Rorate Caeli

Guest Op-ed by a Priest: How a tiny minority of heterodox lay people can ruin Catholic restoration in a parish

It only takes a "Dirty Half Dozen."

By the Rev. Fr. Donald Kloster
St. Mary
Norwalk, Connecticut

About 10 years ago now, I was reading an article by a Protestant Minister who was chronicling the inordinate power of a few, 5-6 individuals, to get rid of (fired or reassigned) any clergy member or parish employee. Time and again, he said he'd witnessed even the pastor removed at the hands of certain well motivated members of the Church in question.

These small groups tend to stick together through the process of ousting their target even though previously they may have never been very close or even known one another. They have a common goal and they know that if they stay focused, the vast majority of the church membership will not get involved. Even worse, the small group knows they just need to invest more time into their ouster plans than the average parishioner plans to spend in a limited and/or short lived defense.


Even if the clergyman or the church employee is very well liked and does their job well, it often matters not. Once the smear campaign ball gets rolling, it tends to be almost unstoppable. Our society has been well conditioned to listen to a cleverly organized advertising campaign. If the message is slick enough, it usually wins the opinions of the most influential and/or the people with the most say in the parish.

Be very wary of individuals in the parish that never seem to be satisfied unless they are part of a controversy or conflict. They spread their poison with impunity. Alone they are somewhat harmless, but if they "pack up" like a group of formerly domesticated dogs, they can tear any church membership into pieces.

For Catholics, we must be sure that we surround ourselves with other practicing Catholics who have a good prayer life. We should be on the alert to come to the aid of anyone being unjustly treated or unfairly censured. The only sure way to combat the tyranny of the few is to make sure there is a big network of Catholics who will speak out and act upon the defense of holiness; the insurance of a well spiritually protected parochial structure. The moral majority need to realize that they cannot afford to be out motivated nor shouted down.

We live in an age where it seems an inordinate amount of individuals are promoting their "pet" protests. The parish should be a place where we rally around the Catechism of the Catholic Church (without the few modern addenda). A place where the solid inheritance of the Apostles and Fathers of the Church is given an elevated platform. A place of refuge against the tide of secularism and the politically correct. A place where every parishioner knows that the faith and morals of the ages will be defended to the death.

Currently, the great majority bishops and pastors only fear two things. They fear financial loss. They also fear bad publicity or more adroitly; "maligned optics." They tend to robotically mirror the very secular institutional components that should be aggressively resisted at every turn. We become what we advocate, what we tolerate, and what vices we fail to arrest. The Federal Government, for example, is an awful mentor and yet the Catholic Church hierarchy imitates too many of its godless policies to no logical end. These amoral decisions filter down to the Parochial level to our demise.

The great irony is that if the hierarchy of the Church ever grew a collective spine (one could insert something here much more crude), the money worries and the false fear of bad publicity would take care of themselves. God always takes care of His own and punishes the disobedient. That previous sentence is repeatedly emphasized in the Sacred Scriptures if anyone even has the slightest impetus to absorb what they are reading.

It is my hope that you neither have 5-6 chief agitators, nor will your parish allow them to metastasize. If there be a latent group of agitators waiting for the ideal conditions to manifest themselves, I pray that they amend their ways or leave the parish of their own volition. It's likely neither your bishop nor your pastor will act to assist you should powerful agitators appear within your parish complex. Strong faithful parishioners are needed to repel any attack from the inside by unified directed prayer, firm fraternal correction, and mighty collective penances.

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