Outrage and the Outrageous

In our culture, sometimes outrage is in order


Life Issues

Parish life begins in the parking lot. My wife saw her first, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Well, yes, politicians come and fortunately they go. But our current representative has yet to go, and we are in possession of a letter from her with the bland assurance that partial birth abortion is for the good of both the mother and her baby.

“Not before Mass,” says my wife, a woman of discretion as well as valor. Too late, since those without discretion rush in where the valorous first take stock.

Still, I managed to initiate my dialogue with the congresswoman on a light note. “Gosh,” I said, “look over there.” At what? I pointed at the Knights of Columbus. They were at it again, selling coffee and doughnuts. “Look at those extremists,” I added, reminding her of how one of our senators, Kamala Harris, had libeled the Knights. When I said it again, with gusto, Ms. Waters shared with me her view of the Knights. “Some people,” she said, “never change.”

Right. It was then that I asked her when she would change her long held position supporting abortion. The artful congresswoman shifted gears, informing me that she was doing all that she could to help the Church resolve its clerical abuse problem. “In this effort I join you,” and then returning to the matter at hand I tried to refresh her memory about her execrable defense of partial-birth abortion. At this point she shifted to an iterative denial mode. Then she and her crew, including a pair of comical bodyguards, scuttled away.

Ms. Waters had ostensibly come to visit the parish to inform our many Latino members of their options in dealing with ICE. Turns out that she’d tried to do so for the last couple of weeks and had made it in today only because of a new parish administrator.

It was this administrator that I visited (still time before Mass) in the sacristy to express my sentiments about the congresswoman in our midst. I noted her notorious abortion advocacy. He knew about the immigration pitch and told me that “it’s a different issue.” I left the sacristy, though there wasn’t really enough time to compose myself before Mass began.

And then what? I’d confessed my sins during Mass. I’d listened to the celebrant begin the homily with his trademark and booming “Hello, CHURCH!” I’d confessed my sins again. Then, after Mass and after the celebrant had greeted well-wishers in the vestibule, I returned to our earlier conversation. “Father, as CHURCH, we need to show that seamless garment is really seamless. The Latinos of the parish probably know more about ICE than does Ms. Waters. She’s aggressively pro-abortion—and same-sex marriage. You’ve missed a teachable moment.”

The administrator replied that he would call her office the next day and tell her that she needed permission to hand out literature on parish grounds. After all, he added, “I don’t want anyone, I don’t want you, to think that something crazy was happening.” With something less than a serenity of spirit I replied, “Something crazy has already happened.”

There is, indeed, a time for everything. When the crazy conspires with the outrageous, outrage is in order. Of course, my wife rightly observed, while she drove out of the parking lot, that I was “practically vibrating.” And so I was. It’s embarrassing, but I write it off as “teacher’s twitch.”


Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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