Last week I reported that Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s communications director, Chieko Noguchi, lodged a complaint with my editor. I did not object to the fact of the complaint; I objected to its form: an attempted traceless phone call. By contrast, I noted that Cardinal Roger Mahony’s old pit bull, Tod Tamberg, nipped at my heels in plain sight. Tamberg sent a letter to TAS, signed it, and placed his title below his name. That’s more honorable than a record-less phone call designed to silence me.
Critics of my column, such as Ed Peters, a canon lawyer from the archdiocese of Detroit, say that my complaint about the complaint resembles the very thin-skinned whining I bemoan in Cardinal Wuerl. No, it doesn’t. I welcome Cardinal Wuerl’s criticism. I invite him to write a formal letter of complaint, and I urge TAS to publish it in full. Moreover, TAS offers readers a comment box in which readers can launch limitless attacks upon my pieces.
Cardinal Wuerl’s silence is deafening. He still hasn’t commented directly on his baldly unjust “administrative leave” order to Fr. Marcel Guarnizo. Nor has he explained to the faithful why Barbara Johnson, the self-described practicing lesbian and Buddhist to whom Fr. Guarnizo properly denied Communion, enjoys a canonical right to the sacred species.
Perversely, Cardinal Wuerl has at once violated the canonical rights of a faithful priest while inventing out of thin air a “policy” that orders his subordinates to distribute the Eucharist to anti-Catholic activists and defiant mortal sinners. In his apology to Barbara Johnson, via one of his auxiliary bishops, Cardinal Wuerl rebuked Fr. Guarnizo for a lack of “pastoral” sensitivity. This is Cardinal Wuerl’s euphemism for priestly action that takes orthodox teaching and discipline seriously.
The word “pastoral” should make the faithful groan at this point. It is one of the great weasel words of the “spirit of Vatican II” Church in America. The word “pastoral” invariably dribbles from the lips of bishops like Cardinal Wuerl who regularly expose their flocks to wolves. Jesus Christ said that the “good shepherd” watches the gate. Cardinal Wuerl’s “policy” is to leave it wide open for the Church’s fiercest enemies. This is why the Pelosis and the Barbara Johnsons just keep coming up for Communion. Since Cardinal Wuerl refuses to control the sacrament, they will.
Notice that “pastorally sensitive” bishops produce very few pastors (by punishing orthodox priests like Fr. Guarnizo, they cause vocations to dry up); they scatter flocks through feeble and slippery catechesis; and they provide plenty of cover for wolves in Catholic clothing, such as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who wade into the Communion line and tout their “Catholicism” on the campaign trail while slam-dunking secularism over feckless and compromised bishops.
“Do not scatter pearls before swine,” Jesus Christ said. “Do not give what is holy to dogs.” How pastorally insensitive of the Son of God! A Church official who has watched Wuerl’s persecution of Fr. Guarnizo with horror commented to me that if Jesus Christ had served in Cardinal Wuerl’s archdiocese “he would be on administrative leave too.” Unlike the Cardinal Wuerls, Christ never felt the need to play patty cake with the enemies of the Church. He liked struggling sinners but not unrepentant ones who seek to defile his temple.
It amazes me that a clericalist culture of toadying and flattery still exists in American Church circles, given the scandals into which the bishops have routinely plunged the faithful. I have no desire to participate in this worldly game of ring-kissing in which the Cardinal Wuerls wallow. They enjoy the trappings of their office without actually exercising it for the good of souls. They demand 13th-century obedience while behaving like 21st-century flakes who play church in costume and staff.
As St. Augustine said, God does not need our “lies.” He needs our truth-telling, even if that truth-telling means wounding the egos of derelict successors to his disciples.
The aforementioned Ed Peters suggests that I am guilty of canonical offenses for criticizing Cardinal Wuerl. I mentioned this to another canon lawyer. He laughed openly, dismissing the charge as clericalist bluster.
The faithful have not only a right but a duty to resist heterodox bishops. Without that resistance clericalism runs amok and the integrity of the faith is lost.
Last week I was called the journalistic equivalent of Hugo Chavez — a “right-wing fanatic, a man whose dogmatism is as scary as the authoritarians on the left.” Perhaps I should complain to the bishops’ Catholic anti-defamation group, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. But, wait, I can’t: the statement above comes from the Catholic League’s head, Bill Donohue, who added that he has “known Cardinal Wuerl for about 25 years” and that he “got me involved in the Catholic League.”
It all sounds very chummy. An “anti-defamation” league that defames orthodox Catholics as “authoritarians” is exactly what one would expect from one of Cardinal Wuerl’s clericalist tentacles. I apologize for nothing and repeat that he is guilty of a gross dereliction of duty. He has damaged the reputation of an innocent priest while emboldening the Church’s enemies. This is a scandal that cries out to Pope Benedict XVI for correction.