Pope Francis will soon visit the United States, and that means ’tis the season for moronic attempts by non-Catholics and fake-Catholics to pretend to explain Catholicism to the Low Information Readers. It’s amazing; not too long ago, people had the brains and the self-respect to sit down and shut up when they didn’t know jack s**t about the topic of conversation. These days, however, anyone with two brain cells to rub together can appear on the internet, or in this case, NPR, and portray himself as an “expert” in something he’s either completely ignorant of, or actively trying to discredit and destroy.
Pravda would be proud of the American press.
Today’s example is yet another sorry excuse for American journalism, courtesy of the National Public Radio, starring Tom Gjelten, Rachel Martin, and their guests, “catholic” sociologist William D’Antonio, Mary Gautier, a “catholic scholar” from Georgetown. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you today’s five-star stupid-fest: Modern Catholics Test The Pope’s Infallible Authority. It’s like watching a three-year-old play checkers: there are no rules, nothing makes sense, and coherent sentences are optional.
Normally, I’d let these idiots go play in their sandbox in peace, completely willing to ignore them until they wise up or go away. Given the media frenzy over Pope Francis’ upcoming visit, however, I see it as my duty to point out why these idiots and liars are so very wrong, because they, unfortunately, have the ability to convince other people that what they say is true. As usual, the original text is in italics and my comments are in bold.
John F. Kennedy’s presidential bid was challenged by Protestant leaders who charged that he would be a tool of the Vatican. Concerns were widespread about Catholic leaders demanding political loyalty on issues involving church doctrine.
My mother tells me the same thing. According to her, that fear was the reason JFK had to run with Lyndon Johnson (if I wasn’t indoors, I would spit) as his vice president. There was no way a Catholic from Massachusetts would win the South without a running mate from said South. Cue Lyndon B. Johnson (*SPIT*); JFK had to have Texas. Stop the presses, people. It looks like NPR actually said something accurate. But what does this have to do with current Catholics and Pope Francis?
But today, the question is whether Catholic voters and Catholic politicians still give deference to Vatican views. Does the Pope still have clout when it comes to pronouncements he makes on key issues?
Oh, jeez. Here we go. Once again, the so-called journalists are talking about Catholics like they were political parties. Just substitute “republicans” for “Catholics” and “Boehner” for “Pope Francis” and “Washington” for “Vatican” and it’ll be much more accurate.
Once again, GIVING DEFERENCE TO VATICAN VIEWS IS NOT OPTIONAL FOR CATHOLICS. I’ve already been through this in my last fisk, but it’s so important, I’ll say it again. If you don’t defer to the Vatican, you’re not a Catholic. Period. Full stop.
Now, you might say: but but but Catholics don’t always agree with everything the Catholic Church says! Just look at the polls! Well, sorry to break it to you, pal: if you don’t agree with Church Teaching, you’re not a Catholic.
This is a much bigger problem than most people realize. If we keep using the terms “liberal Catholic” or “conservative Catholic,” we allow people like this to perpetuate the narrative that there is more than one way to be Catholic. There isn’t. There’s only one way, and following what Holy Mother Church says is that only way. So stop letting people dictate the argument for us. Don’t let them change the words and thereby change the argument. Make people tell the truth. Stop calling Nancy Pelosi and her ilk “Catholics.” Don’t say things like “liberal Catholic” or “conservative Catholic” (and that’s something I have to work on, too). Don’t let anyone dilute the meaning of the word “Catholic,” because it’s a wonderful word, full of truth, beauty, and history.
From now on, we’ll call them PCs. Pretend catholics. Or Papa Charlies (because they like to think that they’re the pope). There are miles of puns contained in those two letters, plus, most people like that are usually Politically Correct, so we can cover that base at the same time. Yep. From now on, those who say they are Catholic, but aren’t really Catholic shall be called PCs. Empress Lorraine the Brobdingnagian of Fishkill St. Wednesday decrees it to be so.
If you don’t believe everything the Church teaches, you’re not a Catholic. You’re a PC, and we’re onto you.
Bottom line: yes, the Pope still has clout, but only if you’re actually a Catholic.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: In the past, many Catholics believed that the Pope spoke with the voice of God and they were reluctant to question him.
Well, that’s an over-simplification if I ever heard one. Saying that he “speaks with the voice of God” isn’t accurate; he occupies the Chair of Peter, not the Chair of God. I don’t think that particular chair actually exists. The pope, under certain circumstances (more on this later), speaks with the voice of authority granted to him by God and passed down to each pope through the ages:
“And I say to thee: that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I shall build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys to the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
That’s some significant authority right there. Peter, and after him, every other pope, holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Because he holds those keys, what he says goes. What he binds is bound; nobody else has that authority.
Which brings us to the crux of this particular matter of stupidity: used to, Catholics understood that authority, and respected it. Not many do these days, and that’s the unfortunate result of bad catechesis and worse parenting, and a tendency to reject authority. In most cases, Americans are spoiled little rebellious brats who find some sort of perverse virtue in rejecting the words of an authority figure, not because they’re wrong, but simply because “the Man” said them. Thank you for that, 1960s.
That “rebellion for its own sake” has carried over into the Church:
“These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be” (Full Prayer to St. Michael).
Satan is laughing his head off; we gave him what he wanted, and he didn’t even have to work hard for it.
Today the opinions of U.S. Catholics often diverge from the pontiff and church teachings.
That doesn’t make them right, and it sure doesn’t make that “divergence” acceptable. Used to, people like that were called heretics and excommunicated, like Martin Luther or Henry VIII.
With his outspoken views, Pope Francis has given his followers even more to consider. NPR’s Tom Gjelten reports on how American Catholics are now starting to ask more questions.
You arrogant little twit. You’re implying that “thinking” is somehow contrary to obedience to Church Teaching, when in fact, it is quite the opposite. The Catholic Church boasts some of the most intelligent minds in all of history: St. Thomas Aquinas alone invalidates your argument. His business was thinking, and he did it very well, while at the same time remaining obedient to Holy Mother Church. He asked questions, and answered them. That’s the beauty of the Church possessing the Fullness of Truth: whenever you have a question, She can answer it. Now tell me, what college on the face of this planet can compete with that?
TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: In the 1950s, 3 out of 4 American Catholics went to Mass every Sunday. William D’Antonio, a Catholic sociologist who was a young father in those days, says he knows why Catholics were so dutiful back then.
Uh, because they were smart?
D’ANTONIO: We went to church because of the fear of hell if we didn’t go. You either went to church or you were going to hell.
Sorry, you poor ignorant sap; it’s still a mortal sin to not go to Mass on Sunday. If you don’t go to church, you’ll end up in hell. It’s a very simple if-then proposition. Even small children and highly intelligent dogs understand cause and effect.
GJELTEN: Not going to church was a mortal sin, and Catholics back then were taught by their priests that mortal sins sent them to hell unless they confessed and were forgiven.
Stop using the past tense, moron. It’s still a mortal sin, and mortal sins do, in fact, send you straight to hell, unless you go to confession. Once again, a simple if-then proposition.
They were also taught it was a sin to use birth control.
Yep, still is a sin to use birth control. Enough with the past tense.
That came from a 1930 encyclical, a statement of doctrine, issued by Pope Pius XI.
That would be Casti connubii (Of Chaste Wedlock), issued on December 31, 1930 by Pius XI. Oh, and don’t forget, it was reaffirmed by Pius VI in Humanae vitae (On Human Life) on July 25, 1968 (look at that; something that happened in the PCs’ favorite decade), and again by Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body (a series of his Wednesday audiences that were given over a period of time, the contents of which make up the collective Theology of the Body). So, if you’re trying to discredit the information by claiming that it’s old and out of date, you’re out of luck.
Sometimes when popes speak, they’re considered to be infallible — they can’t be wrong. But D’Antonio, now a research professor at Catholic University, says the papal infallibility rule did not apply to that 1930 encyclical.
Really? Do, tell.
D’ANTONIO: Catholics thought it did, but in fact, on an issue like that involving human behavior, it cannot be a teaching from authority, from the infallible authority.
Let’s start by defining the term, shall we? What is an encyclical?
. . . wow, I’m having flashbacks to the Baltimore Catechism . . .
An encyclical (from the Greek egkyklios, kyklos meaning a circle) is nothing more than a circular letter (as in, it is circulated, not that is is shaped like a circle). They are addressed to the the bishops of the world (or sometimes, to a particular group of bishops) or to the faithful in general, and they “are generally concerned with matters which affect the welfare of the Church at large. They condemn some prevalent form of error, point out dangers which threaten faith or morals, exhort the faithful to constancy, or prescribe remedies for evils foreseen or already existent.”
I think that all of the above mentioned encyclicals “prescribe remedies for evils foreseen or already existent.”
That covers what an encyclical is; now we have to move on to how much authority an encyclical has. The PCs at NPR insist that it is not infallible.
According to the dictionary:
Infallible (adj.) is: not capable of being wrong; not fallible.
So once again, they’re treating the word as something it’s not. They are using “infallible” to mean “authoritative,” rather than “not capable of being wrong.” When we say that the Church is infallible, that means that, on matters of faith and morals, She cannot be in error. On matters of faith and morals, the pope cannot be in error.
It’s not that the pope can’t ever be wrong; it’s that he can’t ever preach something wrong. Infallibility applies to ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter) statements, so that they cannot be in error. That doesn’t mean that everything the pope says that is not an ex cathedra statement can be disregarded by anyone who disagrees with its content. Even when he’s not making an ex cathedra statement, he’s still the pope; he still has the authority granted to him by Christ through Peter.
The best way I’ve heard it explained: “even in this portion of his ordinary magisterium [teaching authority] the Holy Father has the right to demand, and actually has demanded, a definite and unswerving internal assent to his teaching from all Catholics.”
I don’t know where the hell this moron gets the idea that something on “human behavior” can’t be infallible, and therefore should not be followed. He’s so full of it, his eyes are brown. Everything has to do with human behavior. Faith and morals have to do with human behavior, and are under papal authority, and that includes encyclicals.
GJELTEN: Official Catholic doctrine holds that a pope’s judgment is considered infallible only in rare circumstances. For example, on core issues of faith. So why did so many Catholics think that what the pope or their bishop said was unquestionable?
You’re full of it. They believed their pope and their bishops because they had been rightly taught that they were supposed to. They knew that their Church would not lead them astray. That’s called faith, you morons, and I wish I had a tenth of that faith.
Mary Gautier is a prominent Catholic scholar at Georgetown University. She says it had to do with with where people came from.
MARY GAUTIER: American Catholics were basically uneducated, blue-collar workers coming from a peasant population over in Europe and so they clung to the teachings of the church, whatever the priests said or the bishops said, as authoritative because those were the only educated people that they knew.
Wait . . . all Catholics are peasants, so therefore they obey Church teaching, because they’re too stupid to do otherwise?
How. Dare. You.
You’re judging obedience to the teachings of the Church by how educated someone is, and those two things have nothing to do with each other. If education automatically destroyed faith, then Saint Thomas Aquinas wouldn’t have existed; his spectacular education would have made him an atheist.
Oh, wait. That’s what you want to be true. Because educated people like yourselves can’t believe in anything outside their safe little classrooms. Because education in this country does tend to destroy faith.
There’s nothing wrong with being an ignorant peasant. Do you have any idea how many saints were ignorant peasants? Those people are the ones with great faith. Did Mary appear to educated people? Nope, she picked Saint Bernadette in Lourdes, and Saints Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco in Fatima, and Juan Diego in Guadalupe. Again, I wish I had a tenth of their faith.
You’re talking about book-learning, trying to cloud the issue, which is really about faith, and the obedience associated with it. You’re even more stupid and deceptive than I originally thought.
GJELTEN: Many Protestant Americans in those years thought their Catholic neighbors were beholden to their church leaders, so much so that when John Kennedy ran for president, he had to reassure them that he’d make his own decisions.
You’re conflating the issue again. We are beholden to our church leaders. Kennedy is part of the problem; he thought he had to abandon his faith in order to be president. He’s a PC, not a Catholic. So stop judging us by his bad behavior.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JOHN F. KENNEDY: I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president, should he be Catholic, how to act.
Well, that’s a problem. Yes, obedience to the pope is part of being a Catholic; but how does a man running for president convince the Low Information Voters that being a good Catholic president is actually good for the Protestants, too? You can’t; you have to work with the emotional responses of the people you’re trying to convince. It was easier for Kennedy to disavow his Catholicism than try and educate the whole country. A good Catholic president would be honest, brave, and honorable because of his faith, not in spite of it. But how do you convince people of that? Kennedy had a big problem, and he dealt with it the best way he knew how, unfortunately for Catholics. But again, this whole bit with Kennedy clouds the issue.
GJELTEN: Times have changed, though some Catholics still defer to their priests and bishops.
Actually, ALL Catholics do; only PCs don’t.
JOAN LOWERY: I’m still the old-fashioned Catholic. I’m pretty much true to what I’ve been taught.
People who grew up in the 1960s think that they’re “old-fashioned,” when in fact they’re the worst sort of modern rebellious idiots. Most of the time, “old-fashioned Catholic” means “taught their faith badly in the 1960s by Polyester Nuns.” I’m sure those PCs are true to the heresy they’ve been taught.
GJELTEN: Joan Lowery (ph) worships at a parish in Philadelphia. She’s 84, and she realizes many younger Catholics have a different attitude.
LOWERY: A lot of the Catholics have changed and want to do what they want and say what they want and so on, and they’re not true to the old traditions.
Hey, look at that! A caller who actually says something smart! Good for you, Joan from Philadelphia! Yeah, the younger Catholics have wised up; we know that obedience to Holy Mother Church and her teachings is a virtue, that it will sustain our souls and lead us to heaven. It sounds like Joan from Philadelphia somehow kept her faith through the 1960s, and did not become a PC. I salute her for it.
GJELTEN: Maria Cristina Perez (ph), a 43-year-old schoolteacher in suburban Philadelphia, almost left the church because of its positions on human sexuality issues. Pope Francis has now brought her back.
Well, we’ll pray for her soul, and ask that God lead her back to His Church. At least she had the decency to say that she was no longer a Catholic when she encountered something she didn’t like. Most people don’t have that moral fortitude. Pope Francis bringing her back is a good thing, too.
MARIA CRISTINA PEREZ: Certain disconnects that always troubled me deeply about the church feel more resolved, and I am much more comfortable now celebrating Catholicism and celebrating the church.
Uh . . . wait. The Church didn’t change anything, Maria. You’ve been listening to the lamestream media again, haven’t you? Oh, dear. She came back as a PC, not a Catholic.
GJELTEN: Not because Francis changed church positions she found objectionable. It’s because she likes other things he says.
Well, you’re right. Francis hasn’t changed anything! Finally! Someone who will admit that! So . . . what are we talking about again?
PEREZ: My close friends who aren’t Catholic have said to me, boy, you sure are good at compartmentalizing. And I say, you’re right – I am choosing to celebrate his focus on poverty. I am choosing not to focus on the other things.
Unfortunately, we have here another confused PC who thinks that she can be Catholic and only believe certain portions of Church Teaching. There is no “compartmentalizing;” you either believe all of it, or you believe none of it. She didn’t come back to the Church; she changed her label from “ex-Catholic” to “Catholic,” thinking that that was okay. It’s not. She’s no more Catholic than the congregation of the First United Methodist Church.
GJELTEN: That tendency to pick and choose among church teachings is replacing the inclination to regard church doctrine as infallible.
Hold the phone, moron. Church doctrine is infallible, whether you think it is or not. The word you’re looking for isn’t “infallible;” it’s “necessary.” Church Teaching still has the same authority, whether you think so or not. Doctrine hasn’t changed; its authority hasn’t changed; its relevance hasn’t changed. What has changed is what people think of it; that’s the problem here. People have been taught that picking and choosing is okay, when it isn’t.
Mary Gautier, from Georgetown University, says two things have happened in the last 50 or 60 years – American Catholics today are far more educated,
Once again, you’re equating education with faith, and the two have nothing to do with each other. Maybe American Catholics are more educated — I beg to differ on that, however — but that isn’t the issue. Education or lack thereof has nothing to do with faith, unless you want to make the argument that more education means less faith, as it seems to do here.
and church leaders are now saying Catholics are allowed to come to their own conclusions.
And what the hell are you talking about? Last time I checked, “church leaders” have NEVER said that “Catholics are allowed to come to their own conclusions.” Ever. Never ever. On the contrary, they always reaffirm that we must be obedient to Holy Mother Church:
“I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible.” Saint Teresa
“The power of obedience! The lake of Gennesareth had denied its fishes to Peter’s nets. A whole night in vain. Then, obedient, he lowered his net again to the water and they caught ‘a huge number of fish.’ Believe me: the miracle is repeated each day.” Saint Josemaria Escriva
“Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.” Saint Thomas Aquinas
“Obedience is a virtue of so excellent a nature, that Our Lord was pleased to mark its observance upon the whole course of His life; thus He often says, He did not come to do His Own will, but that of His Heavenly Father.” Saint Francis de Sales
“There are three sorts of obedience; the first, obedience when a strict obligation is imposed upon us, and this is good; the second when the simple word of the superior, without any strict command, suffices for us, and this is better; the third, when a thing is done without waiting for an express command, from a knowledge that it will be pleasing to the superior, and this is the best of all.” Saint Ignatius
Not modern enough for you? Fine. How about this:
“The joy promised by the Beatitudes is the very joy of Jesus himself: a joy sought and found in obedience to the Father and in the gift of self to others. . . . By looking at Jesus you will learn what it means to be poor in spirit, meek and merciful; what it means to seek justice, to be pure in heart, to be peacemakers.” Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day 2002
“Believing in God entails adherence to him, the acceptance of his word and joyful obedience to his revelation. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, ‘Faith is a personal act — the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself’ (n. 166). The ability to say one believes in God is therefore both a gift — God reveals himself, he comes to meet us — and a commitment, it is divine grace and human responsibility in an experience of conversation with God who, out of love, ‘addresses men as his friends’ (Dei Verbum, n. 2) speaks to us, so that, in faith and with faith, we are able to enter into communion with him. . . . Abraham, the father of believers, continues to be a father of many children who agree to walk in his footsteps and set out in obedience to the divine call, trusting in the benevolent presence of the Lord and receiving his blessing in order to become themselves a blessing for all.” Benedict XVI, General Audience January 23, 2013
“What does ‘obeying God’ mean? Does it mean that we must behave like slaves? No, whoever obeys God is free, he is not a slave! And how can this be? It seems like a contradiction . . . ‘Obey’ comes from Latin, and means to listen, to hear others. Obeying God is listening to God, having an open heart to follow the path that God points out to us. Obedience to God is listening to God and it sets us free.” Pope Francis, morning meditation, April 11, 2013
What rock have you been living under?
You’ve confused freedom and license. You don’t want people to be free to do as they ought; you want them to be able to do whatever they want with no fear of consequences. That is not freedom. Cardinal Ratzinger, before he was Pope Benedict XVI, explained the difference much better than I ever could. Go read it. Educate yourself.
GAUTIER: The church teaches that you should pay attention to the Bible, to the teachings of the magisterium, which includes the Pope and all of the bishops, but you should form your own conscience around that.
Uh, yeah. Around that. Meaning you take what they say, and use it to form your conscience. You internalize the Scriptures and the teachings of the Magesterium. You make what they say part of you. That’s how you form your conscience. If your conscience is telling you something contradicting Church Teaching, your conscience is badly formed and you shouldn’t listen to it. Actually, you should get some spiritual direction from a good priest, because a badly-formed conscience is dangerous. It leads to hell.
One think I learned in my Theology Applied to Psychology class: no one ever deliberately chooses an evil. People always choose something they perceive as good for them. Even murderers and rapists and terrorists think that they are choosing some good for themselves. The problem is that their idea of “good” has gotten out of whack somewhere along the line. Same thing here. When you choose to say that abortion is really okay, or that homosexual “marriage” is okay, or that birth control is okay, and on and on and on, in direct opposition to the teachings of the Church, in your mind, you’re not choosing an evil; you’re choosing a perceived good, rather than an actual good.
Your conscience is badly formed; it is telling you that that thing is good when it isn’t. The problem is not with what is and is not good; the problem is with your perception of it. Church Teaching hasn’t changed; it never will. The only problem here and now is how people perceive it.
GJELTEN: This is, after all, a pope who said of gay people seeking spiritual guidance, who am I to judge? Tom Gjelten, NPR News.
You’re actually a little closer to what he actually said than most people who use that quote to justify supporting homosexual “marriage,” and yet somehow you manage to draw the complete OPPOSITE conclusion from his words. Francis was talking about a person with a homosexual tendency, who lives a chaste life and tries to seek God; who is he to judge that person? “If someone is gay, and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” No one ever mentions this part, but he went on to make an important distinction between homosexual acts, which are sinful, and homosexual tendencies, which are not.
In the case of a tendency, we really can’t judge those people, because they’re trying to be good! They’re resisting that horrible temptation! We always praise alcoholics who resist the temptation to drink. We support them and encourage them, even if it means they never taste another beer in their entire life. They know that that temptation is too strong for them to resist, so they avoid it entirely. Same thing with a person suffering under the temptation to homosexuality. They really might not be able to help that, but they CAN help giving into it.
It’s the same with any sin: theft, lying, cheating, murder, gossip, anger, you name it. We all have those temptations, and sometimes, they’re easier to resist than others. We can’t help having that temptation — we’re fallible human beings — but we do have free will, and we can help giving into them, no matter what kind of sin it is.
That doesn’t mean that we can just SAY that a sin really isn’t a sin, or that something is okay when it’s not, just to make ourselves feel better. If a teenager gets out a gun and murders his next-door neighbor, we’re all horrified and demand that he be punished. We don’t say, “Oh, that’s not really wrong. He didn’t actually commit a crime. My conscience tells me that that’s okay, so who am I to judge?”
And another thing: I love how these PCs like to completely disregard encyclicals like Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae because they disagree with the contents, but then turn right around and lose their minds over Laudato si, which (according to them and their stupid interpretations) apparently says that climate change must be believed by all.
If PCs didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all. I haven’t read the entire encyclical, but it sounds like he’s trying to tell us to be good stewards of the planet, which is nothing new. Yes, we have been given dominion over the earth, but that doesn’t give us the right to mistreat it. Wastefulness is a sin. The same attitude that leads to wastefulness that destroys the environment also leads to changes in society, which leads us to throw away lives. Imagine that; he was talking about family and society, too. But no, he was just making all Catholics believe in Global Warming. Or wait . . . Climate Change, or whatever the hell the radicals like to call it these days.
The point is: yes, we do have to listen to the content of encyclicals. Yes, we are obliged to obey Holy Mother Church. If everyone who said they were Catholic actually did that, we’d have taken over the world by now. Instead of talking to other people, showing them a good example, and bringing them into our fold, we’re causing scandal, because we can’t even agree among ourselves.
That’s our fault; not Holy Mother Church’s fault. Seems to me that we need to get our act together, not pitch a fit and expect our Mother to change the definition of right and wrong to suit us.
Follow the squirrel minion to get to Lori’s website, Little Squirrel Books.