Sunday, September 21, 2014


Orthodoxy is unconsciousness. – George Orwell, 1984

I’m one. I know quite a few, most of them serious enough about their faith to (at least) go to Mass regularly and avoid such peccadilloes as murder, rape, kidnapping, theft, adultery – when someone else might find out, anyway – false witness, and conspicuous envy. But quite a number of us are torn about various Church teachings. Whether privately or openly, we hold that about some things, Church teaching is flatly wrong. That gets us into all sorts of hot water with other, rigidly orthodox Catholics, who reflexively say things such as “You can’t be a Catholic if you think that.”

A lot of trouble has stemmed from such clashes. A certain German pastor by the name of Martin Luther could tell you all about it.

This piece from my beloved Adrienne pointed me toward a conflict that’s bound to become more acrimonious over time:

New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan has defended his decision to accept the presence of a homosexual group in the St. Patrick’s day parade, in a column for his archdiocesan newspaper....

Although homosexual actions are sinful, the cardinal said, a homosexual inclination is not. Therefore, insofar as the group involved in the parade was advertising its inclinations rather than actions, he saw no reason to step down from his honorary post as Grand Marshall of the parade.

This is consistent with current Church teaching. Is the Church’s teaching on this subject correct? I’m hardly the one to say so; besides, I have serious doubts about some of its related policy decisions. However, the acrimony isn’t concerned with the correctness of the teaching, but with the willingness of some to differ and of others to castigate them for doing so.

Some of the fire emanates from Elizabeth Scalia, also known as “The Anchoress.” Let it be known that Liz is capable of being as acerbic as anyone, and like all of us occasionally lets fly when it would be better to disagree politely, if not silently. The fusillades are setting Catholics against one another and making us look bad to Christians of other denominations.

What hope is there for a Great Ingathering of the followers of Christ – the aim of ecumenism – if we can’t disagree politely with one another on a subject such as this? Though there’s a zone of “core theology” where disagreement with the Holy See is massively unwise – and note that every Pope has confined his assertions of infallibility to theological matters – outside that zone Church teaching is tentative and temporal.

For example, it was once doctrine that all games played with cards, dice, or men on a board are inherently mortally sinful. That included chess...yet the World Junior Champion of chess was once a certain Father William Lombardy, who went on to become a superior grandmaster and played for the United States in at least one Olympiad. It was also once doctrine that anything except vaginal intercourse, even between man and wife, is inherently mortally sinful. And if you’re at all educated about medieval European history, I hardly need to tell you the embarrassments the Church suffered over the sale of indulgences.

This matter of persons self-identified as homosexuals marching in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, which despite its affiliation with the Church is no rite thereof, is well outside the theological zone. It’s acceptable to disagree with the parade organizers’ decision...but entirely unacceptable to viciously castigate other Catholics for disagreeing. They who spew venom at their fellows in Christ over such a subject are doing the Church great harm.

There have been several prominent commentators on the Catholic Church and Christianity in general who’ve indulged themselves in such a vicious fashion, over this subject and others. You’d almost think they wanted a fresh set of schisms, to “purge” the Bride of Christ of “evil dissenters.” Perhaps they do; they might well view it as a club, membership in which becomes ever more prestigious as its numbers dwindle. That, to be maximally gentle about it, is not the case.

Glory be to God, people! Where is your Christian charity? Do you really think the subject justifies such open malice toward those who disagree with you? Do you think any pope in living memory would sanction it – or join in it?

Is homosexuality a terrible affliction? Yes, of course. Opinion is divided about its genesis, its reversibility, and the extent to which the Church should tolerate it. But even those who condemn it most thunderously as a sinful choice have no warrant for castigating or belittling their fellows in Christ for disagreeing. Equally so, those who believe that the Church is correct in admitting persons of avowed homosexual inclinations to its services and its seminaries have no warrant to rain fury upon those who insist that homosexuals should be excluded. It’s a rejection of Christ’s mandate to love one another, regardless of which way your opinions incline.

Cease to carve divisions among us that are in no way necessary, fellow Catholics. Be Christian in word, deed, and spirit as well as in your weekly offering envelopes. Please.


Adrienne said...

There's a reason I avoid most "Catholic" blogs. Scalia was not being acerbic - she was being downright ugly.

OT - it's going to be almost 90 degrees today. A good day to stay in and write reviews ;-)

neal said...

I think sometimes that judging behavior becomes judging the intentions of the heart. That is not prudent.

Throwing rocks at the snakebit was never the deal.
Just fixing stuff, and trying not to buy into the consensus that getting bit meant some have it coming.

My Lord has the scars to prove it. Mostly hangs out with misfits, and those who trade cheap hope for true Grace.

Mostly walks off into the wasted lands, no politics of compression, except the personal.

Purity control means getting the hands dirty. Probably not real if that involves the elevated pretending that the dynamic is subject to legal justification.

Anonymous said...

In times like this, as a Lutheran, I take comfort in the words of Martin Luther who said, "When the papists start kicking each other in the nads, just stand back and pass the keg."

At least I'm pretty sure that was in the Small Catechism.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Which, had Luther or any Lutheran authority figure said it, would be a black mark against Lutheranism. Do you like seeing fellow Christians set at one another's throats, "Anonymous?" Would you be pleased about that attitude among Catholics, were we to bray at a schism among your fellows?

Reread the Sermon on the Mount, and spend some time in prayer. Maybe God will make the depth of your Schadenfreude manifest to you -- and what it might cost you.

0007 said...

If youthink she's acerbic, you should read Barnhardt's thoughts on the good bishop.

Fatebekind said...

I've marched in the St. Patrick's Parade most of my life. Gay Irish could always march, just not under their own banner. They could march under the County banners or whichever civil organization that they marched with. By giving in to black mail from NBC, Guiness and the Mayor, Cardinal Dolan surrendered what was left of the political power of the remnants of the Irish Catholic community. It was a naked show of power and nothing else. The same Cardinal Dolan actively works for amnesty & open borders in order to fill his pews and Church coffers.I realize the last thing the Catholic Church needs is more factionalism but the Churches' pews have been emptying for years for good reasons. It is not that everyone is suddenly too lazy to go on Sunday mornings, but no one wants to go and be asked to aid in their own communities destruction,and being asked to donate. The Cardinals and bishops betrayed the trust of their flocks by covering up pedophilia and paying hush money for decades. On top of all of that they pushed heavily for Obamacare and endorse politicians such as the Cuomos, Kennedys, and Pelosis, who force abortion on this country. This appalling lack of moral leadership is why the Churches are empty.