Sunday, April 11, 2010

Talk Radio - "We Have a Caller Who Wants to Defend the Pope"

Deep into the night of the Easter vigil, I awoke at 2:30 a.m. from a sound sleep.  This happens from time to time, not sure why, but I usually turn on my radio to fall back to sleep.  I guess this doesn't say much for the midnight shift on talk radio, but the droning on of the voices usually puts me back into a blissful slumber in no time.  However, this night it was different.  When I hit the button on the radio, I heard the host going on and on about the pope and the Church and how the heck were Catholics going to put any money into the basket on Easter knowing it was going to support such a corrupt organization.

In addition to talking about how the pope had ignored pedophilia cases in the U.S. and had permitted priests to be near children after clear cases of molestation, he went on to laud Mother Teresa, but then said she wasn't Catholic, she was Franciscan.  As I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, my blood was beginning to do a bit of a simmer (it wasn't quite boiling, yet).  Then, when it became more than apparent that  this guy had no clue about the Catholic church, no clue about what procedures were taken to remove pedophile priests and no clue about the facts, I felt a prompting to call in and set the record straight.

Not one to waste a good prompting, I dialed the snazzy 1-800 number, which was something like 1-800 "red eye."  (I have a problem with dialing these phone numbers that spell out something clever and, of course, I mis-dialed the first time and got Vinnie's produce market which wished me a "Happy Easter.".  This, of course, made me question my prompting and deep down I was really hoping that it was all a big mistake and God really didn't want me to call a radio show and make a fool of myself and make it worse for His Church when I got all of the facts mixed up.

But the call screener answered and told me that they would put me on the air and to just hang on for a few minutes.  I waited while a man who had been abused as a child called in.  It was heartbreaking to listen to his story of how he was abused by a priest while he was in an orphanage.  The host seemed to want him to say something awful about the Church, but all he said was that he never spoke of the incident until he heard a lawyer on t.v. talk about bringing a lawsuit.  This encouraged the man to acknowledge his abuse publicly for the first time.  He received a settlement, but couldn't play the stereo he bought with some of the money because he kept thinking about where it came from.  Then he said that friends and family had stopped having anything to do with him after he disclosed his abuse.  It was one of the saddest things I've ever heard.

Then, the call screener got on and told me I would be next.  I kept praying to the Holy Spirit and St. Michael asking for the right words and the courage to not hang up.  Of course, I was not next and the call screener apologized and said keep hanging on, I would be on soon.  This gave me another opportunity to think that maybe I didn't need to go on the air.  The caller who was on before me was doing a good job of de-bunking the slander against the pope and was doing it in a nice folksy, friendly manner, and maybe I should just hang up and not ruin it by being too angry or bitter or sarcastic.  But, before I can chicken out, I hear the host say "And now, let's hear from Marilyn in Queens, New York," and it's too late to back down.

Well, the Holy Spirit kicked in and I, hopefully, held my own in giving the host a short education in the canonical process to dismiss a priest from the clerical state and how that differed from removing him from active ministry and keeping him away from kids and how that was pretty much the job of the local bishop, in any event.  And I tried my best to talk about the strides taken by the Church in the U.S. to handle abuse allegations quickly and transparently and how priests have very little due process afforded to them compared to individuals in the civil legal system.  Then, I pointed out that Mother Teresa was in fact a Catholic in good standing, but not a Franciscan, and that the two were not mutually exclusive.

By this time, the host asked me if I was a paid spokesperson for the Church.  (Please God, no, I thought to myself).  He didn't seem to be able to come up with any questions and pretty much proved my initial reaction that he had read only the one Associated Press article, did not do any fact checking on his own and thought he could spend an entire half hour on the radio perpetuating the myth of the big bad Catholic Church.  So, he quickly thanked me for my call, hung up and moved on to the next big topic, the Tiger Woods scandal.

The moral of this story is to encourage all of you to please, please jump in when you hear someone mis-representing the facts about the pope or the Church or the faith.  I know that it's much easier to keep walking or to ignore the conversation.  But, please don't.  If we let the newspapers and the t.v. and radio shows define the Church, it will perpetuate the vile distortions that are being put out there.  If we don't defend the Church, who will?  So, do some research and fact checking.  Be prepared to set the record straight.  And, be ready to defend the truth even if you'd rather shut out the light and go back to sleep.

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Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.