These Stone Walls by Father Gordon MacRae is a finalist in About.com's Readers Choice for Best Catholic Blog. In justice, it should win... but there might be hell to pay.
Though of course dwarfed by the coming Conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, the story of this honor bestowed upon an imprisoned priest and his writings is an important Catholic news story. For over a decade, accused Catholic priests have been vilified and bludgeoned without mercy in both the secular and Catholic media. Organizations such as SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and VOTF, the Voice of the Faithful, have risen up seemingly for the sole purpose of denouncing the Church's disciplines with
in the priesthood and priests themselves when they are accused of claims that usually date back 30, 40, or 50 years. There is rarely any evidence beyond the word of someone who stands to gain a windfall settlement just for making the claim.
The result has been a decade of irrational finger-pointing during which the Constitutional and canonical rights of accused priests have been obliterated in the court of public opinion. These groups, and the mainstream media's unwavering commitment to giving their agendas the last and loudest word in all things Catholic, have teamed to demoralize priests and even turn them upon each other.
Ironically, Father Gordon MacRae provided a spellbinding example in a recent post at TheseStoneWalls.com published on the very day the Best Catholic Blog finalists were announced. In an article entitled "Giving Up Resentment for Lent," the imprisoned priest once again called himself and his readers to take the high road in the face of adversity. He wrote of the painful recent experience of being denounced by priests of his own diocese. Displaying the very attributes that make These Stone Walls consistently stand out in the field of Catholic media, the vilified priest wrote of his Lenten challenge to channel anger and head off through prayer his all-too human feelings of resentment and retaliation - "A toxic mix, concocted for another but ending up in your own tea," he wrote.
Father Gordon MacRae lives behind prison walls, and unjustly so if you have been paying any attention at all to this ongoing saga. He is the clear underdog in this contest, but his mere presence in it is not without precedent. In 2010, These Stone Walls was similarly honored by readers of Our Sunday Visitor as the Readers' Choice for the Best of the Catholic Web. There is a good reason why people are noticing this site and reading it.
I can only imagine the hell to pay if These Stone Walls actually wins Best Catholic Blog at About.com. The Church might have to examine anew the sort of justice Catholics really expect when priests are falsely accused. SNAP and VOTF and other detractors might have to consider whether their own toxic voices still carry the day with the message that so convinced so many Catholics and their bishops a decade ago that the only way to protect children was to destroy Catholic priests.
The voting for Best Catholic Blog ends on March 19, just days before the Church enters Holy Week and our common reflection on the Crucifixion of Christ, the Universal Scapegoat. If there is any justice, These Stone Walls should win About.com's Readers Choice for the Best Catholic Blog. So go there and vote, and don't forget to take some time this Lent to read this excellent blog. It won't be a penance, but it might just open some eyes and hearts.