Lay Pulpit’s last article talked about the spate of name-dropping that Dannie Dolan did in his Bishop’s Corner in SGG’s November 16 Sunday bulletin. It seems that our thoughts about this have struck a chord with others as well, for we have received the following correspondence that not only mirrors what we said, but provides some additional examples of Dannie’s name-dropping antics. Name-dropping, of course, is such a sorry business. It is so cheap, so tawdry, so unconvincing. It is – at best -- a pretentious and childish way of flaunting one’s self-importance -- even when there’s a grain of truth in it. But when it’s entirely fictional – as the following will attest -- it is downright self-debasing. Here is what our correspondent had to say:
As a long-time surveyor of the traditional Catholic landscape in the U.S., I can attest that Father Berry has no affiliation with Dolan, Sanborn, or their clergy. To my knowledge, he has had no direct contact with them for at least a decade. In view of Dolan’s deceptive phraseology, now may be time to explain the background to Father’s serving as subdeacon in Milwaukee 25 years ago. It will back up what you wrote about Dolan’s using the name and reputation of other clergy to garner support for himself by suggesting that they are somehow affiliated with him or supportive of him and his various endeavors, when in fact they are NOT. Father keeps to himself and studiously avoids all the nutty cat-fights that traditional clergy love.
If memory serves, Father left New York in 1983, but returned a couple of times in 1984 to persuade another priest to leave the group. At no time was he a member of SSPV, which did not exist for some years until after he had relocated to another state far away. The “Oyster Bay Cove” gang, which included Dolan and Sanborn, considered him persona non grata and did not speak to him. One of their big-shots once told two Ohio spinsters that Father was a “Judas” for leaving the group, and, at Cekada’s orders, an attorney in Kansas City removed his name from all legal documents related to the St. Philomena Chapel.
I am certain, then, that Father must have been dumbfounded back in July 1989 when Dolan invited him to assist at the weekday dedication of the chapel. At the time, he did not know that Kelly had expelled both Dolan and Cekada from the SSPV. Therefore, it was Dolan’s isolation that made it necessary to re-establish contact, not a sincere desire for friendship: Dolan needed to impress the lay folk in Milwaukee.
Now that Dolan is under attack and suffering losses on all sides, he is back to name dropping so people won’t realize how alone he is. He did something like this with a Seattle priest who once left him in a lurch at his Big Pontifical Holiday Show, and he did it to another priest, a severely challenged “poor soul,” whose anti-Dolan chapel was subsequently very irritated about his lunching with the cult leader. The moral of this story is that no good deed goes unpunished.
It is clear from this communication that, as Dannie put it, when “Fr. Berry kindly came in from Denver to make for a Solemn Mass with Fr. Cekada and myself,” Dannie wasn’t motivated by charity, but by self-interest. The only kindness here was on the part of that priest, who, in spite of the malevolent treatment he suffered at the hands of Dolan and Cekada, repaid their calculated malice with true Christ-like charity – because, unlike they, he was a man of true character. Dannie and Tony were, true to form, taking advantage of this priest’s charitable nature, and using him to deceive the people in Milwaukee into thinking that they and he were “buddies” – which, as the above communication also makes clear, was not the only instance where Dannie and Tony have tried to use deception to their advantage.
Of course, none of this is surprises us. But what does surprise us is that someone has actually written us to speak up and mention all these things – someone apparently intimately familiar with what has been going on. Could it be that the conspiracy of silence that has shielded Dannie up to now is starting to unravel? Could it be that there are so many revelations coming to light about him, that people are starting to come forward, and that Dannie can no longer “keep the lid on the tea kettle”?
We think so. Bad deeds can only be kept under wraps for so long. And the worst part of it for Dannie is that he knows that all of what was said is TRUE – and that it is only the tip of a much bigger iceberg. And he knows (or, at least, should know) that if he starts trying to play the “denial game” or to challenge any of it (publicly and/or legally), it will only blow up in his face – and that he will lose. He has only to look at what has been happening lately to the comedian Bill Cosby for proof of that: denial has only led to more people coming forward – and to more revelations being made. His only real option is to keep a low profile, and to hope that the SGG culties don’t notice (or, if they do, that they don’t care).
Whatever Dannie does from here on, we suggest that he drop “name-dropping” from his repertoire (unless he wants to stick with characters whose views and sentiments more closely reflect his own, such as Grigori Rasputin, Josef Stalin – or someone with a more Dickensian flair, such as Uriah Heep). We are also sure that he is now heartily sorry for what he did (or didn’t do) back in 2009 (just as a death row inmate is heartily sorry for what he has done). But will such remorse make him change his ways? No, it won’t, because it’s the wrong kind of remorse. Besides, unlike that death-row inmate, Dannie knows he still has an “out” -- his culties: they’ll probably still go on supporting him, no matter what. But for everyone else, this latest display of his chicanery is just one more nail in his coffin. Whether it’s the taking advantage of that priest, or one of the many other recorded instances of his calculated maliciousness, it has happened simply too many times for the rest of the world not to sit up and take notice.
He is now beginning to reap what he has sown; and, except for his dwindling band of intransigent automatons, his support is fast deteriorating, and his make-believe world is crumbling. It is ironic that he who has victimized so many should be victimized himself. But it has been self-inflicted -- by his own words and actions: by his deceitfulness, his arrogance, his lack of charity -- his pride. He has painted himself into a corner that he cannot get out of, because his nefarious deeds are now too widely known. Again, his only real option is to keep a low profile – to go somewhere and “hide.” (Perhaps he can hunker down in the same “hidey-hole” that Dr. Droleskey once suggested for one of his victims -- but which he now seems to be in need of himself. And if he does, he and Dr. D might want to do a little more “excavation work” on it -- to make room for Tony too.)
But we fear that Dannie will do “none of the above.” He will continue to stare reality in the face, and to pretend (or make others think) that “all is well” and that he is “at one with the traddie world” -- and that he basks in their whole-hearted camaraderie and support. But he doesn’t. He is alone – because he has isolated himself -- and all the pretending in the world won’t change that. He’s in his own little fantasy world: a world that, despite all of his (and Tony’s) clumsy attempts at deception, is unraveling – and fast.
Editor’s Note: This will be Lay Pulpit’s last article until after the Christmas break. We are taking a “holiday hiatus,” after which we will resume the first Saturday or Sunday in January. Until then, we wish you a joyful Christmas and New Year!