A call for stronger Church leadership: 'This book is not for sissies!'
SAVING THOSE DAMNED CATHOLICS
by Judie Brown
(Xlibris, 2007, 238 pages, softcover, $35.00. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Judie Brown in her latest book Saving Those Damned Catholics vents the frustration and anger felt by many Catholics who simply want all their priests and bishops to teach the faith in its fullness and stop feeding them watered down, politically correct rubbish.
Writing about the Catholic Church in the United States, Brown expresses the anguish, hurt and often alienation that occur amongst the faithful when their spiritual leaders and teachers fail to provide the truth about Catholicism.
According to Brown, many sinful and evil acts continue to occur as a result of some priests and bishops - whether out of fear, ignorance or rebelliousness - not standing up to speak the truth in the midst of a culture of death and sexual permissiveness. The author is unequivocal about where the blame resides for the current malaise in the Catholic Church: 'The failure rests squarely on those responsible for being good shepherds.'
Brown is direct, confronting and hard-hitting. She warns, 'This book is not for sissies.'
Lack of leadership
The premise of Brown's book is that because of a failure to shepherd their flocks faithfully and charitably, many priests and bishops are leading themselves and their congregations 'straight to the gates of hell.'
Throughout the book Brown explores a litany of sensitive topics, mostly sexual, reproductive and end-of-life ones, that are sticking points for some clergy. For those not aware of the extent of neglect, cowardice and outright rebellion to be found even within the US hierarchy, this book is eye-opening and disturbing.
Abortions and acts of euthanasia occur in some American Catholic hospitals with contraceptives frequently prescribed to female patients. According to Brown, the silence of the bishops under whose jurisdictions these hospitals operate is basically due to financial considerations: to obtain government funding, Catholic hospitals say they must agree to certain practices and policies.
Brown relates heartbreaking stories of Catholics forced to quit their jobs at Catholic institutions for refusing to perform tasks contrary to Church teaching. She also writes of many who were incorrectly advised by priests that using contraception, having an abortion or living a homosexual lifestyle may be morally acceptable in certain circumstances.
When these people discover the real truth about Church teaching they often feel betrayed and angry at the deceptions, and become distrustful of the clergy, many of whom refer to the 'primacy of conscience' to justify their advice, neglecting to add that a Catholic's conscience must be properly formed in line with Church teaching.
Some of the clergy hesitate to 'impose' their beliefs on others and resort to contradictory, vague or value-neutral advice. Yet, as Brown argues, it is not 'their' beliefs but those of the Church which they are obliged to present clearly.
In her typically witty, no-holes- barred style, Brown writes: 'If failure to point out grave sin is viewed as tolerant, then God must be the most intolerant Father anyone ever had for it is He who gave us the Ten Commandments. They are not the Ten Recommendations.'
Brown points out that many despicable crimes occurred because some priests and bishops have failed to assert Church teachings.
For example, in the face of increasing disrespect towards women in the US, as evidenced by the dramatic increase in sexual assaults since the 1960s, Catholic hospitals have sought to appear compassionate by providing the morning after pill to rape victims without informing the women that this pill is abortifacient, meaning it will kill any human life that may have been conceived.
The hurt many of these rape victims experience on discovering that the innocent life within them may have been killed without their knowledge can only be imagined - and it can certainly compound the victim's suffering.
The recent sex abuse scandals involving Catholic clergy have been used by opponents of the Church, and those critical of a celibate priesthood, to further their case. Brown, however, brings to light what many of the clergy, and the media, are loath to discuss, namely the number of homosexual priests responsible for these crimes against children.
Brown observes that homosexuality has wreaked havoc on the Catholic priesthood, reason enough, she says, to ensure that homosexuals in future never enter the priesthood.
She refers to a study prepared for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004 which found that '81 percent of sex crimes committed against children by Roman Catholic priests during the past fifty-two years were homosexual men preying on young boys.' Brown writes, 'If that isn't reason enough to ask a potential seminarian about possible 'sexual orientation,' then I don't know what is.'
She states the obvious that if Church teaching on the disordered nature of homosexuality had been widely taught by priests and bishops, and the barring of homosexuals from the priesthood had been upheld, then many of these crimes would have been avoided.
Judie Brown's book is most timely at this point of the Catholic Church's history and essential reading for all committed Catholics concerned about the future of their Church. When the shepherds of the flock fail to carry out their God-given duty, it is up to the faithful to protect themselves from lies, deceptions and misinformation.
Her book alerts Catholics to the need to discover the truth of Church teaching from reliable sources. While, fortunately, most priests and bishops are diligent in upholding the faith - even the more difficult parts - sadly there remain some who are less than reliable in this regard.
Catherine Sheehan is a research officer with the Thomas More Centre.