Friday, November 20, 2009

"If You Look for the Bad In People

You're sure to Find it.

So look for the good in them instead." The title, subtitle and this last sentence are a direct quote from that great paragon of Christian missionary thought, Polyanna, who was actually quoting one A. Lincoln at the time. Polyanna said these words to the reverend, played by Karl Malden. The reverend character was a fire breathing preacher, who under Polyanna's tutelage saw the light.

There are days that I am ashamed to be a blogger. Today is one of those days. But, sometimes shame can be useful. I hope that today is one of those days.

The other day, I innocently posted a copy of a letter from Bishop Henry that Fr. Tim Moyle of Where the Rubber Hits The Road had reprinted on his blog. What happened after was sickening to me. Catholic Dialogue picked up on it, and then went on a rant about an issue about fatal euthanasia at St. Joseph's Hospital in London, Ontario. John Pacheco at Socon or Bust picked up on it later that day, and the crucifixion began. Socon and CD were able to quote articles in LifeSiteNews to support their position, and as ardent and diligent pro-life workers went to town. They rehashed all the information that was available to them about the matter. There was one problem, however.

Actually, they acted just like the Karl Malden character in Polyanna, before his sort of conversion at the hands of Polyanna, after her quote above.

By way of conjecture and with a distinct inability to dig up the real facts they, and in particular Socon have as of yesterday slammed St. Peter's Seminary, St. Joseph's Hospital, Fr. Michael Prieur, Bishop elect McGrattan, Bishop Henry, and Save a Family Plan, a Catholic charity that has its offices at the seminary in London. However, until now, they have forgotten to attack Bishop Tom Collins, who was active with Save a Family Plan, when he was at the seminary as well. Heck, even Fr.Tim Moyle did volunteer work there while at the seminary, as many of his fellow seminarians did.

Part of the problem is that when LifeSiteNews did its pieces on the St. Joseph "scandal", they did not get access to Bishop Fabbro, because he refused to speak to them. As his communications officer told them, he would only speak to real news agencies. I see his wisdom, which brings me to my own shame in this thing.

I have lived in London, Ontario for almost 50 of my fast approaching 60 years on this planet. I was born at St. Joseph's Hospital in 1950, and we still have reason to use their services for my health issues and those of my wife. I have also known Fr. Prieur, as well as the former Bishop of London, John Michael Sherlock, and many of the other fine priests, some now bishops, who made St. Peter's Seminary their home over the years. On numerous occasions, I met or consulted with then fathers, but now Bishop Henry, Bishop Tom Collins, Bishop elect McGrattan, and many other fine members of the ministerial priesthood, who were there at times when I did my work with both the diocesan offices and Save a Family Plan.

So, when Socon or CD take aim with a long gun at one or more of them, they are firing upon My Church, not so much in the broad sense, but in the local sense. These are people I care about. My shame in this whole thing is that in my own blogging, I fear I have done the same. In fact, I am pretty sure I have done the same. So, the pain that I feel when someone takes shots at people I value in my faith life is similar to the pain that my own words have inflicted on others. God, be merciful to me a sinner.

Up until yesterday, there was one issue on the table, and that was what they were calling fetal euthanasia at St. Joseph's Hospital. I wanted to know more, and so I did something unusual for bloggers. I picked up the phone and called someone who knew, and would speak to me. I called Fr. Michael Prieur. We chatted for a minute about the last time we met, a few weeks earlier at my local parish, and then I asked him about this issue. We spoke for about half an hour about the topic.

London, being a small town, I found that I not only knew these players, but also a mother who was quoted in one of the LifeSiteNews articles. I have known her family since she was a young child. She did subsequently meet with the Bishop to discuss what she was alleged by LifeSiteNews to have said. That meeting adds clarity to why the Bishop refuses to speak to LifeSiteNews. The Bishop was seeking to understand the issues, while working with Father Prieur to clarify and ensure that their methods were consistent with Church teaching. It has been a consultative process that has taken much of this year.

The fundamental conclusion of the consulting is somewhat as follows. Although bloggers have made much about the American Bishops stand on such matters, the procedure that is being finalised is modeled after the similar one from the Diocese of Anchorage, Alaska. This policy will be going to Rome for review shortly. It, in fact, is similar in all aspects to what has been done for the last 20 years.

As Fr. Prieur told me, he serves with fidelity to and at the behest of his Bishop, who serves Rome. At no time, has he or have they been, to the best of their knowledge, operating outside the will of the Magisterium of the Church. That has been clarified further in this process, and after the policy is reviewed in Rome, in theory everyone goes away happy.

As to the new issue that Socon has decided to attack on, Save a Family Plan, I am sad to see such a fine organisation called on the carpet, by a blogger. I have known Save a Family Plan for about 25 years, having been involved with their information systems, and been a personal friend of the founder Monsignor Augustine Kandathil, who Socon might want to slam next, though he is deceased. After him, Socon should take a run at the next head of SAFP Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath.

Here is the lesson for me, and I hope that I learn it and apply it. It is easy to slam others for their faith or lack of it, based on my limited understanding of it. It is far more work to build up the Body of Christ than to tear it down.

I fully expect to be attacked for writing this, maybe if I'm lucky, attackers will only call me a Polyanna. So, here it is.

1 comment:

Dan Ford said...

The opening phrase is a marvelous one with which I agree wholeheartedly. However it was written for the film, in which it was wrongly attributed to Abraham Lincoln. There were replica watches made with the quote inside, again attributed to Lincoln, the watches were very quickly withdrawn from sale when the mistake was realised.