Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: March 2003

March 2003

Michael Rose Is a Liar & a Vicious Bully

Michael Rose’s December article attempts to refute critics of his book Goodbye, Good Men, but instead gives unintentional evidence for the book’s flawed methodology and an equally unintended explanation of why Catholic publications of the sort one would think would be sympathetic to what he has to say, instead panned the book. As Rose’s rebuttal to the Crisis article makes clear, he has written what is essentially an anecdotal book. The negative consequences of that decision then get compounded by the fact that (1) he draws from an extremely small pool of anecdotes — in the case of Louvain, one person who attended the American seminary there, and (2) he naïvely accepts the testimony of these people at face value without corroborating their stories by talking to the seminary officials they criticize or defame, and (3) he fails to see or ignores the fact that people who get dismissed from seminaries sometimes get dismissed for good reasons.

Nothing makes the flawed methodology of Rose’s book more apparent than his defense of it. The best example of this is his claim that Joseph Kellenyi, who was dismissed from Louvain and was quoted prominently in Rose’s book, has taken a lie detector test! It’s hard to think of a better example of the shortcomings of the he said/she said anecdotal approach that doomed Rose’s book from the start than resorting to the lie detector test as the court of last appeal. In defending his book, Rose only exposes the shortcomings that created the negative reaction from what he thought were going to be sympathetic reviewers. Michael Rose is like a gambler who doubles his bets every time he loses. Instead of admitting his mistakes, he turns reasonable commentary on a flawed book into evidence that some “they” are out to get him. He then compounds the damage by resorting to personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with him, and when the personal attacks prove ineffective, he resorts to lawsuits. There is, unfortunately, no “they” out there. Father Johansen’s review in Culture Wars, as well as the negative reviews in Our Sunday Visitor, the National Catholic Register, and Crisis, are united only by the flaws in his book. There is no other explanation, certainly not the ones that Jay McNally tries to put forth in his own December NOR article.

McNally’s account of the circumstances surrounding the appearance of the Johansen review in Culture Wars has all of the flaws of Rose’s approach, without the benefit of first-hand knowledge. As a result, McNally is drawn into the web of Rose’s self-justification and misrepresentation. McNally’s article is simply not a true account of what happened, nor is Michael Rose’s account a true account, as Fr. Johansen noted in his response to Rose’s letter to the editor in the July/August 2002 issue of Culture Wars. (At McNally’s suggestion I have posted both documents on the Culture Wars website, culturewars.com). Rose claims that I did not read his book. Again this is not true. I read enough of his book to (1) write an endorsement (although not the one which he posted on his website), and (2) decide that Fr. Johansen would make a good reviewer. I followed, in other words, exactly the same procedure I followed when Culture Wars favorably reviewed Rose’s Ugly as Sin a few months before we ran Fr. Johansen’s review of Goodbye, Good Men. I met Fr. Johansen when he was a seminarian at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia. I sent him the book because (1) he had attended two of the seminaries discussed in the book (I have never been in the seminary), and (2) he had troubles at one seminary (one which Rose praises in his book) for being too “conservative.” He was the ideal reviewer from my point of view.

According to McNally’s version of the events surrounding Johansen’s review in Culture Wars, “Rose was allowed to read Fr. Johansen’s first draft via e-mail before publication in Culture Wars by Jones, and Rose immediately informed Fr. Johansen that he was going to remove the erroneous information about the ex-seminarian.” This is not true. Rose, who never mentioned the various versions of his manuscript until after he had seen Johansen’s review, called to tell me that Johansen was criticizing material (e.g., the material on Jason Dulbpthat was not in the manuscript. As a result, I held up the printing of the May issue of Culture Wars until Fr. Johansen got the final version of Rose’s book. There is no point, I told Fr. Johansen, in criticizing something that isn’t there.

Both of us were dumbfounded to discover that the Jason Dull material (except for one footnote on his present whereabouts) was still in book. The new manuscript was the same as the old manuscript. Rose had lied to both of us. Contrary to what McNally said in his article, Rose did not tell me he was going to remove anything from his book. He told me that I had the wrong version of the manuscript and that he was going to send me the correct version. The lie in question was not about Jason Dull’s whereabouts. The lie was about the manuscript itself. Rose claimed that Fr. Johansen was writing about things which were not in the final version of Goodbye, Good Men when, in fact, they were in the final version. I say with good reason that Rose lied, because, as Fr. Johansen said in his response in Culture Wars, “there is no possibility that Mr. Rose was somehow innocently mistaken about the content of his own book.” Beyond that, Rose knew that the material on Jason Dull was false, and yet he published it anyway. Rose himself wrote to Bishop Vigneron apologizing for the Jason Dull material when it appeared in article form in St. Catherine Review, saying that it “unduly maligned you [Vigneron] and the seminary.” He promised a public retraction. Instead the same material — material which he knew to be false — ended up in his book. Rose then took the opportunity caused by the delay in publication to write to Fr. Johansen by e-mail and pressure him to retract the review.

Needless to say, that form of pressure didn’t work. The review came out and, as McNally and Rose have noted, was widely cited. At this point, unable to intimidate Fr. Johansen by e-mail, Rose turned to the legal system, threatening to file the lawsuit McNally mentioned in his article. What McNally failed to mention is that Rose tore a page from the legal playbook of the pedophile lawyers and named Fr. Johansen’s bishop as a co-defendant in the suit. The bishop had nothing to do with Johansen’s review. The fact that Rose included him gives some indication of the baseless nature of the suit. It also shows that the real strategy here was not to win an unwinnable and frivolous suit but rather to get the bishop to silence Fr. Johansen out of fear of litigation, which is in fact what happened. The filing of this suit was a vicious act done by a man who could not answer his critic’s arguments and so chose to silence him by force majeure. That act damaged Fr. Johansen’s relationship with his bishop. That act also silenced a voice that was willing to defend the Church at a time when the Church needs all the defenders she can find. McNally’s attack on Fr. Johansen was a cowardly act as well. McNally wrote what he did knowing full well that Fr. Johansen could not defend himself.

Michael Rose wrote a flawed book. Instead of admitting his mistakes (mistakes he makes more obvious by defending them), he responds by impugning the motives of his critics, threatening them with lawsuits when they fail to cave into his demands. Enough is enough. Michael Rose has tried to bully his way out of his own mistakes. In doing so, he has done nothing but discredit his position further — first of all, by the inadequacy of his response but, more importantly, by the ruthless way he treats his critics.

E. Michael Jones

Editor, Culture Wars

South Bend, Indiana


E. Michael Jones’s letter suffers from the same problems common to certain reviewers of Goodbye, Good Men: Their claims are based on misinformation, and their facts are distorted or simply wrong. In Jones’s case, add to this the name-calling that characterized Fr. Johansen’s commentary on me. Above all, what Jones and Johansen seem to have in common is an inclination to impute untrue motives to my work.

Jones defends Fr. Johansen by calling me “ruthless,” “vicious,” a “gambler,” a “liar,” and a “bully.” Such relentless name-calling only leads to greater darkness and denser fogs. All this darkness and fog show that Jones is a careless reader and poor listener.

Jones writes that I fail to see or ignore “the fact that people who get dismissed from seminaries sometimes get dismissed for good reasons.” Wrong. I clearly note in Chapter One of Goodbye, Good Men: “It certainly must be acknowledged at the outset that not every candidate who enters a seminary has a genuine vocation to the priesthood. The seminary is a place designed to help a man discern this vocation. Many eventually leave their studies because they have determined that a priestly vocation is not theirs. Others are rightly dismissed from the institutions due to irregularities that would indicate the candidate is not suited for the priesthood: sexual perversions, addictions, mental or emotional problems, incompetence, unwillingness to accept Church teaching, or lack of social or personal skills” (Regnery edition, p. 9; italics added). Either Jones did not make it as far as page nine of my book, or he skimmed it so carelessly that he failed to see that this issue was duly addressed “at the outset.”

Jones says my book “draws from an extremely small pool of anecdotes.” I interviewed more than 150 people, giving their stories. How does Jones define “extremely small”? Jones says I took “the testimony of these people at face value….” I did not. I had to evaluate the plausibility of what I was told, and certain “anecdotes” told to me did not make it into the book. In many cases I quoted the written testimony of vocations and seminary officials, and they were all denials, exactly what anyone would expect from self-interested officials. As for Mr. Kellenyi’s taking a lie detector test, if the Louvain officials had also taken a lie detector test — which they have not — and also passed it, then we would have a “he said/she said” situation. It would be wonderful if the officials cited in my book would take lie detector tests.

Jones also claims that I have turned “reasonable commentary on a flawed book into evidence that some ‘they’ are out to get” me. Yet nowhere have I ever claimed or even hinted that anyone is “out to get me.” My rebuttals have not been addressed to those reviews that merely panned the book — e.g., those by Garry Wills and Fr. Richard McBrien. My rebuttals have only addressed those written by critics who — this bears repeating — base their claims on erroneous second-hand information, distort facts or put forth untruths, or, above all, impute untrue motives to my work.

Jones’s letter itself suffers from all three of these problems, but nowhere is Jones more remiss vis-à-vis the facts than when he attempts to describe with second-hand knowledge the issue of my private extra-litigious dealings with Fr. Johansen. Further, Jones flatters himself by writing that I undertook such action because I couldn’t “bully” his reviewer into retracting his review. If Jones had carefully read Jay McNally’s article in the December 2002 NOR — the one Jones himself cites! — he would have known that the Culture Wars review was not the primary issue.

As McNally pointed out in his article, Fr. Johansen is the only critic who carried out an ongoing campaign to discredit not so much Goodbye, Good Men, but its author. Of all the critical commentary, only Fr. Johansen’s remarks had been of an excessively personal nature. His smear campaign went far beyond the bounds of rational, or what Jones calls “reasonable,” criticism. Fr. Johansen was the only critic who evidenced actual malice and used several different venues in order to perpetuate his distortions, false rumors, and his personal condemnations. His accusations appeared in in-print publications, on his website, in circular e-mails, and on nationally syndicated radio. In all four media he stated untruths, imputed evil motives to my work, or ventured far from material published in Goodbye, Good Men. As McNally pointed out in his article, Fr. Johansen even gleefully claimed that I was being sued for libel by two priests mentioned by name in my book. Even after Fr. Johansen was informed that this information was false, he upped his claim when he later maintained that four priests were suing me for libel. Again, this was Fr. Johansen, an ordained Catholic priest, perpetuating a false rumor among a large number of Catholic media opinion molders. Furthering his smear campaign, Fr. Johansen shepherded an Internet flock, and to judge by the sheer volume of his output, he was apparently spending enormous quantities of time writing what amounts to gossip columns about me. That endeavor spawned a spate of nasty e-mails sent to me by Fr. Johansen’s supporters, falsely accusing me of the wildest things and calling me any number of names, all in response to distorted or erroneous information publicly presented by Fr. Johansen, and accepted uncritically by his followers.

(It is interesting that in his letter Jones accuses me of being “ruthless” with my critics. If Fr. Johansen’s smear campaign — which included verifiably false information laced with clear-cut libel — cannot be considered “ruthless,” I don’t know what would qualify. For sake of comparison, if anyone is interested to see how I have responded to my critics, my responses have all been made public at www.cruxnews.com. Contrary to Jones, they are not “personal attacks.”)

Jones mischaracterizes my dealings with Fr. Johansen. Jones says I filed a lawsuit against Fr. Johansen, and that “the filing of this suit was a vicious act….” But I never filed a suit, for a letter from my attorney to Fr. Johansen was sufficient to elicit a retraction. Jones goes further and accuses me of threatening Fr. Johansen’s superior, Bishop James A. Murray of Kalamazoo, Michigan. In yet another false accusation, Jones claims that I “tore a page from the legal playbook of the pedophile lawyers and named Fr. Johansen’s bishop as a co-defendant in the suit.”

The only reason Fr. Johansen’s bishop was involved at all was that I was following the biblical mandate of Matthew 18:15-17: “If your brother sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” With Fr. Johansen, I did just that. “If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others with you so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.'” With Fr. Johansen, I also did that. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.” By contacting Bishop Murray to help settle this dispute, I was fulfilling the third step in this process of fraternal correction. From what I can ascertain, Fr. Johansen did listen to the Church (in the person of his bishop), and wrote a retraction for certain false statements he made. For example, on his website he wrote: “[My] statement that ‘two priests mentioned by name in Rose’s book are suing him for libel’ was furnished to me second hand…. I am not personally aware of the existence of any such suits.” Thus, in the end, Fr. Johansen admitted that he is guilty of the type of rumor-mongering of which he repeatedly and falsely accused me.

Jones also says that my “real strategy” was to get Bishop Murray to “silence” Fr. Johansen. Not true. (By the way, how could Jones possibly know what my “real” motive was?) Then Jones claims that Fr. Johansen was indeed “silenced.” Yet, according to Fr. Johansen’s website (thrownback.blogspot.com), the priest is merely taking a “vacation for a short time to attend to [his] pastoral responsibilities and to work on a manuscript for a Catholic magazine.” That Fr. Johansen is working on a manuscript would indicate that Fr. Johansen has not been “silenced.”

Jones calls McNally a “coward” for addressing Fr. Johansen’s errors because McNally allegedly “knew” that the priest had been silenced by his bishop. McNally tells me that he is not aware of any actions taken by Bishop Murray to “silence” Fr. Johansen. McNally has written this to me: “Fr. Johansen’s website was and still is online, and I fully expect that he will be back in the fray as he has promised.”

Even though Fr. Johansen is now publicly on record admitting that he was perpetuating false rumors, Jones still insists on siding with Fr. Johansen by seconding the priest’s accusation that I am a “liar.” Contrary to the numerous false claims that Jones makes — and I think he makes these claims more out of carelessness than dishonesty — my problem with Fr. Johansen’s initial review of the book was that it veered well away from the material presented in Goodbye, Good Men. In fact, half of his initial review that appeared in the May 2002 issue of Culture Wars was based on second-hand information that had little to do with the book. Fr. Johansen even claimed to know what I said in meetings at which he was not present. The result was an absurd distortion of reality. Disinterested third parties remarked to me that they regarded the review as a five-page ad hominem attack.

The primary example used by Jones to justify branding me a liar concerns which manuscript draft was used by Fr. Johansen to pen his review. First of all, it was due to Jones’s own carelessness that this was ever an issue in the first place. As McNally explained in his article, Jones was sent an unbound pre-publication manuscript marked “For Private Use Only.” This pre-publication manuscript was sent to various people for fact-checking and to solicit pre-publication endorsements. It was not for book reviewers. That’s why it was clearly marked “For Private Use Only.” Nevertheless, Jones sent this private manuscript out to Fr. Johansen to review for Culture Wars. (This is the only reason that the Culture Wars book review of Goodbye, Good Men was the first to appear in print and on the Internet.) Because of Jones’s carelessness, Fr. Johansen wrote a review of the book in which he criticized something that had been edited out of subsequent drafts, including the galleys of the book (which are advance copies sent to book reviewers) and the final version that went to press. Judging from Jones’s letter, it appears that he still doesn’t understand what happened. Here’s what happened (Jones, read carefully):

In his original draft of the book review, Fr. Johansen wrote: “[Rose publishes] Jason Dull’s allegations as though they were fact, without even a hint that his credibility has been challenged. Furthermore, he identifies Dull in the book as a ‘religious seminarian with the Benedictines of Clear Creek, Oklahoma.’ But Rose was informed by two different parties at least a year ago that Mr. Dull was no longer with that community, and in fact was not a seminarian anywhere. Why would Rose continue to identify Dull as a seminarian when he was told a year prior to publication that this was no longer the case? Is Rose perhaps trying to invest Mr. Dull with credibility that he no longer deserves?”

There’s a problem here. When I wrote the two-paragraph section on Jason Dull, he was in fact studying for the priesthood with the Benedictines of Clear Creek, Oklahoma. Unbeknownst to me, he subsequently left the community to attend university. Fr. Johansen, however, claims that I “was informed by two different parties at least a year ago that Mr. Dull was no longer with that community.” That is not true. I wasn’t informed that Dull had left the Benedictines until one of my fact-checkers (coincidentally, McNally) mentioned it to me shortly before the book went to press. It was then edited out, and did not appear in either the Aquinas or Regnery editions of the book. In other words, Dull is not identified as a current seminarian or as a part of the Benedictine community. In effect, Fr. Johansen was criticizing something that wasn’t even in the book. How then can Jones write in his letter that “Rose claimed that Fr. Johansen was writing about things which were not in the final version of Goodbye, Good Men when, in fact, they were in the final version. I say with good reason that Rose lied…”? Again, Jones: carelessness.

This may seem to be a trifle to squabble over, but consider this: Fr. Johansen maintained in that review (which was subsequently published online at the Culture Wars website) that my information about Jason Dull being at the monastery was a forthright, intentional lie, indicative of my overall dishonesty and unscrupulous effort to deceive. That particular passage from Fr. Johansen’s review demonstrates the kind of tack he has taken in his other criticisms of me. For one, he perpetuates a false rumor (“Rose was informed…”) that is at best second-hand information (“…by two different parties…”). Further, when Fr. Johansen writes: “Is Rose perhaps trying to invest Mr. Dull with credibility that he no longer deserves?” he is effectively imputing deceitful motives to me, or at least planting the suggestion.

Addressing material that did remain in the book, Jones asserts in his letter that I “knew that the material on Jason Dull was false, and yet…published it [in Goodbye, Good Men] anyway.” Wrong again. McNally’s article in fact takes great pains to demonstrate that the material regarding Jason Dull as presented in Goodbye, Good Men (a total of 124 words dealing with his opinion of the abuse of psychological counseling at a seminary) is factual and corroborated by several others. Again, if Jones were a careful reader he would understand this. If he were a careful reader he would also remember that I addressed Fr. Johansen’s contentions in my letter to the editor in the July/August 2002 Culture Wars. In that letter I wrote: “Nothing that Jason Dull said that was not independently verifiable or that was contested by anyone else was ever published in my book.”

I find it rather ironic that while Jones is quick to brand me a liar, he himself did not hesitate to print defamatory comments about me that he has long been in a position to know cannot possibly be true: In a letter to the editor published by Jones in the July/August 2002 Culture Wars, a reader by the name of Stephen Hand hurls the most ridiculous accusations my way. Hand writes that I have “links to notorious Pope-hating extreme [traditionalists]” and that “behind the scenes [Rose] is said to be in touch with these people.” Hand also charges that I “hang with those who consider the Pope, Council and magisterium all heretical.” Oh really? Hand continues: “The book is, alas, written like a far right propaganda tract. Rose tends in that direction and hangs in those circles — even with bitter and unbalanced critics of JPII — as many know.” Well, that’s news to me! And it should have also been news to Jones, who has had a friendly working relationship with me for at least five years. Jones knows with whom I “hang.” We have many mutual friends and acquaintances — none of whom is a Pope-hater or rejects the Magisterium as heretical. Never mind the several hundred articles and three books I’ve written that Jones could have consulted to disabuse him of the notion that I’m a Pope-hater. Come on, Jones, is that the way a conscientious editor acts? And would a responsible Catholic editor use Fr. Johansen’s disputed book review-cum-ad hominem attack as a primary marketing tool, as Jones does on his website for Culture Wars? Is that not ruthless?

Space does not permit me to address every one of Fr. Johansen’s many twisted or false statements, nor do I feel compelled to do so, partly because he has agreed to cease perpetuating his false rumors in order “to attend to [his] pastoral responsibilities.”

As for Jones’s letter, it does corroborate McNally’s statement that criticisms of me as regards Goodbye, Good Men often “appear to tell us more about the critics than they do about Rose.” In Jones’s case, his letter suggests not that he is a liar or an essentially dishonest man but that, at least in this case, he has been a careless reader and a poor listener, two unfortunate qualities to be borne by a magazine editor who regularly deals with sensitive and controversial topics.

Torquay, United Kingdom

The Traditional Latin Mass — Pro & Con

I would like to express my appreciation for Bernie Hete’s brief but powerful advocacy of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) in his letter (Jan.), and add some further points to strengthen his case.

We go to Mass to meet God and not the priest, be he ever so agreeable a chap. This means that the liturgy must be designed so as to efface, as far as is decently possible, the individual personality of the celebrant. It is not good table manners for a guest or the head waiter to upstage the Host, as tends to happen in the New Mass (NM). The overriding principle for the priest should be that of St. John the Baptist, the very first presenter of Our Lord: “He must increase, I must decrease.”

The rubrics of the TLM marvelously facilitate this: Even in the homily, where some exercise of personality might be expected, the congregation used to be given a solid chunk of nourishing orthodox theology instead of, as so often happens nowadays, a mish-mash of personal opinion, or thin-gruel p.c., or something that has nothing to do with the Faith at all.

If I were a young man watching a modern priest trying to work the crowd into a state of enthusiasm, I might, if inclined to be shy, say to myself, “I could never do that, I am not the stuff of which TV presenters are made!” and give up any thoughts of being a priest. In the TLM, on the other hand, the demands on the personality of the priest are much less formidable, and dubious creative innovations almost impossible to insinuate.

There is a famous story that cannot be repeated too often in discussions on liturgy of how a pagan Russian prince sent observers to Greece to see if their religion had the best to offer. They returned stating that, at a Greek Liturgy they attended, “They did not know whether they were on earth or in Heaven.” This is the ultimate benchmark against which all liturgies must be judged. The NM can never produce such a supernatural fragrance; its community emphasis keeps it inevitably earthbound.

Imagine someone returning after attending a NM and saying to his family and friends, “I did not know whether I was on earth or in Heaven.” They would suspect that he had stopped for a large glass of something on the way home!

Jim Allen

Lincoln, Nebraska

Regarding Bernie Hete’s excellent letter concerning the lack of reverence in churches where the New Mass is said: Hete blamed this lack of reverence on the New Mass itself.

This is so true. However, there is another reason for this lack of respect and reverence. It is the way the churches look inside.

The minute you walk into a church where only the Traditional Latin Mass is said, you have a feeling of awe and reverence. The beautiful altar with the Tabernacle in a place of honor above it, the lovely large statues, the Communion rail, the stained-glass windows, etc., all contribute to an awareness of the presence of God, and cause people to be silent and prayerful.

You just don’t get this feeling in churches where the New Mass is said.

Donna Kruger

Glendale, New York

Does Bernie Hete realize that, while he enjoys his TLMs, he may be experiencing some of the Hawthorne Effect? This refers to a classic efficiency study wherein it was observed that any innovation would lead to at least a temporary increase in worker satisfaction and productivity.

I attended TLMs for the first 25 years of my life. They had their good points and their bad, but I would not say that in and of themselves they commanded greater reverence. True, there were no halters and hot pants or dirty jeans, but that was the way of society back then. Such clothes were reserved for picnics, gardening, and maintenance work. There were no dress codes in the churches, as there are now at some TLMs. In fact, growing up in Albany, N.Y., if you overdressed for church on Sunday (except on certain Feast Days), people would say you “looked like a Protestant.”

There was also much greater lack of attention at Mass in those days, because you could not hear what the priest was saying, and probably would not understand him if you could. And there was a lot of whispering. Sermons were much shorter, but not necessarily any better. At weekday Masses (even on Holy Days), they were generally omitted. There was no need for Eucharistic Ministers, since few people received except at the earliest Mass on Sunday morning.

But the TLMs Hete attends are not a continuation of those of my youth. They are an innovation. Is there a TLM in Hete’s town of Trafford, Penn., with only 3,300 people, or does he have to go to nearby Monroeville, or all the way to Pittsburgh? And how far do the other worshipers have to travel?

These worshipers are probably a select group, who are making an extra effort to attend a TLM. As such, the participants probably fall into two separate categories. The larger would be Traditionalists, but, especially among the younger attendees, there may be a fair number of Latin language enthusiasts.

If there is a social hour afterwards — and that too would be an innovation from the 1950s, when everyone went home immediately after the last blessing (if not before) — the two groups probably don’t mix very well. The former will stand around bemoaning — in English — Vatican II and everything else that’s “gone wrong” since, while the latter dream of how nice it would be if Constantine’s Empire, or at least the High Middle Ages, had continued into the 21st century. Perhaps one of the latter will approach one of the former with a friendly “Salve. Ut vales?” only to be rebuffed.

But innovation breeds further innovation. Even now there is nothing to stop worshipers right after the Pater Noster (the “Our Father”), perhaps out of force of habit, from extending a hand to a neighbor with a cordial Pax tecum. To reject this gesture would seem churlish and uncharitable, and said neighbor may well be inspired to pass the greeting on. And if the Pater Noster is said out loud by the congregation, as was sometimes done back in the old days (it was the one Latin prayer many of us knew), what is to stop worshipers who wish to hold hands?

Sooner or later, the participants will want to hear what is going on. After all, what good is a Mass in Latin if you can’t make out the words? The priest will try increasingly to project, but may eventually come to do what every stage actor is taught from the start: reposition himself to face the congregation.

True, there will be no short pants or halter tops, and it is rather doubtful any of the Latin enthusiasts will show up wearing togas, but women among them, especially in warm weather, may choose to wear light, sleeveless Roman-style gowns, and brassieres would be an anachronism. And then there is the little girl who wants so badly to be an altar server, whose parents taught her to speak Latin when she was six years old. She is so much better qualified than any of the boys, so — .

Some Sunday, when the church is very crowded and the Mass is running long, and there are just too many receiving Communion, the solitary priest might give up and tell those approaching: State, quaeso! (“Stand, please!”) Remember, he can do any or all of these things. He can pick and choose just how traditional he wishes to be.

The final innovation may come when some lady leaps up and shouts: Mihi placet saltare! (“I like to dance!”)

Walter Stock

Houston, Texas

"What? What? "

I can’t tell you how much I love and respect the NOR. After devouring every page of every issue, I impatiently wait for the next one. Sometimes while reading I laugh out loud, with the family asking, “What? What?”

Thank you for having the intelligence and guts to tell it as it is.

Judy Bledsoe

Parsons, Kansas

Don't Just Sit in The Pew, Steaming

Like many letter-writers, I resented the noise and “performance music” in our churches. Why not have truly prayerful and reverent music? Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium actually says, “Latin is to be preserved,” “steps are to be taken so that the people can say their parts in Latin,” and “Gregorian chant is to have pride of place in liturgical music.” (How can the actual words from Vatican II be against the “spirit” of Vatican II?) Why not form our own Gregorian choir?

I put an announcement in the bulletin inviting men and boys in the parish to come to an initial meeting to form such a choir. The response was immediate and enthusiastic. Our pastor told me there were some women who wanted to be a part of this, but he acknowledged they couldn’t sing baritone. Our tenors can come down to that and our basses up to that, so that we sing as one voice, one community. Since this music was written for men to sing in monasteries (where being an accomplished singer was not a requirement to join), even mediocre voices are welcome. We collected as many CDs of chant that we could find, researched the Liber Usualis for guidance, and began learning the ordinary parts of the Mass as well as Gregorian and other Latin hymns. We are even planning a period for silent prayer after Communion. Months before we were to sing our first Mass, we had invitations to sing at surrounding parishes. The response of the people has been overwhelmingly positive, and our first Mass promises to be packed!

So don’t just sit in the pew and steam over this problem. Start a scola cantorum in your own parish. You’ll be as amazed as I was at the response.

Gary Yarbrough, M.D.

Tucson, Arizona

The Dogs Are Barking

In the December issue, Dr. David Stolinsky took quite a jab at Christians in his article “The Dogs Aren’t Barking: Are You Christians Dozing Off?” His analogy is that we are supposed to be guard dogs over our Christian brethren worldwide who are being persecuted, and, as he says, the “dogs aren’t barking.” He also says that “Perhaps…they [the Christians] have become apathetic, lazy, and useless….” In other words, because we ordinary Christians are not taking the time and energy to protest all of the murderous attacks on his fellow Jewish people and other Christians throughout the world, we make lousy, lazy, useless guard dogs. In reply, may I make two points?

First, Stolinsky is correct that Christians are supposed to be coming to the aid and support of other people (including Jews) who are being persecuted. Any time someone in the human family is being attacked, especially for his religious beliefs, the common Judeo-Christian principle of “love of neighbor” demands that we help those in need. Perhaps those who are in a position to actually do something in those parts of the world that he discussed might be able to give the matter more direct attention.

On the other hand, Stolinsky has his perspective out of sorts. He’s concerned about people being killed? And how many? Stolinsky seems to me to be a bit like Scarlett O’Hara in a particular scene in the movie Gone With the Wind. In this scene, the character named Melanie is going into labor and her life may be at risk, so her friend Scarlett runs off to get the doctor. On her way there, Scarlett must traverse her way through one of the most monumental views of suffering ever portrayed on film: hundreds and hundreds of Southern troops, wounded from the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, lying in agony in a huge open-air railroad yard in Atlanta, Georgia. After seeing all of that, she still makes her way into the building, now a makeshift “hospital,” finds perhaps the one and only doctor, and tells him he’s just got to come right away to help with Melanie. Rightly so, the doctor tells her that he’s got all of these men around him dying from their wounds and cannot go to help Melanie.

My point is that, for us, in this time that we live, our “Civil War” is the fight against abortion. Stolinsky “runs in” to tell us that he would have us Christians turn our attention to persecutions in various places throughout the world, instead of focusing our energies on the battle that is killing millions and millions of innocent babies each year. The “dogs” are not dozing off. They’re ever so busy fighting the Culture of Death. As I write this, preparations are being made for the various Marches for Life throughout the U.S., especially the one in Washington, D.C. We’re busy, Dr. Stolinsky. Very busy. We are trying to save the lives of millions. Yes, we would like to move on to a time when we could spend our energies fighting those who persecute our fellow Christians and others throughout the world. But you, a medical doctor, of all people, must be aware of the millions of little babies who are being silently murdered here in the U.S.

You say in your article: “Empathy, like charity, begins at home.” Fine. I agree with you. Indeed, thousands of your fellow Jewish babies are also in the count of those being murdered by abortion here at home in the U.S.

This is indeed the most barbaric time for the medical profession in all of history. It’s the so-called medical doctors who are perpetrating these monstrous crimes against our fellow humans. We “dogs” have our attention focused on today’s most important struggle: overturning Roe v. Wade. We pray for it. We walk in Marches for Life. We help with crisis pregnancy centers. We give financial support to prolife organizations. We donate diapers. We vote for prolife candidates. The dogs are barking loud and clear.

Kerry Torgerson

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