Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is The Pope Catholic?

Never ask a question, unless you want to hear the answer.

It's always amazing how many people don't get that. And I'm not just talking about people whose high point in life is a spot on The Jerry Springer Show. (I met him in Cincinnati as a young man. He's exactly like he is on television, only more so.) I'm talking about educated people, people who write articles for serious journals and try to appear serious as they say something completely asinine, and then get paid for it. Like those bozos at Commonweal, for example. I'll get to them later.

Anyway, this one's for those of you who can't get enough talk about the motu proprio. And I don't mean the one on papal elections. Nope, I don't mean that other one either.

Rod Dreher of The Dallas Morning News, a former non-Catholic who became a Catholic then became Orthodox, explains how all the fuss is because...

...the recent foofarah over Benedict XVI’s statement that the Roman Catholic Church is the only Christian ecclesial body that possesses the fullness of truth scandalized quite a few folks, even some Catholics.

Well, what did they expect? It’s the pope’s job to explain and defend Catholic teaching, which makes unique and exclusive truth claims. It would be logically inconsistent for the pope to affirm Catholic teaching while asserting that churches proclaiming contradictory things are equally correct.

Benedict said nothing new...

...but it's news to many in the Catholic intelligensia, most of whom must surely have known that, sooner or later, this dirty little not-so-secret was going to rear its ugly head. But from my own experience with ecumenical dialogue (and yes, I have had some of that over the years), it's better to lay certain things on the table before you close the deal.

When I endeavored to convert to Catholicism as a young man, the priest and the nun leading our class spent week after week encouraging us to talk about our feelings, and nothing but.

Sick of this cotton-candy catechism, I went to a crusty old Irish priest in an inner-city parish. “When I get t’roo wit’ ye, lad, ye might not want to be a Catlick,” Father Moloney said. “But ye’ll know what a Catlick is!”

People have a right to know what it is to which they are objecting. I've engaged in "guerilla apologetics" for years, on e-mail lists and internet discussion forums. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that the ones who don't care to know, and object anyway, are no match for someone who's ready to tell them. Dreher, to his credit, has understood this all along, even as he swam down the Tiber and up the Bosporus.

So to speak.

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