In the days of the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy, when an emperor died, the funeral cortege would stop at the door of the cathedral; and an official would knock on the door, and ask permission for “the Emperor of Austria” to enter. He would then be denied permission. After repeating this process two or three times (and being rejected), he would finally request permission for “ a poor sinner” to enter; and then -- and only then -- would he be allowed entry. The object of all this was, of course, to emphasize that all of us, from the low to the mighty, are “poor sinners” in God’s eyes – and not even a Hapsburg emperor — or a clergyman, for that matter -- is “exempt.”
In our last article, we presented two letters -- one written by Fr. Martin Stepanich, and the other by a former SGG parishioner – concerning the SGG school scandals of 2009. In examining the two letters, it should be obvious to the reader that the Stepanich letter, written in reply to the parishioner, - was about as vitriolic as one could possibly be. In fact, it was embarrassingly vitriolic – almost childishly so. Fr. Stepanich sounded like someone giving a severe tongue-lashing to a miscreant kindergarten brat. In doing so, he used every possible “trick in the book” (including name-calling) to “shame” the man into submission.
Not only did Stepanich misconstrue just about everything the man said -- calling his charges “numerous falsifications and distortions and misunderstandings of the truth” -- but he accused him of things he didn’t even say or do. He (Stepanich) also ignored not only this man’s complaints, but those of dozens of others (several of whom also wrote to him). Stepanich preemptively (and unquestioningly) accepted Dolan’s and Cekada’s baseless assertions at face value, while ignoring the hard evidence of others. In short, Fr. Stepanich made a complete ASS of himself.
Was Fr. Stepanich “senile”? Did his “advanced years” adversely affect his ability to reason (or his judgment) in any way? Not really. If one had read his letter (without first seeing the parishioner’s letter), he would find Fr. Stepanich’s arguments “logical,” and would judge him to be totally lucid and “with it.” So, no, one cannot chalk it up to his being “senile.” A more plausible explanation for him taking the stance he did is the “Alter Christus” argument: he was trying to protect a fellow member of “the Roman Collar Club.” Additionally, he was applying the “shut-up-and-obey” rule: the time-honored premise that Catholics should always “obey their priests,” no matter what.
But in doing this, Fr. Stepanich did a very foolish thing: compromising his own integrity by vouching for a couple of worthless vipers. It was a regrettable lack of judgment on his part, for the “school scandal” evidence was overwhelming. (One of the victims was the grand-nephew of SGG’s biggest benefactor, who wrote to Sanborn about it. Sanborn, of course, took the same approach as Stepanich: denial.) In aligning himself with Dannie and Tony, Fr. Stepanich put his own reputation – unsullied up to this point – at risk. If he had only reserved judgment until after ascertaining the facts, he might have preserved his reputation intact.
But, as it turns out, Fr. Stepanich’s reputation was already “compromised” to some extent: some time back, in a letter (published on Droleskey’s Christ or Chaos website), he took an essentially neutral position regarding Schiavo – totally failing to condemn Cekada for his depraved position on that. (Click here for letter.) This was a foolish thing for him to do, for it compromised his reputation, opening him up to ridicule and suspicion in peoples’ minds. Now, in retrospect, his regrettable stance on the SGG school scandals has confirmed those suspicions (and correspondingly damaged his reputation even further).
And for what? “Vouching for vipers,” that’s what. For a man who heretofore had an otherwise splendid record and reputation, this is a blow to both, and even to his credibility – a devastating revelation for a man considered by many to be a quasi-saint of sorts. He risked all of that, just for the sake of “showing solidarity” -- of unthinkingly vouching for a couple of moral lepers, without first getting his facts straight. And in doing so, he allowed himself to be victimized – to be used as a cat’s paw by Dannie -- just as those SGG school kids were victimized back in 2009.
But perhaps that is a fortunate thing for Fr. Stepanich -- and here’s why: have you ever noticed how people will often prematurely consign the deceased to heaven – how they’ll say, “Oh, he’s already with God” (as is often done at Novus Ordo funerals.) Well, traddies often make that same mistake – at least “functionally”: they offer Masses (and pray) only for those who (they think) “need” those prayers. The “good” and “holy” are often neglected, because people assume that “they aren’t ‘in dire need’ of our prayers.”
The fact that Fr. Stepanich did such a foolish (and sinful) thing is proof positive that he is indeed in need of peoples’ prayers. It is also proof positive that he -- like the rest of us – is only human. He is not some “near-saint” to be prematurely placed on a celestial pedestal, but – like that Austrian emperor -- is a fellow sinner to be prayed for. Like him, Fr. Stepanich too is not “exempt” -- and, like the rest of us, must face God’s judgment. Let us all, then, pray for his soul.
Now there are some who might condemn us for bringing these “negative” things about Fr. Stepanich to light – that what we say here, even though true, amounts to “detraction.” “Who are we,” they might say, “to judge him?” “After all,” they might contend, “why did you write an article (click here to see it) condemning Fr. Cekada for criticizing 'Abbot Leonard' (Giardina), when you’re doing essentially the same thing: criticizing Fr. Stepanich?" Well, there are important differences between what we are saying about Fr. Stepanich, and what Cekada said about Abbot Giardinia. Firstly, what we said about Fr. Stepanich is the truth; and what the Cheese-Doodle said about Abbot Giardina was a pack of LIES -- unjust, uncalled-for, and BASELESS lies.
Secondly – and more importantly – we here are writing about a man (Stepanich) who was guilty of gross wrongdoing, whereas Cekada was accusing a man who was guilty of nothing. Lastly (and most importantly), Checkie’s sole aim was to discredit an innocent man, while ours is simply to set the record straight on someone who was actually guilty of serious wrongdoing. Our criticism of Fr. Stepanich – as we stated in our last article -- is not meant to “throw him under the bus” (or “consign him to the dust heap”), but is offered in a constructive, remedial sense: to point out that he, like everyone else, is in need of our prayers.
We certainly realize that Fr. Stepanich was not a self-serving parasite like Dannie or Tony, and that he led an otherwise holy and dedicated life. However, he committed a major transgression -- out of a mistaken sense of “solidarity for fellow priests” -- by supporting Dannie and Tony during the 2009 school affair. He thus shares a degree of culpability, especially since he was made totally aware of what was going on, and chose to ignore it. But, to be sure, the real culprits in this drama are those two lepers. In the end, Fr. Stepanich, by being duped into pleading the vipers’ case for them, became just as much a victim as those SGG school kids – another pawn in Dannie and Tony’s dirty chess game. One could make an argument that he did not act premeditatedly, or with any particular malicious intent – but one could not say the same for Dannie and Tony.
That they prevailed upon Stepanich to do a whitewash job for them, thereby sullying his own reputation, is beyond despicable – and exposes Dannie and Tony for the human scum that they are. Martin Stepanich deserves our pity. Dolan and Cekada deserve our scorn. So, we must do everything we can to stop them. And, of course, the best way to do that is to do what Pistrina and we have been recommending for so long: STARVE THE BEAST!