24 July 2012


I. When your unfriendly host first started blogging in 2009, he posted an essay entitled Vulgar Radicals, wherein the dire ramifications of the Counterculture Revolution were analyzed. One subject discussed was the emergence of that hodgepodge of Determinisms which, when their main message is neatly summarized, contend that most human behaviours and inclinations are effectively beyond personal control. Given the topic addressed in this post - the claim that suicide is a "disease", what was explained in that essay warrants restating. That is, since the 1960s numerous socio-psychologistic, environmental and biological determinisms have been widely disseminated by book and broadcast, now well entrained into the mainstream. People who promote whatever type of Determinism will ascribe a "scientific" status to their respective hypotheses, arguing them to be corroborated by empirical data, regardless of how poorly gauged and inaccurate these data may be, or of the spuriousness of documentary "sources". Since these deterministic worldviews are now established in the mainstream, they are assumed, uncritically, to be factual aspects of the human condition.

II. Academic celebrities, like E.O. Wilson and his "sociobiology" theory,[1] are very good at this sort of thing. Indeed, so much is Wilson's biological determinism in vogue that he's an Honourary Board Member of the enviro-radicalist David Suzuki Foundation, along with other celebrities like Paul Erlich (author of the demonstratively bogus The Population Bomb), Margaret Atwood (most boring, overrated writer ever produced by Canada), Gordon Lightfoot (The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald song), including internationalist busybody Gordon Sumner, otherwise known as "Sting", formerly of The Police. They were a good band, admittedly, though it would benefit humanity greatly if such bimboesque-pop-idol-wannabe-Heideggers would just shut up and sing.

III. One thing you will notice is that Determinists use a euphemistic or vague idiom whenever communicating their main views. The language of Determinism must be expressed imprecisely because specificity in terminology and personal responsibility are correlative. This non-specificity in wording (contrary to what science as a subject demands) thus allows them to claim that certain behaviors or actions, beforehand deemed (very specifically) as immoral or depraved or illegal or manageable through self-restraint, are (in our modern, allegedly "enlightened" era) "somewhat natural" or "innate" or "commonplace" or "inescapable". Or that one is "strongly motivated" to act this way or that way, or that externally-operative economic "structures" are at work. Always, there is some outside factor involved, a shape-shifting abstraction, ambiguously defined, rooted predominantly in speculation, thereby negating responsibility for one's personal actions and diminishing the social consequences thereof. And when whatever Determinism is wielded by the neophyte popularizer, it becomes an even more dangerous ideational weapon that morphs the principle of human freewill into some form of fatalism.

IV. Keep the abovementioned in mind because that Concoctor of Sweet-Tasting Poisons for the Catholic babyboomer demographic, namely Ron Rolheiser, has again proclaimed suicide to be a "disease". I've written a number of harsh posts on Rolheiser's views, which can be found here, here, here, here and here. Quite a lot, yes. Given that for years his influence has been widespread (books, seminars, retreats, column in 70+ newspapers worldwide, YouTube videos, etc.), it's puzzling that there isn't much criticism of his writings in the Catholic blogosphere. This lack of being challenged also appears to be existent at the parish/chancery levels, where his sway is evidently most pronounced. A commenter at one of my posts remarked thusly: "Rolheiser and his book Holy Longing are absolutely insufferable. I only wish his legions of fans in my parish, including the RCIA team, questioned him one iota". But it was another commenter whose words really struck a chord in me, as her reported experience relates directly to the subject of this post:
At a time of deep grief and confusion, I picked up Ron's Shattered Lantern. MMMmmm, it reminded me of the old yoga days when I sunk into my couch and watched the sun rise while listening to my heartbeat. So far, (not?) so bad. My rationale was weak, I was frustrated with the recent relentless rehash of Priest scandal and wanted to escape. I actually re-read the book with my spouse over morning coffee. Happy as clams. After ignorantly basking in Fr. Ron's folly for a few months, we pursued one his earlier books, Against An Infinite Horizon (1995) YIKES! Suffering thru Rolheiser's condescending treatment of Church teaching, defense of radical feminism and trite circular analogies, I begged my husband to stop reading this BS. I actually found myself reacting in a most un-ladylike manner; my verbal objections descended to the depths of crudeness, the expletives issued forth without hesitation [Good lady, TH2 fully understands the reasons for, and sympathizes with, your descent into symphonic profanity :) ]. When will these clowns realize that they insult not only our intelligence and decency, but waste our precious time and energy?
Thankfully - because it is a good thing, I've also received criticism from Rolheiser's adherents in the com boxes. And as the saying goes: if you're not getting any flak, you're not over the target. Yet there is a raison d'être for semi-regularly setting my B-52 bombing sights onto someone who publicly announces himself to be "in exile". Notice: the most excellent lady just quoted started off by saying: "At a time of deep grief and confusion... my rationale was weak, I was frustrated... wanted to escape..." - and that's the thing. Whether intentionally or not, Rolheiser's inwardist, psychologism-drenched writings are perfectly tailored for, or appeal to, the mindsets of vulnerable persons - those undergoing some type of crisis, to whatever degree. They are therefore more prone to be manipulated and misled as their defences are down, openly trusting of some seeming "authority" or "guru" regarding whatever emotional, psychological or spiritual cross they're enduring.

V. Accordingly, we come to a recent column by Rolheiser entitled "Our Misunderstandings About Suicide". Note the patronizing use of "Our", as if readers are in agreement and that which follows issues from a supreme authority. Below is the pertinent part of the opinion piece, with TH2 emphasis/capitalization:
At the risk of repeating what I have been writing year after year... it's a DISEASE, something that in most cases takes a person out of life against his or her will, the emotional equivalent of cancer!, a stroke, or a heart attack... I also receive a lot of very critical letters every year suggesting that I am making light of suicide by seeming to lessen its ultimate taboo and thus making it easier for people to do the act: Wasn't it G.K. Chesterton himself who said that, by killing yourself, you insult every flower on earth?... Chesterton is correct, when suicide is indeed a despairing act within which one kills oneself. But in most suicides, I SUSPECT, this is not the case because there is HUGE DISTINCTION between falling victim to suicide and killing oneself... In suicide, a person, through illness of whatever sort, is taken out of life against his or her will...There is an INFINITE DISTANCE between an act done out of weakness and one done out of strength. Likewise there is an ABSOLUTE DISTINCTION between being too bruised to continue to touch life and being too proud to continue to take one's place within it.
However fancily it is worded, when suicide is classed, say, as a "disease", or characterized as the "emotional equivalent of cancer!" (note exclamation mark to show his insistence), we see that an act of the will (behaviour) is made proximate with, if not equal to, a biological condition. A disease as such, cancer, a stroke, a heart attack - these are physiological in aspect. Meaning, the unfree mechanical laws of the natural world are preponderant. Determinism, that is. The act of "most suicides", says Rolheiser, are "against his or her will". In the final analysis, there actually is no free choice for the majority who commit the terrible act.

VI. Notice what is happening here: Rolheiser is severing the tensile yet balanced dualism between the material (the body, biology, "disease") and the immaterial (the mind, the will). This is why he states there exists a "huge distinction", an "infinite distance", an "absolute distinction", between: (i) falling victim to suicide vs. killing oneself, (ii) an act done out of weakness vs. strength, (iii) being too bruised vs. too proud. Seen in its proper Catholic mode (not in Rolheiser's transmogrification), the dualism of mind and body are two through-going yet distinct units (so to speak), they are separable but still contingent, not necessitous in regard to one another. Making them separated, which is what Rolheiser is obviously doing, means a total detachment of these two units. A helpful analogy here might be the Nestorian heresy. It disconnected the divine and human natures of Christ, refuting the God-Man union.

VII. Right. Let's break things down and categorize Rolheiser's notion of suicide into its two types:
  • Type 1: "falling victim", "done out of weakness", "being too bruised": points to some outside force, an external factor, triggering someone to commit suicide. Claimed to be the "most" frequent cause. No personal responsibility involved. Akin to Determinism.
  • Type 2: "killing oneself", "done out of... strength", "being too proud": implies that only the self, freely with full knowledge and awareness, commits suicide. Claimed to be an infrequent cause. Personal responsibility is involved. Freewill seemingly affirmed.
What is ridiculous is the so-called justification for differentiating the two: "in most suicides I suspect...". He suspects! That's it! This is conjecture, subjectivity, without empirical validation. What about references? Data sources? Some sort of deduction? If attribution for suicide is to be placed primarily outside of the self, to some "other" force or factor, then why not speak of the proportional relationship between the secularization of Western society and the rise in suicide rates. Indeed, statistical studies in recent decades evidence suicide increases with a decline of the population's participation in "institutionalized religion", i.e. church attendance.[2] Moreover, the rate is significantly high for youth since, during the last five decades, they've been less likely to attend "church services", to speak generically - and this in large part encouraged, if not prompted by, precepts of the Hippie Revolution during the 1960s: anti-authoritarianism, antinomianism, anti-Western political posturing, drug-induced escapism, hedonism, self-actualization, gnosticism, misology, irresponsibility, incivility. Take a gander at the graph below to understand what's going on here...

From the 1960s onward, trends in data collected by Statistics Canada[3] exhibit a precipitous rise in the suicide rate (number per 100,000) for Canadian males in the 20-29 age range. There was also a slight, but still noteworthy increase in the female suicide rate. And is it not interesting that, after a long period of relatively low suicide rates from the 1920s to 1950s - when anti-Christian sentiment and the rejection of Western values belonged principally to the mind of the intellectual, there occurs an abrupt rise in suicide starting in the very decade when such corrosive views entered mainstream culture? More interesting are the trend lines during the Great Depression (ca. 1930s) and World War II (1939-1945). There are no upticks in suicide trends during these times of economic and geopolitical crisis, when an increase would normally be expected. Look closer at the graph and notice even a small decrease in the male suicide rate from the 1930s to 1940s.

VIII. Within a Catholic context, haven't read much in Rolheiser's writings on Mass attendance, the sacraments (with emphasis on Confession), devotion to the saints, pilgrimages to holy sites, the Blessed Mother, the Rosary, the Catechism - in how these and other elements of Catholic Tradition would aid in mitigating suicidal attempts. However, a perusal of the column archive at his website will demonstrate favourable quotes and references to the likes of Malcolm X, Jung, Freud and others whose stances are not so, shall we say, commensurable with Catholicism. Indeed, Rolheiser has this penchant for deferring to, and associating with, dubious characters. Like, for example, Fr. Richard "Enneagram" Rohr, with whom he collaborated at a surreal conference earlier this year. Reportedly, Rohr is "well known for his 'Wild Man Retreats' where men sometimes take their clothes off and touch each other in certain parts of their bodies - to release the demons".[4] One wonders if Rohr, an unabashed advocate of homosexuality,[5] is aware that suicide death/attempt rates for homosexuals well exceeds those of the overall population.[6]

IX. True, a wide array of causes have been put forward endeavouring to explain suicide: those associated with an impairing neurobiological condition, of course, but also alcoholism and drug use, heredity, climate, unemployment, poverty, work and income related stresses, engagement in deviant sexual activity, alienation, public exposure of a personal fault or wrongdoing, a betrayal and other incidents actuating mental anguish. Suicide as such is not the outcome of any one specific cause but, as the Catholic Encyclopedia states: "it is undeniable that the religious factor is by far the most important, the increase in suicides keeping step with the de-Christianization of a country".[7] Canadian suicide rate trends presented in the graph above is but one piece of attesting evidence.

X. Not a few academics will contend ancient pagan societies, like that of the Greeks, Romans, Japanese, or the Brahman caste of India, "tolerated" suicide, or deemed it "acceptable", even "dignified", and so on with the candy-coating routine. Greek tragedy dramas involve suicide, therefore - so goes the inference - it was, in a way, "part of life", or death rather. Sure, Jocasta commits suicide in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. So what? Proves nothing. In actuality, heightened suicide was concurrent with periods of nihilism and debauchery. As for suicide in the modern era - the drugged-up kamikaze pilot chained to the cockpit seat whilst screaming his Zero into the deck of an aircraft carrier, the Mohammed-enthused, box-cutter slashing barbarian plowing a passenger jet into a skyscraper - these are not signs of "honour", "glory", "righteousness" or "martyrdom". They indicate, rather, a hatred of life, contempt for the material world, and the abyss of despair. They're driven purely by emotion and willpower, eclipsing reason, and their so-called inspiriting "faith" or "religious belief" or "divine wind" or "jihad" is but a soul-putrefying penumbra which would even make those berserker gods of the Norse pantheon avert their eyes in disgust. The Catholic Encyclopedia again regarding suicide: "In fact, despair and anger are not as a general thing movements of the soul which it is impossible to resist, especially if one does not neglect the helps offered by religion, confidence in God, belief in the immortality of the soul and in a future life of rewards and punishments".[8]

XI. Instead of relying on the opinion of someone who apparently doesn't put much reliance in Catholic Church teaching, let's now make reference to the Catechism. It states that "voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law" (no. 2282). The Baltimore Catechism (Q. 1274) more specifically calls suicide a mortal sin. And what makes the Church's teaching on suicide considerably different from Rolheiser's ruminations is this: "Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him" (no. 2280). In evident disagreement, Rolheiser inserts a qualifier: only the relatively few commit suicide by force of "strength", by being "too proud" (cf. Type 2), not "Everyone is responsible", as the silly Catechism instructs. To be sure, "most suicides", according to Rolheiser, are "against his or her will" (cf. Type 1). Why? It is a "disease". How is this known? "I suspect". Really? And is there not something very important missing so far from this analysis?

XII. Catechism, No. 2281: "Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life". It's the natural law thing, teleology. In the classical philosophical tradition of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, it was understood that things naturally tend toward goals, are orientated to certain "final causes". In the context of man, a moral factor is involved because, with freewill, he makes choices that operate either for or against those goals to which nature as such arranges for him. It is in man's nature to survive, it is one of his purposes. Says the Summa on suicide:
...everything naturally loves itself, the result being that everything naturally keeps itself in being, and resists corruptions so far as it can. Wherefore suicide is contrary to the inclination of nature, and to charity whereby every man should love himself. Hence suicide is always a mortal sin, as being contrary to the natural law and charity.[9]
Man can defy nature by the commission of suicide. But not only does he risk eternal salvation with the act[10], he's not fulfilling a purpose as set up within the framework of natural law. Preservation and perpetuation of life is good, the act of ending one's own life is a spectacular evil, like it or not. It is a spectacle to others. It's that simple.

XIII. It's hard to tell exactly what role, if any, natural law features in Rolheiser's suicidal scheme of things. Yet it is clear that the assigning of "most suicides... against his or her will" to some personally uncontrollable, deterministic-like "disease" functioning beyond the domain of freewill belongs to that potpourri of nebulously-defined characteristics of "society" as a formless abstraction. Read what the influential French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) wrote during the second decade of the twentieth century: "We can say... with assurance and without being excessively dogmatic, that a great number of our mental states, including some of the most important ones, are of social origin... it is civilization that has made man what he is".[11] With Durkheim, we have a sociological expression of that diehard mantra of the modern Left: something outside myself is to blame for my affliction or circumstance. Not my own sins, blunders, willfulness, thought processes - but that thing "out there", without myself. The origin of this presumption goes all the way back to Rousseau's Social Contract with its famous line: "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains", and so forth. More immediately, however, Durkheim was following in the footsteps of Auguste Comte's (1798-1857) Positivism. And when Durkheim wrote his book Le Suicide, the main argument put forward therein was that social forces determine the overall suicide rate:
Each social group really has a collective inclination for the act, quite its own, and the source of all individual inclination, rather than their result... tendencies of the whole social body, by affecting individuals, cause them to commit suicide.[12]
Similarly, because Rolheiser seems not wanting to be that precise on the role of personal responsibility in suicide, he must use obscure, feelings-based phraseology, characterizing it as the "emotional equivalent of cancer" (which is downright unscientific), something from without, beyond individual control, something somewhere "out there" in the societal collective that works "against his or her will". Thusly, it wouldn't be unreasonable to opine that Rolheiser's commentaries on suicide causation are strongly influenced by the writings of Durkheim. About two years ago he wrote a column entitled "Being Stretched by Great Writers", wherein Durkheim is mentioned, amongst other not so Catholic friendly intellectuals. He paraphrased advice on what some professors said to him when a seminarian: "Take for granted that because these are great minds they have something to teach you, something that will much help you, even inside your faith. Be careful, but be open!" Not careful enough, methinks.

XIV. Can't help but conclude that Rolheiser's psychobabble-based wizardry of turning suicide into a "disease" gives people a backstage pass to defy the natural law or, straightforwardly, a license to transgress the Fifth Commandment. It provides vulnerable persons with an out... Pop those pills, slit your wrists, put that gun barrel in your mouth, jump from the 35th floor. There's nothing you can do, your suicidal thoughts are the "emotional equivalent of cancer" and there's no cure. To tell your readership that suicide is a "disease" which in most cases is resultant of the nullification of human will... to do that insistently, routinely on a per annum basis, almost with revelry, is disturbing and insidious. It is also very dangerous for those sensitive souls who, weakened through whatever circumstance, are in a state of despair and overwhelmed when thoughts of suicide are presented to the mind. Those who have written to Rolheiser, complaining about his efforts to obfuscate the "taboo"[13] of suicide, are absolutely justified in their criticism. Recommendation: Stay away from Rolheiser's writings. If you do venture to read, then be leery and exercise well your powers of discrimination.


1. Deriving from Wilson's Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, first published in 1975. So popular was this book that a 25th anniversary edition was published in 2000.

2. See, for example, S. Stack, "The Effect of the Decline in Institutionalized Religion on Suicide, 1954-1978", Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1983, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 239-252.

3. See Expert Working Group, Suicide in Canada, Update of the Report of the Task Force on Suicide in Canada, Mental Health Division, Health Canada, Report No. H39-107/1995E, 1994, Figure 4.2, p. 44. More recent data from for the 2005-2009 period show the male suicide rate has decreased somewhat, ranging between 16.7 to 20.1/100,000. The female rate has remained relatively constant, ranging from 3.0 to 6.5/100,000. The male suicide rate is still high when compared to the pre-1960 period. Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, Table 102-0551: Canadian Vital Statistics, Birth and Death Databases and Appendix II of the publication "Mortality Summary List of Causes" (catalogue number 84F0209XIE).

4. See M.C. Abbot, "Priest: 'The boy always gets naked...'", Renew America, January 23, 2006.

5. See B.A. Sibley, "The Fr. Richard Rohr Phenomenon", New Oxford Review, March 2006, vol. LXXIII, no. 3.

6. Cf. S. Langlois and P. Morrison, "Suicide Deaths and Suicide Attempts", Statistics Canada (Catalogue 82-003), Health Reports, January 2002, vol. 13, no. 2, p. 12; and C. Bagley and P. Tremblay, "Suicidal behaviors in homosexual and bisexual males", Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 1997, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 24-34.

7. Quoted in A. Vander Heeren, "Suicide", In: The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912), vol. 14. Available online.

8. Ibid. Cf. also a short analysis by the manualist Fr. Thomas Slater, A Manual of Moral Theology (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1925), vol. 1, bk. vi, pt. v, ch. i, pp. 194-195.

9. Sum. theol., ii-ii, q. 64, art. 5.

10. No. 2283 of the Catechism for consolation: "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives".

11. E. Durkheim, "The Dualism of Human Nature", In: Emile Durkheim, On Morality and Society, ed. R.N. Bellah (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1973), p. 149. Paper first published in 1914.

12. E. Durkheim, Suicide, A Study in Sociology, trans. J.A. Spaulding and G. Simpson (New York: The Free Press, 1951), pp. 299-300. First published in 1897.

13. It is revealing that Rolheiser uses the pagan word "taboo" (tabu, of Tongan origin) instead of the Catholic "mortal sin".



Seraphic said...

My difficulty with Fr. R's annual suicide column is that he seems to overlook that his readers include not just the grieving relatives of those who have committed suicide but people who might commit suicide. In his columns, suicide is always something someone else has done, never something that a reader might do. 

Actually, it is interesting how the suicidal is someone other than the reader. Fr. R's superior should have a pastoral talk with him about why he needs to write about suicide every year. Carte blanche columnists write about what is on their mind right then, as I can tell you firsthand. And it's not happily married layfolk who are at most risk of dangerous depressions.When I read Fr R's article this Sunday, I was troubled by it, and I think I will indeed write something soon about suicide prevention. It might be bracing to a confused person to remember that suicide is selfish, that suicide has a devastating effect on those who survive him and that they are often very, very angry with the person who commits suicide. "He was crazy, he can't be held responsible and God will embrace him" might be some comfort to the family, but it doesn't eradicate their very deep pain. They'd rather have their loved one than the comforting theories. And can you imagine the lifelong effects a suicide in the family has on an innocent, loving child?Suicide can also be contagious, especially among teenagers. It might be helpful to them to reflect upon the very real and crazy-making anguish of the woman who finds her teenage son hanging from a pipe in the basement.  When I was at my lowest ebb, not to mention temporarily off my head, I mentioned suicide in a casual, timid war to my most broadminded, non-Catholic friend. She told me that she had been to the funeral of a friend and felt an anger she would not have felt had her friend killed someone else. She had been absolutely furious. The not so subtle message that my best pal would hate me to the end of her days if I did something so selfish was a lot better for me than a Fr Ron "Jesus would embrace you" article.  There are degrees of diminished responsibility and so, yes, even if you are mentally ill you might deliberately choose to do good or to do evil.  Goodness includes calling the suicide hotline and/or going to see your doctor.

Marc Ratusz said...

There would have been a time when Rolheiser's works, like so many other modernists/heretics/apostates, would have been place on the Index.He is culpable by his writings of mortal sin. Unfortunately, those who faithfully read and adhere to such columns and the publications wherein they appear (again I take a stab at thee, O Westurd Communist Distorter) that apart from an infusion of mind clarifying grace, most of these people's mind are just lost. Reasoning with them with no longer works. Only two solutions. One of them is prayer. The second is probably a frontal lobotomy.

Marie Giroux said...

 The problem, as I see it, is that people who don't know their faith as well as they should simply assume that if it's published in a newspaper that purports to be Catholic, then it must be in accord with Catholic doctrine.  I didn't know any better when our diocese's former Catechetics Coordinator put the Fishwrap in the office and we placed it in the back of the Church.

TH2 said...

Your first paragraph sums up matters perfectly, expressed much better and more clearly than what I wrote in the last paragraph of the post. Yes, it's the readers, not just the relatives.

I wonder, given the state of the Oblates these days, whether the Superior would have any real concern with what is expressed in the annual suicide column.

Accordingly, please do an article on suicide. At your Register column if you can. It would be a good counterpoint to Rolheiser's column(s) on suicide, also published at CR. But that's just my humble suggestion.

After writing my post, I re-read your post on suicide done last year at SGTS, and there are some insightful and thought-provking ideas therein.

I must say - always knew about the increase in suicide that eventuated after the 1960s. Yet when I actually looked at the raw data in the statistical reports (magnitude changes) and examined the graph trends (visual presentation thereof), it really hit me hard. Heart sinking.

Anonymous for obvious reasons said...

Speaking as someone who has been down that road, depressed beyond all imagining to the point of attempting to take my own life (obviously unsuccessfully), his musings are complete crap.

I can say categorically, and in hindsight, that my issues all arose from habitual sin (which I chose to participate in) which led to despair and everything that goes therewith. My mother believed there was a spiritual problem when the you know what hit the fan and she went to a priest she knew for help; he refused saying I was just ill and he suggested psychiatric counselling would be best. There was nothing ever mentioned about God's healing grace or a return to the faith I had abandoned so long before.

In all honesty, the only thing that saved me from self destruction was a complete return to the Faith thanks to a conversation or two with a room mate while I was in the hospital. God's grace granted through many many prayers along with years of perseverance and daily rosaries literally saved my life; for the most part, I worked at this on my own (ie not much spiritual guidance from the local priest) with some help from my grandmother and her sister who was a nun. What really helped me personally in the end was reading the Imitation of Christ and finally coming to an understanding that I was truly loved by God, and that He would forgive me my sins, even the big ones, if I would just acknowledge them and ask to be forgiven. Confession is one of THE greatest things about being a Catholic.

I know there are people out there who struggle with depression, mental illness and whatnot, and I am in no way criticizing those who are on medication or go to therapy for help; that's not my point at all. The point is, there are sometimes very real spiritual effects brought on by sin (that we choose to commit) which leads one down this path, and when I read crap like what the priest has written, based on what he "feels", it just completely ticks me off....and how the hell would anyone determine who fits into his neat little categories? And to compare this to cancer? That's beyond reason. Whether too weak or too proud, one makes a choice when one takes their own life. One does not choose to have cancer. I shudder to think where I may have ended up had I been successful on that dreary day and it still bothers me that a priest would not at least entertain a mother's request for spiritual help for a child in distress. Sometimes you have to wonder what some of these men believe in, or don't believe in.........

Sorry for the long comment.....reading this put me into rant mode..............

TH2 said...


No need at all to apologize for the long comment. To the contrary, I humbly thank you for taking the time in providing a moving account of your experience. I was hoping that someone who had undergone the type of suffering you endured would comment. To you I bow my head and offer utmost respect.

I am especially grateful that you mentioned two things: (1) that God's grace, prayer, daily Rosary, Confession - i.e. the Catholic thing - was at work in your situation, and (2) your statement: ...very real spiritual effects brought on by sin (that we choose to commit) which leads one down this path - which goes to the personal responsibility aspect.

You will be included in my next Rosary intentions.

Anonymous for obvious reasons said...

Your kind words and most especially your prayers are greatly appreciated.  May the Good Lord bless you and all that you hold dear :) 

AllenT said...

Sorry I've taken so long to comment on this, I've had limitted computer acess lately & your posts have so much to ponder. This is another good one about the dangers of rolheiser to life, physical & spiritual.

"it's puzzling that there isn't much criticism of his writings in the Catholic blogosphere."

You mean besides you & a couple I've written. Unfortunately you are right, he has been ignored by too many who should be speaking out.
"This lack of being challenged also appears to be existent at the parish/chancery levels, where his sway is evidently most pronounced."

I would say in the Archdiocese of DBQ chancery he is viewed as having pronouncements that should be used in place of the Bible & magesterial teachings of the Catholic Church. & no, I don't think I am exagerating that much. He is all but treated as infallible arround here.

TH2 said...

Allen, your wise and informed comments are always welcome in this space. Myself, haven't been commenting much at your blog, though it is one of my regular reads. Lately - for the last number of months, haven't myself commented much at other blogs. Seems I have a tendency to internalize things and then, when some threshold is reached, it all comes out in one of my unbearably long and explosive posts.

AllenT said...

I understand the explosive. The other day, I was at a meeting for an upcoming pro-life event & some comments were brought up about support from the Archbishop. At 1 point I went into my Mother Angelica mode (it's an Italiano thing) & pointed out that many people in the Chancery are pro-abortion & Archbishop Hanus doesn't have the courage to speak up or do anything.

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