Tuesday, May 29, 2012
As those of you who know me are aware, I am busy being a husband, father, and Catholic so I seldom post anywhere anymore. But, well, here I am.Why? because someone upset me, of course. Over in this article we see another fine example of what I call 'armchair bishop writing'. Now, I do not know Ms. Barnhardt personally but I have read some of her other writings and what I discovered is very interesting. For example, she attempts to reconcile Objectivism with Christianity via a rather... unique exegesis of the Gospel of John. [Note: As a theologian who is quite familiar with Objectivism I can state confidently that Objectivism cannot be reconciled with Catholicism] But back to the article! In it Ms. Barnhardt is rude, disrespectful, dismissive, and antagonistic towards Catholic bishops. Why? Manifestly it is because they dare to disagree with how she would do things if she were a bishop. She seems to assume that although she is not in any position of authority within the Church, has no ideas what instructions the bishops may have received from Rome, is not privy to the budgets of Catholic universities or the laws that govern Catholic hospitals she is absolutely correct in how she would act....if she were a bishop. Now, bishops have a largely thankless job; they must adhere to a budget that is largely beyond their control, since it is based upon charitable donations. They are responsible for not just the Catholic schools, hospitals, universities and other organizations within their diocese, they are also responsible for charity work, canon law, public relations, dealing with other faiths, dealing with the state, and dealing with the law. And, of course, they are also responsible for the souls of the Catholics they shepherd, as well! Further, the very nature of their job brings them under intense scrutiny from all sorts of people. In addition to the hatred of some outside groups they can be certain that almost every decision they make will upset some portion of their very own flock! Bishops, therefore, must be insightful men adept at understanding the true motivations of others and adroit at communicating complicated concepts to the world all while maintaining a tight focus on doing the proper and moral thing. Luckily, they are drawn from a cadre of men who deal with people at their best and worst - parish priests - so they already have a background in all of these areas. This makes Ms. Barnhardt's assumption (and it is no more) that the Bishops haven't already thought through the consequences of their various actions all the more prideful. She not only works from an ignorance of the constraints placed upon the bishops; she not only works from an ignorance of the goals of the various bishops, she also assumes that she is smarter and more insightful than each and every bishop. In the end, she is nothing more than an armchair quarterback who is absolutely certain that if the professionals on the field would just do what a lone, inexperienced amateur demanded they would never lose. What bothers me the most about Ms. Barnhardt and many of those who have reposted her little rant, even more than the rude and dismissive language she uses for the LEADERS OF THE CHURCH, is the lack of charity in her work - she and those who agree with her seem to busy calling people they don't know 'fools' and questioning their masculinity to express any charity. Is there a single call to pray for any bishop in her hateful little screed? Of course not. I remember, quite clearly, my pastor reading a letter from the bishops where they explained the issues of the HHS mandate clearly and simply and explained, also clearly and simply, that 'we cannot, we will not, comply'. Not only did that short phrase refute Ms. Barnhardt's most base accusations, it showed more dignity and, frankly, class than did her puerile rant. In these trying times if you worry about the responses of the bishops to outside threats, I ask you to pray for them.