Picking on the Average Joe Who Stood Up for the Little Guys

June 2003By Dale Vree

We’ve been wondering why certain Catholic periodicals have been picking on Michael S. Rose and his book Goodbye, Good Men — and even why we’ve devoted so many pages to defending him and his book.

Lots of Catholics will concede that many — even most — of our seminaries are in bad shape. It appears to be OK to say that as long as you speak in generalities. The “problem” with Goodbye, Good Men may have been that Rose named seminaries and named names (including VIPs), and in doing so he gave vivid first-person accounts. Whistleblowers can of course expect fierce resistance.

Now, we would imagine that if you’re a Catholic periodical with connections to the Catholic power structure in the U.S., you might think that you could win some brownie points if you go after Goodbye, Good Men or Rose personally or both. Indeed, Phil Lawler, Editor of The Catholic World Report, has speculated that certain Catholic journalists or editors figured they could get in good with their bishop or the powers that be if they trashed Rose.

Moreover, who is Michael Rose anyhow? We’ve never met him, but we’ve seen pictures (the same ones you may have seen), and he looks like your Average Joe. If we saw him on the street, we might think he’s a carpenter or a truck driver. His first book, The Renovation Manipulation, was self-published. His second book, Ugly as Sin, was published by a small Catholic house. His third book, Goodbye, Good Men, was self-published — initially, that is.

We imagine editors thinking, “Rose? Who’s he? He’s no one important. An easy kill.”

Rose was presumably considered such a nobody that Our Sunday Visitor, the National Catholic Register, and Crisis may have seen an opportunity to score points with the power structure by attacking that upstart, Michael Rose (you can be pretty sure that if Goodbye, Good Men had been authored by George Weigel, it would have received far different treatment). The attack on Rose by Culture Wars was an anomaly, due primarily to the carelessness of its Editor (see the March NOR, pp. 4-10).

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