Fighting the Church May Lead You Right Out of the Church

 

I did not know until a Rod Dreher column this week that Catholic pugilist Steve Skojec is now ex-Catholic pugilist Steve Skojec. Dreher says Skojec is now an agnostic. He didn’t even slow down and join the Orthodox, like Rod did. He went right out the back door into disbelief. Skojec says he has not attended Mass in a year.

Skojec explains how he got a very raw deal at the hands of the Legion of Christ and its lay movement Regnum Christi. I have no way of judging his charges. But he was very involved at the same time the Legion founder abused boys, fathered children, and plagiarized. Such a culture can only result in the abuse of the rank and file. Skojec describes psychological abuse; he says he was brainwashed. When he tried to leave, he says the Legion went all Saul Alinksy on him: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy.”

Skojec spent part of his college years at Steubenville as a “Legionary counter agent.” Over the next several years, Skojec was quite obviously and seriously vexed about issues in the Church; sexual abuse by priests, the liturgy, changing of doctrine, Francis, the Bishops, Covid, and much else. He fought like hell. He fought and fought and fought. And then he left.

Long ago, I figured Skojec would leave the Church.

His story reminds me of Rod Dreher’s, who spent years looking into the abyss of priest sexual abuse. I have gone on record that Rod was right about all that and I was wrong. But maybe where Rod did go wrong was spending so long looking into the abyss and feeding his anger, which led him to question the theological claims of the Catholic Church. He left for Orthodoxy.

Their stories remind me of Joseph Sciambra, a man I deeply admire. Joe spent years living in the homosexual abyss and came out of it quite damaged. He looked for succor from the same Church he accuses of encouraging his behavior and abetting his abuse. Understand that Joe is the guy who tries to save gay men by going to the most sexually perverse San Francisco festivals wearing a “Jesus Loves Gay Men” tee-shirt and handing out rosaries.

Sciambra tried for years to convince various Churchmen that the Church was allowing the rise of homosexualism in the Church. He pointed to openly homosexual parishes in San Francisco and New York. He tried to convince Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles that Fr. James Martin ought not be featured at the annual education conference in L.A. No one would listen. I think the only Bishop who formally met with him was Cardinal Burke, a meeting that I arranged.

It seems to me that when you set yourself up to fight the institutional Church, you run the risk of walking out the door. Make no mistake, Rod’s fight was just. Joe’s fight was just. I am not sure exactly what Steve’s fight was because it seemed so immense and multi-faceted, but without a doubt, he believes it was just. Even so, when you set yourself up to fight the institutional Church and you never give up, you run the risk of allowing your frustration and anger to lead you right out of the Church.

I fear the ongoing strike by the Vatican against the Traditional Latin Mass may lead many into this kind of anger. Thirty years ago, I watched similar fights and similar anger lead men out of the Church. I knew Gerry Matatics and Tom Droleskey when they were still Catholic. There is a good chance most of you will not know their names, but both were deeply involved in traditional Catholic issues back in those indult days.

My friend Ken Wolfe believes this cannot happen in the current day because the efforts to defend the immemorial Mass will happen among friends and fellow parishioners. For most, this will certainly be true. But I know for a fact that anger over long periods of time can change people and drive them away from things they previously believed and loved.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is for people in these fights not to be so concerned about wins and losses. Do not care quite so much. Forgive this string of platitudes: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. And then you keep trying but without the fretting over the box scores.

I know, I know. We are fighting over eternal truths that can save. True enough. But we must live to fight another day. We are made for the Beatific Vision but on this earth, we are made for fighting; maybe not so much that we are driven the wrong way across the Tiber.

Here’s the thing. Dreher is out of the Church. Sciambra is out of the Church. Skojec is out of the faith altogether. I just think it would be better if they were still here with us.

Cross-posted at Catholic World Report.

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  1. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Not much here for a Protestant to disagree with. Good post!

    Seems similar to the phenomenon of miscellaneous former conservatives fighting conservatives until they weren’t conservative anymore.

    And any number of evangelicals fighting their own traditions until they either became Catholic, became atheist, or became first one and then the other.

    • #1
  2. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    There are a lot of things I used to be.  I used to be a Democrat but they more or less kicked me out of their party.  I used to be a Catholic but the modern Church has embraced Leftism and thus while I claim them I doubt they claim me other than cash my checks.  

    • #2
  3. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    You can’t fight the Church.  It belongs to the Pope for him to do with as he wishes.  You can either ride along or get out.  

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    You can’t fight the Church. It belongs to the Pope for him to do with as he wishes. You can either ride along or get out.

    That’s bad Catholic theology though, isn’t it?  In Catholic theology, the church belongs to Christ, not the Pope.  Someone who believes this is already a person who does not accept Catholic theology.

    • #4
  5. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I guess we Jews have a sort of advantage.  We have no “institutional church” to fight, or leave.  The various “movements” within Judaism have their organizations, but they are simply administrative.  Nothing comes between a Jew and his God, and as long as you can rustle up ten men for services, you don’t even need a rabbi.

    • #5
  6. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    I don’t know if this is anything new.  I have extended family members who went the sedevacantist route 50 years ago.  Whether that makes them Catholic, non-catholic or nothing at all is a mystery to me.

    • #6
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Seems similar to the phenomenon of miscellaneous former conservatives fighting conservatives until they weren’t conservative anymore.

    Good point. It’s a risk we all take in various areas — politics included. Too much indulging in controversy is unproductive distraction from important — sometimes eternal — matters.

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    I guess we Jews have a sort of advantage. We have no “institutional church” to fight, or leave. The various “movements” within Judaism have their organizations, but they are simply administrative. Nothing comes between a Jew and his God, and as long as you can rustle up ten men for services, you don’t even need a rabbi.

    It happened with Jereboam son of Nebat.

    • #8
  9. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I was trying to place Steve Skojec and looked him up. He was the originator of OnePeterFive! Wow, I obviously was not keeping up with him. Sorry to see him go and I hope the others carrying on there don’t fall into the same trap. 

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    How sad. 

    It is a testament to the Catholic Church being an institution of sinner, just like every other institution. 

    Our institutions fail us. We fail each other. We all fail God. 

    Praise him for his Grace anyway. 

     

    • #10
  11. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

     I just think it would be better if they were still here with us.

    Truer words never spoken. This is an important story. Thank you for sharing it, although it is sad. It reminds me of an awesome homily from Fr. Roger J. Landry [link], after the priest sex abuse scandal just broke in 2002.

    A pertinent passage from the homily:

    This scandal can be something that can lead you down to the path of spiritual suicide, or it can be something that can inspire you to say, finally, “I want to become a saint, so that I and the Church can give your name the glory it deserves, so that others might find in you the love and the salvation that I have found.” Jesus is with us, as he promised, until the end of time. He’s still in the boat.

    I think that you are on to something with your advice that maybe our brothers should “not be so concerned about wins and losses”, but about continuing to live their lives of personal holiness as a model for the Church and the rest of us. This anger is not from God, and obviously does not bring us closer to Him.

    More Fr. Landry:

    The only adequate response to this terrible scandal, the only fully Catholic response to this scandal as St. Francis of Assisi recognized in the 1200s, as St. Francis de Sales recognized in the 1600s, and as countless other saints have recognized in every century is HOLINESS! Every crisis that the Church faces, every crisis that the world faces, is a crisis of saints. Holiness is crucial, because it is the real face of the Church.

    • #11
  12. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    This pope’s first encyclical (Lumen Fidei) was a big dropoff from the high standards of scholarship, logic and precision of his recent predecessors.  As a pretty conventional liberal Catholic, Francis loves the sensibilities and rhetoric of the left but generally refrains from going full retard into secular humanism.  Nevertheless, the ambiguity and confusion he leaves in his wake is destructive. 

    The hostility to the Latin Mass and the minor bitch slap just delivered against Opus Dei all flow from a kind of petulant notion that in style, if not in substance, orthodox Catholicism is a drag on the journey to a more enlightened Church.  If we could just keep quiet about the kinds of things that offend the good citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, we can still have those beliefs but not offend anybody. 

    • #12
  13. Austin Ruse Reagan
    Austin Ruse
    @AustinRuse

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Not much here for a Protestant to disagree with. Good post!

    Seems similar to the phenomenon of miscellaneous former conservatives fighting conservatives until they weren’t conservative anymore.

    And any number of evangelicals fighting their own traditions until they either became Catholic, became atheist, or became first one and then the other.

    Thanks, brother. 

     

    • #13
  14. Austin Ruse Reagan
    Austin Ruse
    @AustinRuse

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    I don’t know if this is anything new. I have extended family members who went the sedevacantist route 50 years ago. Whether that makes them Catholic, non-catholic or nothing at all is a mystery to me.

    Precisely not new..which is why i mention two guys from 25 years ago who went out the door to sedevacantism. 

    • #14
  15. Austin Ruse Reagan
    Austin Ruse
    @AustinRuse

    Columbo (View Comment):

    I just think it would be better if they were still here with us.

    Truer words never spoken. This is an important story. Thank you for sharing it, although it is sad. It reminds me of an awesome homily from Fr. Roger J. Landry [link], after the priest sex abuse scandal just broke in 2002.

    A pertinent passage from the homily:

    This scandal can be something that can lead you down to the path of spiritual suicide, or it can be something that can inspire you to say, finally, “I want to become a saint, so that I and the Church can give your name the glory it deserves, so that others might find in you the love and the salvation that I have found.” Jesus is with us, as he promised, until the end of time. He’s still in the boat.

    I think that you are on to something with your advice that maybe our brothers should “not be so concerned about wins and losses”, but about continuing to live their lives of personal holiness as a model for the Church and the rest of us. This anger is not from God, and obviously does not bring us closer to Him.

    More Fr. Landry:

    The only adequate response to this terrible scandal, the only fully Catholic response to this scandal as St. Francis of Assisi recognized in the 1200s, as St. Francis de Sales recognized in the 1600s, and as countless other saints have recognized in every century is HOLINESS! Every crisis that the Church faces, every crisis that the world faces, is a crisis of saints. Holiness is crucial, because it is the real face of the Church.

    We worked with Fr. Landry for a decade when he was at the Holy See Mission to the UN. 

    • #15
  16. Austin Ruse Reagan
    Austin Ruse
    @AustinRuse

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    This pope’s first encyclical (Lumen Fidei) was a big dropoff from the high standards of scholarship, logic and precision of his recent predecessors. As a pretty conventional liberal Catholic, Francis loves the sensibilities and rhetoric of the left but generally refrains from going full retard into secular humanism. Nevertheless, the ambiguity and confusion he leaves in his wake is destructive.

    The hostility to the Latin Mass and the minor bitch slap just delivered against Opus Dei all flow from a kind of petulant notion that in style, if not in substance, orthodox Catholicism is a drag on the journey to a more enlightened Church. If we could just keep quiet about the kinds of things that offend the good citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, we can still have those beliefs but not offend anybody.

    Bitch slap. LOL. Love that phrase. 

    • #16
  17. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    My advice, for what it’s worth, is for people in these fights not to be so concerned about wins and losses. Do not care quite so much. Forgive this string of platitudes: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. And then you keep trying but without the fretting over the box scores.

    I know, I know. We are fighting over eternal truths that can save. True enough. But we must live to fight another day. We are made for the Beatific Vision but on this earth, we are made for fighting; maybe not so much that we are driven the wrong way across the Tiber.

    This is how I see it. There are any number of different denominations that have their problems. Sometimes the fight is called liberal versus conservative Catholics. I call it orthodox Catholic versus schismatic, or at its worst heretical beliefs.

    I attend Mass at a Dominican parish. The Dominican Rite Mass as well as the Extraordinary Rite Mass is available. Mass is also offered in English. As one Dominican priest put it that a danger for a Dominican is reasoning your way out of the Church.

    I’m going to stay even if I can do nothing more than irritate the Modernists from time to time. 

    • #17
  18. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    You can’t fight the Church. It belongs to the Pope for him to do with as he wishes. You can either ride along or get out.

    That’s bad Catholic theology though, isn’t it? In Catholic theology, the church belongs to Christ, not the Pope. Someone who believes this is already a person who does not accept Catholic theology.

    Yes, but I was discussing the realities on the ground and not the justification of them in Church doctrine.  The Church belongs to the Christ and his followers.  But he has been an absentee landlord for about 2000 years.  So who does an organization belong too?  The owner or the one that uses and runs it?  Or does it matter?  Since Christ gave the keys to this whole thing to St Peter and thus gave the Pope the right to do what he pleases with it for the greater glory of God.  So who knows maybe this is what Christ wants.  or maybe this is just what the Pope wants in his Leftist ways.  Either way we can either go along with it, get out or just let it fade away.  I suspect with me it will fade away as I give up on anything sane or traditional in this new world order. 

    • #18
  19. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Austin Ruse (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    I just think it would be better if they were still here with us.

    Truer words never spoken. This is an important story. Thank you for sharing it, although it is sad. It reminds me of an awesome homily from Fr. Roger J. Landry [link], after the priest sex abuse scandal just broke in 2002.

    A pertinent passage from the homily:

    This scandal can be something that can lead you down to the path of spiritual suicide, or it can be something that can inspire you to say, finally, “I want to become a saint, so that I and the Church can give your name the glory it deserves, so that others might find in you the love and the salvation that I have found.” Jesus is with us, as he promised, until the end of time. He’s still in the boat.

    I think that you are on to something with your advice that maybe our brothers should “not be so concerned about wins and losses”, but about continuing to live their lives of personal holiness as a model for the Church and the rest of us. This anger is not from God, and obviously does not bring us closer to Him.

    More Fr. Landry:

    The only adequate response to this terrible scandal, the only fully Catholic response to this scandal as St. Francis of Assisi recognized in the 1200s, as St. Francis de Sales recognized in the 1600s, and as countless other saints have recognized in every century is HOLINESS! Every crisis that the Church faces, every crisis that the world faces, is a crisis of saints. Holiness is crucial, because it is the real face of the Church.

    We worked with Fr. Landry for a decade when he was at the Holy See Mission to the UN.

    His vocation was inspired by Saint Pope John Paul II and it is built on solid rock!

    • #19
  20. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    This pope’s first encyclical (Lumen Fidei) was a big dropoff from the high standards of scholarship, logic and precision of his recent predecessors. As a pretty conventional liberal Catholic, Francis loves the sensibilities and rhetoric of the left but generally refrains from going full retard into secular humanism. Nevertheless, the ambiguity and confusion he leaves in his wake is destructive.

    The hostility to the Latin Mass and the minor bitch slap just delivered against Opus Dei all flow from a kind of petulant notion that in style, if not in substance, orthodox Catholicism is a drag on the journey to a more enlightened Church. If we could just keep quiet about the kinds of things that offend the good citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, we can still have those beliefs but not offend anybody.

    This Pope too shall pass. There was absolutely no reason for him to make this ‘bitch slap’ to a substantive segment of the Church, and its tradition. It appears to be solely political (which sadly seems to be the primary motivator of the current occupant of the Seat of Peter), without any involvement of the Holy Spirit. Sad.

    • #20
  21. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    You can’t fight the Church. It belongs to the Pope for him to do with as he wishes. You can either ride along or get out.

    That’s bad Catholic theology though, isn’t it? In Catholic theology, the church belongs to Christ, not the Pope. Someone who believes this is already a person who does not accept Catholic theology.

    Yes, but I was discussing the realities on the ground and not the justification of them in Church doctrine. The Church belongs to the Christ and his followers. But he has been an absentee landlord for about 2000 years. So who does an organization belong too? The owner or the one that uses and runs it? Or does it matter? Since Christ gave the keys to this whole thing to St Peter and thus gave the Pope the right to do what he pleases with it for the greater glory of God. So who knows maybe this is what Christ wants. or maybe this is just what the Pope wants in his Leftist ways. Either way we can either go along with it, get out or just let it fade away. I suspect with me it will fade away as I give up on anything sane or traditional in this new world order.

    I don’t get it. Those are not the realities on the ground according to good theology. What are you talking about–misinderatandings people have about the theology?

    • #21
  22. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    On the other side, long-time religion skeptic (as I remember him) John Derbyshire and former National Review writer apparently became a Christian recently.

    “The Derbs, just for the record here, belong to a Baptist congregation. There hasn’t been a Baptist Supreme since Hugo Black, who retired in 1971. There are around fifty million of us in the U.S.A., according to Wikipedia, almost one in six of the population.” — September 25, 2020

    There is photo on his website with wife.  Their hair is wet.  The caption reads, “On May 16th 2021 we were baptized at Huntington Baptist Church. This was full immersion; in the picture, our hair is still wet. Nellie and Danny presented us with flowers when we emerged.”

    Charles Murray has become more religious.  I do not know how he categorizes himself today.

    Lots of conservatives have become Christians or more Christian mostly later in life:

    C. S. Lewis, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Malcolm Muggeridge, Enoch Powell, Peter Hitchens, Bernard Nathanson, Whittaker Chambers, Andrew Klavan, David Limbaugh, J. D. Vance, etc.

    • #22
  23. Austin Ruse Reagan
    Austin Ruse
    @AustinRuse

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    On the other side, long-time religion skeptic (as I remember him) John Derbyshire and former National Review writer apparently became a Christian recently.

    “The Derbs, just for the record here, belong to a Baptist congregation. There hasn’t been a Baptist Supreme since Hugo Black, who retired in 1971. There are around fifty million of us in the U.S.A., according to Wikipedia, almost one in six of the population.” — September 25, 2020

    There is photo on his website with wife. Their hair is wet. The caption reads, “On May 16th 2021 we were baptized at Huntington Baptist Church. This was full immersion; in the picture, our hair is still wet. Nellie and Danny presented us with flowers when we emerged.”

    Charles Murray has become more religious. I do not know how he categorizes himself today.

    Lots of conservatives have become Christians or more Christian mostly later in life:

    C. S. Lewis, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Malcolm Muggeridge, Enoch Powell, Peter Hitchens, Bernard Nathanson, Whittaker Chambers, Andrew Klavan, David Limbaugh, J. D. Vance, etc.

    That is so wonderful. I did not know that. 

    • #23
  24. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    It seems to me that the win in this fight is adherence to the Truth and perseverance to the end. Dreher and Skojec have both apostasized – they seemingly gave up the fight. That is not what the saints show us.

    The Catholic Church is not Bergoglio’s church. He may be an anti-pope for all I know. His actions and words could certainly be seen to point to that. He has never been able to argue any of his nonsense from a theological view; his refusal to answer the Dubia makes this clear.

    Go to confession. Serve at mass. Pray the rosary. Persevere to the end. That is a win.

    • #24
  25. Brian Scarborough Coolidge
    Brian Scarborough
    @Teeger

    I think you should have said that Dreher left the Roman Catholic Church. I am very tired of Catholics still treating their own church as “The Church”. Dreher left the Catholic Church but he is still a practicing Christian and is a member of a church body. 

    Additionally, it is understandable, though unfortunate, when someone is abused by a church leader and then blames the church as a whole. We worship God through Jesus Christ. Jesus did not cause the abuse. Men did. I hope that Sciambra finds his way back to God but not necessarily the RCC.

    • #25
  26. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I am very tired of Catholics still treating their own church as “The Church”.

    Well, you’re going to be very tired because that is what we believe and it is the truth. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

     

    • #26
  27. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I am very tired of Catholics still treating their own church as “The Church”.

    Well, you’re going to be very tired because that is what we believe and it is the truth. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    And it is not what we believe. Does it make sense to inflame your allies, or is that only something forbidden to Protestants?

     

    • #27
  28. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I think you should have said that Dreher left the Roman Catholic Church. I am very tired of Catholics still treating their own church as “The Church”. Dreher left the Catholic Church but he is still a practicing Christian and is a member of a church body.

    Additionally, it is understandable, though unfortunate, when someone is abused by a church leader and then blames the church as a whole. We worship God through Jesus Christ. Jesus did not cause the abuse. Men did. I hope that Sciambra finds his way back to God but not necessarily the RCC.

    Ask Siri who founded the Catholic Church. And then do the same with any other denomination.

    • #28
  29. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I am very tired of Catholics still treating their own church as “The Church”.

    Well, you’re going to be very tired because that is what we believe and it is the truth. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    That’s “No salvation outside the (Catholic) Church” in Latin.

    There’s a book titled, “Salvation Outside the Church: Tracing the History of Catholic Response,” which discusses the various views about salvation over the last 2,000 years.

     

    • #29
  30. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    I am very tired of Catholics still treating their own church as “The Church”.

    Well, you’re going to be very tired because that is what we believe and it is the truth. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

     See I keep being told by people that the Catholic Church doesn’t actually believe that. And then I keep being told by catholics that the Catholic Church does believe that. And then I get into trouble because I’m confused.

    • #30
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