Catholic Fisticuffs: Look How Those Christians Shove One Another

It’s been quite a belligerent weekend in the Catholic blogosphere, hasn’t it?

First there was the Catholic Answers brouhaha, which was started in part by my post regarding the financial crisis looming at that great Catholic apologetics apostolate.

Then there was Michael Voris, chest thumping, publishing the salaries of well known Catholic media personalities, then castigating them for earning wages which are commensurate with their professional achievement and marketplace value, and which are sufficient to support their families.

Two seemingly unrelated dust-ups, but with a common element:  In both cases the flames of discord were fanned by traditional Catholics.

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the traditionalists—the very group which purports to defend the Church from transgressors—would so insistently work to separate Catholics one from the other?  That their comments would be characterized, not by genuine caring for their fellow believers with whom they disagree, but with pride and venom?

Reading the combox arguments which ensued following my original Catholic Answers post, I couldn’t help but wonder what Jesus must think of the uncharitable way that some of His followers addressed one another.

And if you’re one of those who believe you can catch more flies with honey, rather than by whacking them over the head with a frying pan, then you’ll probably agree with me that any unbelievers who happened into the combox last week would not likely have stayed to pursue their study of the Catholic faith.  No, more likely they’d have run in the opposite direction.

And that’s a shame.

C’mon, you guys:  They’ll know you are Christians by your love.  Pope Francis has called upon believers to build bridges, not walls.  Let’s start building.


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  • Maggie Goff

    I highly recommend Diane Korzeniewski’s series on the Catholic Virtual Wars on her blog. There are three posts so far. Very, very, very well done. Here’s the first one:

  • Jason Pascucci

    And this isn’t just a post fanning the flames? This is particularly striking nonsense.

    I’m also feeling the mood to start breaking things, because the defenders of the status quo seem to be becoming absolutely toxic.

    It’s not the traditionalists, it’s the structures of sin and worldliness which every Catholic should be opposed to.

    Love of ‘the world’ and the things of the world, or love of Christ: choose any one. Both is not an option.

    • bluewindboy81506

      Somehow, and I know this idea is controversial, God manages to love the world (and all the created people and things of the world) while also loving Christ.

      Things that make me go HMMMMM.

      • Jason R. Pascucci

        The idea isn’t controversial, it’s wrong.

        God loves people, not things. Things were created for the good of people, but have no value in themselves.

        I know we Catholics are reputed not to read the Bible, but I hate it when people give evidence of it in public. Try 1 John 2:15. Plus pretty much all of Genesis. And the Church Fathers, Desert Fathers, and Doctors of the Church. And, you know, everyone else in the Church before modern protestantism.

        • bluewindboy81506

          Uh, NO! Have you not read the first chapter of Genesis or John? God creates things which are good in themselves, not simply instrumentally, because he loves them. He desires all of creation to be saved, not just humanity, because he loves all of creation. Before God decided to become Man to save us, God had already decided to become Man to be with us in our created nature (microbes and all).

          Perhaps you need some studies in the Eastern Fathers?

          • Jason Pascucci

            Uh, NO, seriously.They were created good because they reflect God. Every single doctor of the Church is unanimous that the ‘love of the world’ – that is, loving the creation not the creator – is a grave defect in justice to God. It’s just another graven image. Read a little further into Genesis.

            The world is good precisely like the fruit of the tree appeared “good to eat” – same word in the Hebrew – and look where that got our first parents.

            Aristotlean-Thomistically, the goodness of a non-person being (ens) is communicated by God at the time He communicates the Being (esse) to the ens. Then, since the transcendentals are commutable, the ens receives all the finite goodness, truth, a principle of unity and beauty it is to have when brought more fully into being over time. However, the communication itself takes place between persons. The world-of-stuff is for us and our benefit (caretaker-dominion over the non-human animals and lesser beings). Indeed, you could say that the world had to be what it is – not infinite, not perfected – in order to have a place to put the Cross.

            “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” He wasn’t joking, was he?

            We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, rev 21. But here’s the kicker: “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

          • moseynon

            Jason, I think you are downplaying God’s love of creation, of which we are just one part. I am concerned that you are trying to put Man above creation, which isn’t correct. We are part of it, and we owe respect to it as God’s handiwork.

            I am basing that view on sections 339-344 of the Catechism.

          • Jason Pascucci

            Look, I understand that certain congregations of women have been teaching a gaia-esque religion under the name of Christianity, but it’s nonsense. The love of God is ordered to persons, not to things. It is certainly the case that God’s love – which is a unitary act (as is His justice and His being and all His other properties) keeps creatures in existence, and as a reflection of God’s perfection is the why things exists (which is why they deserve respect), but it is very simply not the case that rocks were brought into existence for the benefit of the rocks. The same is not true of man.

          • moseynon

            Jason, I don’t think you looked up the Catechism passages I referenced. I will quote some of them:

            342 The hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the “six days”, from the less perfect to the more perfect. God loves all his creatures and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless, Jesus said:”You are of more value than many sparrows”, or again: “Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!”

            343 Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.

            344 There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory:


            This has nothing to do with Gaia, or worship of creation. I don’t think anyone in this discussion has mentioned such a concept, other than you.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Actually, love does not necessarily mean peace. Quite to the contrary, the more you love something, the readier you are for fisticuffs. (I don’t care what you do to me, but touch my mother or my brother and you will be lucky to escape with your life.) A placard I saw in Italy said “Fisticuffs are better than indifference” (Meglio le botte che l’indifferenza) and an ancient Athenian law condemned anyone who did not take sides in a civil conflict. Mild disagreement may be a mark of civilization, but it is more often a cover for contempt.

  • DeaconsBench

    I don’t disagree with you, Kathy. But as I’ve mentioned elsewhere: the people stirring up trouble—and those who support them—are relatively small in number.

    They seem intent on separating themselves from the barque of Peter, by sowing disobedience and discord and cheering on anyone who disrespects and dishonors the bishops—one of whom happens to the bishop of Rome.

    Pray for them and wish them well as they go their own way.

    Unlike the renegade who is leading this rabble, I’ve made a promise of obedience to my bishop and his successors, and have taken an oath to follow the Magesterium. Here I remain. There is no other.

    • Jim Russell

      I would disagree that the people “stirring up trouble” on the Catholic blogosphere are only a relatively small number of folks with episcopal issues. In my experience, I’ve encountered quite a few otherwise faith-filled and episcopally obedient Catholics writing and commenting in the blogosphere who use name-calling and “othering” tactics who are all too willing to cast fellow Catholics in the role of opposition rather than brother/sister in Christ. This is in my view part of a much bigger issue about the “soul” of the Catholic blogosphere and whether basic Catholic principles of virtue and holiness and charity will be upheld or largely set aside.

      • DeaconsBench

        We shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking the Catholic blogosphere is that big or that important. Trust me. It isn’t. It’s a tiny echo chamber, and those of us who spend too much time in it soon start to believe it’s bigger than it is. These angry souls are a minority in the Church—and some are downright schismatic.

        • St. Benedict’s Thistle

          I must assume I am a member of the ‘rabble’, as you characterized your fellow brethren.
          I do not agree that the Catholic blogosphere is not that important. It may be small, but its importance and effect is out of proportion to its size. How else to explain the heated attempts to suppress those who disagree with you?
          Prudence would suggest that calling some Catholics “schismatic” demands proof.

    • GaryLockhart

      Is the word “renegade” deacon speak for Michael Voris?

      No need to be coy and ambiguous or was that the modus operandi you honed at CBS, Greg?

  • St. Benedict’s Thistle

    This post further fans the flames. You seem unduly worried about unbelievers happening upon the combox…as if that is the most important thing regarding the issues involved. Perhaps that is the most important issue to you, which is understandable at an ecumenical website like Patheos. However, I would suggest it might help to take the ecumenism hat off for a moment and consider the issues that are troubling our own house.

    Also, you continue to use derogatory terms regarding Catholics who are traditional in their outlook. Chest-thumping, pride, venom, uncharitable — these are your words. I fail to see how they could be considered catching more flies with ‘honey’…
    You also misrepresent the facts to suit your point of view. You know that those salaries were published elsewhere, and that the issue was peripheral and in the context of appropriate salaries at 501c3 charities in conjunction with income made from books, appearances, etc.

    I am also shocked at the Deacon’s comment, calling Michael Voris a “renegade,” and accusing he and other fellow Catholics of disrespecting the bishops and separating themselves from the Church. I would ask that the Deacon provide specific instances and not merely accuse fellow Catholics of such things. Is the Deacon suggesting that Catholics may not speak about the troubles in the Church when bishops are involved?

  • GaryLockhart

    Pope Francis said to “make a mess” so Bravo Zulu for your obedience, Kathy.

    When hasn’t Catholic Answers been filling my inbox with pleas about their latest financial crisis?

    By the way, is Patrick Coffin a magician who moonlights as an apologist or an apologist who moonlights as a magician?

  • Robert Slanton

    “And if you’re one of those who believe you can catch more flies with
    honey, rather than by whacking them over the head with a frying pan”

    This is a classic case of false dichotomy.

    The religions of the world that are currently growing are the ones that are being more demanding of the behavior of their followers. The ones that are dying are the ones using honey to be syrupy sweet in an effort to be “inclusive.”

  • Robert Slanton

    Michael Voris strikes me as someone who is going to leave the church eventually.

    Although I enjoy the jabs at liberals, I find his viewpoint and others like him in the “Catholic Remnant camp” to be intellectually untenable.

    How can one simultaneously believe that:

    1. God is just and loving

    2. The RCC is the one holy and true church and the clergy are called into their positions of power and authority by the Holy Spirit.

    3. Most of the clergy in the RCC is thoroughly corrupt and leading
    nearly everyone in the church to Hell.

    4. The only way to be saved is to
    navigate the minefield of corrupt clergy and adopt a “Real Catholic” faith that is true to practices that were once present in the church but no longer being
    taught to the current flock. Since one can no longer rely on
    the the clergy or the institution of the church, one has to somehow figure out independently what is the correct way to live ones life by listening to people like Voris and the beliefs of long dead saints whom nearly everyone now ignores.

    If 1+2 are true, than 3 or 4 cannot be true.

    If 2+3+4 are all true than it would seem the “Real Catholic Remnants” believe in a malevolent god

  • Jim Russell

    Here’s an apropos quote:

    “….Communion must be fostered and expressed also in the manner in which we relate to one another. While the explosion of so-called ‘new media’ has revolutionized human communication and offers many opportunities for advancing the New Evangelization, blogs especially have a way of promoting un-reflected speech. Judgment and criticism are certainly not bad things in themselves, but when opinions are advanced on an internet forum unbridled from charity or an adequate knowledge of the facts, they can undermine the very foundation of ecclesial communion which is love….”

    Most Rev. Gerhard Ludwig Müller
    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

    Symposium on the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter
    St. Mary’s Seminary, Houston, Texas
    February 2, 2013