07 February, 2012

Somedays it's damned near impossible to visit anywhere on the internet these days without getting into a slugfest

(NOTICE: This is an edited and condensed version of the 1st production of this column. My first attempt was too long and unfocused. This second edition strips the argument down to its essence and better accomplishes what I wanted to say. Thank you to those who responded with edit suggestions, helping me to offer a clear argument and defense of the clergy referenced below. Your help was appreciated. Fr. Tim)

Angelo Dundee
Sylvia (Sylvia's Site) & Michael MacEachern
I noted with sadness the other day obituaries published in the wake of the death of Angelo Dundee, the man who trained Ali to Heavyweight Championship of the World more than once. From the 'float like a butterfly' days of his early victories over Listen and Frasier, to the 'Rope-a-dope' tactics that felled the Goliath Foreman, all the way to the spanking of Spinks, Dundee guided Ali to victory after victory. I well remember those epic contests of brawn and will. They captured the attention and admiration of the world like no other sporting event, lifting Muhammad Ali to a status unmatched as a global icon: a world champion in sport and life. And he couldn't have done it without Dundee.

Given the body shots that the Roman Catholic Church has been absorbing through the ‘Long Lent’ of the sex abuse scandals, Angelo would be a welcome voice at the current Vatican conference designed to share best practices and protocols throughout the Church. Seeming to reel after being pummeled by the multiple revelations of clergy malfeasance, the faithful in Canada can ill afford to receive any below the belt shots as she has  suffered at the hands of some who are trying to knock them out of the fight altogether.

Such is the case recently on a Canadian blog dedicated to exposing these scandals and the indolent manner in which they have been handled by Bishops it times past. Springing out of the Cornwall Abuses allegations and Inquiry in the 1990’s, its author Sylvia MacEachern has successfully held Canadian Bishops feet to the fire to ensure they put into practice the justice they promise to bring to  wounded victims. She’s been an effective ‘cut-man’ in the Church’s corner. However, she may have crossed a line recently with recent allegations she has published involving a Maritime Bishop and priest.

Bishop Robert Harris (St. John, NB) is accused of placing the children of the St. John NB. at risk by not directly taking to the accused priest’s parish to indicate that he was being removed due to allegation of child abuse.  Instead, he fulfilled both the letter and spirit of Church protocol of removing any accused cleric from office and public ministry. He chose to do so without inflicting a body blow to his reputation that comes with the taint of scandal until a complete Police investigation was completed. He permitted the priest to step aside on leave for 'personal reasons’ which preserved his reputation and the safety of the congregation's children. Any priest in such a situation is denied the right to publicly minister or celebrate the sacraments effectively removing his from coming into contact with children throughout the Diocese.

I hasten to add at this point that Bishop Harris is reported in the blog article attacking him as ensuring that the matter was quickly and completed reported and investigated by the Police. It states that the Police forces of both Fredericton and St. John conducted independent investigations of the allegations and have declined to bring charges against the accused priest.

Anyone hit with such an unjustified allegation as to have deliberately placed children in danger to protect the reputation of another would yell ‘Foul’ at being subjected to such a low blow. If the Bishop fully and immediately took the appropriate steps to ensure both the imperatives of security and investigation, especially if after a thorough two-year long investigation by two Police forces failed to find evidence to justify laying charges, it is difficult to understand why their records should both bear the marks with such a vile public false accusation on the internet as having endangered or assaulting children.

Bishop Harris is to be commended for the manner in which he has conducted this whole affair. His actions ensured that children were kept protected and safe in the hands of his clergy without inciting a firestorm of community gossip centering out any children who had been in the accused company, questioning whether they were now ‘damaged goods',  splattering more blood on innocent ring-side spectators. If every Bishop demonstrated such a steady hand and keen pastoral sense of the needs of their flock from the beginning of all these trials as +Harris has done, voices smearing their character would have no audience or resonance at all. Sadly too many failed to meet the same standard and all Catholic clergy have suffered jabs and blows to our prestige and reputations ever since.

As a priest who took seriously Pope Benedict’s command for Catholics to take up the instruments of social media to promote and protect the faith, I have been subjected to similar allegations and innuendo. The state of the Church in the public square is so low today that any defense or explanation offered by priests results in a steady stream of punches, jabs and low-blows aimed at impugning their intentions, integrity and character. It has been my experience that fists start flying in every direction beating to the mat anyone representing the Church who dares raise his face from the mat to present a defence. It has  not been a pleasant experience being so maligned. 


It has beaten most priests into quiet service and submission, limiting their voice and influence only for those who attend for weekly services. Many clergy believe it is not safe for them to stand out in the public square. Their voice is being silenced or shouted down, denying them the capacity to minister, to speak out to the greater community. Their audience now turns a deaf ear, refusing to hear the Church's voice as it tries to address the liberal advocates who are driving our culture into the ground with its fixation on personal choice and autonomy. The costs of this debacle are measured in a growing mound of dead pre-born children and defenseless seniors. Defenseless and muet participants, unable to survive even a single round in the bloody contest for their life, they have been quickly dispatched and generating little interest within the media or the greater community because voices, crying out on their behalf, have fallen silent in the public square. THAT is a cause worthy of taking to the ramparts to shout our cried of alarm, even if it means that joining the fray will result in some bites and bruises for the team. Thus the damage to the Church and State is multiplied many times over by one single person delivering a rabbit shot to the kidney of those tasked with representing the propositions of belief.

Indeed, first and foremost, the best care and support possible must be afforded those who have already been K/O’ed by the foul assaults of predator priests. Every person attending the Vatican conference would breathe as one on this point. But, from the uninvolved children who would have been subjected to suspicious gossip, to the priest, community and Bishop who have all suffered the blows of being falsely and publicly accused, many more are needlessly suffering the bruises of an unmerited beating by a bully. 


A corner man as brilliant as Dundee would find no shortage of wounded warriors in the Catholic Church today. They seem to have been bloodied and battered by those trying to knock them out of the game and in need of help to keep fighting on towards the final World Championship they are trying to win for believers. I pray he can pass along a few tips to the Bishop today who represents another pugnacious fellow named Peter who first settled on that little hill in Rome. We can all use the help learning how to defend ourselves when opponents insist on hitting us with the occasional low blow and come out with our arms outstretched in victory!

 

36 comments:

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    1. Fr. Steve, you know your comments about the connection of Sylvia and the Otawa Sun are not fullsome and complete. Talk about inuendo!, The campaign by you and Fr. moyle to try to get rid of Sylvia's Site is obvious and malicious- not to say outrageous and deceitful. You maligned people who posted using something other than their own name, and then admit to doing it before Christmas and again yesterday. Do you believe a half-truth is the worst form of Lying? I do.
      This site and the game you and Fr. Moyle play is so self-serving, evident, and evil, it brings into question your reasons for having become a Roman Catholic Priest in the first place. The Trojan Horse is running rampant in the Pembroke Diocese.

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    2. Fr. Tim MoyleFeb 7, 2012 09:38 AM

      Anon: It is also a sign of Christian and priestly character to admit to one's faults and failings. Both Fr. Steve and I have done so in writing that we regret some of the language used in our brawl on Sylvia's Site on Sunday evening. But this does not illegitimate the proper and important questions that I have raised about her crusade against +Harris and Fr. McGuire, or which Steve asks about her connections to the media.

      The fact that she doesn't like it... the fact that her knee jerk reaction is to ban our defense of the clergy while encouraging their wholesale slander by others... it is indicative that something that may have started with good intentions has clearly now morphed and been revealed as a source of unmitigated character assassination and personal assaults against the Church that I serve and love. If you don't like the way I or others do this... that's just your tough luck. I'll do it here and elsewhere anywhere I can.

      At least you are permitted to post on my blog, something that priests evidently cannot do on Sylvia's Site. You should consider yourself lucky.

      Fr. Tim

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  4. An Explanation for a revised comment:

    A revised column more than merited a revised comment that followed. I had not seen how my response seemed to leave Fr. Steve out to dry without the original source material. That was certainly not my intent. As I said to an online friend who helped with pruning away the invective and ad hominum arguments in the original, my mental editor didn't kick in before I had a 2nd cup of morning coffee and give it a final edit before publishing.

    The results and merits won for the Church by warning people away from trusting sites that are more sanctimonious, oppressive and dangerous than any corrupt papacy in history could hope to muster is far more valuable than the personal satisfaction of dragging such as Sylvia through the mud and giving her a taste of her own medicine which I did in the first column. It is a far nobler and moral course to follow to remove such offending material.

    I'm certain, Gentle Readers (to steal a phrase I like) you will agree.

    Fr. Tim

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    1. Fr. Moyle and Fr. Ballard: You both are so far off from what I and other cradle-Catholics believe a Catholic Priest should behave like, having Jesus as their model, you do NOT deserve to be called father anymore. You both are a disgrace to the Grace you received when you were ordained.
      You should remember your Boss is Jesus Christ, The Father, and the Holy Spirit in one- not SATAN.

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    1. You were ordained to be the representative of Jesus to we poor humans. Tell me where or when Jesus betrayed, or misled people like you and Moyle did Sunday, Monday of this week, and last year in the multple posting names?
      You claim to be well educated so please inform we poor, impoverished, weak believers !

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    1. You really are obtuse ! Did anyone ask who paid for your trip to Vegas, or your tuition to the Seminary? Oh, exscuse me, I guess that is your business.

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    4. Fr. Ballard: I tke it then that the reason Priests do this kind of re-creating is because of the Jackpot time of giving at Christmas. You know, that thousands of dollars given to Priests over the years that does not get reported to Canada Revenue.
      I will end this exchange now, because all it has done is expose the underside of the Priesthood, something I would rather not have done. Please repent and be grateful to Jesus, who died for you !

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    5. Anon: Pardon me for butting in (I appreciate that you're addressing Fr. Steve), but it's my blog so I jump in anyway.

      Your advice suffers from being both true and inadequate. M.L. King wrote that it was not enough for a pastor to simply pray and reflect upon the spiritual needs that he or this congregation needs. It is essential that they speak out and work to address the evils and wounds of our world too. By writing as both Fr. SFB and I do, we are embracing that challenge by confronting those who would harm the Church IN ADDITION TO fulfilling our personal and parochial responsibilities. Your remark implies a Cartesian duality that locks spirituality into the internal forum alone - vitiating it of its power of creating a true communion and graced community. It opens one as well to being seduced by Nietzsche's siren call to founding our culture not on the eternal truths that Christians hold to be true and self evident but on the shifting stands of collective relativism.

      The times are too grave and dangerous for clerics of any rank or status to remain mute in any forum. If you love the Church as your comments imply, you should be encouraging us on! Call us to do better. Chide us when we do so with a harmful lexicon. But you should be praying that those tasked with guiding and directing the Church should be singing even louder in the public square - and from the same hymnal to boot!

      Fr. Tim

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    7. Steve: Should your second point not end as follows?

      '...you have exposed the underside of the priesthood when your entire set of INACCURATE INNUENDOS makes no sense at all."

      23 Christmases have come and gone since we entered the clerical state. Not once did I receive thousands of dollars in cash from parishioners and the Church. During the years at the Cathedral, any and all donations were forwarded to the Bishop. That was my only assignment with both sufficient prosperity and parishioners to be able to donate such great amounts. I've been buried in Christmas cards with wonderful notes sharing the blessings of the season. I receive gifts of Christmas baking, food and boxes of chocolates and candies sufficient to knock a small town into a diabetic coma. I have enjoyed these tokens of appreciation and festive sharing a lot more than I would the money to travel as Anon suggests.

      So, since reality is far different from the narrative that Anon is presenting, he is most likely intent on striking out at you personally than as a representation of the quality of life for most priests. He is implying that what gifts you have received are undeserved and unmerited. Evidently if he IS addressing the greater issue of the priestly life, it would be that we should never permit ourselves a moments rest away from the parish, for either vacations or days of personal Sabbath. I suggest it's probably an assessment he developed by standing on that pedestal of superiority that we priests have been properly recently knocked off of and he has climbed up there in our place!

      Hope he's good at keeping his balance! It's harder than it looks to live justly at such rarified heights... the thinning air mixed with the incense of self-righteousness can makes a heady cocktail that can make one giddy and tipsy. It can lead to making some decisions that will be later regretted - as the Bishops of the previous regimes demonstrated so tragically.

      Tim

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  7. Lowell Mallais invited me to post the following comment here. Happy to obliged comments that come from any source so long as it is void of invective and attacks intended only to harass or confuse.

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    Why should the Bishop have done what they did not do? He fulfilled his responsibility that the accused could not and would not harm any further children through the Church. He did everything that he was supposed to do even if you don’t want to admit it.

    Sorry but that don’t wash! How did his silence help other victims that he harmed to come foward and get a loving Jesus help that they are all in dire need of? It’s time for healing to/for all victims in getting professional help, regardless of where the criminal case is at!
    Put that in your blog, if you must!

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  8. Lowell: Again you are mistaken. IF the investigation found grounds for charges they would have been made public and other victims would have come forward at that time. Borne was investigated for at least a year before he was ever approached by the Police or the initial charges were laid. Imagine if the announcement was made immediately with other victims potentially coming forward. If a man is truly evil, would he not be tempted quickly to either buy-off/silence them off - or maybe skip town after emptying every account he can get his fingers into? If you're willing to sexually molest or a rape a child is it that far of a stretch to think he could menace victims or steal and/or misuse money that isn't his?

    Is your demand for a bucket of blood worth compromising the effectiveness of a Police investigation and possibly endangering others already victimized? When you know that the alleged has been removed for having access to children and stripped of the right to function as a priest in public? Really? You're that bloodthirsty for vengeance that nothing else will matter.

    This is the heart of my objection. Please take the time to understand it completely. Publishing the article about +Harris, Sylvia acted out of vengeance in impugning the Bishops motives and effectiveness at adequately protecting children and investigating the allegations leveled against Fr. McGuire. She made a mistake... one that she let lead her to make others such as banishing voices on the blog of those who sat she should change her course and methods and refrain from inappropriately the names of people whose reputations suffer needlessly as a result. With the consequence of fostering slander and libel to be leveled at these same voices to be spun from air and published without offering any evidence without rebuke, while ejecting me for allegedly acting belligerently in asking/demanding that proof be provided.

    That sort of behavior matches the picayune and ungenerous nature of clerics of old which he states offends her. Evidently it's true that we hate most that which we see wrong within ourselves. The trick is in recognizing this and mending our ways accordingly.

    I hope either Sylvia herself, or perhaps you returning the favor of copying and pasting these remarks on her blog. I defy anyone to allege that even one word is inappropriate to come from a priest... even if you don't think me a good example of the metier.

    Thank you.

    Fr. Tim

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  9. A sometime commenter who posts here (Larry Green) posted this comment on Sylvia's Site. There is a great deal to like about it, but he makes not initial error at the beginning that invalidates one point. First, here's the comment:

    "Court cases and guilty parties are often two completely different entities and that is what this site already does focus on. The solution is to ban from the site people who’s main concern is ” church image” and other even more superficial motives … and all under the insidious guise of “a profound desire to seek justice for the victims” and in the name of OUR Lord."

    The error is this: when we refuse to accept the decisions of the justice system and decide to brand the scarlet letter of scandal and moral deprivation on the reputation of those whom the system finds either not guilty or that there is a lack sufficient evidence to justify an arrest... you've arrived again at the mob rule horrors as when the justice systems of other countries fails to maintain trust in the system. Believe me why I say that any one with eyes to see can recognize how few steps further it takes to walk from the presumption of innocence and the wearing of a burning tire around your next because someone spread the word that you were a pervert or a criminal.

    The end cannot justify the means. Why is it so hard for these well intentioned zealots to realize this?

    Fr. Tim

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    2. Hell Steve, who knows? Maybe it won't be long before future generations will talk about times as the period when zealots, as is the days of the Witches of Salem, Massachusetts so that they can relive those days days for themselves. When passion and zealotry over rule good judgment and justice it is very easy for people to prove themselves of mob murder in some perversion of community justice. It has happened before. If folks like Sylvia and other prevail for a time, the tide will eventually turn. Ultimately they will be judged for the calumny they have wrecked and then they'll know evil they have been - even if unintentionally.

      Tim

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  10. Fr, Moyle, I would not use M L KING as an authority on much but womanizing. It was reported he was involved in that up until about 36 hours before he died.
    I will leave you with a quote of St. John Chrisostysym ( spelling is probably wrong)
    He said --The road to Hell is paved with the skulls of Bishops.

    Good-bye !

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    1. Lucifer was the brightest in Heaven, when he refused to serve God !
      The truth about ML King is published in several books, andit has been known about his womanizing since about 4 months after his death. The authority on this was noneother than J. Edgar Hoover. Robert Kennedy and Sorensen knew about from Hoover. Fact- not fiction

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    2. Anon: True enough. King was not faithful to his commitment to fidelity in his marriage, at least sexually. Like JFK, MLK has been revealed to be consumed with an sexual avarice that he seemed unable to satiate.

      But does that mean the the words he wrote and spoke in his life are somehow now invalid? Discredited and tainted by his sexual dalliances, revealing a the handwork of some sort of demonic power behind those lessons of love and non-violent civil disobedience he taught?

      Look at this way: If God to speak to an ancient prophet through an ass, surely he can repeat the same trick using as flawed a vessel and MLK...or me... or even you.

      Fr. Tim

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    1. Gahzuntite!! (That drove the spell check nuts!) Bless you!

      Tim

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  13. A kind soul named Jon said he missed Fr. Steve and I on Sylvia's Site. Here's how I answered him. (Yes, I'm banned... I explain in my answer):
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    Jon: I'm trying Bud. I'm trying. I post polite, respectful comment that are then wiped out by Sylvia in her continuation of my banishment from her site. (Which btw she is entirely within her rights to do.) I just never agreed to give up offering the best and most complete civil responses I can to the issues that she posts about and the comments they generate. If they stay up for a moment, they stay up for ever for nothing... and I mean nothing disappears once it shows its face even once. It lives forever digitally somewhere amid millions of miles of cables and gazzillions of servers, archives and hard drives.

    She is free not to listen... but no one can be stripped of the right to speak. The Church tried that through the Middle Ages when people complained about it. It didn't work out so well. I doubt in works any better in the digital reality.

    Fr. Tim

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  15. Steve: Your talents as a prophet haven't diminished since our seminary days. You are exactly correct. C'est la vie!

    Tim

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