A few months ago I came across a blog called "A Catholic View." The site is replete with banners and widgets saying "100% Catholic," "EWTN," "Proud to be Catholic: 2000 years of Christian tradition," "Catholic Answers," and "Fight Foca." A picture of the Sacred Heart rounds out the line up. You get the picture.
I confess that I have been remiss in sending out unsolicited review copies of my book. However, I noted that "A Catholic View" features several book reviews. So, on the spur of the moment I sent Blogger Christine an e-mail asking if she would be interested in reviewing "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines." She agreed and I sent a review copy via Priority Mail. I didn't hear anything back for a few weeks so I followed up with an e-mail. Here is the reply I received today:
"Jack, When you asked me to review your book, you didn't mention that you are a former priest. I cannot and will not promote the works of a former priest or former nun. I only promote faithful Catholics who believe and practice our true faith." Christine.
If you have read my book, you'll know how hard it was to make the decision to leave the Legion of Christ. In my case, I had no doubt whatsoever that my "vocation" to the Legion and to the Priesthood were one and the same. After twenty years of loyal service - away from family and from my own country - I went to a pretty remote part of Africa to try to be sure that I was discerning God's Will for me to the best of my ability. Because of my Faith, I knew I could not leave without obtaining the full, legal dispensation from my commitments. That's not an easy process. In fact the Vatican protocols are quite humiliating - a fact that is not widely known. I got my full dispensations and, eventually, married in the Church. I've not abandoned my beliefs or practice of the "true Faith."
Hence, I found Christine's remark about "only promoting Catholics who believe and practice our true faith" uninformed and hurtful. Why do I bother mentioning this here?
Years ago, I read in David Rice's excellent book "Shattered Vows"
"The prognosis for resigned and married priests is a future of struggle. It is, however, a struggle not against the Church, but hand in hand with all its priests and people, a struggle to find God's will, and waged in love. In the evening of your life, as Paul Claudel said, you will be judged on your love."
As the Legionaries of Christ adjust to the revelations of the awful scandals of their Founder, it is not unthinkable that some will choose to leave. Although our Church deals in millenia, change is happening at an unprecedented rate. It is not unreasonable to assume that some priests, brothers and nuns will choose to serve God in a different way, perhaps after long lives of committed service, in the wake of today's unthinkable scandals and turmoil. These men and women need the compassion, understanding and support of their fellow Christians.
A few weeks ago, I saw a plea made by a Regnum Christi blogger, asking RC members to be supportive of Legionaries who choose to leave. I found this heartening. The Legionary Superiors, in general, have done an abysmal job of supporting their former priest colleagues. I, and countless others, left the Legion literally with the "shirt on my back" and no support whatsoever. In so doing, I think they have made tactical and strategic mistakes - but that is a story for another day. My point is that Catholics owe, at least, a debt of gratitude to the men and women who dedicated most of their productive years to the full-time service of the Church. It is puerile to believe that because they are resigned priests, brothers or sisters that they "no longer practice the one true faith."
So if you ever run in to a former cleric (there are tens of thousands of them attending Mass at parishes near you!) don't tell them, as Christine does, that you only support "faithful Catholics!" Was it Gandhi who said "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ?" I wonder what he would make of "100% Catholic" and "Proud to be Catholic" stickers on websites and blog that don't seem to have much to do with the virtues that Christ espoused.
With regard to my memoirs, I guess I shouldn't hold my breath for it to be reviewed on blogs that attract most of their following from the ranks of the LC and RC!