Monday, 27 February 2012

Catholic Commentators: An Enemy Within?

Sadly I think the major problem amongst Catholic commentators  these days is ignorance and arrogant wishful thinking; they have a little [but not extensive] knowledge on what the Church teaches and therefore opine they can select certain parts they wish to accentuate [while suppressing the awkward aspects - sometimes to the point of dismissal] and combine it with their own version of a 'common sense approach' without any true recognition to what the Church truly teaches and why....
But this is where the arrogance sets in and it becomes "What REAL Catholics think.." and ultimately turns into a 'Don't be misled - this is what Catholics REALLY think about this issue"

If there was ever a time we needed the teaching of St Augustine - it's NOW!
For if you read/listen to Catholic Commentators and Journalists there are two pernicious poisons pervading their paradigms:

Donatism: A worthiness - a 'deserved' respect and a credibility to speak with authority and judge the issues according to their own standards and the actions/opinions/beliefs of others accordingly. Who they are and what they do gives them a right to be an arbiter. The sins or lowly positions of others automatically discredit their arguments.

Pelagianism: An earned respect - a record of proven devotion and 'sacrifice' and participation and belonging - giving them some tenure - credibility; and ergo those who do not participate/belong/can prove they have earned their position - have no right to either speak or question or argue with those who have 'given up so much and deserve their position'. Those who have not 'earned' their right to speak are automatically to be dismissed.

Hence the generic responses of these people revolving round two major fallacies:

For Donatism it's the The Last Man Standing fallacy - that they are the deserving, they are those in authority and those in positions of responsibility and therefore their position is the right one; their arguments must be given credibility and accepted unconditionally because of who they are and the temporal power and authority they wield. "We make the rules therefore they are axiomatically right."

For the Pelagians it's the reverse - the Martyr/Underdog fallacy whereby they have earned their position to speak and be given credence through their endurance, their struggle, their sacrifice, their poor oppressed position - their victimhood. They are the oppressed minority who has endured so much hardship against the oppressor and the cruel, uncharitable forces of temporal power, they stand shoulder to shoulder with the weak and vulnerable  - therefore they are axiomatically right.

Now previously in other ages Catholics usually veered towards or fell into one of these types - scarily doctrinaire authoritarian judgmental sexually repressive jansenists or or even more scary 'liberal' 'progressive' morally-pragmatic social - 'reformers'....
Yet ironically today there's no need to reside merely in one of the camps when both are such effective tools for enforcing one's position ; there's a schizophrenia at work where the 'new Catholic-lite commentators' dwell in both camps and appeal to donatist and pelagian positions either alternately or simultaneously according to the circumstances - brow-beating with their own authority and academic/training credentials while at the same time claiming  justification via victimhood or being on the side of the suffering underdog.

It's amazing how many appeals are made to 'what the Church teaches' by appeals to mere authority of individuals rather than the Magisterium [where invariably it is NOT what the Church 'wholly' teaches and is merely some aspect which may be extra-contextually imposed on an argument] while at the same time it is justified as a resolution to 'social justice' defending those who are oppressed in their victimhood or potential victimhood or the vague possibility that it might be detrimental, or uncharitable towards them.

To cover the cracks and hide all the flaws/gaping holes - Cover all this with a layer of the plaster of complacency , ignorance of the actual facts and a denial of anything which may be awkward or an enemy of unity which might cause dissension or a little boat-rocking or might be seen by an outsider as unjust and uncharitable.

And if that doesn't work?
There is now a prevailing form of sneering dismissal of Orthodox Catholics's grave concerns regarding certain bodies, charities, clerics, professional lay delegates/representatives, academics, journalists, media spokespersons  etc veering from, distorting or misrepresenting authentic Catholic teaching and praxis

When Challenged that their position is far from orthodox or moral; the new 'professional' Catholic declares: 

"The Church has not spoken on the issue therefore it is solely a matter of informed conscience & private prudential judgment"

Hence recently there have been online battles between Catholic commentators on issues such as Civil Partnerships and the Church's authentic position on them. Is the CDF 'duty to oppose' and the CBCEW 'strongly oppose' same-sex unions now defunct given Archbishop Nichols & Catholic Voices say they have nothing to do with Civil Partnerships and only refer to Gay Marriage? This has been even further obfuscated by the CBCEW statement early this year saying that the 2003 'strongly oppose CPs'  position has not changed and consequently +Vin and CV were 'mis-speaking'. The Catholic Voices position is now that THEY HAVE NO OFFICIAL POSITION on the issue've guessed "as Rome has not spoken this is a matter of discernment according to informed conscience and prudential judgment
The fact that Rome has repeatedly spoken on such issues does not prevent our being by our media         representatives - that it hasn't - therefore it's all up to you!!

Arguments over the due concerns over the euthanising capacity of the Liverpool Care Pathway.
Catholic Voices representatives and Catholic bloggers and healthcare workers say there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with the provisions within it. Therefore the accelerated death of the sick and terminally ill CANNOT happen; because Catholic medical practitioners and ethicists formulated the regulations and the Bishops endorse it - therefore we can get back in our boxes and not worry our pretty little heads about it and stop being so uncharitably divisive - and stop threatening the palliative care movement by suggesting there might be something wrong with it....

It is now at the stage where senior Church representatives and Catholic ethical spokespersons and media representatives are denouncing any opposition to the Liverpool Care Pathway as unconscionably reckless and dangerous - as it risks legislators using our claims of 'backdoor euthanasia' as evidence of its being 'present normative practice' and thus inadvertently aiding and abettting future Euthanasia legislation

{For those unaware of the situation - CDF and repeated Papal directives  teach that nutrition and hydration are forms of natural care and not removable clinical treatment 
Yet the Liverpool Care Pathway v.12  states they may be removed when 'it is no longer tolerable' or 'in the patient's best interests'
The Liverpool Care Pathway has a 72hr prognosis-limit as the determinant for sedating opiate provision for analgesia rather than a needs-based pain-alleviation system - people are put to sleep; never to wake up again.
[Note that the terminally ill with non-cancer diagnoses are more likely to have their lives unnecessarily shortened by opiates (Gomes 2011, Trescott 2008) AND that Pius XII's allocutio to anaesthetists Feb '57 spoke of the deprivation of consciousness for unnecessary, non-grave reasons as 'a deplorable practice'..'repugnant to Christian sentiments' and ultimately evil!]}

Grave concerns over Contraception, underage sex and Abortions via Connexions in Catholic schools.
We are told yet again by the Catholic Voices representatives that we are scaremongering and promoting a conspiracy theory; that there are two sides to every story and the school has the right to impose a Catholic ethos over everything that happens within its walls - therefore contraception provision, abortifacient prescription and abortion referrals simply DO NOT HAPPEN - the Bishops would simply not permit it....Therefore we are told to shut up and stop trouble-making.
[The issue that we should never be funding an organisation which performs such grave violating murderous evils - even if they do not perform those functions in a Catholic school - is seen as an irrelevance]

Arguments over the Church's authentic teaching of what is required for the reception of Holy communion as taught by Pius X in Quam Singulari rather than the 'official position/code of practice' of Diocesan and parish quangos - We are told [yet again by the same 'authorative' 'catholic' commentators]  that obviously a Child needs to be fully instructed and it's cruel to force a sacrament on a poor child who doesn't know what's happening and the authorities know what they're doing and have a right to prevent violations of the can you let a child who has no notion of sin or guilt receive the sacrament of penance let alone go forward for first holy communion? - especially when they belong to a non-participating family...?
Therefore anyone who says " But Quam Singulari says they are all totally different issues and you can't..." etc
...can be dismissed as ignorant of the complexities and pastoral concerns within the issues. The Diocesan authorities know what they are doing.

[For those unaware of REAL Catholic teaching from Pius X on the issue - although the normative procedure is for those who have achieved the age of discretion to receive the sacrament of penance before receiving their first Holy Communion - for those who are limited/incapacitated and unable to achieve this position of moral responsibility and culpability - they are NOT to be denied access to the Blessed Sacrament if they can recognise it [even in the most peripheral basic way] as not bread and the real presence]

Therefore when it comes to any moral quandary or ethical issue relativism, situationism, pragmatism and preference utilitarianism now hold their sway with fallacious appeals to authority and appeals to sentiment....meanwhile what the Church TRULY, FULLY teaches can be dismissed, ignored or simply repudiated as irrelevant.... People who fervently declare that they are nothing but absolutely orthodox and defending/promoting what the Church teaches!!!

Previously we only saw this on the political scene - where Catholics who were more leftist would create a Socialist Utopian democratising homogenising view of the Church - those who were more economically neo-con libertarian would see the Church as ruggedly individualistic and the enemy of a society per se and more interested in the salvation and freedom of individual souls who should not be tyrannised by any collective enforcing they should contribute unwillingly...

But today this Trans-Cafeteria Catholicism has taken on overwhelming proportions - the teaching can be used and abused to be accommodated into any structure.
                               The self-delusion is endemic!

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