[The initial post has been deleted given that the Blog in question deleted the citation and thread linked to a posting on this site. The material is being reworked as an essay.]
Finding myself cited on another Blog, I was quick to comment. I told the blogger that she was certainly welcome to discuss the views I put forward about priests and women. If her Blog was devised to give comfort and compassion to women who had been hurt in their relationships with priests, then I wished her well. I warned her and her readers that there was a certain tendency in my style toward exaggeration to make a point. I made no secret that we took very divergent positions and that I could never recommend organizations like CORPUS, Good Tidings or Rent-a-Priest. I suspect, given the tone and content of the responses, that a number of those who responded had actually broken away from Catholicism, probably defecting to the “anything goes” Episcopalians or to the similarly precarious independent congregations. (Many fail to appreciate that the married priesthood matter often disguises the deeper ecclesiological problem of disobedience against legitimate Church authority.) It is my view that the married priest movement has self-destructed by adding women priests and gay priests to their agenda. That which might have been possible within the context of a liberalized discipline will never include the acceptance of something judged doctrinally impossible or the failure to condemn immorality.
When I responded to the Blog citation; one commenter claimed that my remarks caused her suffering. This was not my intent and I seriously wondered if I should say anything more or just allow them to vent further. But questions were asked and I was under the impression that they might want the perspective of an average priest in good standing. There was real resistance to my ideas, no doubt because people blamed the Church and not themselves about what forbidden relationships with priests had wrought in their lives and in those of others. Do such traditional views as mine stymie discussion? Must discussions always be about only those things we want to hear?
The blogger thought my remarks were rather presumptuous of their motives when I wrote: “I suspect you would give the gravity to the heart and the corporal passions or emotions.” I guess she thought that assumptions about what moved people to do the things ascribed to women involved with priests left little room for dialogue. However, people sharing their commonly share animus against the Church is not real dialogue either. Further, there was a hesitance to acknowledge that priests who have counseled women in the past on such issues might have some insight into the thoughts and feelings that are so often operative. I will not lie about it; my mind is made up about the issue. This does not mean that I stop caring about those who have decided to change paths. We had one man who served as a good priest for many years, left ministry, got married and then became ill. A few of us fought for him to have compensation and benefits. Yes, there were some who insisted that “he left and we owe him nothing!” While outnumbered, we pressed our point home that we owed him, not merely from charity, but also something from justice.
As for the Blog experience, I shared my views, received thanks, and then in the next breath faced rebuke for towing the Church line. One of the reasons that I so rarely post on the Blogs of others is because the posture of openness is often a lie. I make no secret on my Blog that I have the last word, although I try earnestly to post comments from most everyone, albeit with appropriate responses if needed. Vulgar words and pages of cut-and-pasted spam are not welcome. Revisionist bloggers will quote me at length, but they often do not really want my responses. They want various points of view, but not my point of view— the perspective of one who is happy with compulsory celibacy and an all-male clergy. A recent blogger cited me and then later erased the whole thread because of my interaction.
It is apparent that certain bloggers who pose as Catholic really do not like the Church. They insist that the Church might proclaim Christ’s love but does not follow his example. I would take exception to this. The ministry of the Church expresses much in the way of reconciliation, love and caring. Such are hallmarks of the priestly life.
The blogger who debated with me later said she had no particular agenda other than to give women a place to speak, an oasis of safely to tell their stories. I did not say and would not oppose her attempt to create a community for sharing and healing. Indeed, it was out of a concern that my ideas might distress some of them that I offered no subsequent comment on her Blog. Then and now, I wish her well in reaching out to women and helping them, if that is indeed her purpose. The blogger was very gracious. She said that she was glad that I fully shared my views and thanked me for taking the time to write out my responses. Later she would rescind her kind words and changed her mind about my views.
I must admit I was hesitant to comment on a Blog for women in relationships and/or attempted marriages with priests. Such women may need a place to vent and to express themselves without the concern that a priest “such as me” would intrude. Given that I was cited to for the purpose of comments, I opted to enter the discussion. I honestly shared my opinions. They could disagree if they had to do so, but I never meant any ill will. I promised to pray for them all and for the priests with whom they were involved. It remains my hope that they will find happiness and peace. About this topic, the best for which we could hope would be to agree to disagree.