Liturgical Bullies

by Fr. Michael White

We have just completed a two-week Rebuilt Book Tour, which brought us to Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, and Vienna. Among many other observations we made there, here’s one: most all of our hosts seemed more relaxed about liturgy than many of the churchpeople we encounter here in the States. Not in the sense that they abuse rubrics or disregard rules. Rather, they just struck us as more at ease with the whole subject, it appears to be less polemical.

For example, in all of our conferences, not a single liturgical question was even once raised. That has never happened to us in our own country. Notwithstanding that our conferences aren’t even about liturgy, the subject always comes up, often in a combative way and sometimes in a disruptive one. This was underscored for me on returning home and finding two lengthy letters (written not to me, but to the bishop) from two of our most consistent current critics detailing their most recent allegations of our liturgical crimes (neither of the authors are parishioners, and none of their allegations were substantive, by the way).

Don’t really know if it is an American phenomenon or not, but it seems there are always at least a few people in every parish we’ve encountered who carve out for themselves the role of liturgical bullies. I’m not talking about people who have legitimate concerns about legitimate, substantive liturgical abuses. I’m talking about people who go to Mass looking for something to question or complain about and are never disappointed. Then, they run home and get online to make their comments known to anyone who will listen, or fire off an angry missive to the pastor, or, better yet, to the bishop.

They complain about the liturgy. It’s their apparent contribution to the Body of Christ.

And here’s the thing: liturgical bullies are always abusive, the exercise, in and of itself, is an expression of cruelty. That’s because it shows no consideration for the concerns, cares, or motivation of others, only a personalized view of rules and rule keeping. Here are a few more observations I’ve made over the course of many years on the receiving end of this cruel behavior:

  • Obsessed with rules as this attitude is, it is rarely based in a very solid understanding or appreciation of the Liturgy.
  • It is typically ignorant of the aesthetic of the Liturgy and unconcerned with the beauty or joy or spirit of the celebration.
  • Logic, like charity, is usually not a part of their consideration. Anger, arrogance, condescension and exaggeration are their preferred tools. While abusive to their subjects, the practice is also narcissistic.

Liturgical bullies are divisive and demoralizing in the life of the Church. To grow healthy parishes we need to marginalize their voices and avoid their conversations.

Fr. Michael White, well-known for co-founding the “Rebuilt” movement, is pastor of Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland. Reprinted with permission.

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39 comments

  1. I would have never brought this up publicly other than this post being made with the title “bully” in the title…

    I’ve been bothered by years by the paragraph in Rebuilt where you discuss a Christmas Eve Mass where you (rightly) criticize the behavior of a cantor. You then turn your attack to the 7 year old violinist daughter of the cantor… immortalizing her bad performance (which I’m sure wasn’t her idea) in print forever. To me this always seemed like a very harsh case of “bullying” – in calling out mistakes made by a child who was no doubt put there by an adult – saying her performance ruined O Holy Night for you forever. I always wondered what sort of damage or feelings this would bring up if his 7 year old read this as an adult…

    Wouldn’t it have been better to criticize the adult cantor and leave her 7 year old daughter out of it?

    1. There are a number of such passages in the book that I found disturbing. I also tend to find that the phrase “churchpeople” comes across as condescending and contemptuous. I wish they had had a critical editor who could have mentioned how such things come across, since I think they undercut the good things the book has to offer.

  2. For someone complaining about the condescension they receive from members of the Church, this article is itself incredibly condescending. Fr. White complains that his supposed critics “show no consideration for the concerns, cares, or motivation of others,” yet neither does he here; just generalizations and straw men completely devoid of specifics. Like come on, not everyone who voices concern with your movement hates the Church or is seething with “anger, arrogance, condescension and exaggeration.” I’m more used to hearing this sort of baseless nonsense from Fr. Z, which is a shame because I honestly think Fr. White and his movement have some good things to offer the Church. If Fr. White wants his movement to spread and enrich the Church, he needs to rise above appropriating the same sort of uncharitable meanness that he so bombastically accuses his critics of.

  3. There is a cottage industry to this practice. Watch EWTN or listen to Catholic Radio and there seems to be some liturgical expert telling people to confront their priest if anything is wrong.

    If a priest carries on an incorrect practice, the odds are they will have their picture taken or voice recorded and it will be sent up the ecclesial ladder to the highest office with a reachable email. It has happened to me

  4. It is possible that these “bullies” have had a bad experience or have learned helplessness over the years, perhaps by being bullied by the forerunners of the “Rebuilt” set. Their efforts can be redirected by a priest who doesn’t share Fr. White’s manifest contempt (“marginalize their voices”) but perhaps there is truly no place for that in a parish totally committed by its assigned priest to casualness and megachurch Protestant style musical entertainment.

    If there is no suitable church within driving distance (not that self-sorting out of territorial parishes is ideal) this active marginalization Fr White proposes is a recipe for making bitter Sunday ticket-punchers or even fallen-away Catholics out of those who in other circumstances would be evangelizing the unchurched. (And I have seen good priests bring such people back in, but it takes effort.)

    Feeding the unfed sheep apparently is not for Fr. White, who says he would rather marginalize and avoid.

    1. As many know, I am not uncritical of some of the liturgical ethos of Nativity, but I don’t think they can be accused of “casualness.” The liturgies are meticulously prepared for and executed. A lot of thought has gone into their liturgical choices. I don’t agree with all those choices, and can honestly say that it would be a spiritual challenge for me to worship there on a regular basis (though who knows, maybe great good could come from facing that challenge). But just last week I heard a family from Nativity (including two teenagers) saying how much they loved the parish and its liturgy and how it had brought their faith to life. So I think the care with which they approach the liturgy is paying off, at least for some people.

  5. I find myself wondering what people on all sides imagine they are doing when they go to church. How can the liturgy have so little impact on people’s basic approaches to each other?

  6. There is real irony in someone complaining about alleged “bullies” while advocating for “marginalizing their voices.” Then again, they’re “ignorant narcissists” to quote Father…so perhaps it’s all good.

    1. Could we all please attempt an accurate and charitable reading? He advocating marginalizing bullying. Surely we can all agree with that?

      I think it’d be a constructive contribution for us to talk about this problem – more prevalent in the US than elsewhere, as the author notes – of bullying, to admit that it’s destructive, and to work together to talk about how the disfigurement of bullying could best be removed from our midst.

      awr

      1. Father,

        It strikes me, from reading the comments, that there is a lot of unhappiness or perhaps resentment with what is going on at Nativity and with the Rebuilt movement
        and the posting of this article gave the opportunity to put into print these feelings.

        I feel bad about this as I respect the Rebuilt movement and see too many empty churches being consolidated and closed which may not have to be as they are dying for lack of leadership and vision. Rebuilt is ONE alternative which just happens to be successful, and there are other models as well. It is too bad to read this.

        To the topic at hand, EWTN is cancer, spinning off tumors which can be found almost everywhere whose prognosis remains always negative. I am convinced that the craziness it portrays as mainline continues to contribute to the “near-death experience” experienced in today’s American church. Having also read Rebuilt, and having read it with regard to the wider strokes, not the minutia, agree that they offer one parish which I would find difficult worshiping at, but, nonetheless, can learn from and assist my own parish in its growth.

      2. Fr. Ruff, I very much appreciate this call to end intra-Church bullying, whose continued existence is sad. That said, without getting too bogged down in ad hominems, I don’t think Fr. White’s messaging on this issue is entirely convincing. Those voicing concerns are right that one can’t plead for charity from their critics while at the same time writing them off wholesale as abusive, ignorant, arrogant, condescending, narcissistic, etc. And I’ll echo earlier posts in noticing that this sort of anti-traditional bias colors his other writings as well. I’ll point out that I myself am no opponent of Rebuilt; they helped several parishes in my former diocese and from what I can gather their experience has been a positive one.

        And while I’m here, let’s lay off EWTN. I don’t think their brand of messaging is beyond reproach, but their devotion to Catholic orthodoxy and commitment to cathechesis is second to none among lay-run enterprises. Their televised daily masses and catechetical programs also reach millions of Catholics each day who otherwise live isolated from the rest of the Church. We should be glad they exist.

      3. Your comment is off-topic. The post is about a specific type of bullying, so please address that type of bullying.
        EWTN has contributed to the problem the post addresses. Not everything said on EWTN shows an informed awareness of what Catholic orthodoxy actually is.
        awr

  7. In his autobiography Cardinal O’Connell Of Boston wrote about an eccentric son of a titled British convert who spent his time traversing through Italy amongst other places whose expertise was in the rubrics and his delight was critiquing liturgical performance. When the Cardinal was rector of the NAC he was visited by this milord and his manservant. Gangplank Bill did say something to the effect that being scrutinized by such an esteemed rubrician for rubrical violations while celebrating mass could be an unnerving experience. I do think His Eminence was amused by the whole experience, years after the fact, of course.

    I’ve often wondered who this character was. Perhaps he did some good while enjoying his, ah, eccentric amusement.

    I suspect that Father White’s critics have neither been as knowledgeable nor as amusing as the Cardinal’s milord.

  8. Agree with much that has been said and from personal experience, have had to respond to local bishop after an EWTN type person complained. BTW – that complaint was based upon uninformed or ill-formed liturgical knowledge.

    What is left unsaid in this opinion piece is what to do if the local pastor/clerics and a small group of EWTN types (pre-VII enthusiasts) force change on the whole parish. If you try to address, complain, etc. – are you a bully?

    This is where things get very complicated and difficult. Liturgical practice changes – this is a historical fact and yet, most of us have to deal with the human reaction that their sense of liturgy is always correct and leaves little room for input, learning, etc.

    My first step in most parishes in Texas would be to re-educate per VII on what eucharist is and isn’t and try to actually get folks involved as a community vs. individual set in stone types. It has been fifty years and suggest that most catholics and parishes have not looked at the meaning of eucharist from a community viewpoint since the changes in the 1960s-1970s (or later if in Texas).

  9. Bullying and/or criticism have contexts. Believe it or not, it is possible to disagree amicably in the world–even in church. Books and articles have target audiences. This article points out that liturgical criticism is an American cottage industry. At least 94% of the Catholic world doesn’t care about bullies. Many of the 94% are the victims. Certainly, if a liturgical critic wanted to get involved in a constructive way in a parish, I have welcomed such persons and would still. Some even say yes.

  10. There is a fundamental misunderstanding if anyone confuses bullying with critique, or legitimate criticism, or even the expression of feelings about liturgy that are at odds with the views and feelings of another person.

    Bullying is the attempt to force another person to do something by intimidating and demeaning them; it is an abuse of power, and a form of violence. It’s a sin against human dignity. The persistent exposure to threats of verbal, physical, or psychological violence aims to destroy the self-esteem of another, so as to dominate them. That’s bullying.

    Any group may contain bullies, but the phenomenon arises particularly in groups one cannot easily leave, such as prisons, or families, or, say, the church. I call the phenomenon this post describes a form of verbal “drive by shooting,” that is, an attempt to do someone personal harm out of a sense of outraged entitlement against a whole class of people — be it women, or another race, or liturgists.

    Nothing justifies this in any human community, but it is especially tragic in a Christian community. I am sorry, but what I am hearing in some of these comments is that if anyone was mean to your aggrieved group in the past, you are entitled to be a bully now and get your own back. No way. That is not a Christian response.

    1. I like your distinctions and analysis.
      To step back, I would suggest that the combination of American and Catholic institutional culture conspires to foment this dynamic. That is, American culture is relentlessly consumerist – let’s say that it’s become a Yelp Review culture. Catholic institutional culture, however, is monarchical – while in its best guise it should be truly collegial (the model of the monastery), it’s often very much non-collegial at the parochial level and above, especially for people outside the groups favored by current parish establishment. Then you have the phenomenon of recent pontificates before Pope Francis where unhappy people were encouraged to send in write-ups, as it were (that said, the phenomenon of drive-by shootings is very much not limited to the starboard side of things; I’ve personally experienced it from the port side of thing within progressive intentional communities – pace Tolstoy, unhappy people often resemble each other regardless of ideological family). This sets the stage for acting out.

  11. Rita – thank you. IMO, your post raises other issues for me:
    a) is the bullying from pre-VII or right wing Catholics really a *cottage industry* and 94% could care less?
    b) why is it that the USCCB has taken no public stance on some *bullying* media sources that are over represented on the extreme right wing (not really conservative in the classical sense)? Is it because some of these organizations make significant financial contributions to specific dioceses, bishops, etc.?
    c) why is it that bishops (USA per this post) *pander* and allow bullying criticism and even act on it demanding local clergy, staff, etc. justify or defend themselves? It appears from this post that European bishops may ignore these types? Again, many European bishops/conferences are directly supported by governments and not dependent upon private donors.
    d) It is interesting to look at history – would suggest that prevailing attitude is to just let these bullies be – they will pass and die out e.g. Coughlin, Feeney Yet, would suggest that in this specific time period (fake news; Trump; etc.) this allows a Catholic *alternative* Fox News to run askew. Am reminded that complicity is not a *long walk* and that justice delayed is justice denied. Especially if you are the target of bullying.
    e) Not sure that 94% figure is correct but then doubt that media such as EWTN or Fr. Z reach more than a couple of percentage of catholics. But, is that really the question – why do certain bishops see that an invitation of EWTN is a badge of honor; a media source with the likes of Sebastian Gorka, etc. speaking as authoritative catholics and getting the EWTN seal of approval.

  12. Bill, I apologize if I touched some sort of nerve here, I’m merely attempting to offer a perspective of our bishops that I don’t think has been well represented (I’ve worked with two). They are after all in charge of our spiritual care, as tasked by Christ in Matthew 28:19, and making sure everyone under their authority facilitates that. No condescension intended!

    1. Thank you – still disagree. The end does not justify the means – especially bullying, complaints from folks who may or may not be well informed; etc. It sets up too often a situation in which folks constantly look over their backs. That is not a healthy sign of community.

      There are ample ways to make objective complaints without complaining direct to a bishop.

  13. I encountered liturgical bullies at my old parish. The former Pastor (who himself had no real interest in the EF or ROTR) let a retired priest celebrate the Latin Mass at an oddball time for a group that had requested it. There was no “forced change” to any of the other Masses, which went on as they had for probably the last three decades. However, a tiny minority of people didn’t like it and complained about “those people” all the time and let the Latin Mass people know they were unwanted whenever they tried to express gratitude or contribute. A new pastor was sympathetic to the complainers and forced the traditionalists out over the course of a year using underhanded means.

    1. OK Jack, thanks for sharing, but this sad anecdote is not on-topic. The topic of the post is bullying of a particular sort. I’m sure there a lots of other kinds of bullying, but this post takes up one kind. It’d be a real contribution if we could talk about this type of bullying – where it comes from, what forces have promoted it, how best to respond to it, and the like. Instead, I see numerous commentors wanting to change the subject and tell war stories of THEIR type of experienced bullying. But that’s another topic for another day, and in this case it only serves to undercut the original post, to distract from it, and to insinuate that the author’s concerns should be dismissed because “I want to talk about MY kind of experienced bullying.”
      awr

      1. I disagree, what I described very much fit the mold of what the original post was talking about and was hardly a dismissal of the original author. A small group of sour busybodies, who were not impacted by the fully licit activities of another group, took it upon themselves to create division.

        Or are we only talking about bullying if it comes from supposed “pre Vatican II,” “right wing,” or “EWTN” people?

      2. Oh okay, so we aren’t really talking about bullying at all since there is no objective standard as to what constitutes bullying other than it comes from people we ourselves don’t like or agree with and is directed towards people we do like and agree with. I apologize and will stay out of the discussion. Feel free to delete my comments to keep things on topic.

      3. We are talking about bullying – of a particular sort, from a particular quarter. No, I can’t define to everyone’s satisfaction what quarter we mean – this is not an exact science. But at the level of impression or intuition, I trust that most readers of all persuasions know exactly what we’re talking about.

        It’s not so much about liking people as it is agreeing with people. As I understand the mission of Pray Tell, it is not to support all viewpoints equally, but (in the spirit of Virgil Michel and Orate Fratres) to promote our vision of liturgical renewal and our understanding of the Second Vatican Council. I do not agree with people who are (here we go with imprecise labels) reform of the reform or traditionalist or legalistic or skeptical of the Pauline reform or supportive of Summorum. It makes sense to me that Pray Tell would take up the topic of bullying from those quarters (rather than bullying in general). That is the topic of the post.

        No need to apologize. I appreciate your comments and hope you remain a part of Pray Tell discussions.

        awr

      4. How do we know the ideological orientation of Fr. White’s bullies?
        In the past he has mentioned that people have complained about the fact that he allows only boys to be altar servers and does not allow communion under both species at Nativity Timonium. (He also has sanctus bells, and the tabernacle behind the altar but has not said anything about people complaining about this). In my experience certain people do not accept some or all of these practices as legitimate options and label those that support them as going against the spirit of the reformed liturgy.

      5. Liturgical bullying around communion under one form, tabernacle behind altar? I kinda doubt it.

        In my experience, people who critique communion under one form, tabernacle behind altar, and sanctus bells (I’m one of them) typically do not deny that they are legitimate (literally, ‘legal’) practices in the reformed books. I wouldn’t say “against the spirit of the reformed liturgy,” but rather, based on less than ideal theology, not the best option, and the reformed liturgy also allows for other, better options. Good liturgical scholarship has its role, and I wouldn’t want to disallow respectful critique of practices that are (still) allowed, much less call that ‘bullying.’

        awr

      6. I’m happy to hear that your experience has been different than mine. I could recount stories but you seem disinclined to receive them. I would simply say that bullying from the right is part of a cycle and will not be fixed by focusing exclusively upon bullying that comes from there. I’m not a traditionalist, and I rarely attend the extraordinary form, but I do believe that many people devoted to it have been bullied by people in authority over them. The general problem with bullying seems to be:

        1. Bullies rarely self-identify.
        2. Bullies try to delegitimize their victims. (e.g. she’s overreacting, she misunderstood me, it’s her fault, she’s immature, she’s a liar, etc.)

        One reason why I love Pope Francis is because he takes lay people seriously, even with respect to their intuitions concerning popular piety.

  14. Perhaps the best way to prevent the “bullying” mentioned is education. Most parishes have lay-populated liturgy committees. Yet, how many of those parishes actually commit to spending the time to go through Sacrosanctum Concilium and the General Instructions, educate the members of the committee, and educate the parish at large? If the only criteria for what happens at the liturgy is “I like it,” problems are likely to arise when there is a conflict of taste. If we don’t understand why we do or do not do something, we have created a fertile ground for misunderstanding and conflict.
    That said, for those who complain about being bullied, the liturgy documents should actually constrain what happens in church. When you violate liturgical norms (however much you disagree with them), you open yourself up to justified criticism at best, bullying at worst.
    Finally, greater charity in both critique and reaction is always called for. I understand that the targets of the bullying are trying to create a vibrant community-building liturgical experience. I also understand that the folks who are accused of doing the bullying are trying to have a liturgy which reflects their experience of a transcendent God. Neither basic impulse is wrong. (They do fall off the rails when one forgets that you are also supposed to be doing the other thing, too.) And no liturgy is perfect, after all, human beings are involved. There is always room for charitable critique, understanding and improvement. Hopefully, we all understand that.

  15. To respond more specifically to the original post’s circumstances, in terms of ground rules:

    1. Parishioners and regular attendees have the most at stake in parish liturgy, and therefore the highest standing to question, become educated, critique and complain.

    2. Guests/occasional attendees have a more attenuated stake, because barring a situation of sacramental *invalidity* (which can occur and is the DEFCON 5 thing that is most likely to draw prelatial lightning), they typically lack sufficient context to understand what is a chronic situation or not.

    3. People complaining via drone method, as it were, are out of order. But parishes (and especially their decision-makers) that widely promote their practices should likewise be very aware that they thereby can attract “drones” and decide to take their lumps in that regard or not. Think of the decision as a fulcrum-lever problem and understand there are consequences no matter where you put the fulrcum…(generally, a handy reminder in so many situations), without it becoming a blame-the-victim situation. Decision-makers should consider the *long-term* good of the parish in this regard when proceeding with decisions, understanding that while leaders come and go, parishioners are often left as mop brigade.

    4. The recalibration of the culture of escalation: The Yelp Review/Write-The-Bishop culture is baleful but has deeper roots than many of us would prefer to imagine and won’t be wished away. When I am participating in Mass, I cultivate a habit of turning my analytical filter off (as I prefer to limit the analytical filter to longer term arcs of time: the movie rather than the photo, as it were) – though the habit can be punctured by chronic problems. Before raising it with anyone, pray over it; inform yourself; and understand your burden for a charitable interpretation – these are your responsibilities in discipleship. Then, if it’s still unresolved, raise it personally – outside of liturgy – with the person you believe has closest responsibility…

    1. (cont’d)
      but understand it’s not a trial and you are not the prosecutor; if you play prosecutor, you will invite a defensive response, which will not help you in the end. Escalation levels above that are, in the following order: pastor (if not the initial point of contact), dean aka vicar forane, auxiliary bishop if any, then the ordinary.* My own view is that, if you have other choices available to you, it’s best not to escalate matters liturgical above pastor unless there are chronic problems with sacramental *validity*, but instead go elsewhere. The 1983 code of canon law gives you that option, and the hierarchical nature of the Church is way stacked against you if you want to fight it.

      5. Do notice how far from promoting the values of the conciliar reform this is. Which, btw, is important for *decision-makers* to realize when making decisions: are the values for which the decision is ostensibly being made going to be as effectively promoted as you hope if they come with a significant risk of this kind of dynamic? Enlarge your frame of reference to consider this in your decision.

      * In all my years of witnessing many wild things, I can think of only one situation where I’ve ever escalated to the the auxiliary and ordinary, and (i) it wasn’t about liturgical policing but a more fundamental problem of pastoral fitness and competence, and (ii) the auxiliary had essentially pleaded for parishioners to write to document parishioner viewpoints; so far as I can tell, it didn’t do anything because the person in question was “protected”, as it were (it took a few more years for the protection to be overcome).

      Correction to preceding comment: DEFCON 1, not 5, of course.

  16. This is the ongoing problem with these ‘renewal. rebuilt, redo movements’ They become a law unto themselves, and resist any correction or alteration from the wider church, and especially from those who do care about the church’s liturgy. All criticism is a form of abuse. Life Teen was a great example of this. Anyone who kindly raised questions about that program was considered a heretic, unchristian and in the way of the Holy Spirit. And what happened? The founder of the program is no longer a practicing priest, founded his own church and the program is dead and burned. Programs will all pass away…There is only a need for us to love the Mass and to help other love Jesus through the Mass. Everything else will pass away and become useless.
    I hope this was not uncharitable. If off topic, then delete.

  17. Fr. Anthony,

    I guess that I live in the dark. For the life of me, I cannot understand the tone of the conversation about Nativity. WHAT are they doing that is so horrible? It was a nothing parish in a nothing town on the verge of the end and was “reimagined” and turned around. HOW do you condemn them for that? Write with such condescension about a parish which not only rose from the dead but went beyond that and offers to share their story and some methodology with others in an effort to help them….what is so evil about that?

    If there are objectionable elements, I am sure the diocesan liturgy department or the ordinary can communicate them to the pastor. No one says that everyone needs adopt their music or streaming of Masses. They appeal to some. What say we compliment their successes, appreciate what they have to offer and if they are not what appeals to you, then attend another parish?

  18. As I read through this thread again, I think the problem may be that a substantial number of people commenting here assume that long, complaining letters to bishops, by people who don’t live in the parish or worship there regularly, are not only OK, but meritorious. The assumption is that these letter writers are right, the pastor is wrong, and that policing by outsiders and reporting to higher authority for censure — a tactic that has been used, in the so-called “liturgy wars,” mainly by conservatives in the church — is usually justified.

    I believe, however, that it is oddly symptomatic of problems with the authority structure of the church, which such persons often think they are upholding, but are really manipulating and undermining. Mental health 101: you go directly to the person with whom you want to communicate. That didn’t happen here. Instead, the person goes over the head of the pastor, and behind his back. It’s a manipulation. But it’s also undermining the proper role of the pastor.

    There are some occasions when one has to ask higher authority to intervene, but they should be very rare. To be credible, they should take place after other efforts at dialogue have been exhausted. This hasn’t happened here, according to the post. And it usually doesn’t happen. I have seen this sort of behavior afflict my colleagues. It’s not only bad for them. It’s bad for the complainer.

    Redemptionis Sacramentum advised the faithful to take their complaints to Rome, over the heads of their bishops, informing them as a matter of charity, but not as a matter of their bishop’s authority. It was part of the centralizing push that also gave us Liturgiam authenticam. Mutatis mutandis, this thinking has worked its way into “reporting to the bishop” every parish infraction, turning the faithful into police informants and bishops into law enforcement. This does not serve the wider aims of ministry.

    1. Is it that the tactic is mainly used by “conservatives,” or does it simply seem that way to many here because they avoid conservative and traditionalist liturgy and are dismissive of bullying from those they agree with?

    2. What you neglect is that when someone does approach his pastor that the complaints are often curtly dismissed with “but because of Vatican II…” The second problem is that there has been a history for for 50 years that priests who would be sympathetic to these complaints are routinely blocked from the pastorate. Thus referring to higher authorities is often the only recourse. The only way to stop this bullying on both sides is by mutual respect, recognizing that the reformed Mass allows both traditional and more contemporary forms, and finding a place for both. Both sides need to stop the “my way or the highway” mentality.

      1. And gaslighting, which is a tried and true form of bullying in church contexts where people want to maintain the Potemkin village facade that “Church People Are Nice”.

        The institutional structure of the Catholic Church is such that it promotes passive-aggressive responses to internal problems, exacerbated in the USA by the fact that American Catholic culture was long dominated by people formed in Irish-derived culture, where the fundamental approach to dealing with a problem is to either deny it exists or make sure no one talks about it except elliptically (and then, at the other end of the barbell curve of coping mechanisms, to engage in fisticuffs when provoked beyond one’s ability to maintain denial mechanisms in place).

        For most of us, however, that usually means (i) reducing giving or redirecting it elsewhere, and (ii) not showing up or showing up elsewhere.

      2. Generalizations without any provable support. Suggest that your comment is not in the category of *mutual respect*.

        Thank you, Rita – agree completely!!!!!

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