Falling Awake

Just Darts Since 2009

Correcting Your Idol

Dennis Prager is the man.  No.  Dennis Prager is The Man.  I watched every episode of his short-lived television show fifteen years ago.  If you weren’t up at two in the morning, here’s how it worked:

Mr. Prager threw out a question.  Something simple, like “should charity begin at home?”  And then for an hour he’d talk and debate with a small (about twenty member) studio audience.

That’s it.  That was the show.  It was the most brilliant hour of television it’s ever been my honor to witness—and I watch Lost every week.

Dennis Prager is one of my idols.  If I were to count only living people, it’d be Dennis Prager, Thomas Sowell, and… I can’t think of a third.  Three is the traditional number, but I can’t dilute the Prager-Sowell dyad with a made-up third.

Okay?  You with me?

Yesterday, Dennis Prager wrote this essay:

(Link: When a Priest Denies the Holocaust)

It deals with the issue of one of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who have recently had their excommunications lifted by Pope Benedict.  As you’ve probably heard, one of  these bishops, Bishop Richard Williamson, has been exposed as a Holocaust denier.

Dennis Prager is Jewish.  He is a religious Jew who has been tireless in his efforts to forge alliances between Catholics and Jews.  He—understandably—feels betrayed.

He wrote:

Williamson is a truly bad man who disgraces the church. When one watches him spew his venom in the Swedish television interview while wearing a large cross, the cross is rendered ugly…

On the assumption that there [are] not only theological but also moral criteria to being reinstated in the Catholic Church, an excommunicated priest who denies the Holocaust should automatically remain excommunicated.

I urge you to click on the above link to read the entire article.  Not only will you read the full text of Mr. Prager’s essay (which is not as harsh as the quotes I’ve posted make it seem), but you’ll also be able to read the first comment on the essay by “Vasya,” who got all the facts right, but missed the point of Mr. Prager’s article.

Assuming you’ve read both the article and Vasya’s response, here’s the comment I posted:

This is the first time I’ve been moved to comment on one of Mr. Prager’s pieces—mainly because “I agree with Dennis” would not make an interesting addition to the conversation.

Vasya is correct about the particulars of the case, but I take issue with his characterization of Mr. Prager as irrational, or his essay as “poorly crafted, illogical drivel.” Mr. Prager is a religious Jew who seeks out every opportunity to strengthen the bonds between his people and the Catholic Church. That this scandal has outraged him doesn’t surprise me at all—I am Catholic, and I am outraged as well.

Mr. Prager, please believe that Pope Benedict is heartbroken over this turn of affairs, not least because there seems to be no way out of it. The bishops are no longer excommunicated. It is not possible to “take it back.” There is no basis for excommunicating this particular bishop on the basis of being a Holocaust denier. If excommunication were to be pronounced on everyone who was a sinner—no matter how vile—who would be left in the church?

Yesterday, it was announced that Bishop Williamson has been removed from his position as rector of the Argentinian seminary for the Society of St. Pius X. The Vatican has stated, “the four bishops, though liberated from the excommunication, have [no] canonical function in the Church and they do not licitly exercise a ministry in it.” In the case of Bishop Williamson, it should stay that way.

I hate that Dennis Prager got the mechanics of excommunication wrong, but then so do all too many Catholics.  I shouldn’t expect more from him in terms of understanding the Catholic faith than I should from Nancy Pelosi, right?
Well, he is a lot smarter than Pelosi, so yeah, I do expect more from him.

2 responses to “Correcting Your Idol

  1. Jeffrey Jena May 12, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I was trying to send you a personal message and I click over to your blog and find an article about one of my favorite conservative people, Dennis Prager.

    Now I cannot be argry with you since you are a man of excelent ideas and reason if you are a Prager fan.

    I have given his “Happiness is a Serious Problem” to seven or eight friends.

    I bow to your superior grammatical skills.

    • Mike Kriskey May 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm

      Hey, Jeffrey. I sent you an e-mail, hope you got it.

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