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John McLaughlin, RIP

August 19, 2016

It’s hard to believe that The McLaughlin Group first aired on PBS in 1982. Memory plays tricks and if asked, I would have said the show aired during the Carter Administration.But Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 and we were still enjoying the emotional “lift” that Ronnie’s election gave to us long-time conservatives.

I also associate John McLaughlin with the exodus from the Catholic priesthood of good Catholic priests in the 1960 and 1970s, I met some of them since many had taught at Fordham, a Jesuit institution, and married female colleagues of mine at the College of New Rochelle.

That exodus from the priesthood still requires an explanation since not all left to marry. Something must have been transpiring within the Church that may have had something to do with a rejection of Scholastic philosophy. Sometime in the late 1950s, “Thomism” was “remaindered” and nothing replaced it. I mark the decline of Catholic higher education from that rejection of St. Thomas.

Not that there was much “out there” better than St. Thomas’ philosophical approach–even Pope John Paul II was not a Thomist. He found a better intellectual foundation for his faith in “personalism.”  One of my former colleagues from the University of Dallas, Dr. John Crosby, now teaches that doctrine at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Dr. John Crosby on Personalism

I suspect that many Catholic priests of that era were attracted to an eclectic philosophical approach called “phenomenology” or some may simply have lost their faith. But, it is clear that the pedophile problem that has so seriously hurt the Church was exacerbated by those pedophile priests who chose to remain in the priesthood.

John McLaughlin was one of those good priests who left the Church, later married and continued to influence the general public by his views and especially his attitude.

McLaughlin had “attitude” and we enjoyed watching him refer to one of his colleagues as “Mortawn.” His sparring with Jack Germond was great fun especially when McLauglin asked the group to guess who the Time Man of the Year would be. Germond refused to participate–year after year.

But most important, McLaughlin gave credence to the notion that there were intellectual conservatives. Not many of our fellow Americans admitted that and even fewer in what became the Talking Head industry.

I hadn’t watched the McLaughlin Group for years, but several weeks ago if found it while channel surfing. Age had diminished John McLaughlin and the Group wasn’t as interesting, but what a “run” The McLaughlin Group had–and on PBS!

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