I didn’t know until a Rod Dreher column this week that Catholic pugilist Steve Skojec is now former 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 walked out the back door in disbelief. Skojec says he hasn’t attended Mass for a year.
Skojec explains how he got a very raw deal into the hands of the Legion of Christ and its secular Regnum Christi movement. I have no way of judging his accusations. But he was very involved at the same time as the founder of the Legion abused boys, fathered children and plagiarized. Such a culture can only lead to the abuse of the base. Skojec describes emotional abuse; he says he was brainwashed. When he tried to leave, he recounts that the Legion did everything Saul Alinksy on him: “Pick the target, freeze it, customize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the sympathy target.
Skojec spent part of those college years in Steubenville as a “Legionnaire counter-agent.” Over the next few years, Skojec was obviously and seriously upset with the problems of the Church; sexual abuse by priests, liturgy, doctrinal change, Francis, bishops, Covid, and many more. He fought like hell. He fought and fought and fought. And then he left.
A long time ago I thought that Skojec would leave the Church.
His story reminds me of Rod Dreher who spent years investigating the chasm of sexual abuse among priests. I have publicly stated that Rod was right about all of this and I was wrong. But maybe Rod was wrong is that he spent so much time staring into the abyss and harboring his anger, which caused 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 sought help from the same church he accuses of encouraging his behavior and encouraging his abuse. Realize that Joe is the guy trying to save gay people by going to San Francisco’s most sexually kinky festivals wearing a “Jesus Loves Gay Men” t-shirt and handing out rosaries.
Sciambra tried for years to convince various churchmen that the Church was allowing the rise of homosexuality in the Church. He pointed to openly gay parishes in San Francisco and New York. He tried to convince Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles that Fr. James Martin should not be presented at the annual education conference in Los Angeles. No one would listen. I think the only bishop who officially met him was Cardinal Burke, a meeting I arranged.
It seems to me that when we organize to fight the institutional Church, we risk going through the door. Don’t get me wrong, Rod’s fight was fair. Joe’s fight was fair. I’m not sure exactly what Steve’s fight was because it seemed so huge and multifaceted, but no doubt he thinks it was fair. Even so, when you prepare to fight the institutional church and never give up, you run the risk of letting your frustration and anger drive you out of the church.
I fear that the ongoing Vatican strike against the traditional Latin Mass will lead to much of this kind of anger. Thirty years ago I saw similar fights and similar anger drive men out of the Church. I knew Gerry Matatics and Tom Droleskey when they were still Catholic. Chances are most of you won’t know their names, but both of them were deeply involved in traditional Catholic matters at the time of the indult.
My friend Ken Wolfe thinks that cannot happen today because the efforts to defend the Immemorial Mass will be between friends and parishioners. For the most part, this will certainly be true. But I know for a fact that anger over long periods of time can change people and lead them away from what they believed and loved before.
My advice, for what it’s worth, is that people in these fights don’t care so much about wins and losses. Don’t worry about it so much. Forgive this string of platitudes: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. And then you keep trying but not worrying about box scores.
I know I know. We fight for eternal truths that can save. Fairly true. But we must live to fight another day. We are made for the Beatific Vision but on this earth, we are made to fight; maybe not so long as we’re being driven the wrong way across the Tiber.
Here’s the thing. Dreher is outside the Church. Sciambra is outside the Church. Skojec is completely out of faith. I just think it would be better if they were still here with us.
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