In a past post, I noted how it is possible to "be angry and sin not" (Ephesians 4: 26), something which Father Brian O'Toole, "pastor" of the failing Sacred Heart Parish in Gardner, apparently does not understand. And he is not alone.
Writing for Touchstone Magazine, Dr. Leon J. Podles explains that, "..many Christians have a false understanding of the nature and role of anger. It is seen as something negative, something that a Christian should not feel.
In the sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church, those who dealt with the bishops have consistently remarked that the bishops never expressed outrage or righteous anger, even at the most horrendous cases of abuse and sacrilege. Bishops seem to think that anger at sin is un-Christian. Gilbert Kilman, a child psychiatrist, commented, 'What amazes me is the lack of outrage the church feels when its good work is being harmed. So, if there is anything the church needs to know, it needs to know how to be outraged.'
Mark Serrano confronted Bishop Frank Rodimer, asking why he had let his priest-friend Peter Osinski sleep with boys at Rodimer’s beach house while Rodimer was in the next bedroom: 'Where is your moral indignation?' Rodimer’s answer was, 'Then I don’t get it. What do you want?' What Serrano wanted Rodimer to do was to behave like a man with a heart, a heart that is outraged by evil. But Rodimer couldn’t; his inability to feel outrage was a quality that had helped make him a bishop. He would never get into fights, never rock the boat, never 'divide' but only 'unify.' Rodimer could not understand why he should feel deep anger at evil, at the violation of the innocent, at the oppression of the weak.
The emotions that are now suppressed are hatred and anger. Christians think that they ought not to feel these emotions, that it is un-Christian to feel them. They secretly suspect that Jesus was being un-Christian in his attitude to the scribes and Pharisees when he was angry at them, that he was un-Christian when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple or declared that millstones (not vacations in treatment centers) were the way to treat child abusers.
Conrad Baars noticed this emotional deformation in the clergy in the mid-twentieth century. He recognized that there had been distortions in 'traditional' Catholic spirituality. It had become too focused upon individual acts rather than on growth in virtue; it had emphasized sheer naked strength of will. In forgetting that growth in virtue was the goal of the Christian’s moral life, it forgot that the emotions, all emotions, including anger and hate, are part of human nature and must be integrated into a virtuous life.
Baars had been imprisoned by the Nazis. He knew iniquity firsthand and that there was something wrong with those who did not hate it:
A little reflection will make it clear that there is a big difference between the person who knows solely that something is evil and ought to be opposed, and the one who in addition also feels hate for that evil, is angry that it is corrupting or harming his fellow-men, and feels aroused to combat it courageously and vigorously.
Wrath is a necessary and positive part of human nature: 'Wrath is the strength to attack the repugnant; the power of anger is actually the power of resistance in the soul,' wrote Josef Pieper. The lack of wrath against injustice, he continued, is a deficiency: 'One who does good with passion is more praiseworthy than one who is ‘not entirely’ afire for the good, even to the forces of the sensual realm.'
Aquinas, too, says that 'lack of the passion of anger is also a vice' because a man who truly and forcefully rejects evil will be angry at it. The lack of anger makes the movement of the will against evil 'lacking or weak.' He quotes John Chrysostom: 'He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but the good to do wrong'..." (Full article here).
The spiritually mature Christian understands that not all anger is unjust. That there is such a thing as just or righteous anger. Such a Christian strives to control anger through prayer and by considering the example of Christ. Let's all pray for those in leadership positions in the Church. That they may come to a mature faith which is able to discern between just and unjust anger.
One shepherd [and he is that in every sense of the word] who possesses such a mature faith is The Most Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska. His Excellency has been quoted as having said, "No words that are printable, or even conceivable, are adequate to express my outrage, fury, and depression upon learning that anyone, much less a priest, would sexually molest any children. Such a thing is an unspeakable abomination. Upon hearing such things, I must confess that I am tempted to look for my shotgun and baseball bat, much sooner that I am tempted to give any consideration to a possible 'sickness' in a perpetrator. Molestation victims and their families are certainly entitled to anger. Sometimes their excessive anger and demands, while often becoming unacceptable and unreasonable, are still understandable to me."
How much more just anger should a shepherd demonstrate against those who would spiritually molest faithful Catholics.
At his homily delivered at the 10:30 AM Mass at Sacred Heart Parish today, Father Brian O'Toole said that Jesus "lost it," and drove out the money changers who "weren't really doing anything wrong." This even though Our Lord rebuked them for making His Father's House a "Den of Thieves."
Father O'Toole, as with many of his effeminate contemporaries who have succumbed to the Cult of Softness, doesn't understand this Gospel passage because he lacks the passion of anger.
And that is a vice.