I just wrote about a recent situation in which watchdog groups drew attention to an egregious misuse of "Catholic" beliefs, with a positive outcome to the protest of watchdog groups: as my posting notes, when Catholic lay leader Austin Ruse recently called for liberal university leaders to be taken out and shot, the group Faithful America petitioned for Monsignor Anthony Frontiero of St. Joseph's Cathedral in Manchester, New Hampshire, who was on Ruse's C-FAM board, to resign.
And so he did.
Here's another recent story which demonstrates that when watchdog groups publicize decisions or actions by religious leaders that contradict core values of a religious group, positive things sometimes happen: last Saturday, retired New York Cardinal Egan was scheduled to preside at a special children's choir Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola parish in Manhattan. The group Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests called foul, given Egan's deplorable record in the abuse crisis both in the Bridgeport, Connecticut, diocese and in New York.
After SNAP and other groups supporting abuse survivors made a stink about St. Ignatius's decision to bring Egan in for this children's event, his appearance at the Mass was cancelled. SNAP applauded this decision, but as its media statement about it notes, it's unlikely that we'll ever know who played the behind-the-scenes roles in making such a glaringly insensitive decision (to invite Egan to officiate at the children's Mass) in the first place--because it is extremely doubtful
that even one church official - Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Egan, the local Jesuit provincial or St. Ignatius staffers – will break the deeply-rooted culture of secrecy in the church around child sex crimes, cover-ups and controversies to share this information.
So, score one for the ability of watchdog groups to shame Catholic officials into reversing decisions that, in the view of many Catholics, outrageously contradict core Catholic values. But continue to score zero for the ability of lay Catholics to figure out what's really going on behind the scenes, as power is allocated and decisions affecting all of us are made.
In back rooms from which most of us remain totally excluded.