There's a very big stink in our diocese. Maybe you smelled it; it was picked up by a wire service and the national media grabbed it. Sure, laugh at the Catholics, again.
The stink is a controversy of sorts over this year's St. Patrick's Day celebration. If you haven't gandered that far on the calendar, I'll tell you that St. Patrick's Day lands on Holy Monday, the first day of the holiest week on our church's calendar.
The bishop of our diocese, Bishop Campbell, asked (last fall) that all celebrations for St. Patrick be removed from Holy Week. The big city in our diocese has two big Irish clubs, the Shamrock Club and the local chapter of Ancient Order of Hibernians. The AOHs have agreed to celebrate at another time, but the Shamrocks refuse. The president of the Shamrock Club said (get this), "Actually, you're born Irish first, and then you're baptized Catholic."
I believe that might be in the top ten of the saddest things I've ever heard.
So, the Shamrocks will proceed with their downtown parade, sans the Mass beforehand, because no self-respecting priest will celebrate a Mass against the bishop's will. Several city politicians have bowed out, either in respect for the bishop's request or respect for Holy Week itself.
The sad part of this story, in my opinion, is that the president of the Shamrock Club, in an interview with our diocesan newspaper, claimed that they made the decision to continue with the celebration on the 17th because his club is no longer just Irish Catholic. My question to him would be, "How many Jews and Muslims are in your group?" Because even if your Irish are Protestant, it's still Holy Week. If you at all believe that Jesus Christ died on Good Friday and rose on Easter Sunday, it's still Holy Week.
This entire argument makes apparent to anyone looking what I've known for a long time, and you probably have too. St. Patrick's Day is no longer about holy St. Patrick. It's about the drinking and celebration that people have long allowed this celebration to become. They have forgotten that without the saint in St. Patrick, March 17 would just be an ordinary day.
You can read the entire AP wire story here.