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Latest From Fr. Cusick . . . Modesty: A Woman’s Voice

June 17, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

For readers following “the tweet hated round the world” story, more on the aftermath in this week’s column.
Being removed a degree from Twitter after deactivating my personal account, and looking back at comments on the social media platform, is like being dead. People talk about me in the third person: “We miss him,” “Hope he comes back.” Those are the positive comments. There are some who take the opportunity to dish on others while they think they’re not around to defend themselves. Then there are others who spread rumors, innuendo, and falsehoods. The old adage about news during war applies: “The first casualty is the truth.”
“Father, we need you.” some wrote. You need Jesus, my friends, as do I. If we remain united to Him in truth, we remain together in the spiritual communion of His love which never ends. Twitter hysteria can blind us to reality. Seek community in your parish as I do. That’s the “Twitter” Jesus made. Does your parish have a community lunch every Sunday? Mine does and it is there where I seek relationships that build up and give joy.
I certainly appreciate and thank all of you for your kind words and prayers. I will discreetly share more about what is going on in these columns going forward. Please subscribe to The Wanderer or follow the paper’s account on Twitter to show support and for further information in the days ahead.
I am taking time off from posting on social media, Twitter in particular. It will be for my spiritual good and that of the people I serve. I’m doing my pastoral work in the parish, taking time to exercise and read — this week Letter to a Suffering Church by Bishop Robert Barron and Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Infiltration.
It’s of benefit to fast from anything that is unnecessary for the sake of detachment and filling the void left with things of healthy spiritual nourishment. I’m using this as a positive experience to grow as the Lord directs and to reflect. Yes, as one follower on Twitter shared, you can imagine me smoking a cigar and petting my cat while the Twitter wars rage impotently on. Doing so typically outside and in the garden, by the way.
I recently had an opportunity to meet and speak with our new archbishop, the Most Rev. Wilton Gregory. I thank him and his staff who support our priests and people so well.
I am also watching podcasts by two wonderful young Catholics, Paul and Olivia Ingrassia from New York, at Right on Point. They deserve support for the good work they are doing. I was able recently to meet and have lunch with them in Washington, DC, and thank them again for the invitation.
I may reactivate the account. It was and remains my decision to deactivate in order to defuse the firestorm of invective on Twitter that was wasting my time and energy and exposing me to social media sewage and filth. There is a lot going on outside of social media and I will focus on that for the time being.
Some of the responses to my column “When the Twitter Mob Came After Me” were defamatory. One voice of a woman at Patheos was not helpful. Mary Pezzulo, in her commentary about my Twitter post, wrote something about a priest yelling at a woman about her clothing from the pulpit during Mass: “It is not appropriate for a priest to call out a woman for her immodesty while saying Mass, just because he can see her shoulders.” (She did not say that I was that priest.) Of course she’s against a priest doing that. As should we all be. It didn’t happen as far as I know and wasn’t mentioned in my Tweet. Still not sure where she got those facts. Thin air? Mary: Please delete the defamatory content from your column that connects me to such despicable behavior. You’re not helping the Church with this. Interesting to note that there’s no contact info or phone number to reach her for making this request.
Then there’s a fellow who’s a deacon now and blogs on Patheos and writes for Aleteia. We were a few years apart at the same high school and both worked on the school paper there. He as far as I know has never, over the course of more than twenty years, noticed my online presence until now. He wrote a fairly balanced piece, but couldn’t resist throwing in some old quotes from my previous columns critical of the Pope. The potentially radioactive bits were later deleted. Sounds like he’s channeling his inner ordination vibe there. Something I’ve been hearing a lot about lately.
Stefanie Nicholas deserves kudos for her reasoned, balanced, and Catholic perspective. Many people don’t listen, especially on the Internet, no matter how reasonable one strives to be. And some worship their anger. These hunt around for the slightest signs of a stereotype they hate so they can unleash the full fury of their endorphin-producing rage. My tweets provided some of that fodder for a while. Anyone who came to my defense was also in danger of serving as a target in the bullet-spray zone. Stefanie did some brilliant work to better express what I was trying to say and I thank her. She made herself vulnerable for the sake of the truth as must we all who love Christ.
She quite naturally felt abandoned when I deactivated after she had rushed to defend the principles at the heart of my tweet about modesty. Leaving the platform does not mean abandoning principles, however, despite the crowing of enemies who claim I was “destroyed” on Twitter and that I caved by going silent. The truth remains and has a voice still, thanks to Stefanie and so many others.
In a column at 1 Peter 5 Stefanie faulted me for my less than full-throated defense of modesty, limiting my comments on clothing as applicable only to Mass as I did in a previous column. A look at the Catechism shows that the Church does not qualify modesty as important only within the liturgy:
“Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet” (CCC, n. 2522).
The Church here does not distinguish between events at which modest clothing should be worn. Only that all choices of dress are important for modesty. It is neglect on my part to do less than the Church does and to qualify a teaching where the Church does not do so. For this I apologize to Stefanie and the others who supported me and rightly expected more.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

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