Philip F. Lawler
Phil is the editor of, which brings you daily news headlines from a Catholic perspective. He is the author of The Faithful Departed, a history of the Church in Boston and the scandal of the abuse of children by priests.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

spoiling for a fight

In my conversation with Dan Rea on WBZ last night, and in the calls that came through to the station afterward, I was struck by the deep reservoir of anger in Boston. That anger is prompted by the sex-abuse scandal (or at least that's what people think, although my book might prompt some people to have second thoughts about the ultimate cause of the problem) and directed against the Catholic Church.
In itself the anger shouldn't be a surprise. We all knew that people in Boston are angry with the Church. But now it's manifested in odd ways.
First, people are angry that the Holy Father isn't coming to Boston. Not just disappointed: outraged! They feel that he should have come to Boston, because he could... he could... he could...
Well, what could he have done to calm this anger? I can't think of anything that he could say or do that would ease the sense of betrayal, frustration, and disillusion that so many people feel. One more apology? One more acknowledgment that Bad Things happened? That wouldn't heal the wounds; that would only confirm what we already know too well.
The raw anger, the hair-trigger sense of outrage, confirm my earlier belief that it would have been a terrible mistake for the Pope to visit Boston. His enemies are dedicated, organized, and energized; his allies are shaken, scattered, and nearly numb. It might have made for an ugly scene.
When you know that someone's itching to pick a fight, you have a couple of options. You can plunge right in, ready to start swinging. Or you can wait until he cools down a bit and you can talk rationally. I think the Pope made the right choice this time.


Ted Turner said...

agreed. this is a lion's den situation.

the lions' den
an unpleasant situation in which a person or group of people criticizes you or your ideas. It's your turn for the lions' den. Gordon wants to see you in his office now.


The Niall Family said...

I didn't even know you had written a book. Sad. It sounds great. After listening to talk radio all day yesterdray I think this book is exactly what I need. I agree the Pope what the right to decision not to come into the anger of Boston.

Aaron Magnan said...

Lion's den! Lion's den!
Daniel 6:22

"...And coming near to the den, cried with a lamentable voice to Daniel, and said to him: Daniel, servant of the living God, hath thy God, whom thou servest always, been able, thinkest thou, to deliver thee from the lions? 21 And Daniel answering the king, said: O king, live for ever: 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut up the mouths of the lions, and they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him justice hath been found in me..."

M. Alexander said...

But whether Lion's Den or not, the Holy Father has to act on the promptings of the Holy Spirit and I'm confident he is doing that. (and I'm sure His Holiness would be very happy to know that he has my approval ;) )

And Daniel didn't willingly go into the lion's den to prove something, he was sentenced to death. I think we're a few years away from that for the Holy Father.

4everprolife said...

"The hub of the universe"? More like the heart of Babylon!

These people aren't Catholics. They are anti-Catholics! Any real Catholic would be grateful that our holy father has been graced to visit us in our land in service to our sanctification. They would be praying for him and hoping his beautiful message is received by all who hear him speak.

This most humble servant of God and of our Church is a blessing and a great reason to hope. I am ashamed to learn that some who would dare be angry with our dear and precious holy Father and believe themselves pius Catholic. They are pagans serving the heart of anger, despair and bitterness, lust and lies.

Forgive yourselves for all you are responsible for in letting homosexuals become priests and for embracing false ideologies and evils such as contraception, abortion, divorce and depravities of every kind. Forgive yourselves for letting your "catholic colleges" become enemies of Christ and of holiness.

You have much to be angry about for all you have done and failed to do. Still there is hope in Christ. Repent and remember, you are last; you are nothing.