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The Case of Fr. David Windsor

Our friend Larry Carstens, who has written for the NOR on several occasions, has written a letter to Crisis magazine supporting Brian Saint-Paul, Senior Editor of Crisis, in his response (Crisis, March 2003) to Michael Rose’s article in the December 2002 NOR. We don’t know if Crisis will print the letter, but Larry has given us permission to print his letter (and comment on it). Here is the heart and soul of his lengthy letter:

By some strange twist of Providence, the March issues of the New Oxford Review and Crisis arrived in my mailbox on the same day. And both issues contained heavy doses on the ongoing debate surrounding Michael Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men.

I have kept silent on these issues until now. For one thing, I was not sure if the “Fr. Windsor” mentioned in Rose’s book was the one I had known personally (some recent research via the Internet confirmed it). I am also one of those thousands of rank-and-file Catholics for whom Michael Rose is something of a “superhero” (to use the NOR’s term). With regard to the brouhaha over Goodbye, Good Men, my thoughts have been aptly summarized by Einstein’s observation: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” I still retain my view that most of Rose’s critics are more wrong than right; but I would now make one exception: Brian Saint-Paul of Crisis.

Fr. Richard McBrien and Garry Wills made their predictable attacks on Rose because they are pampered, overpaid, liberal media darlings making names for themselves by trashing their Church. It is no surprise that they would have a vested interest in discrediting anything that moves somewhere other than far off in left field, where they live and move and have their spinning. Generally worthwhile publications such as Our Sunday Visitor and the National Catholic Register cautiously condemned Rose’s book, but the former printed a retraction, and the latter’s criticisms were deftly dispensed with by the NOR. The Editor of Culture Wars, E. Michael Jones, engages in hyperbole when he calls Rose a bully and a liar. Like anyone else, Rose may occasionally be mistaken in what he states — but one who intentionally misleads and misrepresents? That is neither fair nor justified.

Brian Saint-Paul is the only published critic of Rose who is, in my opinion, fair, balanced, and worthy of serious consideration. Saint-Paul is also one of the most charitable of Rose’s critics; he welcomes the publication of Goodbye, Good Men and wishes well to its author, only suggesting that some revisions be made. After reading his response (Crisis, March) to Rose’s response to his September 2002 Crisis article (Dec. 2002 NOR), and considering my personal acquaintance with Fr. David Windsor — which I will describe below — I am obliged to reluctantly agree with Saint-Paul. I would hasten to add, however, that I still would endorse Rose as a great author and an inspiring Catholic, and that, while I believe him to be mistaken in one area, he is still over 90 percent “right on.”

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