Tuesday, February 11, 2003

The inestimable Kevin Miller reacts to my post on Fr. Pfleger and Sharpton

I made the case that perhaps the good happening at St. Sabina's may outweigh the bad of the cult of personality around Fr. Pfleger. In other words, Catholic sacraments are still being given, and perhaps souls are being saved. Kevin makes a good point, however: My objection here is that, for all the good things that may be happening at the parish - for all that the sacraments are being administered - the parish seems in some very significant ways to be an obstacle rather than an aid to those sacraments' bearing their proper fruit. The proper fruit of the sacraments is the Catholic communio with the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. One isn't supposed to receive the sacraments apart from an intention to live that communio (and repentance for the times when one has failed to do so). And it's not clear in what sense that communio is being lived or fostered - rather than hindered - by St. Sabina's. One sees it in the very way the parish defines itself. As a correspondent summed it up in a note I blogged last month following my initial post about the parish, "they at St. Sabina are not Catholic, but Pflegerites."

From the outside, it appears as if the good happening at St. Sabina is very small indeed. I concede the point. But perhaps what we would need to do to decide the question of whether Cardinal George should have undertaken some dramatic Ambrosian discipline against St. Sabina's, is to visit the parish and get some inside information. I have not done so. Perhaps Cardinal George has, and in his view the good of the parish outweighs the bad of the pastor. I cannot make this judgment. He could certainly be wrong.

I am going to a conference next week where Cardinal George is speaking, and I promise that if I have a private conversation with him, I will ask him for his rationale. It isn't likely I will get the chance.

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