The Flying Buttress: What Inquisitors' Minds Want to Know

An archive for issues of The Flying Buttress newswire, whose purpose is to comment satirically on dissent within and relating to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Disclaimer: These publications are works of satirical fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, but it all depends on what you mean by the word "is." May the Lord bless you and keep you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Open Letter to Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

Your Excellency, On behalf of the long-suffering faithful of the Cincinnati Archdiocese, we warmly welcome you. You are probably familiar with this newsletter from your former post in Duluth, so it may surprise you that this issue is not only directed to you personally, but is also a straightforward greeting and not a satirical one. Though you surely by now have been briefed on the state of the Archdiocese, we are guessing that you have not been briefed on why this newsletter exists. If you are somewhat disconcerted by our stagnant revenue, the shortage of priests, parish closings, and the ill will generated by the sex abuse scandals, we are hoping and praying that you are much more profoundly disturbed by other, much darker problems - which, it could be said, are the real causes of the more superficial problems with which you are now familiar. For example: Your New Archdiocese is Hostile to Tradition. (Note: by "Archdiocese" we mean its leadership, so-called, not its faithful) Your newspaper, The Catholic Telegraph, is a reliable indicator of this. Its Editor, Tricia Hempel, wrote a column a few years ago dismissing the desire for the old Mass as a mere nostalgia, equivalent to a sentimental wistfulness for old pop tunes and old TV shows. The Telegraph also did its level best to discourage local Catholics from going to see Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, on the grounds that it was terribly offensive. Fr. Timothy Daly, a syndicated enemy of tradition, has regular column space.
  • Given this hostility, Summorum Pontificum has not been implemented in any parish, despite interest in several parishes among both priests and laity. Those priests understand where the hostility comes from (by contrast, there are already two parishes in the much smaller diocese of Covington, across the river, which have instituted the "Extraordinary Form.")
  • In other words, the marginalized status of the two former "indult" parishes effectively remains the same as it was before Summorum.
  • A few years ago, your soon-to-be predecessor rejected an offer from the FSSP, which is locally based in southern Indiana, to help with the priest shortage here. Priest shortage? What priest shortage? (An FSSP priest now says the "EF" at both former indult parishes - that is the extent of their involvement.)
Your New Archdiocese is a Nest of Dissent. Much of it comes from the Theology and other faculties of Xavier University - and those whom they have "educated" - who are in the forefront of those who think that the Church was re-invented and "liberated" by Vatican II. So, rather than fidelity to the Holy Father and to the Magisterium, we have "dialogue" and "nuancing." Rather than solumn liturgy, we have experimentation and novelty and desacralization. Rather than social justice grounded in Faith, we have faith drained away by left-wing social activism. Disgraceful garbage such as "Constantine's Sword" and the alleged anti-Semitism in the New Testament are taken seriously among this "elite," which includes Arthur Dewey, who is associated with the Jesus Seminar, and until recently included Paul Knitter, a fellow traveler of Dewey's and a founding member of that Seminar.
  • The liberal and desacralized approach of Xavier is either featured or echoed regularly in The Catholic Telegraph, which is known to many of the faithful here, generously, as the "Occasionally Catholic Telegraph."
  • The University of Dayton is not exactly a fortress of fidelity either.
Your New Archdiocese is a Nest of Homosexual Advocacy (and, by inference...). Your soon-to-be predecessor and his former auxiliary, Carl Moeddel, were for years heavily involved in assisting groups like "Dignity," GLSEN and NACDLGM in their assault against the Church's teaching on homosexuality. Moeddel is on record numerous times as misrepresenting, distorting and outright falsifying Church teaching in the name of "compassion."
  • Moeddel's efforts culminated in the formation of a "support group" for gay and lesbian high school students known as "CRYSM" - Catholics Respecting Youth in Sexual Minorities - which by its very nature gave credence to the lie that making homosexuality an objectively disordered sin is an act of hate, discrimination and bigotry that must be combated. CRYSM has now been disbanded due in large part to the efforts of outraged parents, but the filthy mind-set that created CRYSM still skulks below the surface.
  • The faculties of both St. Xavier High School and Xavier University are both infested with those who support Moeddel's position. Hint: both of these institutions are Jesuit.
  • If you've read "Good-Bye, Good Men," then you know that our Seminary was formerly notorious for its homosexual subculture. This appears to have been largely cleaned up, and the Seminary faculty is now blessed with a few wonderful and holy priests. But there are other focal points for this subculture, such as:
  1. A parish in Clifton (the University of Cincinnati's neighborhood), St. Monica-St. George, is well-known as a "gay-friendly" parish.
  2. We suggest you look into those involved in promoting the observance of the "National Day of Silence" at St. X High School.
Your Parishes are Largely Controlled by Liberals. You will find that the parish staff - Pastoral Associates, DRE's, youth ministers, deacons - of most Cincinnati parishes are quite liberal, even militantly so, and typically feminists, for whom the term "inclusive language" is a cool breeze on a hot summer's day. In this they reflect and complement the secularized arrogance, dishonesty and mediocrity of the rest of the self-styled "intelligentsia" of this Archdiocese: the diocesan bureaucrats, the editorial staff of the Telegraph, and the university faculties.
  • Needless to say, the apples of liberal catechesis do not fall far from the liberal tree.
We have sketched for you the root causes of Cincinnati's decline, causes which could be stated even more succintly: the Faith has been abandoned. Not only abandoned, but scorned in favor of an entirely different religion - politically correct and academically prestigious, but most assuredly not Catholic. Finally, we urge you not to take our word for any of these things, but to investigate them for yourself. In the meantime, our hopes and prayers are with you.
Sincerely Yours in Christ, "Tomas de Torquemada"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Tapeworm Letters, #5

"My dear Hollywood, I see that I cannot escape the tedious charade of the presidential election that is upon us once again. No doubt many of your parishioners - the more dutiful among the sheeple - have inquired about voting with "an informed conscience." You may recall, from your seminary days, my private assessment of this political theater-cum-popularity contest: Americans do not really choose their president. Why? Because the candidates of both major parties only appear to be opponents. That is, the choice is not really between opposing platforms, but merely between two facets of the same platform. The Democrats, you see, are responsible for the cultural revolution, while the Republicans oversee the economic revolution. This little pre-arranged show has been drawn up by our powerful behind-the-scenes benefactors - and who are we to object when it is our brethren who will benefit? We are not fools! Now of course the ignorant will whoop like cranes about this candidate's position on abortion (which we so recently discussed), that candidate's position on illegal immigration, the war on terrorism, social and environmental justice, the death penalty, drilling for "American" oil, stem cell research, the marriage amendment...let me see...have I overlooked anything? In point of fact, they are examining the icing while ignoring the cake, the substance of which is that our Brave New World will continue to take shape no matter which puppet sits in the Oval Office. Such are the birds and the bees of politics, which you must never divulge to the uninitiated. Instead, you will emulate the press by sending your charges off on one superficial wild goose chase after another, such as the one which our little network has produced through the USCCB. Toward that end, I heartily recommend your perusal of their most recent document on "Faithful Citizenship." You will find it strongly reminiscent of Donnie Wuerl's masterpiece on denying Communion, though it achieves equivocation by contradiction rather than by the illusion of noble collegiality. For example: A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil (#34). Sounds like it might pass muster, no? But wait: as if by magic, a loophole appears! There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil (#35). And just in case the would-be voter is not yet tied in knots, we come back with this: In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions (#37). You see, my boy, in order to serve our cause we must become the masters of the blind alley, the dead end, the enigma, the sleight of hand, the Gordian Knot. Our palette never consists of blacks and whites, but of endless shades of gray.
Your affectionate Shepherd, TAPEWORM"

The Tapeworm Letters, #4

"My dear Hollywood,
O that I had expended more effort to extirpate the rabble-rousers in your parish! So now they are demanding that Senator X be denied Communion, are they? I suppose they are flailing you with his position on abortion.
I am satisfied of your understanding that we cannot, without exception, offend or alienate powerful and influential public figures, especially those like Senator X who have been so helpful to our cause. Thankfully, you have several resources at your disposal with which to deflect and defuse this issue, the first of which - need I really remind you? - is that your bishop has not issued any instructions to his priests on the matter! However, should any of your troublemakers happen to clear that standard hurdle, this provides you with an opportunity to learn at the feet of a master. I refer to none other than our compatriot Donnie Wuerl, whose 2005 statement on the subject is a tour de force of obfuscation, evasiveness and bureaucratic double-talk. How he thought up that "national ramifications" line is beyond me - such brilliance even surpasses calling the 1962 Missal the "Extraordinary Form"! Lest you miss the point of Donnie's "collegial" stratagem, note that his appeal to unity in effect guarantees that in most cases nothing absolutely nothing at all will be accomplished, since our little network always sees to it that there is no unity on anything, except within our own camp. My dear Hollywood, the only unity that will serve out cause is unanimity with that very cause - which, as you know, is a long way off. In the meantime, we shall divide and conquer. Ad astra per aspera! But what, you ask, are you to tell your parishioners who continue to press their case? I will sum up my response by coining a clever phrase: give ambiguity a Wuerl! Start with the personal warning - that due to Senator X's hectic schedule, you have not been able to sit down with him to converse about his position. Then use our "consistent ethic of life" ploy - that we must examine the entire spectrum of his policies, rather than just taking one completely out of context, and if that is done, then it will become apparent that the Senator's overall record is quite favorable to the Church and to our "hierarchy of beliefs." And finally, you might adopt the position of another adept, Nancy Pelosi (would that she were a religious!), who uttered this gem: "I believe that my position on choice is one that is consistent with my Catholic upbringing, which said that every person has a free will and has the responsibility to live their lives in a way that they would have to account for in the end." There you have it, old boy, a potent arsenal indeed. Welcome to the deep end of the pool!
Your affectionate Shepherd, TAPEWORM"

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Tapeworm Letters, #3

"My dear Hollywood, While we are on the subject of the "Extraordinary Form," do indulge me in a little quiz. Do you know the real reason why the bishops and priests of our little network are so enamored of - even dependent on- the Missal of Paul VI? It has to do with acceptance and authority. Since I have protected you, and all my priests, from any knowledge of that detestable old Missal, you will not understand a comparison between the two forms, and you will have to trust my wisdom and judgment on the matter. The new Missal, under the guise of bestowing upon the people a greater role, a more active participation, and a clearer comprehension, completely revolutionizes and alters the traditional authority of the priest. Now, before you object to a loss which you didn't even know had afflicted you, let me remind you that it is not authority that our priests want, it is acceptance: acceptance of our way of life. After all, we don't wish to draw undue attention to our uniqueness, do we? And what better way to obtain acceptance than by diffusing your authority to the point where you are practically one of the assembly? What a godsend, to take so much attention off you and place it instead amongst all those busy bees: lectors, deacons, extraordinary ministers, Our Father hand-holders, petitioners and peace passers! Not only that, but what little attention that remains fixed on you is no longer as an authority figure, but as a master of ceremonies - and I don't mean a traditional one! My dearest Hollywood, the new Missal gives entirely new meaning to the term "Host"! And you know as well as I that, if nothing else, our brethren are riveting entertainers... No doubt you are wondering whether the slack of this lost authority is taken up elsewhere. I assure you that it is, and that is the other half of the equation. Don't think for one moment, however, that your lost authority is somehow distributed among the laity! Pah - Marxist rubbish! This is just a clever ruse, a feint towards populism, a master stroke by Bugnini and his Consilium! Besides, what would those ignorant sheep in the pews know about matters in which we are so highly trained? No, it is the bishop who takes up your lost authority. And yes, that makes your dependency on us, your fealty to us, greater than ever before. Both Missals demand fidelity: one to Tradition, the other to the Conciliar playbook, the scripts of the Spirit of Vatican II. But who writes and enforces those scripts? We do, and that makes us your masters! You see, you are the vassals, and we are the feudal lords. Fortunately for you, and for our brethren, I am a benevolent lord who always rewards correct behavior with great munificence. Cuius regio, eius religio. Now do you understand why we bishops cannot possibly admit the old Missal into our dioceses? Our priests lost acceptance and our bishops lose authority. Such losses would be devastating, a veritable anathema.
Your affectionate Shepherd, TAPEWORM"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Tapeworm Letters, #2

"My dear Hollywood, I am most displeased to learn that a "stable" group of your parishioners has requested a weekly Mass in the so-called Extraordinary Form. I will resist the temptation to chalk up this unfortunate development as your first failure, realizing that we can probably lay this scandal at the feet of your predecessor - who, as the result of his audacious disobedience, now toils among the decrepit in a malodorous nursing home. We shall of course focus on your response, which - if you are wise - will vary from individual to individual, yet which sounds pleasing to all, argumentum ad captandum. Two principles should guide your interaction with these loathsome nostalgics: one, you are all things to all people, and two, divide and conquer. What do I mean by this? I recommend an individual meeting with each member of this misguided group. Probe for their character flaws (which, I am sure, you have already catalogued from their confessions) and exploit them, all the while making them feel quite good about themselves. For example, is Person A an officious busybody? Then assign them an important-sounding task, such as investigating the relevant issues: adding another Mass to your already crowded schedule, finding a priest who knows Latin and the rubrics (knowledge of which, I trust, I have long since snuffed out of this diocese!), and calculating the cost of extra utilities for heat, light and air conditioning - not to mention the extra costs for your organist and cantor. Is Person B insufferably pious? Their task, then, could be to pray for divine guidance as to how to pull this thing off. Whatever you do, make sure you send each one off in an entirely different direction, feeling very good indeed about themselves (and you!) and delaying as long as possible any opportunity for them to make further connection with each other. In addition to this strategem, you ought to use your bully pulpit to subtle effect. Carefully - you do not want to offend the loathsome traditionalists (or have them vote with their checkbooks), you only seek to inject even the faintest doubt and nagging guilt among them - develop the concept of "nostalgia," comparing the desire for the old Mass to a wistful wish for days gone by, for old popular songs and old TV shows. If need be, throw in a few reliable chestnuts about Vatican II, with some vague warnings about violating its spirit - or even, for that matter, its letter (how many of these ignoramuses have actually read a Council document?). For my part, as you know, I have already formed a committe of retired priests to examine the credentials of any of you who may dare to request this Missal. I trust it is well understood that anyone who is foolish enough to make such an outrageous request will not only flunk that exam quite miserably, but will be sure to face a prolonged battery of psychological tests... Your affectionate Shepherd, TAPEWORM"

The Tapeworm Letters, #1

+The Flying Buttress will of course never divulge how the correspondence which we are about to publish fell into our hands. +There are two equal and interrelated tendencies into which traditional Catholics fall when evaluating liberal bishops. One is to impute their liberalism to homosexuality. The other is to attribute it to the "Spirit of Vatican II." +Liberal bishops themselves are equally amused by both. They chuckle with glee when their nebulous subterfuges, cloaked in the latter, somehow pass muster, and smirk privately but knowingly when the former charge is leveled against them. +Our readers are advised to remember that liberal bishops, of either persuasions, are liars. Whether mutilating the faith for their own ends, or even when dispensing their grubby confidences or tawdry advice to those of like mind, as these letters do, their offerings cannot be taken at face value, for the possibility of betrayal and exposure is always present, and the necessity of plausible denial is always at the back of their minds. +Finally, the identity of the author of these letters does not matter. He could be any one of the dozens of sexual, doctrinal and theological Pol Pot-ted perverts who are presently dripping their self-serving poison into the veins of the Church and leading the souls of the faithful to the slaughter. +We present the first in the series. "My dear Hollywood, I note with considerable amusement your anxiety over being assigned to a "conservative" parish. You seem to forget that I have spent countless hours doing my best to place certain "moles" in all my parishes, who quietly monitor the local presentation of the faith and who report back to me any potential or actual deviation from our Conciliar playbook. You see, my friend, in a Conciliar world, "conservative," as with everything else, is relative. You seem to fear that your little secret will be discovered; I assure you that it is safe with me and with our brethren - who, by the way, have long since moved past your tiresome novice drama. And no, I do not have the manpower to assign you a mentor to coach you in appearances! There is one principle by which we are obliged to live our double life, and that is this: "orthodoxy sells." This no doubt seems to create a glaring contradiction with my previous advice, but keep this in mind: like the rest of humanity, what we clergy preach is one thing; what we mean and what we practice is another! Yes, you must at all times appear to be orthodox. Yet, in keeping with the techniques used with such wonderful effect at the Second Vatican Council, the language in which you couch your orthodoxy is crucial. For example, how do you describe the Eucharist? Not, heaven forbid, as the Holy and Unbloody Sacrifice - no, refer to it as the "Memorial Meal," that which honors the "memory of Christ," or some such feel-good rhapsody. The poor fools in the pews will nod approvingly at the sound of your words and the soothing tone of your voice - those elements, after all, are what reaches them, not the rigid mechanistic zeal of Rome. Let us dwell on this last idea somewhat. The perennial question is, how do you make your parishioners feel? Guilty? Sinful? Ashamed? Or loved, comforted, assured? Do they feel a sense of belonging to a benevolent and accepting community, or do they squirm and shrivel up in the glaring spotlight of accusation, cowing before your pointed finger? You can live by these words: the people must like you. Once you win them over, they will become your allies, not only unwilling to imagine the possibility of any deviation on your part, but always ready to defend you in the face of any accusation. I conclude with a note of disappointment at your ingratitude. Have you forgotten that it was I who placed you in this parish? Has it once occurred to you the reason, that being the highest and most heartfelt personal esteem, ab imo pectore, in which I hold you? Have I not told you repeatedly that you have the makings of the greatest of all us great pretenders?
Your affectionate Shepherd, TAPEWORM"