Father Tony

The New York Archbishop's Blog

Filed By Father Tony | March 28, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living

Not only does Tim Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, have a blog, but he even allows comments (moderated, of course).

When I left my comment, I was sure it would never be published, but it was!

This may seem like such a small thing to many of you, but it isn't. It's really very significant. Although Tim Dolan will often warble the Vatican's corporate anthem, he is not afraid to sit down with the likes of us. He is not dismissive of our kind. At heart, he is a listener and a magnanimous leader. All the same, to allow my words to appear on the official site of the Archdiocese and on his personal blog is amazing and very encouraging, and if you are inclined to leave a kind comment on his blog thanking him for this one little step in the direction of distant reconciliation, you will do much to reinforce his gesture. Set aside the rants for the moment. Set aside making your case and arguing the issues for a moment. He's leaving the door open just a bit. Giving space to a shockingly inconvenient man like me who is loudly and totally opposed to the Pope won't speed him along on his way to a red hat. Again, you may not understand just how significant a gesture this is. For the moment, please just take my word for it.

PS: I suspect he does not connect me with the name Tony Adams although I did have to provide the address of this blog at sign-in.

After the break, the text of my comment, and to illustrate how different Tim Dolan is from the Pope, a bit of B16's arrogant Palm Sunday sermon.

My comment on the blog of Archbishop Timothy Dolan:

The pedophile priest scandal contains so many overlapping and disturbing issues for the faithful to deal with:

a) Does this widespread sin/crime tell us that the "personality" of the priesthood is built on unhealthy premises?

b) Have most priests known all along about how widespread the problem is?

c) Is mandatory celibacy the root of the problem?

e) Is the Pope responsible for this mess in the way that the head of General Motors or of a failing financial institution must take responsibility and step down?

f) Are priests well-trained for celibacy?

g) Even priests who do not have active sex lives, sublimate through food, booze, money and entertainment. Is that really celibacy?

h) Homosexuality practiced by clergy is getting wrongly mixed up with the pedophile priest scandal. Even good gay priests are being brought down by this. Can the Catholic priesthood return to health without some major changes?

I have my opinions, but this is your house, so I'll just leave having voiced the serious questions in everyone's mind.

These are sad times that call for bold and heroic leadership. You know how we always say that the Holy Spirit moves in strange ways? Well, the Spirit may be at work in these revelations which may lead us to a renewed Church in which women priests and married priests (both straight and gay) will lead us. No press release from Father Lombardi can stop the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Meanwhile, in Rome, the German Shepherd relishes war over peace.

He is 82 years old. Funny thing about octogenarians. They get pretty set in their ways. The ones who were always gracious and loving and wise and magnanimous reap what they have sown in the care they receive from friends and family. The ones who have been heartless and judgmental and careless with those entrusted to them still receive the maintenance and respect that good people always extend to anyone who is elderly, but a persistently hateful elder doesn't get the luxury of a pass in matters of sin, crime, justice and reparation.

He doesn't care for what is being said about him, and he used his Palm Sunday sermon to say that faith in God helps lead one "towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion."

Oh, Mary, how the congealed liebfraumilch of human kindness doth stagnate in your icy Bavarian veins!

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I'm curious. You refer to yourself as Father Tony; but you repeatedly only use "Tim Dolan". Shouldn't you be calling him Archbishop Tim, or perhaps Archbishop Dolan to be consistent? It seems to me that he is due the same courtesy to use his title that you afford yourself.

Dear Rory,
That is an interesting observation concerning etiquette. There is an explanation. When I left the active ministry, I dropped the "REV" and all similar titles immediately. I did my best to hide my past entirely. For about 25 years, not many people knew about it. When I started blogging, I met other New York bloggers who became friends. Joe Jervis of JoeMyGod began referring to me at Father Tony. Soon everyone was using that name. It began as a joke and I rolled with it. I was far enough away from my past that it did not bother me. Now that I find myself back in the thick of this business, folks like you who don't know the genesis of that supporting role on JoeMyGod rightly wonder why I use the title. In some ways, it's a peformance, but one in which I say what I really feel and believe, but then all blogging is role-playing and anyone who thinks otherwise is naive.

Were you thrown out as a priest? There are no public records in the Catholic Church so we have to take your word for it. Not trying to demean your character in any way or questioning that you left the Catholic Church as a priest on your own accord. Can you explain the circumstances of your leaving? If you are going to do an advice column as Father Tony isn't it is important to have some background information.

Dear Charles,
Not thrown out. Not suspended. Walked out. With a clean record. I had refused to take an assignment. The bishop and I were at a stalemate. I wanted to continue my education as he had promised. He would not release me. I was young. I was willful. I had no one to turn to for advice. My mentors in Rome were either dead or otherwise engaged. The flux of administrative power in the Vatican is not unlike DC. A couple of years after I "left", I popped back in to do a wedding of a family member. I called the chancery to make sure I was still legally able to do it. The chancellor said yes without hesitation, provided I knew a pastor who would permit it in his church. That was not a problem. Aside from the fact that the diocese tried financial ways to make my life uncomfortable in order to make me "see the light", I suspect they have always hoped for my return. Two years ago, a highly placed friend checked up on my status and told me that I am simply not referenced. That may be their kind way of handling a predicament. Gracious of them, but it doesn't negate the broken promises the bishop (now dead) made to me that caused our disagreement. Now, of course, there is the inconvenient fact that I married my partner. Talk about burning bridges! Anyway, sometimes I just shrug and figure that things turn out for the best. If I had not done what I did, I'd have never met the man I love. I'd never be talking with you. We all have our little roles to play in the natural order of things. This is the humble mine. No regrets!

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 28, 2010 6:08 PM

"towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.”

"Petty gossip?" Petty gossip.

Ratzinger's 'prayer' is revelatory.

First, courage is a virtue and examples of it are being provided by the victims of this abuse and their families, not the perpetrators and their enablers/protectors. One needs courage to confront dehumanizing, authoritarian structures throughout society. And to confront the personal tragedies human evil leaves in it's wake.

"Petty gossip?" We now know that this type of abuse is worldwide in it's extent (More scandals from more and more countries will be forthcoming and the consequences will multiply exponentially) and reaches, not only into the Vatican, but to the foot of the papal throne itself. Facts, not gossip.

"Dominant opinion?" Obviously, we have in B16 yet another example of a Christian leader twisting words until they bear no relationship whatsoever to reality. But it would be interesting to draw out B16 on what he thinks he means when he refers to "dominant opinions." More rope for the hangmen.

"Intimidation?" Really? Since when are calls for justice by and about the most vulnerable people in society acts of intimidation?

I wonder if or how this will affect state funding for churches in Germany? When lawsuits mount and the church is forced to settle for millions in what is essentially taxpayer funds, the people of Germany may well decide they have had enough. And the people of Ireland haven't even started going after the church yet.

Will B16 call this "intimidation" as well?

This scandal will reach a critical mass far beyond what happened in America. There will be no squirming out of the consequences this time. Even if, in the end, it means business as usual but in a greatly reduced, near bankrupt, near empty church with no moral authority left.

Dear Juston,
From your lips to God's ear.

I hope to someday see my Catholic friends exist within an accepting system which is decent and reasonable.
I take so much joy from my own faith where these things are not even issues I can't imagine if they were or how that must feel.
I am glad that some leaders in the Roman Catholic Church are willing to entertain these questions because that is where it is going to start. A willingness to entertain an idea and to listen to views.
I will pray to the gods of my people that your leaders grow.

Let's see how long your comment stays up there on the Archdiocese of NY site. I have left comments, as well as seen critical comments written by others, that disappeared after a half a day to a couple of days.
Of course, I have also seen censorship here on Bilerico, especially when the comments get the Trans or the so called "radical queer" communities jumping all over the commenter. This is not a free site either. I am not defending Ron Gold, but it was very interesting that he was kicked off for announcing a subject that he was proposing to write about, rather than for actually writing a column. I personally am curious about what exactly he was going to say, although I am by no means suggesting that I would have agreed with it. The credo of Bilerico is that any statement made by a Trans poster or commenter is to be accepted as full fact, with no challenge allowed.
The moderators are very fast and loose allowing critical comments that bother lots of gay white men, but this is ok by Bilerico standards. I have seen comments to columns written by Yasmin Nair that originally were posted, eventually disappear, with politically correct scoldings from the editors after Nair's complaints (as reported on these removals). The editors are allowing Nair and your protege, Ryan Conrad, to dump post links and radio program broadcasts that specifically blame the gay white men and "their" agenda for what ails the Trans and so-called radical queer communities. However, no reciprocal statements are allowed here on Bilerico, Fr Tony !

Dear Peter,
No comment!
Father Tony

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 28, 2010 10:42 PM

Very diplomatic Fr Tony. We human folk do forget to keep an open mind to divergent opinions. Had Gold's piece been better written and devoid of loaded words such as "mutilation" this 90 year old gent's ideas could have been intellectually dissected rather than emotionally. I do not dismiss the emotional issues around the transsexual issue, but we should be able to discuss without vitrol. BTW the denouncing of him included one heck of a lot of ageism.

As to B16 he could be the next to last pope. Or at least the next to last male pope for some time to come.

You obviously haven't been paying attention and have an ax to grind. Ron Gold got kicked off for writing his disgusting screed against transsexuals. He didn't just say he was going to write it. He actually did it. If you want to actually see what he wrote, go to PHB and search for Ron Gold.

I am not defending Ron Gold, but it was very interesting that he was kicked off for announcing a subject that he was proposing to write about, rather than for actually writing a column.

That's the second time this week I've seen that. Where's that coming from? It's simply factually incorrect. He very much wrote that post.

The moderators are very fast and loose allowing critical comments that bother lots of gay white men, but this is ok by Bilerico standards.

We leave up plenty of comments that bother everyone. Our distinction has always been that "You're stupid" is not allowed while "Your argument is stupid" is. Comparing people critical of the LGBT movement to people who are critical of L, G, B, or T people doesn't make sense.

I'm really not sorry if you're bothered every now and then by a post on this site. It's kinda the entire point since you're not going to agree with 70+ people. That's life. But just feeling attacked isn't the same as actually being attacked, and maybe when someone says "I don't agree with fighting for marriage," you could try reading it as a position instead of a personal insult.

Why were all of Ron Gold's posts on Bilerico purged from the archives? As for the tempest that blew him off this blog, I think that there was censorship. I would have preferred to have heard all his opinions and let people agree or disagree. He was so incredibly effective over the years with the American Psychiatric Association and gay/lesbian organizations, that it is impossible to deny his major contributions to us all. I interpreted his ouster as motivated by fear by those who were unprepared to answer his opinions or challenges to the community. Bilerico posts lots of really off the wall things. It is true that there are posts which contain links to other sites or radio broadcasts which disparage an entire class (usually gay men, occasionally more specific to disparaging gay white men). These are allowed, while Gold was obliterated for allegedly disparaging an entire clas, trans persons. Lesson: Bilerico is practicing internal affirmtive action to shield the trans and radical queer communities from the tougher standards of speech applied to those not of their groups, while trans and radical queers get a free pass.

Lesson: Bilerico is practicing internal affirmtive action to shield the trans and radical queer communities from the tougher standards of speech applied to those not of their groups, while trans and radical queers get a free pass.

Or you're just really, really overly sensitive. Saying "I don't believe in gay marriage" isn't an attack on you personally.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | March 30, 2010 6:24 AM

Father Tony, I see that Archbishop Dolan joined the loyal heiarchical parade on Palm Sunday when he compared Pope Benedict to Christ in suffering over the priest abuse scandals. Any thoughts on that? Are you comments still up?

Dear Don,
The comment is still visible.
There are things that the archbishops are "urged" to say. You must assume that the National Conf of Catholic Bishops regularly decides on a message such as "Let's use Palm Sunday to say something nice about B16". You should assume that the 72 year old Apostolic Nuncio to the US, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, probably casually mentions things to the important bishops, such as "It would please the Holy Father if some mention of the indiginities he has suffered should be made in the course of the Palm Sunday services. This will allow your Easter homilies to be free of the taint of this scandal and will clearly demonstrate to the faithful how the church can survive even this cross." And there you have it. It's a ready line like that that shows you why I flourished in Rome!

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | March 30, 2010 8:10 AM

Yes I can see why your career as a potential Rome bureaucrat really took off!

As to the "suggestions" concerning what the Holy Father might like to see in a sermon, I do seem to recall something in the Gospels about "Go forth and spin to the least of your bretherin"