Rod Dreher

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I have not complained about this columnist for a long time. He has a right to his opinion, I suppose, but it really grates that he has this bully pulpit where he gets to spill his contradictory garbage for the faithful to swallow. It is one thing to have the fundamentalists come by and spill their hatred here, but Dreher presents himself as more than a faithful Catholic, but as an authority about what and who a bishop should be.

He continually reveals himself to be profoundly ignorant, and he does more damage to the faith and to the faithful than even he can imagine.

"Triumph, but a tragic blindness" is the title of his article. Really, the tragic blindness belongs to Dreher.

He could have left it as simply calling the Pope a good and faithful servant of the Lord, who left his church and the world a better place than he found it.

But no, he contradicts himself: It is a sad but incontestable fact, though, that as governor of the church, John Paul was largely a failure.

Dreher has no clue what it means to govern a church. He falls into the category of all those other talking heads we have been afflicted with this week. If they were reporting on football or entertainment and were that ignorant, they would be fired.

Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice, and Dreher gets to sell newspapers in the Bible Belt where they will devour this stuff.

As a Pastor, it is my responsibility to advise parishioners that they should not accept at face value any news they recieve from commercial media.

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The "pastor" over-states his importance in protecting the (not "his") parishioners from Dreher. The parishionners are thinking, intelligent women and men who are not endangered when they CHOOSE what and who to read, what means of birth contol and regulation of family size they choose to use. A form of being pro-choice in spirituality and adult membership in the church is not to be equated with being anti-papal or anti-clerical. It more means being informed and making one's own rather personal decisions about those matters that most effect their life and relationship. This adulthood needs to be protected and encouraged in this psycho-spiritual development in everyday, cogent human beings, labelled parishioner/or church, or Body of Christ

Dear Father Pastor...allow Dreher to choose his own mourning. He appears to mourn the good manifested by this Pope...and also mourns blindspots. Of indeed, karol, was nothing more than a human being: seeing and not seeing; hitting the mark, and missing the mark, saying good and right words, and being mute and sometimes harmful in what he said and didn't say. For many are doing a similiar grieving..we are celebrating brilliance of words and actions and grieving his harsh, injuring words and actions to same sex couples, who chose to express their sexuality with dignity , integrity, and pleasure; there are thousands of married couples who are mourning his judgement that by their practicing of certain means of birth control...they were deemed to be participating in a "culture of death"..for indeed, they were simply being responsible adults choosing how and when to increase the size of their families. Yes, Pastor, you need not control how people mourn the passing of this pope...that he was sighted and blind, magnaminous and narrow, compassionately understnading, and pitifully ignorant. He was enlightened and dark, refined and crude. He was a whole human being...and our world was blessed by his presence and some in our world were injured by his blindspots. And for sure this is the fate of us all, all of us of the earth, divine and human. Experiencing his failings has not blinded us to his sanctity. Would that upon our passing we would all be seen with such truthful compassion. So you need not, Reverend Pastor, mourn how some of the world is grieving and regreting. Let people be the adults that they are, choosing how they express affirmation and sad regret. Be a pastoring sheperd who encourages such honest variety and diversity within the flock and gives room in the fields for dissenting and consenting adults.

Unlike Greg, I'll try and avoid using the Pope's death and Dreher's commentary as an opportunity to hold forth on my favorite, although completely irrelevant, crotch-related topics. For the record Greg, when you're unknowingly doing something evil, being told by someone that it is evil isn't harsh or injuring, its loving and merciful. For pete's sake, grow up ya big baby! You're preferences are not the standard against which all goodness should be measured.

And now, on to the matter at hand: What's the beef, Fr. Keyes? I guess I understand your objection to Rod's characterization of the Holy Father's governing as "a failure," but that was a small part of the column. Am I missing something?

FWIW, my opinion is that if you don't take into account the Pope's five years bearing witness to some of the most dehumanizing, degrading oppression ever perpetrated, you have no hope of understanding how he chose to govern.

Rod Dreher's critique is a fair one. I love JPII, but we should not turn a blind eye to potential faults. JPII didn't do that either. In his latest book, the Holy Father realized that one of his failures might have been his failure to discipline.

Like it or not, rampant sex abuse, liturgical abuse, and poor catechesis has occurred throughout the United States under his watch. This is primarily the failure to the bishops that allowed this to happen in their dioceses, but John Paul ran the entire Church and accordingly the buck stopped with him.

If we want these problems addressed, we must not be afraid to point out that the problems were real.

Ok, let’s revise this a little:

"Like it or not, [doubt, betrayal, suicide and pride] has occurred throughout Judea under his watch. This is primarily the failure to the [apostles] that allowed this to happen in their [own heart], but [Jesus] ran the entire Church and accordingly the buck stopped with him."

Sin in the world and in the Church is a fact of life.

John Paul was a man. He wasn't God and even if he was God he wouldn't stop the sin. We see this in the first chapters of the bible. Adam and Eve walked with the Lord and they still sinned. Was God a weaker God for "allowing" Adam and Eve to sin? No. Was Christ a weaker Christ because he "allowed" Judas to betray him? No. Was John Paul II a weaker pope, or even a failure, because sin remained in the Church during his pontificate? Absolutely not! His message to us was the same message that Christ gave to the apostles and God gave to Adam and Eve: "Love God above all else."

John Paul II was a great success in that he was a model of holiness. He lived the words he preached. He was the light of Christ for us. After that it's up to us to accept the grace that God pours out in abundance through the Church.

If anyone wants to start a discussion about these issues you are welcome to post at our Catholic discussion forum.

I hope Fr. Jeff doesn’t mind if I encourage you to bring your comments there. We have many knowledgeable Catholics ready, willing and able to talk to you about what the Church teaches and why. These comment boxes are quite limited.

Peace in Christ,
Mary H

Rod Dreher's ecclesiology is straightforward; to him, Church governance at every level is a matter of kicking out anyone below you who gets out of line. By that measure, Pope John Paul II absolutely was a failure.

True Catholic ecclesiology has developed along rather different lines, though, which makes Rod's judgment about the Pope's governance fundamentally unsound.

I tend to agree with Mr. Dreher. Maybe because we both live in dysfunctional dioceses: Dallas and Los Angeles.

I do not agree with what I have seen quoted of Mr. Dreher's remarks. I think that they are especially inappropriate at this time.

However, they are not particularly playing into the hands of anti-Catholic Bible Belters; you might know that the evangelicals are some of our best friends even if they cannot quite figure out how the Bible fits into the Church. On the contrary, these remarks are simply in tune with antipapal Catholics such as those who guide The Dallas Morning News, and they provide fodder for the self-righteous diocesan newspaper. In other words, I think that they are much more likely to provoke further internal hemorrhage.

I do not really know Mr. Dreher -- we never did get together for that drink, and maybe this will be the end of his invitation -- but I have read some of his writings and had slight contact with him, and I have sung or played the organ at two parishes that he has attended, so I have an idea what he is talking about. Mark P. of Los Angeles is probably close to locating the wound. In fact, we have continually lived in pain in Dallas for many years (after a long time of positive growth which is not part of Mr. Dreher's memory), and there seems to be no one at the chancery (or, frequently, in the parish) who understands, much less cares, what we need. I think that Mr. Dreher is just one more frustrated layman who, unfortunately, intuits that shock tactics are the only ones that could have any effect, whether positive or negative.

We must pray for pastors after the Heart of the Good Shepherd.

Jeff and all..Just became acquainted with this website today...but probably won't be back, at least not to post. I don't want to psyche it out, but a couple of the comments simply sound mean-spirited...not even angry, just plain mean. Maybe that is part of the grief process for conservatives who have somewhat lost their standard-bearer/hero. Although you all need not worry, it would certainly seem that the conclave (hand-picked by the this previous pope), will elect someone of similiar mind, theology, policies


Actually, sex abuse decreased under JPII's watch.

Remember, most of the accusations now coming to light involve events that happened many decades ago. Studies have shown that the number of reported sex abuse cases rose steadily during the 1960's, spiked during the 1970's and decreased after 1985. The Holy Father took office in 1978, at the height of the (then hidden) crisis, but for most of his pontificate the amount of child molestation actually declined.

In Jesu et Maria,

For whatever it's worth Rosemarie...The average span of time between first offense and first reporting of that offense for male victims is on average 20 years. When they do report, it is usually either to a spouse or substance-abuse counselor. It is hardly ever to the police or church.

I would like to believe that because of all the publicity, victims feel more free to report. But we simply do not know if that is in fact the case. I know of at least one instance in Washington where, when Fr. Patrick O'Donnell was revealed as a predator, one of his previous victims, Tim Corrigan, kissed his wife goodbye the morning he found out and then went to lay down in front of an oncoming train. Bishop Skylstad who lived with O'Donnell at the time, has testified that, although he can't remember why, he does remember always making a lot of noise coming down the stairs whenever O'Donnell had his young guests spend the night. Skylstad is now head of the USCCB. The same organization that proclaimed this crisis "history."

We will not know, for at least another 10 years, whether or not any decrease in sexual victimization has occurred.

Dearest Fr. Jeffery Keyes, I read your post & was to deal w/ Dreher myself. The links won't show up on this particular post so I typed it in. Here is the response I sent him. Dear Mr. D, regarding your statement,
"It is a sad but incontestable fact, though, that as governor of the church, John Paul was largely a failure. Far from being the harsh disciplinarian of media caricature, he was reluctant to confront bad bishops – most of them his appointees – and deal effectively with the liturgical, catechetical and pastoral rot throughout the church." I toyed around w/ this thought also at one time. Many years ago it was prophasized that wolves in lambs clothing would inflitrate the churches of God & portray to represent God as to mislead us & cause us to stray away from our faith. We were warned. Evidently God was already well aware of what was about to happen, before it happened w/ these rogue bishops, therefore, what could the Pope have done that God couldn't have done better in dealing w/ them? They say to never judge a mind when it is despaired or angered, judge it when it's not...only then will we know the 'heart'. I'm sure that the pope found himself confused more often then not when considering how to deal w/ these bishops w/ America watching. Due to his faith & devotion to the ways of God I can only see him as leaving it in the hand's of God as most of us do when we don't know which way to turn. Evidently it worked because thru all the trials & tribulations the church went thru behind of it, God gave rise to his legacy in life & death allowing the pope to move hearts around the globe. Being acknowledged for many things others haven't is a miracle w/ in itself. As for the fall of communism, the pope modestly refused to take credit for it by stating all he did was help to fulfill her prophesy of the Blessed Mother, the one she made to the 3 children in Portugal (Fatima). Link I don't know if this is the link that has the pope's statement because I have so many from all my researching on the Blessed Mother, but I do know the pope was well aware of the many visions & messages back in history & most recently, & has expressed a deep, sincere, loving devotion to Mary. Six young people (referred to as "visionaries") have had apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary since June 24, 1981 in Medjugorje, Bosnia. The pope has heard the Blessed Mother's mesages to the world & leader's of the church. Here is the link, Maybe if you had researched more surrounding faith, the church, etc then you would have understood Pope John Paul II & some of the tasks he took on & decisions he chose to make & not make thru the guidance of God. Sincerely, Adele

It's all too clear Rod lets his passions override other considerations at times. He brings an American conservative bias to his assessment, and it reflects more on his own inexperience than on John Paul II's legacy as an administrator.

In the flood of secular commentary, Rod's essay will not have great impact. And it's not terribly likely many people in the Bay Area will read it. Rod is just being Rod. Nothing more.

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This page contains a single entry by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. published on April 6, 2005 3:46 PM.

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