Thursday, February 21, 2019

Catholic rentboy

From what I can tell, Brandon seems to be a genuinely likable guy, which I wouldn't say about some other Catholic apologists. Mind you, it's easier to dupe nice guys with an idealistic sales pitch. Natural SOBs like me aren't so easily conned. 

One reason he doesn't mention is that Brandon is a Catholic employee. He works for a bishop. He's a "best-selling" Catholic author. He appears on EWTN. 

It would be a financial hardship for him to leave Catholicism when his career is so invested Catholicism. How would he support is family? Where is the next paycheck coming from? That might put a real strain on the marriage. 

I don't say that to be judgmental. That can be a real dilemma. Lots of breadwinners are understandably reluctant to quit their job when they have no  fallback. That's surely something he has in the back of his mind. Financial coercion is powerful. 

And that has caused many Catholics to understandably wonder why they should remain Catholic. How can I remain associated with such a corrupt institution? How can I keep my children in Catholic parishes and schools if the Church seems incapable of protecting them from sexual abuse? These are questions I’ve asked myself.

At the same time, people outside the Church who are considering becoming Catholic must wonder, Why should I become Catholic in light of all this sickening news? Wouldn’t life be easier in some other church or religion? Those are good questions, too.

So, in a book titled Why I Am Catholic, I can’t avoid the elephant in the room, the most obvious reason not to be Catholic: the sexual abuse crisis. In response, I’ve written this preface to answer why I, a Millennial Catholic, young husband and father, remain Catholic despite these horrific cases of abuse and cover-up.

The main answer is that I’m Catholic because of Jesus, not because of the leaders of the Church. As you’ll see in this book, the principal reason to become Catholic is because you’re convinced Catholicism is true and you believe what the Church teaches about faith, morals, and its own identity. I’m convinced Catholicism is true because of Jesus. I believe the Church wasn’t just started by a group of bumbling bureaucrats but by Jesus himself, God in the flesh.

It’s Jesus I’m drawn to, Jesus I’m committed to, and Jesus I trust. It’s true that Catholics are often drawn to the faith by charismatic leaders, warm parish communities, or impressive schools. There’s nothing wrong with those entry points, as long as we remember that our faith is not ultimately rooted in those things and isn’t compromised when they fail.

As a Catholic, my faith is in Jesus Christ, not his followers. When sin and evil swirl through the Church, I keep my eyes fixed on that reliable center, that untainted source of the Church’s authority and attraction: Jesus.

So he can't come to Jesus outside the Roman Catholic church? Jesus requires Brandon to go through the Roman Catholic church to come to him? 

Although that's traditional Catholic theology, it's not post-Vatican II theology. In fact, Brandon's boss, Bishop Barron, is a hopeful universalist. You don't have to be Catholic to be saved. You don't have to be Christian to be saved. So even on Catholic grounds, Brandon can find Jesus in a Lutheran, Baptist, Anglican, or Baptist church (among others). 

My second answer is that I know that the sexual abuse crisis is not indicative of the entire Church. The percentage of priests and bishops complicit in these crimes is relatively low (smaller, in fact, than in many other religions). The vast majority of priests and bishops are good, holy men who are just as disgusted as the laity about this abuse. Some of my closest friends are priests and they’re among the most selfless, virtuous people I know.

Even if that were true, the problem is much larger than sexual abuse of minors. There's a gay subculture in Catholicism that goes right up to the top. Indeed, according to a new, heavily documented book (Frédéric Martel, In the Closet of the Vatican), the Catholic church gets gayer the higher you go. 

My third and final answer is that I remain Catholic because I want to be part of the solution. The Church is not just an institution but also a family, and when your family faces a crisis, you don’t flee—you stay and help. When we experience evil or terror, our natural reaction is to run. That’s understandable; we’re scared and scandalized.

But for Catholics, the Church is our family and home; and when evil threatens your family or home, you don’t give up and run away. You batten down the hatches. You plant your feet. You resolve, “This is my home, and I will not let evil destroy it.”

Or, to switch metaphors, when a family member has cancer, you don’t just give up on them and leave. You move closer to them. You resolve to stay by their side and help battle the cancer. You give all you can offer.

That’s what the Catholic Church needs now. In times of crisis—and there have been many such crises throughout the Church’s history (and indeed there will be more)—the Church summons new heroes who are committed to holiness and driven to uproot whatever sin and evil have infected the spiritual family.

So, scandals don’t push me away from the Church, just as a relative’s cancer diagnosis doesn’t push me away from her. In both cases, the evil demands a heroic resolve to stay and fight, to be part of the solution, especially on behalf of the victims.

i) First of all, Brandon is not a policymaker, so he's not part of the solution. Rather, he's one of many loyal enablers. 

ii) There are situations when it's proper to stay and fight, but that assumes there's no alternative. 

I want to be very clear: these sexual abuse cases are horrific. There’s no downplaying them or justifying them or explaining them away. They’re egregious and scandalizing. But Catholicism doesn’t fall when its members fail. 

But that's just a throwaway disclaimer if there's absolutely nothing that would cause you to walk away. If you continue to support that institution no matter what. 

I’m Catholic not because Church leaders are perfect, but because the Church channels to me the love and forgiveness of Jesus in unparalleled ways: his body and blood in the Eucharist, his forgiveness in Confession. Life may seem easier outside the Church. But these divine treasures are only found within, and they carry Catholics through even the darkest of times.

That's the bait and hook. That enables cynical prelates to make patsies out of sweet gullible guys like Brandon. They're blinded by the idea of Catholicism. Like a love-struck teenager, they can't perceive the reality behind the projection.  


  1. Steve - thank you so much for this article. I've waited for an article that explains why Catholics stay in light of all the problems.

    Sadly Brandon is emotionally steeped in this toxic situation. Like a battered wife. That is so sad.

    And he compares staying in the battle to being at the bedside of someone with cancer? Those two scenarios don't compare on any level I can discern.

  2. There doesn't seem to be much in Brandon's arguments that selects particularly for Roman Catholicism. Replace "Catholic" with "Mormon" or "Jehovah's Witness", and re-run the arguments. The only thing doing the heavy lifting is the conviction that Jesus acts in some way primarily (if not exclusively) through whatever the organisation, regardless of anything and everything else; that he's institutionally bound. Minus that, there is no remaining argument. And if that is the real argument, then all the rest is just window dressing for show, not substance.

    1. should say "through the Roman Catholic organisation"