Tuesday, June 18, 2013

News Flash! Frank Bruni of the Times is still annoyed with the Catholic Church.

He's baaaaaack! Just when Catholics thought it was safe to begin reading the New York Times again, Frank Bruni releases another carping attack on the Catholic Church. 

Bruni's latest screed was triggered by news stories reporting that Pope Francis is concerned about a so-called "gay lobby" in the Vatican.  Titled, "The Pope's Gay Panic," Bruni's essay criticized the Church yet again for its positions on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

I have a few comments to make about Frank Bruni's latest attack. First, the essay's headline--"The Pope's Gay Panic"-- is offensive and inaccurate.  There was nothing in the newspaper reports I read--including the report in the Times--that indicated Pope Francis is in a panic about homosexuals in the Vatican.

Second, following his usual line of attack, Bruni argues that the Church's position on sexual morality is irrational.  It's irrational--"madness" to use Bruni's term--to ask people to fight their sexual urges. Quoting a dissident nun, he argues: "It's like saying, 'You're a bird, but you can't fly."
Frank Bruni
Photo Credit: NY Times
Essentially, Bruni is saying that Catholicism should mold itself to fit people's sexual urges.  He may believe he is arguing for a more humane and compassionate Church. . But what did G.K. Chesterton say about that? "Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church."

I am weary of Frank Bruni's slashing attacks on the Roman Catholic Church, and I am weary of responding to them. I am no expert on the Catholic position on sexuality, and I cannot argue the merits of the Church's position with any authority.  I stand with Dorothy Day who never publicly criticized any one's position on sexual morality, yet knew from her own experience that sexual energies must be controlled. "Even so called 'natural love,' it must be controlled and, if not enlightened by grace, can become a 'delectation into temptation," she wrote in her diary.

I plan to continue challenging Frank Bruni and the other New York Times columnists who attack my Church.  These attacks, which are published repeatedly in the most powerful newspaper in the world, frighten me.

I am reminded of Erik Larson's book, In The Garden of Beasts, which describes the years when Hitler came to power in Germany. Clearly people witnessed Hitler's people abusing the Jews for several years before the Nazis unleashed their genocide campaign. But few people said anything.  In the end, 6 million Jews and at least 3 million Polish Catholics were slaughtered.

So let us Catholics protest these pointless and unfair attacks on the Catholic Church when they appear in the New York Times or anywhere else in the elite media. Of course, I do not equate Bruni's attacks with the Nazis.  I'm sure he is a kind and gentle person who sincerely believes he is laboring to build the best of all possible worlds.

Nevertheless, every gratuitous and unreasonable attack on our Catholic faith contributes to the creation of a political climate that tolerates the erosion of  our religious liberties. If our religious liberties are ultimately taken away in this country, let Catholics not say it happened while we sat on our hands. Let us protest. Let us protest again and again. Let us protest without ceasing.


Frank Bruni, The Pope's Gay Panic. New York Times, June 16, 2013, Sunday Review Section, p. 3.

Robert Ellsberg (ed.). The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2008.

Erik Larson. In the Garden of Beasts.Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. New York: Random House, 2011.

Robert Royal. The Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century:  A Comprehensive World History. New York: Crossroads, 2000.

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