Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Small Town Paper poses Challenge to Catholic Faith

Where's the Bishop's voice?

Fr. Tim Moyle, a Catholic Priest who has the Where the Rubber Meets the Road blog has this posting which he asked me to cross post. Here it is:
The Diocese of Pembroke is one of those small semi-rural dioceses that comprise the majority of Catholic Diocese in Canada. Like most of these dioceses, there are one or two small local dailies that have traditionally been seen as being supportive of the activities of the Catholic churches within their community, focusing as they do on local events.

The Pembroke Daily Observer is just such a paper.

However, the days when such papers spoke only to local concerns seems to be coming to an end as more and more editors and publishers of these community based papers are publishing editorials and articles that present a challenge to Catholic morality and teaching. The Daily Observer, in an editorial published on Friday Nov. 13th, addresses the question of euthanasia, coming out strongly in favor of a proposed piece of legislation that is currently before the Canadian House of Commons.

It has been the practice of most Canadian Bishops to not engage in debating such issues in the local papers, a position that reflects their belief that the voices of such small publications do not have much influence in the greater scheme of public discourse, and because they have not wanted to alienate these mediums of local opinion. In this they have followed the traditional example of local politicians who tend to keep their "heads down" in the face of a moral controversy or storm. Just as the editorial calls out these local politicians to take a stand on the moral questions of the day, so too by extension does it challenge other community leaders to do the same.

I remember many years back when, as an assistant at the Cathedral, I sat at the table and listened to the then Bishop try to explain why he did not forcefully enter into the abortion debate in the local press because he didn't want people to think he was an "extremist"; and that he left it to Bishops in larger dioceses, and the provincial and national conferences of Bishops to make the case for the Church in such matters. He seemed to hold to a common wisdom that one should not diminish his office or local influence by engaging in contentious issues within his own back yard.

Well, it would seem that the days when this folk wisdom which has been their traditional modus operandi needs to come to an end. If the Bishops of today are not willing to fully, forcefully and faithfully object to these voices calling for change that is incompatible with Catholic morality within their own smaller communities, (even if it means receiving potentially unfavorable coverage in their local media,) then the forces of the culture of death will win, thanks to the bishop's lack of courage.

Bishop Michael Mulhall, the Bishop of the Pembroke Diocese has followed this old manner of dealing with local media for he has been virtually invisible within his Diocese when it comes to addressing such questions in the local press. Now that the local Pembroke paper has come out with a position that is entirely in contradiction to Catholic and Christian values, it is time for that to change.

It is long past time for Bishop's voices to be heard, not just within the confines of their Cathedrals, but also within the local mediums of public debate, even if it means that some of them might suffer the slings and arrows of local leaders whose opinions and respect they try so hard to cultivate. Today's new media will no longer afford them the opportunity to leave it to other Bishops, nor to the collective expressions of Bishops conferences to make the case for the faith.

I pray that he, and other Bishops of similar dioceses might at last realize that the fight for Catholic moral values has now been brought to their doorstep in the pages (virtual and real) of their local small town media. They need to be willing to make the case of the faith, using a language and argument that is clearly and easily understandable by the common man (or woman) that comprise the readership of these local papers.

Bishop Mulhall; are you listening? Your Catholic community is, and they need to hear your voice.
Fr. Tim, I hope that our Bishops will take a leading role in fighting things that are contrary to our beloved Catholic Church teaching, and the teaching also of our brother and sister Christians.

3 comments:

Fr. Tim Moyle said...

Thanks for the cross-post. Anyone interested in thinking further on this topic should visit http:catholic-dialogue.blogspot.com and participate in the comment threads.

Fr. Tim

Anonymous said...

Does it fall under the heading of irony when an institution that piously holds forth on the sanctity of life is also one of the worlds foremost abusers of the living? While the diocese of Pembroke has held silent on the euthanasia issue it has been equaly silent on the issue of sexual abuse by one of it's own. That this case is currently before the courts is a convenient excuse I suppose to keep the gag on along with the blinkers that have been in place for countless decades. That an Irish priest is now acknowledged as one of histories most prolific sexual abuser of children barely rates a ripple in the in the pious brow of the bishops. But let some poor old person, dying a death of unremitting pain or so stupified by drugs that they are nothing more than a collection of cells laying in their own excrement; let them want to end that and the well fed and manicured hand of the church will wag a condeming finger and issue a tsk, tsk, tsk. But what the heck. In the scheme of things those weeks of torture probably pale to being buggered by the Father on a nightly basis and then spending a life of shame and self loathing while the church calls you a liar or even worse, accuses the child of seducing a man of God.
The catholic chrurch as long ago given up the right to speak for any portion of man kind.

mbrandon8026 said...

Anonymous said: "Does it fall under the heading of irony when an institution that piously holds forth on the sanctity of life is also one of the worlds foremost abusers of the living?"

Too bad there are sinners in the Catholic Church, including me. However, the Church is not one of the world's foremost abusers of the living. Very sadly, Trusted members of the Catholic Clergy have abused our young. More sadly, the statistics indicate that the Catholic Clergy have been no more, in fact less likely to abuse young children than other males in our society. This in no way condones the loss of any one child's innocence at the had of a pedophile.

When it has been a family member, which is the most likely scenario, or a member of the clergy, either one entrusted with care for our most vulnerable youth, the breech of trust involved is devastating and may never heal.

But, to come to a conclusion that the Catholic Church has long ago given up the right to speak for any portion of mankind is an inaccurate statement, that I think comes from Anonymous's own pain.

I think that one who can write about "being buggered by the Father on a nightly basis and then spending a life of shame and self loathing while the church calls you a liar or even worse, accuses the child of seducing a man of God", might do so out of particular personal knowledge and as the husband of one who was abused for years by her own father, I can only offer empathy and sadness for the pain and sorrow involved.

God Bless You.