One unfortunate trait of humanity is that, all too often, people can be easily swayed – especially when someone plays on their emotions. People who follow their emotions will often act irrationally, and do things that they would otherwise never do; in their moment of hysteria, they will throw logic to the wind, and do things that they’ll later regret. Cleverly worded emotional appeals by demagogues can turn otherwise rational people into mobs – often with bloody results; the French and Bolshevik revolutions are two prime (and tragic) examples of this. The majority of people are, unfortunately, sheep, easily led by emotional appeals and “sloganeering”; plus, they tend to believe something if it is repeated often enough. Repetition equals reinforcement; and, conversely, what is not repeated equals “ignored and forgotten”: “out of sight, out of mind.”
Politicians know this. That is why political ads are repeated so often, and with short, catchy phrases instead of longer (but more factual) arguments. That’s how Obama got elected: he talked about “change” without really explaining what “change” was. Now, many people (the thinking ones, at least) regret that they ever voted for him, because “change” turned out to be support for “gay marriage,” abortion, and having one’s constitutional rights trampled on. The sad thing is that Obama will probably get re-elected, because the media – which he has firmly in his hip pocket – will, through repetition, gradually get people used to the idea that homosexuality is just an “alternate” -- and therefore legitimate -- lifestyle (actually, the process of “legitimizing” has been going on for some time now). The truth about Obama -- because the mass media will never report it -- will be forgotten and ignored; and he will (barring a miracle) get re-elected.
And this mentality is not confined to the general public. It is also a “alive and well in traddie-land.” In fact, it is prevalent even more so here, because it has the extra ingredients of Catholic “obedience” and “respect” added to the mix: Catholics have been ingrained since birth with the ideas of obedience and respect for clerical authority – a good thing, if that authority is legitimate. But what if it is not? In traditional Catholicism, respect often takes on the aura of awe – the “Alter Christus syndrome” – with the notion that “our priest can do no wrong” – which can be a dangerous thing; it can overshadow and blind one’s reason. Those who have been conditioned to “believe in their priest” will sometimes back him no matter what he does -- against anyone -- even against other clergy.
Such is the case with those who supported Markus Ramolla -- and what he (and Droleskey) said about Bp. Paul Petko. Take the “fanny-squeezing” charge that was so oft repeated in Droleskey’s diatribe against Bp. Petko. The thought of an older man doing that to a younger man conjures up images of pedophilia, homosexuality – you name it; and it immediately fills one with utter disgust and contempt for the accused – which is exactly what Droleskey wanted it to do. But for those who fell for this lie, it never occurred to them that anyone victimized in such a way ordinarily would thereafter never have anything to do with the perpetrator of such an act – but the supposed “victim” did: he not only continued to see Bp. Petko after his supposed “encounter,” but had actually planned to spend his Thanksgiving holiday with him and the Ritter family.
And then, why did he wait until Droleskey came on the scene to “report the incident”? Why was it then and only then that he decided to bring it up? It’s just not logical. But when emotion takes hold of people, logic takes a holiday, and blind rage takes over. They lose sight of the fact that, in addition to the aforementioned logical inconsistencies, the other fact that escapes them is that there was absolutely NO PROOF to back up the “victim’s” allegations. One wonders if the allegations were even those of the “victim” – or if they were simply manufactured by Droleskey himself. Whatever the case, there is no proof, no evidence – just unsubstantiated assertion.
Then there’s Droleskey’s charge that Bp. Petko “groomed” a young seminarian, duping him into writing a “love letter”; that’s another one that emotionally-manipulated people fall for: there’s nothing like a “seedy old prelate victimizing an innocent young seminarian and leading him astray” to get the blood up – except that, here again, it is totally unsubstantiated. Bp. Petko, as stated in an earlier article, had precious little time to “groom” the seminarian in question; and – as the article also pointed out -- this same seminarian wrote a similar “love sonnet” to a fellow seminarian long before he even met (or knew of) Bp. Petko – as the seminarian’s own words have proven. It is obvious that Droleskey, the seminarian, or both are lying -- yet how many will still cling to their false accusations, and ignore the hard evidence that completely blows their credibility out of the water?
It is interesting to note that some of the people who believed this tripe are the same ones who, the night of the SAG confirmations, probably KNEW that Bp. Slupski’s remarks about Fr. Hall getting paid an “undue” salary were not true (one, in fact – the SAG treasurer -- knew for sure) – yet this did not disgust or enrage them (or him). One must give Bp. Slupski the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he was the receiver of misinformation by Ramolla (Fr. Hall was, in fact, receiving no salary at all). But the truth – which can be substantiated -- is out now, and the “doubt” is over. Whether Bp. Slupski is aware of this or not (or if he still has the mental faculty to discern what was said) is unsure; but the relevant fact is that many SAG parishioners are aware, but choose not to let it alter their mindset.
It is also interesting to note what kind of “Alter Christus” Ramolla is -- whom so many held in revere (and whom some still do). What Alter Christus do you know that exclaims “Faggot! Faggot! Faggot!” and “I will kill him, and go to hell for it”? (and, yes, he did say those things; we have the “I.M.’s” – Instant Messages – to prove it). Is this the kind of man who should be the leader of a parish (or a seminary)? What kind of Alter Christus would withhold a fellow priest’s salary, and then tell a visiting bishop that this fellow priest was being undeservedly paid that salary? And what kind of Alter Christus would make accusations against a bishop, and then repeatedly deny him the opportunity to address those accusations? What kind of Alter Christus would deny a man his basic American (and God-given) right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty? What kind of Alter Christus would attempt to turn a parish board meeting into a trial, and bring in “witnesses” to testify against a man who was barred (in writing) from being there to defend himself? What kind of Alter Christus would then convene a general parish meeting and turn it into a kangaroo court, where dissenting parishioners were shouted down and told to leave (and, yes, there is a recording as proof of that)? What kind? – not any Alter Christus that I’ve been taught to revere!
But some folks were ready and willing to overlook all these flaws, and to think the best about their pastor – and the worst about Bp. Petko. The “Alter Christus” embargo on “attacking a man of the cloth” did not apply in his case, because Bp. Petko was not their Alter Christus. SAG’s parishioners – once the “lynch mob” mentality set in – were ready to believe anything and everything bad about Bp. Petko, even though there was not one shred of real evidence against him. One parishioner, when informed of the accusations that Droleskey laid against Bp. Petko, replied, “And what does that say about Bp. Petko?” The answer to that question is, “Not a damn thing, Sonny!” Apparently (for this young man), being accused of wrongdoing and being guilty of that wrongdoing are one and the same. How’s that for logical thinking?!
The young man in question has since found out that his pastor was not a man of good will; in fact, Ramolla turned on him (and on many of his former supporters); and this young man now sees Ramolla for what he is: a liar and a scoundrel. But has this (and the truth that has now emerged about the false accusations against Bp. Petko) changed the young man’s opinion of Petko? Probably not – at least to the point where he’ll admit it. But that’s what usually happens with people who are wrong – especially when they have acted on their emotions instead of their brains: pride takes over. The same pride that kept Ramolla’s former supporters from admitting any wrongdoing on his part now keeps them from admitting of innocence on Bp. Petko’s part. They keep today’s favorite “commandment”: “Thou shalt not admit that thou art wrong.”
That wouldn’t be so bad, except for the potentially irreparable damage that’s been done to an innocent man’s reputation. As an earlier article pointed out, there is now a pall of suspicion that remains over Bp. Petko’s head. At best, fellow clerics see him as “damaged goods”; and, by extension, they see anyone connected with him as also being in some way “tarnished” – Fr. Hall, for instance, who was ordained by him. To paraphrase what was said two paragraphs ago, apparently for some people, a man’s “connections” and his guilt are one and the same. This notion also points up traddie-land’s preoccupation with appearances: just the fact that someone has accused Bp. Petko of wrongdoing is enough “evidence” to ostracize him (and anyone connected with him) as a pariah.
What kind of “Catholic thinking” is this?! What kind of Catholic justice is this? What kind of Catholic charity is this? Those who preach so eloquently against “rash judgment”: where is their judgment now? Instead of wallowing in sanctimonious inertia, it is time for traditional clergy (and laity) to cast “appearances” and their “inertia” aside, and to actively seek out the truth – and make restitution where it is warranted. This is not a time for half-hearted measures or for Pontius-Pilate, “it’s not-my-battle” hand-washing. It's time for acting. The sign on this door reads, “Wimps need not apply.”
And, for those hypocrites who actually demand evidence (yet who label it as “calumny and detraction” when it is presented to them), and for those who contend that what has been said here is “not enough” evidence, one wonders what will ever be enough. I am sure that one of their charges will be, “You’ve said this all before; you’ve added nothing to what’s already been said!” Yes, that’s true; but, remember what was said earlier about political ads: repetition is necessary to get the message to sink in – especially in today’s “dumbed down” world. And as for the “not enough evidence” crowd, how much does one need to produce – home videos and a signed confession in front of a dozen witnesses? I might also counter, “Where is your evidence?” If you have it, produce it. Otherwise, leave your baseless accusations and your “guilt-trip” admonitions about “calumny and detraction” at the door. They’re not needed here.
Lastly, to repeat (and reinforce), what is also not needed here are the half-hearted: those who are too timid to take a stand, or those who are too "inertial" to expend the energy to seek the truth – and act on it. Remember that Our Lord drew a line in the sand, and that it was a line, not an intermediate “gray area” or some sort of “DMZ” for the undecided (and self-righteous hypocrites) to hide and take shelter. Nor was it a fence for them to sit on or straddle. It was a line. One needs to choose on which side of that line he wants to be.