KNOW YOUR DOGMA: WHY CATHOLICS SHOULD BE OUTRAGED

Academic observers of contemporary religion have consistently noted the surprising lack of articulacy displayed by young American adults asked to describe their faith’s doctrinal tenets. Sociologist Christian Smith, who conducted a comprehensive, nation-wide survey of religiosity among this demographic, found that despite their nominal affiliation with a given religious tradition, young adults tend to be “spiritually indifferent, uninformed, and disengaged.” The trend was especially observable, said Smith, among Catholic youth.

This is not to say, of course, that there are no young people who demonstrate a thorough understanding of Catholic theology and practice. But the data certainly suggests that such individuals are few and far between.

What are we to make of this?

(UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch)

To be sure, decoding papal edicts and delineating the Vatican’s hierarchical structure are no easy tasks. But if an individual chooses to declare his or her adherence to a particular religion, especially a religion whose leadership claims a singular role in professing and promulgating moral truths, it seems to logically follow that such an individual should have at least a basic understanding of the pronouncements made by those who speak on behalf of the Church. The decision to forego any such inquiry represents an especially toxic brand of cognitive dissonance – and it should trouble us all.

Someone who is not so dismayed by this intellectual apathy might rightly point out that many turn to religion simply for a reliable social network, and thus an extensive knowledge of theology is not particularly necessary. That same person might also assert that the Catholic “label” is as much a source of cultural and familial identity as it is religious affiliation. No argument here – many of us are imbued with a sense of religious devotion from the earliest of ages, before we have developed even the faintest ability to comprehend what it is we are actually chanting from the pews. But cultural or familial ties, I would contend, are not good reason enough to retain a religious identification. If there is something in which we claim to believe, we should be able to develop reasoned arguments in favor of such belief. We should understand the implications of the endeavors undertaken by the institution to which we declare allegiance.

Treading along idly as a “Cafeteria Catholic” – a Catholic who picks and chooses bits of the religion he or she happens to find pleasant – might appear to be harmless at first glance. If it makes you happy, then what’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that your euphemistic neglect of Church doctrine constitutes serious intellectual apathy, and intellectual apathy indeed harms everyone. Without question, those apathetic in their apprehension of religion – which is of course supposed to inform (if not dictate) our views on law, ethics, and the very nature of the universe – are probably also apathetic in other aspects of life. Indeed, these same people comprise the voting electorate, and thus the absence of any analytical rigor in their thought processes does a disservice to the rest of us who must live with the politicians for whom they have cast their vote – and the policies implemented thereafter.

The Catholic Church’s recent direct engagement in New Jersey’s political affairs underscores this need for consistency and clarity. Those who identify as Catholics must take a serious look at what their religion’s spokespeople are saying and doing in the name of God, and decide whether they are content to be represented by these spokespeople in the cultural marketplace of ideas.

To start, on November 28, Catholic bishops from diocese across New Jersey issued a letter strongly denouncing same-sex marriage, and called on parishioners to pray that the bill legalizing such unions would fail to become law. Priests were instructed to read and distribute the letter during that weekend’s mass.

In the letter, the bishops bemoan “a broad cultural shift away from religion and social traditionalism and toward a belief in personal independence and tolerance for diverse life styles – otherwise known as ‘secular individualism.’” They allege that the legalization of same-sex marriage would “threaten [heterosexual] marriage and, in turn, children and the public good.”

“Though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws,” the bishops write, “[marriage] did not originate from either the church or state, but from God. Therefore, neither church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage.”

This sort of hostile rhetoric is nothing new for the Catholic Church. In 2005, Pope John Paul II labeled homosexuality an “ideology of evil”; in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI called it “a destruction of God’s work.” That same year, a Vatican spokesperson decried homosexuality as a “a deviation, an irregularity, a wound,” and official Church catechism holds that it is a “disorder.”

On November 11, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. threatened to withhold charitable services for the impoverished if the city went ahead with a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage.

I must ask: as a Catholic, do you also regret the cultural shift towards personal independence and tolerance for diverse lifestyles? Are you in agreement with Church leadership that advocacy in favor of same-sex marriage is but a veiled attempt to corrupt the moral grounding of credulous children? Should the Catholic conception of God’s will be enough to dictate secular law in a pluralistic society? Is homosexuality evil, a disorder, or some combination of the two?

In a sense, we are fortunate that the debate over same-sex marriage has entered into the public sphere and forced “traditionalist” religious figures to take a firm stance on matters related to homosexuality. They are now obliged to be upfront with their illogical and hysterical condemnations, and are thereby exposed to a harsh reality: our generation is leaving them behind. More and more, we are willing to let them to wither in the tatters of discrimination, bigotry, and ultimately irrelevance.

Motivated apologists have gone to great lengths to couch their vilifications of homosexuality, offering friendly but deceptive qualifications. It is not the homosexual him or herself that deserves condemnation, they sometimes claim, but rather homosexual acts. As such, the sin committed by a homosexual is not so different than a sin committed by a heterosexual out of wedlock. Sin is sin, they say, regardless of sexual orientation.

But according to the Church, heterosexual acts are not inherently sinful. By contrast, as per Catholic doctrine, there are no circumstances under which two homosexuals could consummate their desire for physical intimacy without committing a sin. When a heterosexual commits the sin of lust, he or she does so only insofar as the act of lust is a sin.

But when a homosexual lusts, he or she is sinning both because the act of lust is a sin, and also because the object of his or her desires is a member of the same sex. By calling homosexual acts immoral, the next logical step is unavoidable: homosexuality, one must conclude, is intrinsically sinful. Let us not be fooled. John Paul II, inaccurately considered by some to represent a kinder, gentler pontificate, reaffirmed this principle on multiple occasions, and with considerable vigor. His successor, Benedict XVI, has followed suit.

What these homosexuals need, apologists often say, is compassion, understanding, and ultimately rehabilitation. Their innermost identities need to be changed; it is for their own good. How dreadfully insulting.

Do you, as a Catholic, agree with the pontiffs? And if not, are you aware that by disagreeing you are technically committing an act of heresy? The pope, after all, is supposed to be infallible.

Of course, let us not forget the various other Catholic teachings and practices that could be mildly described as morally repugnant. Charities that bear the Catholic name are forbidden from distributing condoms in AIDS-stricken Africa, because according to official Church policy, the need to prevent the moral scourge of contraception apparently outweighs the need to prevent the suffering of millions. Medical services that are provided typically come with strings attached: recipients must enroll in Bible-study classes and take oaths of abstinence before they are offered relief. The pope, of course, mandates these inane decrees from a lavish, anachronistic relic of a palace that more embodies the dark history of religious warfare in medieval Europe than it does a beacon of hope and compassion to the world.

Let us not forget that the Catholic Church stood by in deafening silence as the Jews were slaughtered, despite their claims of moral clairvoyance and certitude.

Let us not forget the shockingly rampant crimes of pedophilic rape committed by depraved priests who were entrusted with the most intimate of relationships with children. This revolting behavior, as we have learned, was not confined merely to a few ‘bad apples.’ Priests in parishes from Los Angeles to Dublin have been tried and convicted, and those only represent the incidents that have as of yet been reported. Countless more victims undoubtedly remain in the shadows. But perhaps even more grotesque than the crimes themselves was the subsequent systematic cover-up, which was ordered from the highest levels of Church hierarchy. For many, saving face was more important than saving the children.

Let us not forget the daily shame and torment that those who have been molested must endlessly endure. Only recently has Benedict offered even his most modest regrets – but he can just as well retract them. No scant words of conciliation will ever repair the torn psyches of the priests’ innumerable victims. And now, those same Church leaders whose inaction (and, in many cases, complicity) enabled interminable abuse have the audacity to attempt to set state-crafted social policy? This is appalling. This deserves our outrage.

Let us not forget that the Archdiocese of Portland, Maine had the audacity this fall to send around a second collection plate during Sunday mass to collect funds for the anti-same-sex marriage crusade in that state, ultimately pouring $550,000 into a duplicitous smear campaign marked by fear-mongering and bigotry. These tactics also proved tragically effective in New Jersey, where bishops killed marriage equality in Trenton by intimidating legislators and demonizing gays. Sen. Paul Sarlo, a Democrat who opposed the same-sex marriage bill, cited his Catholic upbringing in explaining his no vote. This opportunistic scapegoating needs to end.

Let us not forget that the bishops have held hostage the impoverished of Washington, D.C. in still another effort to stymie social progress. Thankfully, there they were unsuccessful, and same-sex marriage is now the law of the land.

Let us not, even if it hurts, shy away from an honest assessment. Are cultural and familial ties worth affiliation with this contemptible institution, especially if such affiliation allows for the legitimization of a loathsome and toxic political agenda? And further, would any non-religious organization with this abhorrent a track record be afforded the same respect and adulation that cultural etiquette supposedly mandates for the Church?

The decision is yours to make. But let us not pretend that intellectual apathy affects only the apathetic.

Comments

22 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Richard Succer,

    Good article.

  2. Richard Succer,

    Good article

  3. Glans,

    This is a good article.

  4. e.,

    flaws of the catholic church and its doctrine aside, you can’t make people stop believing in what they do. you have to respect that. just let it go.

  5. M.C.O.,

    Good start, but the conclusions miss the mark… Catholics should be angered by the churches teachings, but instead should be up-in-arms about the lack of concern and knowledge of the Catholic Faith. American Catholics are especially ignorant of the gave sins committed through their own apathy. Unfortunately, the author neglects to note that the church is harmed most of all by it’s own atrocities and the apathy of it’s followers.

  6. M.C.O.,

    “Catholics should ^not be angered by the church’s teachings…”

  7. Ryan,

    This article is not accurate–both in theological propositions or its ‘spin’. First the Catholic church was not silent in response to the nazis during WW2. The church saved an estimated 1 million jews by doing things such as putting them in monasteries and convents dressed as monks and nuns. Many jewish children were born in the papal residences.
    If you want an historical record of exactly what the church did, read Sr. Margherita Marchione’s many books (she is a NJ native) on the subject. She will prove beyond a doubt all the good work the Holy Father did. In fact, the head rabbi of Rome converted and took the name Eugene (the pope’s name whom the writer falsely claims stood silent in the face of the Nazis) and was baptised by Pope Pius after the war.

    The church does not invent new doctrine. It guards and preserves what was taught by Christ. It has not the right to change any of it. This is why moral teachings do not change simply because the culture has shifted and promotes those changes. This new attitude towards moral relativism would not be consistent with the historical Christ we read about in the gospels.

  8. Yup,

    “The church does not invent new doctrine.” : False. “However, new dogmas can be declared through the ages. For instance, the 20th century witnessed the introduction of the dogma of Assumption of Mary by Pope Pius XII in 1950.And a movement to declare a fifth Marian dogma for Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix is underway.” – Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not exactly an academic source, but it doesn’t take much to repute Ryan’s statement.

  9. Ryan,

    “For instance, the 20th century witnessed the introduction of the dogma of Assumption of Mary by Pope Pius XII in 1950.” False.

    False in the point you are trying to make to my original comment. Both the eastern and western churches since the first centuries of the church acknowledged Mary’s assumption. It had never been formally defined as a binding doctrine on the faithful. It is not found in scripture. It is found in Tradition which to Catholics is equal to scripture.

    The church does not invent new doctrine as I said above. Any doctrine that the Catholic Church teaches has been held as a truth since Christ taught it to the apostles. It is called “the deposit of faith”. When long-standing doctrines become questioned or challenged by unbelieving people, such as yourself, and the faithful are then confused as to what they should believe, the church with long and hard deliberation will declare or define (whatever you’d like to call it) and say that the doctrine in question which has been known to the faithful since apostolic times is definitive.

    Did the church invent the idea of the mediatrix of graces in the late 19th century? Of course not. The idea runs through most of the fathers of the church and is a theologically sound conclusion based on other already defined doctrines. No place in scripture is it defined (nor does it have to be and I’ll get to that in a moment). So the church will declare it to be a definitive teaching, usually at a council. And the same applies to moral laws or any other doctrines of faith.

    The institution of the Roman Church is 2000 years old. As a governing, functioning body, it is the oldest on the earth. The bible was written by the church. Who do you think put Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, et alia into the encyclopedia of volumes we now know as the New Testament? It was the Catholic Church. Did the books just fuse together on their own? Did they gravitate like matter in the universe? Did the New Testament fall out of the sky whole and entire? Of course not. It was defined by the church as definitive canon. The point is that the church does not invent. It is here to clarify when there is confusion because it is a living body which transcends centuries.

    Any time a council has defined something for the past 2000 years, it has clarified something Catholics already held, but was challenged by someone.

    For Catholics, Tradition is equal to scripture for several reasons: the New Testament was written and compiled centuries after the death of Christ; the gospel was originally preached orally; Christ never told the apostles to write, instead he commanded them to preach; and finally, several passages in the new testament speak about listening to the teachings of the church whether through oral means [which would be tradition now] or the authentic writings of the apostles [later collected into what we know as the New Testament].

  10. E,

    II. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRADITION AND SACRED SCRIPTURE

    One common source. . .

    80 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.”40 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age”.41

    . . . two distinct modes of transmission

    81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”42

    “And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.”43

    82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”44

  11. “This article is not accurate–both in theological propositions or its ’spin’. First the Catholic church was not silent in response to the nazis during WW2. The church saved an estimated 1 million jews by doing things such as putting them in monasteries and convents dressed as monks and nuns. Many jewish children were born in the papal residences. If you want an historical record of exactly what the church did, read Sr. Margherita Marchione’s many books (she is a NJ native) on the subject. She will prove beyond a doubt all the good work the Holy Father did. In fact, the head rabbi of Rome converted and took the name Eugene (the pope’s name whom the writer falsely claims stood silent in the face of the Nazis) and was baptised by Pope Pius after the war.”

    Surely, at least, you’d be willing to grant that there is substantial controversy over the role that Pius XII played during the Holocaust. To this day, the Vatican refuses to make public the documents surrounding his alleged “private” attempts to secure the safety of Jews, despite his being considered for beatification by Benedict. By “deafening silence” I was referring mostly to Pius’ lack of public pronouncements in opposition to Nazi rule or the massacre of Jews. He outwardly said nothing of consequence in protest of the ongoing atrocities.

    From the Jewish Virtual Library ( http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/pius.html ): In October 1941, the Assistant Chief of the U.S. delegation to the Vatican, Harold Tittman, asked the Pope to condemn the atrocities. The response came that the Holy See wanted to remain “neutral,” and that condemning the atrocities would have a negative influence on Catholics in German-held lands

    That is but one example. And notwithstanding the actions of individual Catholics to save Jews, of which there were certainly some, the approach taken by Catholic Church itself (led by the Pope) was marked by cowardly deference.

    But really, this point was but a minor one in my overall argument. Even if I were to grant you that Pius actively saved Jews in the Holocaust, it would not detract from my thesis, which you do not address despite calling my ‘spin’ inaccurate.

    If you would like to refute my allegation that those who associate with the Catholic Church are morally culpable for tacitly abetting their detestable beliefs and practices, I would be happy to respond.

    • Donna,

      Your article is very interesting. But no religion, Pope, or Bishop has the power to physically force someone to say, think, or do anything. Every human has free will and the politicians that vote can use Catholicism as a scape goat, but please you should not. You are generalizing Catholic Youth to be apathetic but I must say youth in general, regardless of religion can be apathetic my friend. In the culture we live in today, it is rash to place such accusations on a single religion. As a devout Catholic, I’m aware that there may be things in our history that we may not be able to defend. But as an American, can you say that in our past some Americans did NOT stand up against slavery? The atrocities of the Japanese during our lovely wars? and what about Hiroshima? Don’t place mistakes of the past on one religion or “culture” and devalue it, because if that is the case then are you proud to call yourself an American? Racism is still evident today and if you don’t believe me please take a look at public websites where those can hide behind their computers and use racial slurs. My point is that your thesis is reminding us to “not forget” the negative aspects of Catholicism, the views and it’s past, but it’s wrong to criticize for HUMAN and yes I repeat HUMAN mistakes (no one is sinless but Christ God himself) and if you were truly informed, you would be aware that the “infallible” Pope you speak of actually confesses his sins daily because HE KNOWS that HE IS NOT infallible and neither are priests or Bishops for they too confess their sins) So please, before you accuse and proclaim that Catholicism and it’s “detestable beliefs and practices” are something you need to respond to, ask yourself if being an American makes you proud because we too have our history not to mention the world may not have the “best” view of us either. Don’t use the past or personal issues to question or doubt a whole generation of Catholic youth.

  12. Ryan,

    The only controversy surrounding Pius XII is from people who wish to marr the actions of the Roman Catholic Church. As I said before, he saved up to a million jews. The pope did more good quietly than any other way possible. He had no army. Why should he have provoked the satanic madman Hitler any more than he had to? Had Pius come out with the force you claim he should have, the million people he would have saved would not have been. Also, let’s get back to reality here and recognize it was not only Jews who were targets of Hitler: Catholics were victims also. Read Sr. Margherita’s works, she has had extensive access to many factual documents in the so-called archives. Again, if Eugenio Pacelli was such an awful pope, the head Rabbi of Rome shouldn’t have been baptised by him and taken his name. Let’s call it what it is: Anti-catholic bigotry make no mistake about it. I live to see the day Pius is raised to the altar as saint.

    As for the rest of your article: I’m sure no one here condones the autrocities of what certain individuals within the church have done. Why should the institution be defaced because of some individuals who are evil? We should ask why pedophiles are attracted to the church and to the priesthood, and not the other way around…And you find them in any religion…It’s just easier to bash the Catholic church. There are many good priests who are not evil and simply wish to teach people about God. Judas was one of the first bishops in the institution: he sold Christ for 30 pieces of silver. Did that make the church bad? No. Did it make him bad? Yes. This is what happens when a divine church is run by human beings.

    As for your comment on Africa and contraception: contraception is evil. If you can’t realize the awful effect it has made on society both morally and spiritually then you are blissfully ignorant. People are viewed as sex objects and only live for the next pleasure they can experience.
    God creates with a purpose (let’s get back to Aristotle) and the sexual organs and pleasures are no different. Marriage’s purpose is to bring children into the world by continuing the race. (This is why the idea that the “definition” of the word marriage should be changed its absolutely ridiculous, insane, and fanatical.) NO, the church should not be handing out condemns. These people shouldn’t be doing what they are doing. The ends do not justify the means, at least not according to Catholic moral theology.

    I don’t know what type of world you wish to envision that we “progress” to. To me and any other person of faith on here it is more of a reversion. You want the catholic church out of the picture and all of its moral statutes with it? You’ll have the roman empire back. And that was NOT a pretty place to be living in. It was Christianity which ended horrendous evils that were rampant during the empire, an empire which saw women as sex objects, people as human cattle, pedophilia as commonplace, and any other evil you could imagine.

  13. Ryan,

    The only controversy surrounding Pius XII is from people who wish to marr the actions of the Roman Catholic Church. As I said before, he saved up to a million jews. The pope did more good quietly than any other way possible. He had no army. Why should he have provoked the satanic madman Hitler any more than he had to? Had Pius come out with the force you claim he should have, the million people he would have saved would not have been as well as countless more. Also, let’s get back to reality here and recognize it was not only Jews who were targets of Hitler: Catholics were victims also. Read Sr. Margherita’s works, she has had extensive access to many factual documents in the so-called archives. Again, if Eugenio Pacelli was such an awful pope, the head Rabbi of Rome shouldn’t have been baptised by him and taken his name. Let’s call it what it is: Anti-catholic bigotry make no mistake about it. I live to see the day Pius is raised to the altar as saint.

    As for the rest of your article: I’m sure no one here condones the autrocities of what certain individuals within the church have done. Why should the institution be defaced because of some individuals who are evil? We should ask why pedophiles are attracted to the church and to the priesthood, and not the other way around…And you find them in any religion…It’s just easier to bash the Catholic Church. There are many good priests who are not evil and simply wish to teach people about God. Judas was one of the first bishops in the institution: he sold Christ for 30 pieces of silver. Did that make the church bad? No. Did it make him bad? Yes. This is what happens when a divine church is run by human beings.

    As for your comment on Africa and contraception: contraception is evil. If you can’t realize the awful effect it has made on society both morally and spiritually then you are blissfully ignorant. People are viewed as sex objects and only live for the next pleasure they can experience. When did this start? The pill. Every christian religion taught it was a moral evil until certain protestant religions relaxed the law in the early 20th century.

    God creates with a purpose (let’s get back to Aristotle) and the sexual organs and pleasures are no different. Marriage’s purpose is to bring children into the world by continuing the race. (This is why the idea that the “definition” of the word marriage should be changed its absolutely ridiculous, insane, and fanatical.) NO, the church should not be handing out condemns: These people shouldn’t be doing what they are doing. The ends do not justify the means, at least not according to Catholic moral theology.

    I don’t know what type of world you wish to envision that we should “progress” to. To me and any other person of faith on here it is more of a reversion. You want the catholic church out of the picture and all of its moral statutes with it? You’ll have the Roman Empire back. And that was NOT a pretty place to be living in. It was Christianity which ended the horrendous evils that were rampant during the empire, an empire which saw women as sex objects, people as human cattle, pedophilia as commonplace, and any other evil you could imagine.

    What do you expect to happen when you wish to break down every single facet of our civilization, our beliefs, practices, starting with the family?

  14. More like the church is the one voice left speaking truth in a world that has given into moral relativism. The pro-gay movement has displayed itself as a civil right movement. But, though there are people who same sex attraction, it is not the moral equivalent to heterosexual marriage. A heterosexual marriage can naturally beget children and ought to be protected and supported by law. Homosexuals cannot claim this and are much more likely to break up. People forget that the reason to even have laws to protect marriage or to keep two people together is supposed to be for the good of children. Even if homosexual marriage had such protection, there is no natural dynamism to keep them together. It would just be a legal reality made to allow people to feel good about their immoral actions. It’s one thing for two people to be homosexually attracted and live in sin. But, don’t try to drag the rest of society down with you. I’ll pray for you all.

    I don’t have time to go into right now. But, the catholic church is gravely misrepresented in this article. Peace.
    -Todd

  15. “You are generalizing Catholic Youth to be apathetic but I must say youth in general, regardless of religion can be apathetic my friend.”

    I agree, and noted this in the opening paragraph of my article. The trends, however, are especially apparent among Catholic youth.

    I’m glad you’ve brought up the point about national versus religious identity. I am an American, but I did not choose on my own volition to be an American. I was simply born in the United States, and as such that designation has been applied to me for my entire life. I mustn’t affirm any core principles in order to be an American – I must simply live here or have been born here. I am compelled neither to agree nor disagree with any endeavor undertaken by the United States government in order to retain that designation.

    This is starkly different than what it means to be a Catholic. One who declares their association with the Catholic Church does so by their own free will. Being a Catholic is completely voluntary, whereas being an American is not. Even someone who hates America but lives here must necessarily be described as an American, but someone who hates the Catholic Church need not be affiliated with the Catholic Church. Belonging to any organized religion is a sovereign undertaking, and if you are a (non-heretical) Catholic, you are required to profess that faith’s doctrinal tenets. If you are a member of an organization which claims exclusive knowledge of the path to salvation, a singularly unique conception of morality, and the proper way to conduct social and political affairs, you should be answerable to the pronouncements made on that organization’s behalf.

    Even as a member of the Democratic Party, I mustn’t be in agreement with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, or Tim Kaine in order to retain my political affiliation. There are no ideological prerequisites one must affirm before joining the Democratic Party. Those who act in the name of Democrats everywhere only act in the name of Democratic deals as they individually conceive them. In the Catholic Church, by definition, any individual conceptions of Church doctrine that violate its dogmas are heretical.

    Thus, as an American or a Democrat I am not required to answer for the actions of my fellow Americans or Democrats. But as a Catholic, one must be prepared to do so – especially church leadership. My article doesn’t reference laypeople who claim to be Catholics. It references those members of the Church hierarchy who have been designated as its spokespeople — popes, bishops, and other Vatican officials. If these people don’t speak for the Church, who possibly could?

  16. Ryan,

    So Mr. Tracey, what exactly is your point? Why should I or any other Catholic be outraged about the doctrines or dogmas the Catholic Church teaches?

    Again, the pope, bishops or priests are human and fulfill human functions in a divine institution. I am taught to believe in the dogmas contained in the catechism. The personal failures or inadequate adminstrative qualities of these men are not my problem. Neither do they marr in any way the authority of the church, nor do they jeopardize the teachings on morality or salvation.

  17. Ryan,

    First of all, as I’ve noted, many Church catechisms are morally objectionable (homosexuality, contraception). You are free to dispute that, but you nevertheless must be at least aware of them. And it seems like you are. My target here is more the “Cafeteria Catholic” who claims affiliation with the Church but rejects its dogma, all the while unwittingly legitimizing (what I believe to be) a toxic political agenda.

    We could have a separate discussion about the morality of these specific issues.

    Additionally, to suggest that the moral failures of these countless priests, bishops, and popes are simply demonstrative of their “inadequate administrative qualities” is a slight to those for whom their actions have created harm.

    It seems to me that the leadership of a supposedly divine institution speaks on behalf of said institution. Bishops and popes are therefore speaking on your behalf, and as such, you must be accountable for their words and actions. This most applies to the pope, who, again, claims to be infallible.

  18. DreamerGal,

    Wow! Your intellectual dishonesty is astounding.

  19. Ryan,

    Mr Tracey: You have covered so many different points in your article it is hard to keep track of them. I believe the point of your article is to say: that as a member of the Roman Catholic church, I willfully acknowledge and accept all of its moral teachings (unless I am a cafeteria Catholic and do not even know what I am affirming)… and considering certain church teachings on morality which you find to be evil, by my willful membership in the church, I also share in the guilt of the church’s evil moral teachings. Is this correct?

    It would not matter if the entire administrative and moral structure of the church failed. It would not slight in any way the moral teachings which are part of the canons of the church. The moral laws of the church have been on the books for two millenia, many of them even going back to the Jews and the old testament.

    I am not accountable for individual actions of evil priests. The priests are representatives of a divine institution. They are also human. Judas was an evil priest from the start but this has no consequence to the institution.

    What does the concept of papal infallibility mean to you? What situations and circumstances do you believe apply to papal infallibility? Individual personal morality if the pope? Before we go further, clarify your understanding of papal infallibility, please.

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