Is Boycotting Immoral?

The boycott seems to be the hot topic in the comments section, and because it has received so much criticism, I thought I should say something in its defense. First I need to correct some FAKE NEWS that is circulating.  There is not a shred of evidence that Fr. Long was forced out or pressured to leave in any way.  He resigned.  End of story.  That’s the official public account of what happened, and there is good reason to believe it.

According to what I have been told by an eyewitness, Fr. Long had a meeting with the music director, at which time, the music director tendered her resignation.  Fr. Long came out of the meeting and abruptly announced to the 9:30 choir that he also was resigning.  That is what happened, as I understand it.  The people who would be the best source of information for more precise details are the members of the 9:30 choir.  But the long and the short of it is this: the boycott does not appear to have been a factor in Fr. Long’s resignation.  He chose to leave on his own.

If that is an accurate account of how Long’s resignation transpired, then, not only was the boycott not a factor, neither were any considerations of doctrine—contrary to the account of C. Davis.  For months, concerned parishioners sent letters and emails to the diocese with documentation of serious doctrinal  error.  And we are talking about big errors—not the little stuff.  The kind of stuff that can land you in hell if you’re wrong about it.  And for all that time, the diocese did nothing.  To say that Long’s heresies were a factor in his leaving is also to ignore the facts.

Which brings me back to the boycott.  Let’s be clear that if the diocese had done the right thing in the first place, there never would have been a boycott.  Some of you appear to be under the mistaken impression that this protest was entered into lightly, without consideration given to the serious moral ramifications of our actions.  A faithful Catholic doesn’t protest his own church and bishop!  We aren’t Protestants!  Those of us who took this on did so with fear and trembling—no exaggeration. Most of us had never complained about a priest—ever.  And there were many lengthy discussions and disagreements about the moral implications of our actions (what about the duty of obedience?).

An informal consensus arose among the protesters, inspired by Scripture, that, before any action be taken with the diocese, we should first talk to Fr. Long individually and privately:

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Mt. 18:15-17)

There was lots of talk about this Bible passage among us protesters.  And we took it seriously. (As a side note, you should know that, in his commentary on this passage, Thomas Aquinas explains that Jesus is establishing the procedure for excommunication.)

The same is true with the boycott.  There were debates and disagreements.  And not all of us supported the idea of boycotting.  I was one who supported the idea 100%, and no criticism I have heard here has persuaded me that I was wrong about that.  I already explained in an email to Chris that no boycotter was advocating that we not give money to charity.  There are countless ways to support the poor without giving money to the BAA.  And if you like a charity that receives money from the BAA, then send them a check directly. There is no need to go through the BAA.

In my own mind, the boycott of the BAA was not all about Fr. Long.  It was also about the bishop, for his lack of response to our letters was of great concern.  “Doesn’t the bishop care about the protection of his flock, about their proper formation and education as Catholics?”  Those concerns were (and still are) valid, given what is going on in the Church today.  I have already shown that many bishops espouse the same modernist heresies that are promoted by Fr. Long and Fr. James Martin.  Was the bishop’s silence and inaction an indication of his agreement with these heresies?  We weren’t sure.  But what we were absolutely sure about was that the bishop’s silence was not a good sign.

More than that, the bishop’s long inaction was justification enough to start a boycott.  Whether a heretic or not, doing nothing to remove Fr. Long constituted a serious breach of the bishop’s obligation to shepherd his flock rightly.  That is how I saw it and still see it.  And I suspected many others believed the same.  So I started the boycott.  I believe we still have freedom of conscience in this country—no?  If I am not free to use my money in a way that is consistent with my conscience, what kind of freedom is that?

The boycott still makes sense to me.  We cannot support heretics in the Church, period. If the bishop was not going to take a stand against a priest who says that serious sins are not sins at all, that the Bible is in error, that St. Paul’s teachings are wrong, that Jesus “didn’t know everything,” then such a bishop is not entitled to my financial support.  What is so unreasonable about that?

And it’s reasonable to Fr. Dwight Longenecker too, for he said exactly the same thing I’m saying:

The faithful in their parishes and dioceses should rise up and blizzard them [bishops and priests] with letters, emails and the one thing that will really make them sit up and take notice: withholding their contributions. Source: Let’s Name the Abortion Providing Politicians | Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Is Fr. Longenecker a “pitchfork-bearing radical,” C. Davis?  How about Martin Luther King?  Henry David Thoreau? Boycotting and civil protest enjoy a long and venerable tradition in our country.  You could hardly have a democracy without them.