That was her name.
Growing up in the shadow of New York City and owing to my own mom’s native Manhattanite status, I was immersed in the lore and legends of what was once the greatest city on earth. As a kid I remember the celebrations for the centennial of the Brooklyn Bridge. I learned how Roebling’s brick and steel masterpiece connected the “Island at the Center of the World” with the city of Brooklyn and not long after how the Charter of Greater New York solidified five counties into one city. Peter Minuit and his Dutch pals would never have dreamed what they wrought by forking over $24 worth of beads to the Lenape Indians. Greatest real estate transaction in history, folks.
But eventually everything that grows to such gargantuan proportions becomes unwieldy and begins to show signs of neglect and decay. In the case of the Big Apple, as in that other great world capital of commerce Rome, the decay was at first of a moral nature. Men grew rich and comfortable. And that kind of comfort breeds contempt for doing difficult things.
Late of a March evening in 1964, the young barmaid Kitty Genovese was walking home to her apartment in Queens when she was savagely attacked, raped, and stabbed to death. This was one of those “lores” of New York that everyone learned about from their parents or grandparents. It took on urban legend status but it was very real. What made Kitty’s story the epic cautionary tale it became was not so much her death itself but that it could have been stopped in its tracks. You see, Kitty’s screams were heard by neighbors – apparently by many neighbors. To a man, they did nothing. “Just another girl screaming for help,” they reasoned. “No need to get up and do anything about it.”
It was easier to not get involved than to rush to the aid of fellow human in her agony.
I see parallels between the Genovese slaying and the situation in the Church today. I have heard them called “Trad Inc.”. They are the men who live comfortable lives opining about matters theological. All the while, the Bride of Christ is being savagely attacked. They hear her screams. They peak through their blinds and see a madman bludgeoning her.
And still they say nothing.
“He’s a heretic for sure, but he’s still the pope,” is a line I referenced recently. That’s the attitude they have. It is easier to accept that the attacker is the Vicar of Truth Himself than to throw open the window and yell, “Stop!” let alone to run into the street to fight him off.
It is easier to say, “What he says on his own is his own thought and not part of official magisterium,” until he says it is. And then we can find a new way to ignore the attack. The Jesuit attacks the Blessed Mother, he attacks our own mothers (rabbits). He attacks marriage (adultery and Communion). He attacks the Church Herself (God wills a plurality of religions). He attacks all his predecessors (death penalty inadmissible). He attacks Calvary (no more TLM for you!).
And still they say nothing
He wields his little dagger like a thug, a punk slashing and laughing as he does so. He gets a thrill knowing that you won’t stop him. Hell, you won’t even turn on the light to drive him away. You won’t even call him out by name.
The Church is bleeding in the street. Will you say anything? Or will you go back to your commentators and their legions of fans who find it easier to remain in intellectual comfort than to fight for her?
If you’re reading this and you are not Catholic, don’t let the struggle turn you away. She is the One, True Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ. And He wants you now more than ever. He wants you to be a man and fight. if you are Catholic, ask yourself what good the comfort will bring you? Aren’t we all called to make of our lives a Calvary?
Think about it.
St John, Beloved of Our Lord, pray for us!