Prolife Idolatry

Prolife Idolatry September 29, 2011

People with a cartoonish view of idolatry often tend to talk as though idol worship is something stoopid heads just get up one morning and start doing out of a perverse desire to prostrate themselves before a rock or something.

But, in fact, idolatry is typically born out of the deep love of something that is genuinely good and great. It is the best things in the world that become idols, not the worst. Nobody idolizes the band that opened for the Beatles (whoever they were). People idolize the Beatles, because they were really good. Nobody idolizes the mediocre ball player, the second-rate artist, or the guy who lost the race to be the first from New York to Paris. They idolized DiMaggio, Leonardo, and Lindbergh.

For just this reason, one of the tricky things about the Christian Faith is that we must always be on guard, not against loving creatures per se, but against loving them more than we love God. Keep God as your first and greatest love and you are free to love creatures (especially human beings) as much as you like. But get those loves out of order and, no matter how worthy the creature, you are an idolator.

The devil has lots of ways to tempt us to idolatry, of course. One of them, paradoxically, is to get us to crack up and go sappy about the sheer adorable goodness of the Idol. In short, Satan *loves* Love, so long as it’s disordered love.

So whether it’s a PETA idolator fawning over the big brown eyes of a puppy (while wishing humans and their Judeo-Christian God of Dominion over nature would all die), a lover of one’s country putting the glory of the Fatherland above all, or, in our case, prolifers who love babies as the most important things in the universe, the problem is the same: Second things are put first.

Even adorable innocent babies? Yes. Especially adorable innocent babies if that happens to be your weak spot and the place you can be tempted to place the creature before the Creator. And for a significant number of people in our particular time and place, it is the weak spot, precisely because our culture is so hostile to the unborn babe. We start out defending babies for the sake of Christ and wind up worshipping babies instead of Christ.

That’s why I will be blunt: it is evil to say things like this to a bishop who is a) documentably prolife and b) quite justifiably within his rights to want to examine the books of Priests for Life and c) quite right to say that a priest’s vows take priority over some supposed divine anointing that makes it impossible for him to live out his priesthood when his bishop tells him to:

When you are at last called home to heaven, you don’t want a stain on your own record of service – that somehow you interfered with God’s Holy Assignment. Fr Frank has been sovereignly called to this unique area and you would do well to permit him to serve his God with support and not obstruction.

Why aren’t you out there assisting this good priest?

Please do not interfere with his calling or besmirch his reputation. If you do, you will be aiding and abetting both the Pro-Abortion forces and PP!

The bishops do not have an unfettered right to silence whom they want. When a bishop investigates someone who has done as much good as Fr. Pavone, he should be investigated.

To issue such a public statement, directly involving Fr. Pavone without documented evidence, and restricting his mission to promote life, is TANTAMOUNT TO MURDER ITSELF. What is your problem?

Life is THE MOST IMPORTANT Issue! Why do you choose not to see ? One day your own blood will run in the streets because you refused the time of mercy that has been given to all.

We think the Bishop is politically motivated, and his views are very left leaning for someone in the Catholic Hierarchy!

Who would have thought that the most effective enemy of life and Priests for Life would be within rather than without the church. Reminds me of who Jesus’ most effective enemies were — the religious leaders! You have disgraced the Lord Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic church, which had stood bravely and consistently for life.

For whom bishop Zurek is working ? For God or for devil?

Whatever action you decide to take, may God almighty hold you accountable for it.

With all due respect, the worship of God the Blessed Trinity is even more important than life. That’s not me talking. That’s Jesus Christ: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Declaring that there is NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT than life, particularly for a priest, is idolatrous. It places the second greatest commandment (love your neighbor) before the first (Love God). That is not, I repeat, bad because the second greatest commandment is bad. It’s bad because the second greatest commandment is second, not first.

The irony of all this is that it is taking place in the same sector of the Church that perpetually obsesses about the liturgy and the honor we owe God in worshipping him reverently. And yet, such is the power of Prolife Idolatry for some that, given a choice between worshipping God in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and doing social activism, the idolator treats the Mass with stunning contempt. Here’s a sample a reader sent me:

More “captivity” rhetoric, today from a self-proclaimed “devout Catholic“:

“I will request of my listeners that they speak to their friends and relatives in your Diocese and ask them to withhold all donations – on Sundays and to any special appeals your Diocese makes to your members – until such time as Father Pavone is no longer held hostage by the obstinacy of a Bishop who apparently still believes that Bishops are higher in the Ecclesiastical hierarchy than the Laity whose labor supports the Church.”

(Maybe because they ARE higher? Thus, hierarchy?)

“We do not intend to sit idly by and allow your Bishop to imprison Father Pavone with your Diocese, thus endangering the mission of Priests for Life and the lives of the children Father Pavone has been saving for so many years.”

“The truth is, however, that unless you have specific proof of wrongdoing, Father Pavone is being treated with cruel injustice. After all, even Galileo received a trial – albeit one that was rigged.”

The longer the spectacle of the Free Fr. Frank movement goes on, the more bishop Zurek is vindicated in his concerns, because idolators are, with pronouncements like this, making clear that the very good cause of protecting the unborn is quite literally, more important than God, that the priesthood and the Sacrifice of the Mass are “prisons” and that the worship of social activism is more important than the worship of God.

I anticipate this will elicit the usual screams of accusation from the usual suspects, so let me head things off at the pass by simply saying this: As a bought and paid for Professional Catholic[TM] who, I am informed, hates the Faith, babies, America, apple pie and motherhood, I naturally revel in subverting the True Catholic Faith by such sinister means as
a) trusting the Magisterium;
b) urging docility to the Church even on things that do not pertain to abortion and are not infallibly defined;
c) failing to be bitter about the Paul VI rite and the Second Vatican Council;
d) opposing abortion, but not worshiping the prolife movement more than Jesus Christ;
e) not subscribing to the theory that opposition to abortion taketh away the sins of the world and constitutes the sole social concern of all Real Catholics[TM];
f) rejecting the perpetual worship of celebrity folk heroes who function as alternative magisteria (And, by the way, merely being well-known does not automatically mean one is trying to assume quasi-episcopal authority. For instance, Fr. Groeschel, Fr. Barron, Fr. Pacwa, Scott Hahn, Jimmy Akin, Karl Keating, etc. are “famous” (within the relatively small pond of American Catholicism) but don’t propose themselves as Real Catholic[TM] heros standing up against the heirarchy to “save the Church/Country/Culture”);
g) rejecting the wholehearted embrace of consequentialism to support preferred sins done in the service of preferred Good Causes.

Those are, at present, the seven pillars of a coalescing movement of Reactionary Dissent that is helping to foment a schism in the American Church just as surely as Progressive Dissent’s exaltation of the Pelvic Issues, Relativism, Consequentialism, and Pride Masquerading as Conscience are doing.

Not all or even most prolifers are doing this, I reckon. Indeed, what has impressed me is how much more circumspect has been the reaction to Fr. Pavone’s bridling under his bishop’s legitimate exercise of authority than was the wild conspiracy theorizing surrounding Fr. Corapi against brave Bp. Mulvey. The unfortunate lessons of the kneejerk attacks on those who expressed concern about Maciel, Euteneuer, and Corapi seem to have finally paid off in a sober assessment of the issues surrounding Fr. Pavone and a much broader willingness to let the bishop do his legitimate thing. That’s real progress.

But we still have a long way to go, as the quotes above (and many more like them in the blogosphere and on FB) attest. The prolife movement is a great and good thing that addresses the paramount moral issue of our time. But it is, at the end of the day, still only creaturely and is not more important than God. Healthy Catholic faith sees love of the unborn springing out the Eucharist as a fruit of the kingdom of God. Unhealthy, diseased prolife idolatry sees the worship of God, the Eucharist and the priesthood as prisons and obstacles to “THE MOST IMPORTANT Issue”.

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