Many Catholics reacted with dismay to the November 4 speech by Archbishop of Los Angeles José Gomez, who claimed that some modern social justice movements were anti-Christian and Marxist-inspired “pseudo-religions”. NCR political columnist Michael Sean Winters said Gomez’s speech was “appalling” and projected catastrophe, while Franciscan Fr. Daniel P. Horan writes that Gomez’s comments reveal anti-intellectualism among church leaders. Below are letters to the editor from NCR readers responding to these articles. The letters have been edited for length and clarity.
Michael Sean Winters gives a wonderful example of the hope of Pope John XXIII. His comparison with Bishop José Gomez is interesting. I think the analysis involving Bishop Charles Chaput is clear.
These men have chosen a path to the Lord that seems contrary to the example of Jesus. Jesus was not a dark, cursed guy. I think the dark and cursed guys of his day were the Pharisees, so I consider the Gomez and Chaputs to be the Pharisees of modern times. They love to rule – to accept seats at the table – Jesus knew how to manage them.
I leave it to him to do this with the Pharisees of today and to seek the joy, justice and love of our Holy Father Francis!
Charlotte, North Carolina
The worst thing Archbishop José Gomez says is that he blames others and doesn’t see the need to convert. It sounds like a blatant case of trying to remove the straw from someone else’s eyes, happy and oblivious to the beam in their own.
After all the heartbreaking revelations about the shortcomings of church pastors and even the crimes against vulnerable innocent people, Gomez appears to be in absolute denial.
All this makes me ask him the following question: What matters to him? To be a faithful disciple of Christ and to defend his flock even at the cost of his life? Or is he worried about the prestige of an institution for which he, as a major pastor, is at least morally responsible for all of the aforementioned sins?
Will he follow Pope Francis’ call to be in synod, listening to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us, even from the most unlikely person away from the church, or will he continue to preach in the most self-righteous way?
(Fr.) GEORGES CHEUNG, SJ
Rose Hill, Mauritius
So grateful to have NCR providing journalistic review to the delusions of an ecclesiastical prince.
I thought we had totally rejected notions as if there was no salvation outside the church or Jesus Christ. I have read enough stories describing “varieties of religious experience” to say that there is salvation outside of any church.
I officially left the Holy Mother Church a long time ago, in part because of Archbishop José Gomez of the world. But I did not rule out the inspiration of Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel and the Jesuit father. Pedro Arrupe.
My advice for Gomez would be: chill out, chill out, have a beer and watch the football game.
Bronx, New York
It is unfortunate that some of our shepherds wish to engage in controversy rather than trying to keep their sheep in the fold. Archbishop José Gomez’s arguments that social movements, which he no doubt misunderstands, constitute a type of secular religion are in themselves demeaning and divisive.
Rather than seeing social movements, such as Black Lives Matter, as a response to widespread discrimination, he seems to think that those who are thus displaced are breaking up, and all who subscribe to their movement, by instilling themselves in a new secular movement which will supplant the sects establishments. In other words, a religion of grievance rather than hope.
I well remember the tidal changes that occurred with the implementation of the visions of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. Neither was concerned that the church was becoming too secular, although I remember members of my own family expressing dismay at the many changes. Change itself is the only constant expected in a changing society. Social movements, which Gomez deplores, are the expression of a change or a change underway in our culture.
CHARLES A. LE GUERN
Fr. Franciscan. Daniel Horan’s article was balanced, informative, and addressed to today’s person of faith.
It was until the last paragraph where he apparently could not resist the opportunity to insert his political and spiritual bias. “To read anything other than the same old pre-Vatican II British literature (Lewis and Tolkien beat), watch something other than EWTN and Fox News.” This last piece shows me that Horan can share a part of the anti-intellectualism of his brothers.
MARCELLA M. NESBITT
Rochester, New York
I remember from my older siblings that years ago exploring the scriptures was as anathema as questioning, questioning questions of faith, ritual or expectation. religious. As a seminarian, I experienced the end of the requirement to receive a dispensation to use the books on the list.
The then and probably persistent anti-intellectualism among these clericalists is more likely to be rooted in an imperialist domination mentality that is too arrogant and / or protective of their personal status, to tolerate question, dispute, nuance, l ‘objection or even the explanation: they are, were not.
Moreover, their high status, their untouchability, is based on the institutional structure (which explains the anti-intellectualism of limited but ambitious intellectuals). Their ontological otherness is not only sacramental but of social class. It has nothing to do with you or me. Their power over us and their influence over all that is rooted in their sacramental and institutional otherness. They cannot answer in any way that makes not only the questions, but the questioning itself irrelevant and even prejudicial to their power. “If I answer you, one might assume that I have an obligation to do so. I don’t, so I won’t.
Over time, this detachment becomes autonomous and automatic. I think the distinction is important for us to understand in order to break it and / or break with it.
Bedford, Nova Scotia
Congratulations to the RNC for Fr. Franciscan. The excellent column by Dan Horan, who rightly exposed the larger problem of the anti-intellectualism underlying the conservative episcopal movement currently within the American Catholic Church.
Horan’s enlightened approach here could be of great benefit if it were possible to expand its reach to more areas within the religious education ranks of the church.
TIMOTHY F. O’DONOGHUE
With each successive public statement, Archbishop José Gomez – who is unfortunately president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – seems less and less intelligent, less and less profound, less and less theologically sophisticated, less and less less spiritual, and less and less immersed in the Jesus of the Gospel.
It is an embarrassment for the church, at least for the minority of Catholics who actually have no respect for the Catholic episcopate amid the ongoing sexual abuse scandal. From my own social circle, I heard statements about withdrawing from Mass because of Gomez’s statements, as some people felt that the Catholic Church was no longer their home. I also know priests who simply say that they no longer pay attention to the bishops.
It is a sad time to see such twisted priorities with cutthroat episcopal silence on so many other issues crying out for the spotlight of the Gospel to be shown upon them by courageous spiritual leaders who have fire in their wombs. , not bellies weakened by tight red belts. and the nauseating illusions that go with it.
JOSEPH A. BRAUN
Park Ridge, New Jersey
Archbishop José Gomez is a shame for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The irony – the true pseudo religion is its idolatry of whiteness – white supremacy.
His utter ignorance and rejection of the suffering and trauma of black and brown peoples is appalling. His ignorance of the history of the Catholic Church’s complicity in the commodification of black and brown peoples is atrocious. Someone is to strip Gomez of his leadership in the church and take him to the pasture with the goats (Matthew 25: 31-46).
Thank God for Jesus because bishops like Gomez are a stumbling block and an obstacle in bringing people to the mission of the church – evangelism. Racism is impudent in the mission of the church.
Listening to his outright racism (Gomez), what sane black or brunette person would even want to deal with an institution that allows this type of hate? Yes, I said hate. Because this is what he feeds under the guise of Catholic identity.
Lord, have mercy and save my soul from the lying lips (Psalm 120) of disorderly bishops. Then the church wonders why the recent Pew Research report documents the massive exodus of blacks leaving the Catholic Church. They are not giving up their spiritual commitment to Jesus or their Catholic spirituality, they are abandoning the hypocrisy of racists in leadership positions.
Thank God I worship Jesus in spirit and in truth and I do not bow down to these messy structures of white supremacy.
VALERIE D. LEWIS-MOSLEY
Orange West, New Jersey
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