A couple of weeks back, George Neumayr at The American Spectator attacked my bishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. I wrote about that attack here.
One would have hoped that Neumayr would have taken the time, and the criticism he received, some of it from the right, to think more charitably about the assertions he made in his initial article. Instead, he has doubled down, unleashing more nastiness at Cardinal Wuerl in another article at The American Spectator.
Once Neumayr finishes clearing his throat objecting to the fact that Wuerl's communications director called, rather than wrote, to the editors, he unleashes his venom. "Wuerl is notoriously thin-skinned about sharp criticism from orthodox Catholics," he writes. "And since he likes to operate in the shadows -- confrontation is 'not his style of pastoral ministry,' he told a reporter in 2007 -- he had his paid PR agent do the dirty work for him." And, now warmed up to his subject, he accuses Wuerl of being something akin to an enemy of the Church: "Cardinal Wuerl has damaged the reputation of a faithful priest, exposed the Holy Eucharist to sacrilege, scandalized confused congregants, and handed a propaganda victory to forces of secularism that seek to destroy the Church in America." He also makes unfounded accusation against Wuerl for his treatment of Father Guarnizo: As far as I know, no reporters have been given inside information about what transpired between the Archdiocese and Fr. Guarnizo, but I am pretty confident that the archdiocese would not have cut him loose but for good cause.
Neumayr's venom is profoundly disturbing. Certainly, his portrait of Cardinal Wuerl bears no resemblance to the man many of us have witnessed here in Washington the past few years. I doubt one makes it to the rank of cardinal if one is especially thin-skinned. I do not think Cardinal Wuerl winks at sacrilege let alone causes it. His reputation as a gentle pastor is well-earned and not the kind of thing to be lightly dismissed just because some yahoo wants the cardinal to join him in a culture war. The priests I know, without exception, like him a lot and feel supported in their own ministry, and so the fact that he did not support Guarnizo likely tells us more about Guarnizo then it does about Cardinal Wuerl. But, in the right-wing blogosphere, if you do not toe the line to their version of orthodoxy, you are a heretic, even if you are the man chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to lead the next synod of bishops. Neumayr is a nouveau Jansenist, that is all, in need of a nouveau Unigenitus!
Join the Conversation
Send your thoughts and reactions to our online Letters to the Editor column. Learn more here