Always Take Off 50 IQ Points When the Media Covers the Church

Always Take Off 50 IQ Points When the Media Covers the Church February 21, 2013

This is true whether the organ is the NY Times featuring Garry Wills complaining that the Pope is Catholic or some brain dead Tea Party rag hyperventilating that some papabile “Promotes Marxist For Sainthood“.

The “Marxist” they mean is Servant of God Dorothy Day who, you know, stopped being a Marxist and became a Catholic.  A very fine one, in fact, which is what “saint” means and why Pope Benedict singled her out for praise in his last homily.  This dumb article is rather like the Church in the first century hyperventilating that Peter has been seen in the company of Known Persecutor Saul of Tarsus.

There’s this thing called “conversion”. Some Christians still believe in it. Others have submerged their faith in Christ beneath tribal badges of fealty to Tea Party shibboleths or (in Wills’ case, liberal Protestant chatter) and care only for genetic fallacies and the taint of ritual impurity.

Oh, and by the way, neither Dolan nor any other American will be Pope anytime soon.

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  • Subsistent

    Irony: After Dorothy Day became Catholic, she was asked what part of the Church’s social-justice teaching (favoring the legitimacy of labor unions, etc.) had caught her interest in the Catholic Church, leading to her conversion. She replied that when she became Catholic she wasn’t aware that that the Church even had any social-justice teaching. (IIRC, I read that in her book *The Long Loneliness*.)

  • ivan_the_mad

    I am flabbergasted by the malicious stupidity on display in that article. She had an abortion so she can’t be a saint? Do the words forgiveness and absolution ring hollow to these idiot ideologues?

    • dpt

      Forgiveness is a tough one for humans. Holding a grudge and judgement gives one a sense of power and a so-called feeling of superiority of being better than someone else. Feels good to have someone to look down on.

      Seems to me that forgiveness is the toughest part of being a Christian.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Yeah, I know. I’m just fighting mad over this calumny of Day.

  • eh, I read it like your garden variety anti-catholic protestant conservatism. of the ::facepalm:: or ::double facepalm:: variety. Too foolish to even justify a response.

  • Alexander Anderson

    Catholics promote Manichean who fornicated and once stole pears! Father Julius of the Donatist movement says he is “appalled” that a man with such “loathsome” character as the former Bishop of Hippo is even up for consideration. The Catholic Church, which has faced considerable criticism for not excepting imperial decree that Jesus was a created semi-divine hero, has in the past promoted a Jew who persecuted Christians and a man who denied Jesus three times.

  • kofE

    Apparently you believe that the Cardinals and Bishops of the last generation who espoused a less right-wing more compassionate Catholicism then this current crop of nitwits were guilty of ‘liberal Protestant chatter”. Frankly Mr Wills is probably a better Catholic on his worst day than you’ll ever hope to be. His understanding of the spirit if not the mission of the church is certainly superior than most of the right-wing evangelical Protestant influenced imitations we have as Bishops today. I might add superior to yours as well.

    • kofE

      Ironic that you’d make construct an imaginary difference between Tea-Party types & [conservative] Catholics as if they weren’t of a type that were fellow-travelers.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Frankly Mr Wills is probably a better Catholic on his worst day than you’ll ever hope to be.

      Well, that’s probably true.

      His understanding of the spirit if not the mission of the church is certainly superior than most of the right-wing evangelical Protestant influenced imitations we have as Bishops today.

      Unfortunately, his understanding of Catholic theology, liturgy, and the entire history of the Church is not quite so superior.

    • Claude

      It is heartening to read your commentary, kofE!

      • Mark Shea

        So beautiful when The Right Sort meet a kindred spirit. It’s so lonely being a superior human being surrounded by riff raff.

        • Claude

          Mark, why do you have to be so belligerent? Yes, I’m happy to see a kindred spirit, since there are few here. On the other hand, if I was interested in conversation only with people who share my views, I would go elsewhere.

          It pleases you to think that I’m contemptuous of your regulars. Quite the contrary, though obviously I have strong disagreements with you and others. Your stab at me yesterday along the same lines was totally out of left field, since the discussion would have in no way reflected my sense of personal virtue. If you’re going to rag on me for being a sinner consider the log in your own eye.

          • Allan

            That’s odd, you don’t seem to mind the belligerence of KofE’s post. You found that particular post “heartening”. Hypocrisy, thy name is liberal Christian.

            • Claude

              I lapsed many years ago and am no longer a Christian. However, after many years of indifference I’ve developed a strong interest in the affairs of the Church.

              Yes, I did find it heartening that someone was moved to defend Wills, a good man who has been unfairly maligned on this blog.

          • Mark Shea

            Claude: You are slumming. Every word you say makes it clear that you feel immense self-satisfied superiority to the ignorant wahoos here. I haven’t called you a sinner once. You’ve done nothing but call me and others here sinners. You are neither tax collector nor whore. You are the Pharisee. You have immense certitude of your superior goodness.

            • Claude

              When did I call you a sinner!

              • Mark Shea

                Read over your comments for the last few days. They *drip* with the contempt of the superior for the inferior and with smug Pharisaic pride. Almost everything you ‘ve written, including your remarks to koE are various ways of saying, “I thank you, O Lord, that I am not like other men.”

                • Claude

                  Right. Because I dispute your trash talk on Garry Wills and President Obama must mean I am swollen with pride and look down on everybody else! You don’t take criticism lightly, do you.

                  I said above that my view of the commentariat here (overall) is the very contrary of contempt. You seem to need to believe that I’m a liar. In that case, nothing I say will prevail.

                  • Mark Shea

                    My “trash talk” has consisted of point out that Wills rejection of the Real Presence and the priesthood instituted by Christ the High Priest is both historical rubbish and a rejection of the core of the Catholic faith, all while marketing himself as a Catholic thinker. My trash talk about Obama consists of pointing out the documented fact that he authorizes cold blooded murder of civilians while guys like you major in minors and make excuses for him. But he’s the Right Sort authorizing murder, so you overlook it. Greenwald has your number.

                    • Claude

                      Interesting. I have more than once explicitly stated my opposition to Obama national security policy, and in fact I was the one brought up Glenn Greenwald, yet in your fervor to condemn me as an apologist for cold-blooded murder you’ve ignored my comments.

                      Mark, you may use scripture for cover, but this is about politics. It has nothing to do with your expressed insight into Pharisaical vanity or any claim to the Kingdom on my part, and everything to do with the most pedestrian political combat on the internet.

                      Since you have not read Wills’s book and have no intention of doing so, how can you address his specific arguments? He went to seminary for five years to become a priest; I think he knows the catechism.

                      I had hoped to make peace with you, but we are at an impasse. Perhaps another time.

                    • Mark Shea

                      If you have stated your opposition to Obama’s policies then I missed it and I apologize.

                      Wills is simply wrong if he imagines the notion of the Eucharist as a sacrifice (and therefore of a New Testament priesthood to offer that sacrifice) was cooked up decades after the founding of the Church. That is the core of the argument he was making on Colbert. His secondary argument, that the Real Presence is a “fake” is simply false to the entire New Testament and understanding of it for the first thousand years of the Church. The Argumentum ad Credentialum you keep making is as sound as “Tell them I, Dr. Martin Luther, will have it so!”

                    • Claude

                      Ha! Have a good night, Mark.

    • How do you know who is a good Catholic and who isn’t?

      • John

        This sounds like the beginning of a good joke! Please continue.

      • dpt

        Maybe there should be a link at the Vatican site that ranks the 1.2 billion Catholics per their goodness. Then we will all know where we all stand and it will make the life blog commenters easier in ranking each others “catholicity”.

  • Old man

    There is bad reporting on many issues and institutions. Also, people have preconception about many issues and institutions, many times not based on facts. I worked in human services for many years and cannot help but chuckle sometimes when some give their opinion about human services issues. People can get the wrong impression of the Church from many so-called Catholic blogs.

    • S. Murphy

      Yeah, it’s true – when you read a news story about something you know, you see where they get it wrong.

  • If you sit in judgment on other people you’re not a good Catholic.

    Disagree if you must, but don’t judge and don’t get personal.

    • Isn’t that a bit over-broad? Some people are called to prosecute, and to judge. And if your knowledge of history is such that you know something, as this person claims, should you keep your information secret? There are a lot of people who could have been helped but were not because agents in this country lulled the american people into thinking that things weren’t really all that bad over there. They lie in the forests of Kolyma, at the bottom of the Black Sea canal, and in tens of thousands of unmarked grave and massacre sites throughout the world. Some of us keep faith with the dead by not letting them be forgotten.

      • Mark Shea

        Are *you* called to prosecute and to judge?

        • No, actually I’m called to witness for all those survivors who taught me so much as a child and whose friends didn’t make it out of the camps. They’re largely passed at this point but I try to keep faith with them.

          I am not prosecuting Miss Day (darned if I know how to do the title thing properly so forgive the informality). I’m not even judging her. I’m saying that this negative evidence is just as worthy to be judged as any positive evidence and that we should all let the process go forward without casting aspersions on the other side for daring to give testimony that is uncomfortable to your own prejudice. My comment over at the story site to pipe it down because accusations are not proof is currently in moderation.

          If the evidence is true, and not countered by subsequent facts, it should weigh negatively on her cause. Because promoting communist causes is bad. The Church says so, and so does reason.
          If the evidence is false, the accusers should be ashamed of themselves. Because bearing false witness is a serious sin.

  • What’s your beef with other people? They don’t live up to your standards?

    La Rochefoucauld said something like: There is scarcely a man who is aware enough to know all the evil he does every day.

  • I have faith that the Vatican will end up sorting it out through the normal process of consideration. I am somewhat concerned that you are mischaracterizing the accusation, which actually is that Dorothy Day continued her association with communists *after* she became a Catholic. That is not conversion. It is someone with one foot in two boats and not a mark of sainthood if it continued to the end. I also have no idea whether the accusation is true or not.
    As someone who had to live with some minor unpleasantness of a communist infiltrator in my parish, I take that sort of thing a bit personally and would urge that communism not simply be ignored because you like the cover story so much.

    • Mark Shea

      “That is not conversion.”

      “This man eats with tax collectors and sinners.”

      • Shame on you for taking a neutral act of sharing a meal and likening it to advocacy for enemies of the Church while you are a member. Go out and talk to communists all you like, Lord knows, I’ve done it. I’ve never promoted them if I can help it. I hope that this time you can see the difference.

        • Mark Shea

          Sharing a meal was not a neutral act in ancient Judea. It was seen as friendship with, advocacy for, and identification with the sinner. Sorry, but you are doing exactly what the Pharisees did.

          • What did she do, and when did she do it? That’s the nub of the question. She might have maintained contacts as Jesus did, to love them and challenge them out of their sin. There should be some evidence of that in the record if that is what happened. Because Jesus’ association with tax collectors and sinners was not to comfort them in their sin but to lift them out of it, cleansed by the Holy Spirit.
            Is that what Day did? Alleluia and document that in the process because you can be sure that communists will try to imply the other if she gets approved and their construction will lead people towards sin, not away from it.

    • I was “associated” with a Party member in Moscow who got me out of there on the first day of Gulf War I – maybe saved my skin. A very good person too, moral, self-sacrificing, sensitive, and yes, as guilt-ridden as any Catholic I’ve every met. I hope she has been baptized since. She knew I was Catholic, I knew she was an atheist because she told me. Neither one of us judged the other.

      I knew a member of the Academy of Sciences, perhaps a Party member and at least a self-confessed atheist, who lighted candles for deceased colleagues in churches when it would have been considered odd if not suspicious. He did good service for the cause of humanity in other ways.

      Fr. Alexandr Men of Moscow delivered kitchen sermons to Communists when it was probably illegal, and many, according to what I was told, were dumb-founded. Some might even have been baptized because of those sermons. He “associated” with Communists, and I’m quite certain that as a good Christian priest he did not judge.

      Something wrong with those “associations”?

      Do not judge

      • Did you read the article? I suspect that if you did, it was not carefully. The difference between every one of those examples (and I can put up my own list if you like) and what is being talked about is this: “…I have provided proof, drawn from archival evidence and other authentic sources, that even after her conversion to Catholicism, Day became a member of several socialist organizations and was actively involved in political groups (including trade unions) whose founders and leaders were predominantly Communist Party members. She also supported the causes of individual Communists who were in the pay of the Soviet Union.”
        Did you support communist causes as a Catholic of long standing? Did you heap praise on such butchers as Ho Chi Minh decades after you entered the Church? Did you join and pay dues to communist front groups voluntarily while in a free country? I do not make a final judgment because I have not seen the evidence. Growth is possible. Conversion is possible. So is two-facedness and falsity. The evidence should all be submitted, weighed as per the norms of the Church, and *judged* as all saints’ causes are judged.

        Saying “Do not judge” without qualification is a criticism of the Church. The Church judges in these cases. It is right to do so. All participants in that process have their roles to play and none who remain within the long-established rules should be criticized for it.

    • I’m not interested in the accusation. I won’t read it.

      • Then you have not only judged, but pre-judged, which is something that is far more perilous.

        • Who do you think you are, TM? Why are you delivering magisterial opinions and warnings?

          Saint Jose Maria Escriva, who is a saint, says somewhere that if someone comes to you with an adverse comment about someone not present, you can say: I will tell that person what you said immediately.

          I cannot tell Dorothy of the imputations, or insinuations, that someone attempts to tell me concerning her, because she is deceased, or I would relay the charge to her as soon as I could.

          In this case, I feel obliged not to listen.

          Anyway, a shrewd person said to me once, that if someone tells you dirt about another person behind their back, what do you think he’s telling other people about you behind your back?

          Then again, I have nothing to do with the process now going on, so why is it any of my business? I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to judge Dorothy, whom I never met.

          • I think I’m the fellow who you just libeled two threads down in this combox. There is something of a difference between firm and magisterial opinions. I may be opinionated, I may be firm, but I have *never* claimed nor do not claim now any sort of magesterial charism on any subject. So please stop stuffing opinions in my mouth. Have you rushed off to the Western Journalism Center to inform them of Mark Shea’s poor opinion of them, that they are a “brain dead Tea Party rag hyperventilating that some papabile “Promotes Marxist For Sainthood“?” Is that something that you don’t find worthy to relay? The WJC was founded in 1991 which makes it old-line conservative, not Tea Party, something that is of 2009 vintage or thereabouts.

            It’s Mark’s closed fist approach to these things that provokes my participation. It would be much better if the evidence against Day was soberly and relatively quietly submitted. It would be better if a private note was passed to Dolan to let him know the troubled waters he might be stirring up. That the WJC treatment was overwrought and emotional regarding a legitimate issue does not justify Mark’s response. As I’ve said elsewhere in the thread, the issue, if not honestly confronted and prepared well in advance, leaves an opening to some of the enemies of the Church. That opening needs to be closed no matter what the decision on sainthood.

            • ivan_the_mad

              It’s rich seeing you complain about libel or judgement when you wrote above that Day’s conversion wasn’t valid. As it is written, physician, heal thyself!

              • S. Murphy

                He didn’t. He said that if there was evidence that her conversion wasn’t valid, that evidence should be examined. Maybe he’s more worried about it than he needs to be, but CDO* or not, he’s not trying to calumniate anybody, that I can see.

                *OCD with the letters in alphabetical order, like they’re supposed to be (thanks, zippy).

                • ivan_the_mad

                  “He said that if there was evidence that her conversion wasn’t valid, that evidence should be examined”


                  No, what he said was: “I am somewhat concerned that you are mischaracterizing the accusation, which actually is that Dorothy Day continued her association with communists *after* she became a Catholic. That is not conversion.”

                  So what he actually said was if there’s evidence that *her (as yet unqualified) associations with communists after her conversion are true, then* her conversion wasn’t valid. It’s the bit in between the asterisks that matters, since it’s a non sequitur, guilt by association, and apparently a charism to judge the authenticity of conversion. Then he has the cheek to whine about libel.

                  • The original article bit that prompted the statement you are protesting is “The “Marxist” they mean is Servant of God Dorothy Day who, you know, stopped being a Marxist and became a Catholic.” as well as “There’s this thing called “conversion”. Some Christians still believe in it. Others have submerged their faith in Christ beneath tribal badges of fealty to Tea Party shibboleths”
                    Did Dorothy Day stop being a Marxist? Mark seems quite sure that she did, contrary to the article he refers to but without bothering to actually give any evidence of it. He calls what she went through conversion, this stopping of one fealty and starting another. That is what I was addressing and it’s absolutely not a non-sequitor.
                    Now there’s a much more conventional use of the word and I was not challenging that she converted to Catholicism from her childhood Episcopalianism. I do not challenge that she was a Catholic, or even that she may have done many good things. But that’s not what Mark was claiming. He was claiming something that seems to be contrary to fairly well documented evidence (go through the footnote’s on Dorothy Day’s Wikipedia article) but without providing any evidence of his own and expecting us to cede the field.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      Ha! Allrighty then, McCarthy. The burden of proof is on the accuser, and the case is weak. Furthermore, a Servant of God is not frequently an exemplar of error.

                      But maybe you’re just projecting about your own cafeteria Catholicism.

            • “It would be better if a private note was passed to Dolan to let him know the troubled waters he might be stirring up.”

              TM, I’m sure Cardinal Dolan has already forgotten more about Dorothy Day’s life than you will ever learn. He didn’t come up with the idea of supporting her canonization out of thin air. I’ve heard him speak on her; he has obviously studied her life extensively. (If you don’t know, he has a Ph.D. in American Catholic Church history). Her cause was originally promoted by his predecessor, the impeccably orthodox Cardinal O’Connor. It has the unanimous support of the U.S. hierarchy and apparently the Pope as well. Gee, what do they know that you don’t know?

              The point isn’t really whether Day did the things listed. None of them is sinful in itself; if we Catholics couldn’t belong to any organizations that had enemies of the Church in them, we couldn’t belong to any organization or take part in public life at all. I have learned that Day herself was actually worried over the scandal of her working in an organization with Communists and socialists, from which she drew her salary; her confessor told her that because she had a daughter to care for, she could be justified in staying for a time.

              Your objection appears to be mostly over “how it will look,” and whether the Church’s enemies might gain something from it. I think myself that truth should be served before public opinion. Nothing can beat the truth, which will shine before all men, and eventually put the Church’s enemies to shame as it always does.

              You say we should all pipe down until the matter is settled, which is excellent advice. Which makes me wonder why you keep posting about this over and over again.

              • Actually, my objection is that if truthful evidence is presented on either side, we should not disparage or insult the submitter. Dorothy Day may very well deserve the status of sainthood to be recognized. I do not know because I do not have the evidence. If opponents to her cause submit evidence, that is not a mark of moral failing or even a lack of intelligence.
                My objection is that Mark is not being accurate in reporting, eliding the difference between older conservative groups and tea party groups, and generally playing the bully in support of a cause he favors. This is a bad sign, as if the cause of Dorothy Day couldn’t support an honest, even tempered examination without outside threat.
                I do not say that we should all pipe down. Please do not stuff words in my mouth. I say that taking an intemperate article (and the WJC article *is* intemperate) and turning it into an indictment of the US right wing is not helpful, and dragging in the Tea Party, which has nothing to do with the attack, is scurrilous.
                I actually agree with you that one may belong to organizations that have enemies of the Church in them. After all, the Church has enemies of the Church in it. But that’s not quite what was going on with Dorothy Day, was it? She was praising individual communists who had significant body counts and a history of persecuting the Church.

  • I’ve had a bit of personal experience with the Catholic Workers, and we still subscribe to their newspaper. We don’t agree with everything they say, but we think their hearts are in the right place, and their egos are not as swollen as many. They try to live according to the gospel. Who succeeds – and who is condemned for trying?

    Try sitting down for coffee with a street person who babbles on for hours, and stay with it for a long time out of charity. I couldn’t do it, but they do.

    And they make good coffee too, because why shouldn’t the poor have good coffee to drink as much as the rest of us?

  • “I also have no idea whether the accusation is true or not.”

    So why comment at all?

    • Because the sanctimonious and improperly wielded use of the “do not judge” club in a process that the Church has created *to* judge is an attack on the Church in my eyes, something that upsets me. Evidence is supposed to be raised on both sides where it is known. This should be properly submitted. I hope it has been. I pray that those tasked to weigh and judge the evidence from all sources give it the weight it deserves, whatever that weight is. I am willing to abide by the judgment of the Church and do not criticize either side in the process.

      Does that clarify?

      • No. Let me repeat for the sake of this screwy comment system. No. Your replies seem to me to be full of non sequiturs and wild imputations. So, no.

        • You’re bringing up non-sequitors and wild imputations? Do you project much? I’m not the one comparing the other guy in a conversation to a prosecutor in the stalin show trials, see below.

  • “Saying “Do not judge” without qualification is a criticism of the Church. The Church judges in these cases. It is right to do so. All participants in that process have their roles to play and none who remain within the long-established rules should be criticized for it.”

    Oddly enough, you begin to sound like Vyshinsky.

    • You just compared the judgment process for the cause of a saint to the Moscow show trials. That is foul.

      • I did not. I said you begin to remind me of Vyshinsky. There is a difference between you and the Vatican.

        • I will refrain from answering in like kind. You are still being vile.

  • Obpoet

    Does Wills ever debate anyone of merit? I think I might pay to see that. I have only seen him up against lightweights. Is that the only match he will agree to?

    • dpt

      Heard him on a couple Bay Area radio talk shows this week. He’s not getting much in the way of challenging questions from the hosts.

      • Mark Shea

        Of course not. In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It would be hilarious to see him go up against a Scott Hahn. The guy would be shown up in minutes.

        • dpt

          For the talk shows here, Mr. Willis is an authority who upholds their existing tolerant and progressive views. Besides, he studied in a seminary for a number of years so outranks the thousands and thousands of priest and theologians who have come before him and are currently teaching among us.

  • Claude

    I am curious. Who did you have in mind?

    • Claude

      ^ To Ob poet regarding his/her ideal debate partner for Garry Wills.

      Sorry, forgot to click Reply.

      • Anybody with an Internet connection can depants many of Wills’s assertions of historical fact.

  • Obpoet

    I was thinking of some dude named Shea. Other names dancing in my head where Akin, Staples, Kreeft, etc. The inviting thing about those match ups is that I think they would be entertaining while maintaining a pleasant decorum, providing Wills didnt bust a gasket. I don’t know his temperament, so I hope he wouldn’t do that. He looked calm enough on Colbert. Two priests here at home would be awesome to watch as well: Jay Scott Newman and Dwight Longenecker.

    • Claude


      Don’t think you would have to worry about Wills busting a gasket.