How hollow was the decision of the Kansas City Star’s self-anointed “Catholic” editor to quit the Catholic Church proudly and publicly? Let us count the ways.
Melinda Henneberger nailed her thin gruel of a thesis to the wall of that prominent theological journal, USA Today: “After a lifetime of stubborn adherence on my part and criminal behavior on yours, you have finally managed to drive me away.”
The hollowness begins with Henneberger’s misunderstanding of the sacred essence of Catholicism, an essence that no priest or bishop, however corrupt, could ever alter. That is an argument for another day. Henneberger sticks to the superficial. So will we.
Yes, the Catholic Church has experienced an unholy amount of priestly misbehavior and institutional cover-up. The Church, however, has at least tried to deal with the problem. The media, Henneberger included, have not.
The Star, for instance, which delights in exposing Catholic misdeeds, refuses to identify the nature of the problem, namely homosexual priests preying on adolescent boys. To protect herself from the thought police, Henneberger has danced around the issue that allegedly drove her from the church. Yes, that hollow.
This is one issue among many issues Henneberger and her colleagues have skirted. Even more troubling is their conspiracy of silence on the sexual abuse scandals that plague the area’s public schools.
As the Sentinel has reported, six North Kansas City School District employees were busted for having sex with children in a 13-month period, and the superintendent’s name never even made the paper.
In Kansas, the Olathe School District has endured three such cases in 2018 alone. And as was true with North Kansas City, Henneberger and her colleagues uttered not a word of concern, let alone alarm, about an institutional problem they could actually help fix.
If the Catholic Church has made many wrenching decisions to solve its problems, the National Educational Association and the nation’s other teacher unions have not even tried.
In a video series from May of this year, the undercover reporters of Project Veritas captured several teachers union honchos boasting of how they can cover up crimes against schoolchildren. In one video, Project Veritas recorded Steve Wentz, president of United Teachers of Wichita, telling an undercover reporter how he threatens “to kick the ass” of unruly students. In every case, the media closed ranks behind the teachers.
If the media say little, the unions say less. Close to home, the KNEA does offer “an array of legal services to its members.” Boasts the KNEA, “The Association has made an unwavering commitment to protect the rights of Kansas teachers and improve the power of their collective voice as well as their individual rights.” Uncoded, this message reads, “pass the trash.” The media, the KNEA feels confident, will not investigate.
And while we are talking hollow, there is the issue of Hennerberger’s “longtime political crush on the man who either in spite of his flaws and losses or because of them accomplished more than anyone else in my lifetime for causes that liberals (and other Americans) care about.”
Henneberger wrote this mash note on the occasion of Ted Kennedy’s death in 2009, forty years after he left a woman to drown in his car, twenty-some years after he sexually assaulted a woman in a Washington restaurant, and eighteen years after his salacious behavior led to the reported rape of a woman by his nephew. Her concern about sexual abuse strikes the readers as, at the very least, situational.
In reality, as her Kennedy crush suggests, Henneberger has lived her life as a liberal first, Catholic second. To maintain her liberal cred and her media career, Henneberger has subscribed to a cult whose foundational sacrament, abortion, has put it at war with the Catholic Church throughout her adult life.
For the time being at least, the war within her soul has ended. It has ended in surrender. Henneberger is now free to live out a hollow life in occupied territory, quietly, but uneasily, collaborating with a force that deep down in her Catholic soul she knows to be the enemy.