness while botching the spelling of my last name.
But as I say, at least he put pen to paper. Ms. Noguchi, perhaps reflecting the style of her boss, prefers to create troubles for me by phone.
Go ahead and do damage to me in this city, Cardinal Wuerl. I don't care. I will not surrender one inch to PC prelates like yourself who punish dutiful priests while pandering to the enemies of the Church.
This moronic controversy, triggered by a self-described practicing "lesbian Buddhist" who effortlessly mau-maued Cardinal Wuerl into a craven apology and trumped-up "administrative leave" order to Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, is a grotesque farce beyond the satirical imagination of Evelyn Waugh.
I petition the Holy See -- if anyone happens to read TAS there -- for urgent relief. This scandal is sickening. Cardinal Wuerl has damaged the reputation of a faithful priest, exposed the Holy Eucharist to sacrilege, scandalized confused congregants, and handed a propaganda victory to forces of secularism that seek to destroy the Church in America.
Knowing Cardinal Wuerl, he will probably write to allies at the Vatican after this column appears. That was his practice in Pittsburgh, where he served before arriving in D.C. In 1994, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Wuerl, whenever he saw criticism of his heterodoxy appear in a conservative publication like the Wanderer, would move into action:
If The Wanderer or a letter-writer attacks him, Wuerl doesn't wait for Rome to send him an inquiry. He immediately writes to the appropriate Vatican office, enclosing a copy of the Wanderer article and full documentation on any diocesan program in question.
This ''shows that our teaching material here is absolutely orthodox. But the second purpose is to show that there are a lot of irresponsible statements made, and they need to be accepted as just that,'' he said.
Wuerl doesn't believe that Vatican officials take The Wanderer and its like seriously.
''I have never received an inquiry from Rome based on that type of accusation. If (Vatican officials) were taking it seriously, I think they would raise some questions,'' he said.
But not all bishops are as savvy as Wuerl, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit political scientist who makes his living studying the bishops.
"Wuerl is sophisticated. He understands the Vatican, he knows who to talk to. The bishop who has never worked in Rome probably doesn't know which office to respond to -- and the people in Rome don't know him. Wuerl is known and respected in Rome. When (conservative pressure groups) start accusing him, they lose their credibility,'' Reese said.
Did you notice the source of that last quote -- Fr. Thomas Reese? He is the openly heterodox Jesuit ninny who had the gall to say that Wuerl should send Fr. Guarnizo back to the gulag. "If I was Cardinal Wuerl, I'd buy him a one-way ticket to Moscow," the Rolodexed Reese said to a purring press.
Perhaps non-Catholic readers of TAS, who have stayed with this column up to this paragraph, are wondering why they should even care about Wuerl's fiasco. Isn't this just one more tedious sectarian squabble in the Church? I agree with you that it is boring, but it is not trivial. As pretentious as it sounds, these skirmishes form small battles in a larger war that affects everyone. Both Catholic and non-Catholic Americans, whether they realize it or not, benefit from a free and orthodox Catholic Church for a very basic reason: it stands as the era's last major barrier to the triumph of the coercive secular state.
The capitulations of the Wuerls to the atheistic agitprop artists of the age -- the "lesbian Buddhist" at the center of this controversy stands as a symbol of them all -- hasten the disintegration of that barrier. Without it, the coercive state will simply replace God, and all Americans will wake up one day to find this pitiless secular deity on their doorsteps, red in the tooth and clause of Obamacare, ravenous for their freedom.