Are Catholics Tiring of Apologizing to the Culture?

I think so. Joanne McPortland continues to say the stuff I want to say but so much better than I can say it:

Conservative critics, especially of academia, have made much over the years of the Tyranny of Tolerance, the ways in which thoughtful exchange among those who differ is purposely derailed by accusations of privilege and claims of victim status, examined for evidence of political incorrectness with a scrupulosity usually reserved for clerks of the Spanish Inquisition. I am not a conservative critic—I don’t even want to play one on TV, in spite of my new crankiness—but I’m starting to think they’ve got something. Being Catholic again has suddenly moved me (an old 60s hippie, an erstwhile political liberal, a woman, a person of complicated sexual identities) from US to THEM, from ally to enemy, in so many situations. And after a few weeks spent banging around the threads of the Patheos bloggers’ Facebook page, being tarred with the general brush of Privilege-Majority-Intolerant-Disrespectful by Pagans and Progressive Christians and the Spiritual-But-Not-Religious and even an Atheist or two, I’ve finally figured out why.

I have come home to a Church that is all about bright lines, honoring clearly defined rules and standards that leave little room for personal interpretation—not in all areas, by any means, but in the ones that count. I have come home to a Church that does not tolerate everything and does not apologize for that—but one that, get this, does not mistake tolerance for love and intolerance for hate. I have come home to a Church that is hierarchical in structure and teaching, one that privileges Scripture and Tradition over personal revelation, natural law over experiment, life in its messiness over temporal expediency, the common good over the individual entitlement, God’s will over what I want. In a world of Anything Goes, I have come home to a Church that says No, It Doesn’t.

I understand that this is, increasingly (and even for Catholics), few people’s experience of religion. I am nowhere near, myself, the point of giving joyful, and not merely formal, assent of will and intellect to all of this. I will be in dialog with my Church for the rest of my life, and I look forward to that. It doesn’t leave me much time, though, to engage in the kind of dialog with other traditions that many are asking for—a “dialog” in which, seemingly, I must defend my Church’s teachings and my commitment to them, or apologize for them, or humbly submit to the judgment of others regarding the error of my ways. No disrespect intended, but I send my regrets. I can’t pretend, even for the sake of interfaith conviviality, that I don’t see the bright lines.

So, yes, politically incorrect as it is, I believe Catholicism is true and that its teachings are right. I’m not shopping around, waiting to hear a better deal. That belief of mine is in no way intended to oppress you, coerce you, belittle your beliefs, or even convince you of the rightness of mine. Apologist is not on my resume. If I blog on a topic on which my beliefs differ from yours, or even one in which I have lots more to learn about why my own Church teaches what it does—abortion, say, or marriage, or the male priesthood—or if I share my beliefs in a comment on one of your posts on these topics, I am not doing it to hurt you, or to hate you, or to exercise unjust privilege, or to be intolerant. I am not, on the other hand, inviting you to tell me what a crock my religion is and how much nicer, smarter, and freer I’d be if I just ditched this medieval nonsense.

Read it all!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Walter Cronanty

    “Are Catholics Tiring of Apologizing to the Culture?”
    I sure hope so, and I’m a rather conservative Baptist [I visit this site often - thank you for the thought provoking content].

  • http://pegponderingagain.wordpress.com/ Peg Demetris

    The longer Catholics “Tolerate” the couture as it stands now, the less culture tolerates us and the less we do to teach our faith. How often we forget about the sin of omittance.

  • bill bannon

    Well, the simplicity is understandable. Many on the net were searchers for years or in a mutable church for years. When they get to Catholicism which has many, many true bright lines, they understandably want all bright lines regarding every topic under the sun and there are apologetics people and lower clergy and documents that state that in morals, the Church can’t be incorrect. She can. In 1520, Exsurge Domine, art.33 condemned…Leo X defended burning heretics which contradicts Vatican II’s position against coercion in religion. The slavery of a child born to a slave mother was supported in Church law from the 13th century til 1917 and taught in the Catholic universities ( John T. Noonan Jr. has shown how the usually proffered papal bulls against slavery did not overturn the 4 exceptions taught in the Catholic Universities…allowing the Jebbies to have 500 slaves in the early 19th century uncensored by any Pope). Now slavery is condemned as an intrinsic evil in section 80 of ” Splendor of the Truth” which cannot be correct either because Leviticus 25:46 has God giving perpetual, chattel slavery to the Jews.
    We have to return to Catholic distinctions no matter what simpler Catholicism wants. All
    bright lines…perfect morals…from scripture are inerrant and therefore bright and perfect. All clear cases of morals from the Church are also perfect and unchanging…examples: abortion is infallibly condemned in section 62 of Evangelium Vitae by use of the extraordinary magisterium
    (John Paul polled the Bishops worldwide and got unanimity on that, on euthanasia being evil, and killing the innocent being evil). The inerrancy of scripture equals bright lines. The extraordinary magisterium (Pope using ex cathedra or Pope getting unanimity from Bishops in a dogmatic setting) equals bright lines. A Pope defending burning heretics in 1520 seemed like a bright line at that time because it had been going on since 1253 ( see Inquisition/ Josep Bloetzer/ new advent’s encyclopedia). “Religious submission of mind and will” (Lumen Gentium 25) would have contributed to sin in that context. The all morals are protected by the Holy Spirit applies only when the Church uses the extraordinary magisterium or inerrant scripture or the universal ordinary magisterium which latter category though is where some debates like birth control or usury flare up. Scripture and the extraordinary magisterium are then a tad brighter than the universal ordinary magisterium. Much priorbto the change in 1830, Pope Benedict XIV saw no way in Hades that interest would ever be allowed on a loan though he like Aquinas provided an escape clause in permitting “extrinsic titles” that allowed fees for reasons.
    But in 1830 the Vatican in answer to dubia sud that those taking moderate interest “were not to be disturbed”. Saints and Pope prior to 1830 would have fainted since in effect, this was bight lines to them as burning heretics was bright lines to Pope Leo X and countless others.
    Some bright lines might go out as they did in some areas in the past. “Religious submission of mind and will” seems innocent enough right now ( it’s not an infallible phrase in itself)…it was not an innocent attitude when it meant following Pope Leo X as to the burning of heretics unless particular heretics were also committing criminal acts as did happen from time to time but not always.

  • bill bannon

    Elizabeth…cleaned up version….sorry….

    Well, the simplicity is understandable. Many on the net were searchers for years or in a mutable church for years. When they get to Catholicism which has many, many true bright lines, they understandably want all bright lines regarding every topic under the sun and there are apologetics people and lower clergy and documents that state that in morals, the Church can’t be incorrect. She can. In 1520, Exsurge Domine, art.33 condemned…Leo X defended burning heretics which contradicts Vatican II’s position against coercion in religion. The slavery of a child born to a slave mother was supported in Church law from the 13th century til 1917 and taught in the Catholic universities ( John T. Noonan Jr. has shown how the usually proffered papal bulls against slavery did not overturn the 4 exceptions taught in the Catholic Universities…allowing the Jebbies to have 500 slaves in the early 19th century uncensored by any Pope). Now slavery is condemned as an intrinsic evil in section 80 of ” Splendor of the Truth” which cannot be correct either because Leviticus 25:46 has God giving perpetual, chattel slavery to the Jews.
    We have to return to Catholic distinctions no matter what simpler Catholicism wants. All bright lines…perfect morals…from scripture are inerrant and therefore bright and perfect. All clear cases of morals from the Church are also perfect and unchanging…examples: abortion is infallibly condemned in section 62 of Evangelium Vitae by use of the extraordinary magisterium
    (John Paul polled the Bishops worldwide and got unanimity on that, on euthanasia being evil, and killing the innocent being evil). The inerrancy of scripture equals bright lines. The extraordinary magisterium (Pope using ex cathedra or Pope getting unanimity from Bishops in a dogmatic setting) equals bright lines. A Pope defending burning heretics in 1520 seemed like a bright line at that time because it had been going on since 1253 ( see Inquisition/ Josep Bloetzer/ new advent’s encyclopedia). “Religious submission of mind and will” (Lumen Gentium 25) would have contributed to sin in that context. The “all morals are protected by the Holy Spirit” applies only when the Church uses the extraordinary magisterium or inerrant scripture or the universal ordinary magisterium which latter category though is where some debates like birth control or usury flare up. Scripture and the extraordinary magisterium are then a tad brighter line-wise than the universal ordinary magisterium. Much prior to the change in 1830, Pope Benedict XIV saw no way in Hades that interest would ever be allowed on a loan though he like Aquinas provided an escape clause in permitting “extrinsic titles” that allowed fees for reasons.
    But in 1830 the Vatican in answer to dubia said that those taking moderate interest “were not to be disturbed”. Saints and Popes prior to 1830 would have fainted since in effect, this was bright lines to them as burning heretics was bright lines to Pope Leo X and countless others.
        Some bright lines might go out as they did in some areas in the past. “Religious submission of mind and will” seems innocent enough right now ( it’s not an infallible phrase in itself)…it was not an innocent attitude when it meant following Pope Leo X as to the burning of heretics unless particular heretics were also committing criminal acts as did happen from time to time but not always.

  • Gina

    I absolutely agree with you but I have to point out that it is easier to say that to Episcopalians than to Muslims. We need to be able to say Allah is not God. The Koran is not the word of god. Mohammed is not a prophet of god.

  • http://www.blogsforvictory.com Mark Edward Noonan

    As long as we realize that if we are to boldly speak the truth then we will be hated. Doing such does take courage, but I’ve grown rather tired of being a coward, so we’ll see how it works out.

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    I don’t apologize.


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