Fr. Daniel Moloney is one of the finest priests I know and one of the most erudite. I have been honored to work with him in my capacity as Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute because he is the author of Mercy: What Every Catholic Should Know, which is a fine and orthodox exposition of the virtue of mercy, without which justice is impossible. It was ironic, therefore, that Fr. Moloney was shown neither mercy nor justice when he was forced to resign from his position as Catholic chaplain at MIT for daring to suggest that we should keep our heads in the wake of the death of George Floyd, allowing reason and love to make sense of what really happened during his tragic arrest in Minneapolis.
There is a further irony in the fact that the Gospel text on which Fr. Moloney was preaching, which caused him to be sacrificed as a scapegoat to assuage the demands of the mob, was “blessed are the peacemakers”.
Let’s look at the reasons given for Fr. Moloney’s forced resignation, and then let’s look at what he actually said. The abyss between the hysteria of the former and the charity and clarity of the latter is striking.
Suzy Nelson, dean of student life at MIT, sent an email to students calling Moloney’s comments “deeply disturbing”, adding that “by devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character, Father Moloney’s message failed to acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism.” Much more deeply disturbing than anything Fr. Moloney actually wrote was the fact that this good priest was thrown to the dogs by his own archdiocese to assuage the blood lust of the mob. A spokesman for the archdiocese described his comments as “wrong” and apparently so wrong that he was forced to resign.
Having given the case for the prosecution, which might perhaps more accurately be described as the justification for the persecution and the rationale for the witch-hunt, let’s look at what Fr. Moloney actually wrote.
“The Gospel says one thing,” Fr. Moloney began, referring to the blessedness of the peacemakers, “and everyone else is saying partial truths, at most.” Having lamented the unjust and brutal killing of George Floyd, Fr. Moloney stated the uncontested facts, as “deeply disturbing” and “wrong” as they might be, that George Floyd “had not lived a virtuous life”. Having stated the obvious, he stated the uncontested fact that Mr. Floyd had been “convicted of several crimes, including armed robbery, which he seems to have committed to feed his drug habit”. Furthermore, and continuing to state uncontested facts, Fr. Moloney mentioned that Mr. Floyd was “high on drugs at the time of his arrest”. This statement of well-known and incontrovertible facts was then followed by what Fr. Moloney had to say about them:
He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel. Catholics want all life protected from conception until natural death. The police officer who knelt on his neck until he died acted wrongly. Watching the video, I wondered, what he was thinking?! The charges filed against him allege dangerous negligence, but say nothing about his state of mind. He might have killed George Floyd intentionally, or not. He hasn’t told us. But he showed disregard for his life, and we cannot accept that in our law enforcement officers. It is right that he has been arrested and will be prosecuted…. Criminals have human dignity, too. That’s why we Catholics are asked to work to abolish the death penalty in this country.
What exactly has Fr. Moloney said that could constitute the “devaluing and disparaging” of George Floyd’s character? Where, in these words about rooting for sinners and wanting all lives protected “from conception until natural death” did Fr. Moloney “fail to acknowledge the dignity of each human being”?
Although Fr. Moloney might have said something “deeply disturbing” and “wrong” in failing to bend the knee to the newly canonized saint, George Floyd, one suspects that his greatest crime was his apparent failure to stress the “devastating impact of systemic racism”. It is in the uttering of the following words that he would have committed the greatest crime in the eyes of the ideological ethno-masochists:
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is a major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.
It is this statement which incited the lynch-mob to descend on Fr. Moloney. In the eyes of the mob, such statements are not merely “deeply disturbing” and ”wrong”, they are deeply heretical. Anyone who utters such heresies must be made a scapegoat and must be sacrificed on the altar of the new “woke” religion.
Let’s exacerbate the so-called “heresy” and risk the ire of the mob by insisting on the known facts. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that we don’t know that the killing of George Floyd was an act of racism. We know and could see with our own eyes that it was an act of crass and probably sadistic brutality but there is no evidence that Derek Chauvin was a racist. In his many years as a police officer, there’s not a single complaint alleging that he acted in a racist manner.
And let’s make sure that we know exactly what Fr. Moloney was actually saying and, equally important, what he was not saying. He wasn’t saying, as some have alleged by misquoting him, that George Floyd’s death was not an act of racism. He was simply saying that we don’t know whether it was racist. It might be but there’s no actual evidence to suggest it. The only evidence is one of presumption. It is presumed that Derek Chauvin must be a racist because he is a white police officer. Now this presumption is really “deeply disturbing” and “wrong” because it is accusing every police officer who happens to have been tainted with the wrong colored skin of being guilty as charged, merely because of his skin color, irrespective of the total lack of actual or factual evidence.
As for racism itself, Fr. Moloney condemns it in no uncertain terms. “Racism is a sin,” he says. “So is rash judgment”. He then goes on to quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church to illustrate the solidarity that is both needed and lacking in our current hate-filled and unforgiving times:
Solidarity with our fellow human beings is “a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood… sealed by the sacrifice of redemption offered by Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross to his heavenly Father, on behalf of sinful humanity.” (#1939). Our solidarity with one another is deeply frayed now. Everything we say (or don’t say) is treated with suspicion, rather than charity…. Everyone’s mind is made up, everyone’s angry with each other—even though everyone says they’re opposed to injustices and sins.
Fr. Moloney concludes his “deeply disturbing” and “wrong” overview of the present calamitous situation by returning to the words of the Gospel which had animated everything he said. “Blessed are the peacemakers, our Lord tells us. May we all be counted among them.”
Can anyone in their right mind and heart really believe that anything Fr. Moloney said constitutes a reason for his being offered as a sacrifice to the mob? Can we really find anything in his words that are truly “wrong” as the archdiocesan spokesman claimed?
It is said that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. In this case the good men did much worse than merely nothing. They did the dirty work of the mob. It is intriguing in this light to consider the words of the leader of another mob, a mob which was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people and a mob which is nonetheless admired, in spite of the death-count, by many of those in the current mobs besieging our nation. It was Lenin who said that the mob should advance on all fronts, withdrawing when it encounters steel but advancing when it encounters mush. In this instance, the mob has encountered nothing but mush and has advanced over the bruised and bleeding priest who is its latest innocent victim.
As for Fr. Moloney, he shows us in his book Mercy: What Every Catholic Should Know, the tyranny of a society that demands justice but not mercy. It is true, as the mob claims, proclaiming it as a violent threat, that where there’s no justice, there’s also no peace. It is also true, however, that where there is no love and mercy, there will be neither peace nor justice. The mob knows nothing of love or mercy as its hatred against this good and holy priest demonstrates. He was shown no mercy by the mob, nor was he protected by the archdiocese, which showed no courage in throwing the lamb to the pack of ravenous wolves. This is the ugly truth which is really and truly “deeply disturbing” and “wrong”.
(Editor’s note: The link to what Fr. Moloney actually said was incorrect and has been corrected; the error was made by the editors and not by Mr. Pearce.)
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