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"Anyone Interested in Understanding Catholicism, in All of Its Faults and All of Its Greatness, Needs to Invest Time in Serious Readings from Many Sources..."

Posted on the 02 March 2013 by Brutallyhonest @Ricksteroni

A major newspaper will be publishing a hit piece on the Catholic Church some time next week.  

They throw a bone to an uber Catholic blogger (and one of my favorites) to write a rebuttal, only they limit her to less than 400 words and they expose to her only a small part of the much larger slam against the Church that will be published.

Elizabeth Scalia, aka The Anchoress, decides to instead publish a post at her site, explaining why she's decided not to participate along with the response sent back to the newspaper.

It's a beaut:

Anyone interested in understanding Catholicism, in all of its faults and all of its greatness, needs Insidestpetersbasilicato invest time in serious readings from many sources; the New Testament, the Catechism, the documents of the Second Vatican Council; the writings of the Church Doctors (male and female) and the lives and writings of the saints. One cannot understand the Catholic church — not in the least — unless one can comprehend how persons as disparate in background and outlook as G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Day would willingly refer to themselves as Catholicism’s “obedient” children, and be beloved within it.

That’s just to start. More modern overviews like Father Robert Barron’s Catholicism would help. Any of the writings of layfolk like Alice von Hildebrand, Paul Claudel, Elisabeth Leseur or Heather King would help. Some time spent amid the writings of Joseph Ratzinger would help.

Absent that, the press — really all media venues — cannot help but fall short. But an absence of knowledge should not preclude a fair attempt at understanding or, at the very least, a few cursory nods to the notion of balance.

It was the absence of any evidence of the slightest attempt at balance, in the excerpt the newspaper provided, that prompted this response:

Thanks for inviting me to participate in this, but I’m not sure how I could take it on with any sense of personal integrity. Quite honestly, I don’t think 375 words, no matter how clearly or artfully written, could be useful in response to that except, the very first line of which so overgeneralizes and pollutes the discussion that it would require the full word limit you’re offering me to begin to rebut it.

Then there is the next line. And the rest of it. I couldn’t possibly convey in 375 words why Catholics understand — as do Buddhists, by the way — that while a monk or priest might be in a sinful state, the sacraments and duties he participates in are not rendered void because of his personal flaws and faults, because his office is something separate and beyond the natural man; it is supernatural, as is our belief that the Holy Spirit has a say in these proceedings, however slowly we may understand that.

Would it be better if someone like Cardinal Mahony withdrew from the conclave, as O’Brien did this week? Sure, but Mahony’s ego (burnished all these years, btw, by a press that adored him) isn’t having any of it. Neither a pope (nor the camerlengo who is now nominally in charge) are CEOs who can just fire these guys. The church does not operate like the world. I could attempt to explain to you, from a supernatural point of view, how the holy and the profane are always side-by-side, or even suggest to you that, in a way of thinking, the presence of some dubious Cardinals in the conclave might well be a very good reminder to the college that our messes and penances are not behind us, which could both keep the Cardinals humble and be the impetus for deep prayer before they make their votes. But not as part of a 375 word rebuttal.

Do you see the problem? I would need 375 words to rebut almost every line of this except!

I’m not sure what your writer means by “fresh start” but the suggestion that immediately follows those words (that the church has apparently done nothing to “confront the sex abuse scandal”) is so dishonest and demonstrably false that it illustrates how little good faith exists in this editorial — or at least in what you have shown me; if there is nothing of good faith here, how could anyone possibly respond in good faith — which is how I would want to — or to any fair effect?

“Nothing in these cardinal’s histories…” seems to imply that none of the Cardinals are worthy (something none of us could possibly know) and if it’s not implying it, then it’s painting, once again, with such a sloppily over-generalizing brush as to not mind leaving that impression. And the whole “restore her moral authority” bit is laughable because, at least on pelvic issues, her moral authority has been discredited since approximately 1968.

I’m not trying to be rude; I’m actually trying to demonstrate that it’s much easier for you to assert something in a single line tham it is for anyone to (in rebuttal) foment understanding — not agreement, mind you but simple, clear understanding — in a corresponding sentence. This editorial appears to be seeking reaction, not genuine response. It is an attempt to throw every sin, fault and failing of the church into the mix, sentence-by-period-hammered-sentence with no attempt at balance. I imagine the rest of the editorial consists of the writers telling the church what she needs to do to become relevant and acceptable to the secular culture, and that it’s the usual stale stuff. That I have to make that assumption because you would not offer me a chance to read the whole is yet another reason I wonder about good-faith. I prefer to assume accident to malice, but there it is.

So, with all due respect, I think I will take a pass; I have a very full plate and frankly didn’t need to stop everything to write a 700 word response to you, but I thought it fair to explain my thinking, and perhaps I am hoping that your editorial writers will take a second look at what they’re putting together, find perhaps one or two urgent issues on which to give balanced address, and save the rest for another time.

The conclave, after all, will not be over in a day. You could probably pull one sentence a day — from that except alone — and build an interesting, more thoughtful and useful editorial out of it.

All the best,

If you're someone who takes his or her Catholic faith seriously, you're someone who should be reading Ms. Scalia regularly.

If you're someone who's looking to find out more about the Catholic faith, you're someone who should be reading Ms. Scalia regularly.

If you're someone who appreciates excellent writing that not only reads well but makes a pont expressively and with clarity, you're someone who should be reading Ms. Scalia regularly.

If you're someone who wants to know more about how to defend your Catholic faith against the forces of ignorance and popular culture that attacks it from every conceivable angle, you're someone who should be reading Ms. Scalia regularly.

Do yourself a favor.

Read Ms. Scalia regularly.

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