His Gap khaki slacks, his plaid shirt, his firm manly buttocks. Oh god! I hope he’s a fireman and a Catholic!

Peggy’s back!

…and she’s talking to some bishops:

I had planned to address the teaching of Catholic doctrine, which is something the American Catholic Church doesn’t really like to do in any depth, at least for the people in the pews. But it seemed to me that earlier speakers had so much to say on so many topics that are crucial and pending that the scandals were given short shrift. So I rearranged my speech as others spoke.

There were some central questions behind my remarks. Do these men understand the extent and depth of the damage done by the scandal, and is still being done by it? Do they understand the church must move comprehensively to stop it?

To speak of a problem so difficult and yet so delicate, and to do it in front of men who lead the wounded church, and who came up through a system that we now know to have been marked by institutional sickness, seemed to me–well, delicate is the best word I can come up with. And so I thought the only fair way to begin was to say that I meant to speak with candor, as one does among friends, that we all love the church and love Christ, and that candor demands candor about myself, too. I said that I speak from no great moral height, that I was certain I had “the least impressive personal biography in the room,” that I am no moral exemplar, “far from it.” I said I wanted to make this clear because “Who we are both as individual people and as a church, who we really are, is at the heart of things.”

Then I said my piece. I told them the scandal was in my view “the worst thing ever to happen in the history of the American church”; I told them they had to stop it now, deal with it fully; that if reports of abusive priests “continue to dribble out over the next two and four and six years, it will be terrible; it could kill the church.” I spoke of how terrible it is that just the other day a priest in Maine was finally removed from his parish two years–two years!–after it was revealed that he was one of the priests who had set up the pornographic Web site “St. Sebastian’s Angels.” I said, “Two years after he was found to be doing what he was doing–and he’s still in business!”

Here’s where Peggy started imagining her Mystery Date..and started to lose the bishops:

I attempted to paint a picture of a man in the suburbs of America, taking his kids to church. He stands in the back in his Gap khaki slacks and his plaid shirt ironed so freshly this morning that you can still smell the spray starch. He stands there holding his three-year-old child. He is still there every Sunday, he is loyal and faithful; but afterwards–away from church, with his friends, at the barbecue and the lunch, he now feels free to say things about the church that only 10 years ago would have been shocking. “He thinks the church is largely populated by sexual predators, men whose job now is to look after their own.” And then perhaps he says, “But not my priest.” But maybe these days he doesn’t say “but not my priest” anymore.

…and here’s the part where Peggy completely lost them by making a suggestion that probably had the bishops laughing over their drinks later that evening while mimicking her sing-song voice:

What choked me was thinking of Jesus. And thinking of how we all want to be new again, and can be if we rely on him; but it’s so hard, and deep in our hearts while we believe we do not believe, could not believe, or else we’d all be new again.

Anyway, I regained my composure and concluded my remarks with some hard advice. I said the leaders of the church should now–“tomorrow, first thing”–take the mansions they live in and turn them into schools for children who have nothing, and take the big black cars they ride in and turn them into school buses. I noted that we were meeting across the street from the Hilton, and that it would be good for them to find out where the cleaning women at the Hilton live and go live there, in a rent-stabilized apartment on the edge of town or in its suburbs. And take the subway to work like the other Americans, and talk to the people there. How moved those people would be to see a prince of the church on the subway. “They could talk to you about their problems of faith, they could tell you how hard it is to reconcile the world with their belief and faith, and you could say to them, Buddy, ain’t it the truth.”

Those Catholic divorcees…aren’t ‘they a stitch?



Yeah. Like I would tell you....