At the outset of his papacy, Pope Francis was asked about a suspected gay lobby in the priesthood and he famously said, “Who am I to judge?”
Well, for starters, he is their boss and the church is raising money off claims that its priests and bishops are such singular crusaders in the cause of evangelization that they have forsaken even sexual relationships.
He could have said, yes, while it is not his place to condemn sexual inclinations, any phony celibate pose is a lousy trick to play on the faithful.
For starters at least.
Doing so, though, would have run afoul of the Davos catechism preached by the high and mighty that counsels a certain open-mindedness in this area.
This came to mind on Saturday as I read the Diocese of Covington’s statement about the poor kid who was being hounded on the internet for the look on his face as a supposed indigenous Vietnam-era veteran pounded a drum at him.
The statement begins with the words “We condemn the actions of the students,” exhibiting the sort of definitive judgment that the pope could not muster.
Here, the paradigm was reversed. The Davos catechism says that white males who dare not protect themselves with the armor of political correctness must be condemned and destroyed at the slightest provocation.
The MAGA hat wearing kids were being served up to please that god.
Incredibly, their Catholic diocese was leading the mob, casting the largest, sharpest, most carefully aimed stone, launched from the consecrated hand of a bishop who must have known his condemnation would be regarded as the most credible in the ensuing media frenzy.
There is a reason that Dante reserves the lowest place in Hell for those who turn on their own, Judas-like.
Make no mistake, either, even the initial false reporting showed only a slight provocation.
Every January the Diocese of Covington charters buses so that the faithful—children included—can go to Washington, D.C., to exercise their First Amendment right to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
They are met by sneering counter protesters and given little advance instruction on how to react, except the universal understanding that they should not permit themselves to be cowed or silenced, as it is their right to protest.
The indigenous drummer’s initial criticism was that he was disrespected when the kids were not stricken silent at his approach. He cried over that, considering it racist.
Even if someone had said “build a wall”—and nobody did—half the congressmen and senators were down the street at that moment saying the same thing. It is not hate speech.
The diocese could have said the students were there to protest and appearing to stand firm in the face of opposition probably emanated naturally from that disposition.
Note the irony, here, that church leaders call themselves “father” because that is what a father would have done.
Providentially, God created cell-phones and everyone has one and there were two hours of video of the ten-minute incident. The full footage showed the initial reporting to be doctored to suggest a confrontation that did not happen.
The young man who was being singled out, especially, did nothing. He did not engage in his school chants. Nor react to the rhythmic drumming. He simply stood there, politely, in the face of an unprovoked assault by an adult who should have known better.
The drummer was behaving toward students in way that would have made a real father jump in and say, “get lost, they’re waiting for a bus.”
Full disclosure: My brother is a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and I am one of those true believer types who is always criticized as stupid in stilted cultural criticisms.
I count among my high schoolmates seven who became priests, all good men who are as horrified as you are at what is happening. This causes me to be more reflective than most about the Church’s crisis.
The cover-up presently being adjudicated is that Catholic bishops sacrificed children to avoid bad publicity.
The horror is that it continues to happen, from the universal Church’s clumsy attempt to sweep away its Theodore McCarrick problem, to the Diocese of Covington’s Pavlovian condemnation of its protesting students.
At some point the Church—at the episcopal level at least—lost its countercultural imperative and took a place at the banquet with the powerful and important.
Its teaching authority is now misused to scold the American middle class to pay higher taxes to stop global warming, a “scientific consensus” as phony as that drummer’s grievance.
And, too often, to chide the president to violate his solemn oath to enforce America’s more-generous-than-the-Vatican’s immigration laws.
The Davos class is pleased, yes, but excuse the faithful if they have thrown political support to the wildly coiffed casino owner with the Maxim model third wife. Unlike the bishops, he has the guts to scatter the proud in the conceit of their hearts, using Twitter blasts to do it no less.
MAGA forever, Covington kids. Oh, and you have handled this better than I would have at your age. Well done.
Photo Credit: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images