Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
I worked in a number of jobs while in the Seminary. I was a soda jerk, an usher at sports stadiums and when I entered my college years, I worked in the Steel Mills. I mentioned these various jobs because they were positions where the King’s English was not always spoken. Also, my years in sports, and in the military, exposed me to some very exotic expressions – to say the least. In one way or another I have heard colorful language spoken over the years.
Perhaps I am becoming less tolerant to offensive language as I grow older. I must admit that I’m becoming extremely sensitive to the vulgar language that is now commonly used on various cable television programs and “words” that pass as acceptable by various public personalities. I would like to limit my discomfort of language to the expressions used by men, however women are using offensive expressions almost as much as men.
I do remember many incidents while growing up where a man would be angry and in expressing himself say an off colored word only to notice a woman present and publicly apologize to her. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t consider it progressive or a sign of equality when gutter language is used and fails to respect women. However, I don’t experience that type of sensitivity today by many, in fact, not only is our language being cheapened, but our respect for each other is also damaged.
We have now recently added an expression to our modern dictionary for the one word which still seems to offend and that is the “F bomb.” I would imagine as the other expressions such as sh**, d*mn or SOB becomes more and more common place, that eventually the “F bomb” will become one of the acceptable expressions. Isn’t it interesting to hear parents express such horror when little Johnny or Mary blurt out what we used to refer to as a “dirty word”? Yet, they fail to analyze their own language in creating the learning environment for their child.
Sacred Scripture is the Word of God. Even sacred language like “Jesus Christ,” “God,” or "God d*mn,” is used by many people without realizing that it is offensive. As persons of faith, our language should reflect an appropriate appreciation for the manner in which we use words to express our feelings, thoughts or prayers. Captured in our expressions is a respect for God, respect for our neighbors and respect for ourselves. As we examine how we use language, let us make sure that it expresses how we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the August 21, 2012 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.