Attack on Eden

Attack on Eden August 24, 2019

I’ve entirely lost patience with the self-appointed inquisition on the Catholic right. I can accept that political conservatism (in general) is a prudential question rather than a moral one; I can tolerate indiscriminate attacks on gay people as being, maybe, a blind spot rather than a deliberate rejection of charity, and anyway God knows I’ve done worse; I can appreciate and sympathize with a love of antique liturgies and a corresponding dislike of and frustration with a lot of modern Masses; I can understand (though I cannot respect) anger and fear over the shabby state of modern catechesis in Catholic churches and schools. I can make snarky remarks instead of losing my cool when people like Dr Taylor Marshall, with no apparent sense of irony, suggest that the testimony of demons during an exorcism supports the ecclesiastical pet causes of traditionalists—never mind the fact that getting your theology from the devil is, literally, the original bad idea. (1) I can even, barely, grit my teeth and hope that it represents merely a irresponsibly ignorant lapse in judgment when Austin Ruse tweets things like “Proud of my Proud Boy” and “We need more not less toxicity” in reference to his nephew’s membership in the Proud Boys—a white nationalist gang who helped organize the infamous Charlottesville rally, where demonstrators chanted literal Nazi slogans like “Blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us,” and one counterprotestor, Heather Heyer, was killed.

Perhaps they don’t have all the facts, I said.

And then came Cardinal Burke’s disgraceful interview with the (self-styled) “red-pilled” Patrick Coffin. To do him justice, the Cardinal stated in so many words that he didn’t have all the facts. To do the Vicar of Christ justice, this lack of facts did not stop His Eminence from speculating that His Holiness might have been fraudulently elected and, thus, not really the Pope at all.

Apparently publicly putting his name to an accusation of heresy against the Pope (2)—itself a scandalous act of provocation to schism and distrust among the faithful, one that any prince of the Church should be ashamed of associating himself with—was not enough. He has progressed from casting doubt on the Holy Father in the wake of Amoris Lætitia (by demanding clarification of points that that document was already explicit about), to accusing the Holy Father of heresy, to publicly toying with sedevacantism. Will no one rid him of this troublesome priest?

Not long thereafter, Austin Ruse attacked Dawn Eden Goldstein for criticizing Cardinal Burke’s indefensible remarks. Because the people who insist that the First See is judged by no one are the real threat to Catholic faith and unity. Her reply to his article, which made inaccurate and even slanderous claims against her, is a model of patient, unruffled refusal to have her words distorted. But what makes the whole circumstance read like a bad joke is that Ms Goldstein is the very portrait of Catholic orthodoxy, on the exact same issues that men like Burke and Ruse and Coffin keep hinting His Holiness isn’t. She has publicly defended the Church’s teaching on marriage, on sexuality, on contraception, on the male-only priesthood. But she won’t approve of the chadtrads’ favorite prelate fomenting schism in the Body of Christ, so she must be wicked.

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. That confession is literally what distinguishes Catholics from every other Christian. And as the Catholic right loves to harp upon: They could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (3)

Was that reminder harsh? No harsher than the treatment that people like Ms Goldstein received for defending the Pope, or than my friends and I have received from the same crew for upholding the Church’s teaching about homosexuality, but using words like gay that they didn’t like. So at least don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, gentlemen.


(1) Yes, here and throughout I am linking to sources about what I’m discussing and not to original sources. Normally I consider this bad praxis. But, to be perfectly forthcoming, screw giving these original sources traffic.

(2) This would be the so-called Filial Correction aimed at Pope Francis in 2017.

(3) From Lumen Gentium, para. 14. Note that this teaching about the Church is not concerned with those who do not know that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary to salvation; it is active rejection that’s under examination, rather than simple ignorance or good faith conviction otherwise.

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