Saturday, December 2, 2017

I'm not interested in defending bad clergy.

I side heavily with the traditionalists in the Catholic Church. On sexuality, on the death penalty, on all the nasty, controversial, modern conflicts of Catholic moral teaching, I'm orthodox. Even on the touchier subjects, like evolution and creation, my sympathy with traditional teachings (and modern views which heavily incorporate traditional teach) is express.

But I don't include nobility-LARPing among that.

I'm talking about the tendency to describe cardinals and bishops as "Princes of the Church", and all that implies. Or the stern lecturing I sometimes get from Catholics who tell me that the Pope is "your sovereign" and my very soul depends on my treating him with the utmost respect, the most scrupulous of personal loyalty. That, while I am perhaps not duty-bound to follow his political views, and I can resist any de facto immoral commands from him, I nevertheless must treat him with great respect and love at all times, never questioning his intentions, and never standing in judgment of him.

My response is simple: yeah, I'm not doing that.

Francis is a terrible Pope. His advisers are terrible people. That recently-dismissed US priest had him dead to rights when he talked about how the main accomplishment of Francis was making all the rotten-hearted turncoat clergy (I'd add, "And Catholic bloggers") in the Church reveal themselves and thus raising the possibility that a future Pope may kick them all out. Which, I surmise, he could probably do just by ordering that health plans and hospitals for the Catholic clergy no longer cover HIV-related illnesses.

Yes, I'm suggesting a lot of them are not just gay, but sexually active heretics besides.

Again, I know the some people - some good people! - would be horrified by this. I'd be condemned as a liberal (or a protestant!) for having this attitude, which is funny since the Pope seems to have a rather celebratory attitude towards both of those things. Pardon, but I disagree. I'd go so far as to say, I think otherwise good people do harm to the Church by promoting it.

And so long as I'm letting that out, I may as well say: my opinion of many Catholic bloggers isn't much better. I value Feser and Mike Flynn and various others. But I think Mark Shea and Simcha are pretty awful, and would do everyone a service if they gave up blogging altogether and found another hobby. (For Simcha, I recommend something other than cooking. For Shea, something other than eating.) The combination of sanctimonious political rage and mediocrity is downright Loftusian, with the success to match.

It doesn't get much better when I read the Anchoress or, the house-trained pet of the New York Times, Douthat.

I bring all this up just to make it clear where I stand on these things. I came to peace long ago with the idea that the truth of the Church is compatible with the existence of an absolutely rotten Pope (and thus, certainly Cardinals.) Well, we've got one.

I always wondered what it would be like to experience that!


Perilanda said...

To reply to your latest comment and post, I understand your position. Personally, I choose to default to the side of 'respect' when it comes to criticizing the Pope. But I admit there's a lot of grey area on this one. Truth has rights, after all-- just as charity has, and they're really inextricable. Hence, sometimes the most charitable thing to say is, "Hey, you're taking a massive dump (and it really stinks)!"

Crude said...

If it were just me - my opinion - it would be one thing. But the problem with a lot of clergy is that their behavior (at times, intentionally) demoralizes Catholics. And it's very easy for 'charity' to become 'excuse-making', and even easier for excuse-making to turn into "lashing out at people for NOT making excuses".

One thing which made me rear back was seeing people get told, 'These are the princes of the church! They are your rightful authority! You HAVE to submit to them, or you're no better than the liberals and the protestants!' Partly because, that strikes me as an act of desperation, a kind of "I want you to do as I say, and maybe this will make you do it" move, that only gets directed at traditionalists and orthodox. Precisely because, if you say that to liberals and openly heretical Catholics, they just laugh. And then the priest gives them communion, which he'll (if anyone questions him) desperately justify in terms of canon law and mercy and forgiveness, because it can't possibly be that he's a huge pussy who didn't want a confrontation.

The other part of the problem is, I have been told the entirety of my Catholic life that the faith is built on tradition. Various teachings are set in stone, precisely because they are what we have always believed, etc. So when reactions to clergy clearly trying to change teachings (or insisting that the teachings everyone regarded as decided were, in fact, never authoritative somehow after all) is "Well that's not for you to decide, that's up to the Pope, and you can't point at past popes to overrule him", that's falling back on to something that just won't work. As Feser says with the death penalty: trying to say 'the Church has been fundamentally wrong on the death penalty all this time, we know this now because the current Pope says so' just results in the authority of the Pope being questioned.

What's really funny to me is these people trying to crack the obedience whip with a Pope who openly praises and cheers on dissidents, even the literal Protestant reformation. Not an enviable job.