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Neumayr is making a bad situation worse

March 27, 2012

It’s one thing to feel angry. But it’s another thing to write angry. And George Neumayr is writing angry.

Last week Neumayr fired off a sustained and mean attack on Cdl. Wuerl (my response here). To no one’s great surprise, Wuerl’s people complained (albeit privately) to Neumayr’s boss—you know, sorta kinda exactly the way people complain to Wuerl’s boss in Rome. All the time. Now, it might not be my way of doing things, and it might not even be Neumayr’s, but, c’mon, complaints to editors about their writers’ opinions are as old as the press itself. Writers who work, by their own choice, in the public eye, should account complaints about their writing as a fact of life. At the very least, they shouldn’t respond with a follow-up diatribe about, of all things, how “notoriously thin-skinned” other people are!

Dark days (like the ones we live in now) occasion hard cases (like the Guarnizo case, which set off this conflagration), and hard cases, in turn, make bad law (like what defenders of Guarnizo’s decision would erect to justify his action, paying little heed to how their rules would impact other cases). But I think that dark days, hard cases, and the threat of bad laws, call for greater clarity of analysis, not less. And anger does not lend itself to clarity of anything.

But enough with the fraternal correction.

Neumayr has now publicly and repeatedly accused the archbishop of Washington of, among other things, “pandering to the enemies of the Church”, of “expos[ing] the Holy Eucharist to sacrilege”, of “hand[ing] a propaganda victory to forces of secularism that seek to destroy the Church in America”, and of “capitulati[ng] to … the atheistic agitprop artists of the age.” I think such words run plainly afoul of Canon 1373 which threatens censure against “a person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against … an ordinary because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry….” So.

Neumayr’s made his point. Not in a way that is a credit to him, I regret to conclude, but, he’s made it. For that matter, everything that can be intelligently said about the Guarnizo case, based on what was known at the time, has been said, and unless and until some new hard facts, if any, come to light, further discussion of this case serves no purpose. + + +

Update, 29 March 2012: The Catholic League, too, takes a pretty dim view of Neumayr’s writing here.

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