Monday, May 06, 2002

What is wrong? (II)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “collection plate boycott,” and I have come to the conclusion that I am disgusted with it. Refusing to contribute will not punish the Cardinals, only the victims. (Please, don’t bother me with the “cheats and liars” stuff about phony victims. There are some of those, of course—perhaps many. So what? There are clearly hundreds of genuine victims of heinous crimes.)

“But I didn’t do this, why should I pay?” seems to be the most common argument in favor of boycotting. Stop repeating that one right now, or go join some New Age Church of the Self. If I kill someone in a drunk driving accident tomorrow, would that allow my wife to say that her vows were all well and good, but they don’t cover this? Will she be able to tell the judge that since she didn’t do it, her share of our assets shouldn’t be used to compensate my victim’s family? Does Christian Charity and Humility contain an exemption for the sins of obnoxious Cardinals? I’ve been thumbing through my New Testament all morning, but I can’t find that chapter.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, a grave sin has been committed. Most of us neither participated in the sin, nor had knowledge of it or its cover up until very recently. Which facts have exactly nothing to do with anything. People have been harmed, members of our own Church, by members of our own Church. Imagine the response to 9/11 from Catholics in this mind set: “Well, I didn’t fly those planes into the towers, so why should my money go to pay the victims? The Red Cross better not use any of my money to help those in need. I only want it to stay here in Selfishville, USA!” We have been scolding the Cardinals for protecting the Church rather than looking out for its members, and yet here we go down the same path. The appropriate response of a Christian is not to withhold donations, but to make larger ones.

I want Law to go, along with a number of other leaders. But I do not see how denying the priests at St. Mike’s their salaries is going to accomplish that. Meanwhile, sooner or later, these victims will get funds from the Church: our tort system guarantees it. The result is going to be the closing of parishes and schools, a reduction in services and lay staff, and a fiscally damaged Church. Stop this boycott, before things get worse.


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