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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Is this Catholicism?

Asks the very unnerved Elliot Bougis in this essay.

Yes, I have been linking a lot to him of late, but (1) he presents a lot of what I'm thinking, only much better, and (2) misery loves company.

What I'm learning about Catholicism is that how it is lived by those who genuinely love orthodoxy is rather at odds with how it is presented by the Church.

When push comes to shove:

  • We will in effect defend as infallible, despite the clear limits of the charism, every statement that comes from the Pope's mouth. In some cases, we will argue that the statements are inerrant. On a par with Scripture. No, I've seen this--and felt gut-punched. Blessed Pius IX may have lost the battle at Vatican I, but the faithful have ensured that he won the war.
  • Related: if we like the new Pope enough, we will always have been at war with Eastasia.
  • Even (especially?) if that Pope preaches eloquently against the evils of clericalism. Pardon the relevant aside:

  • In the name of charity, we berate those who honestly disagree with us.
  • In the name of a big, welcoming Church, we shoot the wounded.
  • We deride as Pharisees those who fail to agree with us on every particular.
But--please--dismiss my views as those of the jealous older brother, a hateful Pharisee who longs for a Church that the size of phone booth. With mirrors on the inside.

I'm getting used to it.

It has become increasingly obvious to me that my problem isn't so much the contents of the Pope's statements (though the content is sometimes deeply problematic), but rather how it is being defended by the Faithful. And that's the most disorienting and dismaying part of it all.


  1. Yeah, I think you and Elliot hit on why I'm a bit unnerved by what's been happening lately. It's just funny that this has kind of inspired completely opposite reactions in the two of us - you've been inspired to write more, and I've basically all but given up the keyboard.

  2. It's a way of for me to deal with it constructively. But I completely understand the opposite reaction, too.

  3. I can understand some measured criticism of the Pope loose language in the interviews, but why begrudge those who want to try to interpret what he is saying in the most orthodox light possible? He is the Pope, after all, shouldn't we in charity be trying to do that and give him the benefit of the doubt?

  4. "... why begrudge those who want to try to interpret what he is saying in the most orthodox light possible?"

    I don't want to speak for Dale, but what I'm guessing he begrudges is not so much the interpretation of the Holy Father "in the most orthodox light possible", but rather that those who are attempting to interpret him in that way are engaging in name calling of those who aren't fully on board. "Shut up, you panicky, bedwetting, rigorist reactionaries!" he explained. That sort of thing.

  5. Charles, I'm more than happy to give people the benefit of the doubt. But if you haven't seen special pleading, goalpost moving, shooting the wounded and ultramontanism in the defenses of the interviews, I say this with utter sincerity:

    I envy you. Hopefully not in a sinful way, though.