OK, I’ve just got to say something after the 100th rehash of a really big nothing at Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco. If you’re going to do a story about Catholics, could you please, maybe, get somebody on it who actually knows a thing or two about Catholicism?
Much ado has been made about a little booklet Catholics (or at least Catholics who worry about their immortal souls) normally call an Examination of Conscience, but has been repeatedly referred to in the press as something to the effect of “a sexually explicit pamphlet”. It’s been repeated ad nauseum. Why? Because Sam Singer is grasping at straws. Who is Sam Singer? He’s a PR guy who’s making tons of money trying to get rid of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. He’s looking really stupid right now, but he’s valiantly vowed he “won’t give up until Cordileone is gone.” Poor man might be waiting awhile. While he waits, maybe he’ll learn a thing or two about Purgatory???
So, let’s go back to the Examination of Conscience flap (I’m going to publish the words “Examination of Conscience” every chance I get). As I understand it from the super poor reporting thus far, teachers were told to have the kids at Star of the Sea school in San Francisco do an Examination of Conscience before confession. Apparently, the teachers didn’t have any booklets on hand for the kids, so Fr. Driscoll grabbed some the church had in stock. The ones he grabbed, unbeknownst to him, were an adult-oriented version which contained the words masturbation, fornication, sodomy, adultery, mercy killing, artificial birth control, sterilization, abortion, etc., in the laundry list of 70 or so questions to prepare adults for confession. (By the way – a move he apologized for, which I personally don’t think was necessary). Now, this was not optimum – not because they contained these words, but because they weren’t quite as understandable for children to prepare for confession. The majority of the other questions were perfectly understandable to the average confession-aged child.
After reading about the shock, abject horror, and humiliation of the parents whose kids were completely scandalized (color me skeptical) by words they didn’t even understand, I really think Star of the Sea should hold some parenting classes instead. It was just silly, and, like I said, I’m skeptical about the reaction; since it was reported in the press two months after the pamphlet was passed out AND only after the Archbishop was implementing a morality clause in the high schools. I happen to own this version. (BTW, you can too, for free, from the Father’s of Mercy http://fathersofmercy.com/examination-of-conscience/) I also have used it in a pinch for probably all of my children at some point. Surprisingly, their innocence and sanity are still intact. When my kids come across big words that they don’t understand that don’t apply to them, guess what? I don’t tear out my hair and rip my clothes at their stolen youth. I tell them “Oh, those don’t apply to kids, move onto number x.” They are perfectly happy not to have to figure out how to pronounce the big words! I have far more trouble explaining what goes on inside of Wal-Mart or at the magazine rack at the checkout counter than I do explaining big words my kids don’t understand in an Examination of Conscience.
What I’m wondering is: Why nobody is asking the million dollar question? WHY DIDN’T THE TEACHERS OF A CATHOLIC GRADE SCHOOL, WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO PREPARE CHILDREN FOR THEIR SACRAMENTS, HAVE A CHILDREN’S EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE TO GIVE TO THEIR STUDENTS??? People are missing it! This is the real scandal and kind of why Archbishop Cordileone and Fr. Illo are focusing their attention so much on the youth. They’ve had years and years of poor catechesis in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which is turning the graduates into parents who aren’t mature enough to handle an Examination of Conscience, but are likely taking their ten-year-olds to see Vampire Academy or Twilight.
I’m sure the media will continue to foam at the mouth with their salacious portrayal of “the near pornographic pamphlet”. (I’ve actually heard people call it this!) I’m also sure that the public is going to buy that this was the Catholic version of 50 Shades of Gray. The rest of us will continue to roll our eyes at the desperation and hypocrisy of those who, on a good day, think the Folsom Street Fair is a typical family outing.