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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Otherwise Devout" and Other Myths

I find it intensely annoying when non-Catholics, no doubt owing to the selfless generosity of their souls, feel compelled to offer remedies to the myriad ailments they see in Holy Church [your sarcasm seems  inconsistent with your never ending barbs aimed at the Episcopalians, doesn't it?--ed. Yeah, but I used to be one so I get a pass.]. A fine example of this is found in the person of one Edward Flatteau, who in his capacity as "environmental reporter" for the Huffington Post, recently urged upon the Catholic Church the canonization of Pope John XXIII.

Poor Pope John: a strong and vibrant personality, the liberals have been claiming him ever since he died unexpectedly and the radical reformers were able to hijack the recommendations of his Second Vatican Council, running roughshod over his considerably weaker and duller successor, Paul VI, eviscerating the music and liturgy of the Church and forcing her sharply to the left politically. All the while the "reformers" cited the "spirit of Vatican II" and, by implication, John XXIII, only to be stopped when they ran up against Paul VI's successor, another vibrant and strong personality, John Paul II.

Flatteau's angle is that John XXIII was a proto-environmentalist and would thus have supported the modern Green movement and its socialist prescriptions (despite socialism's dismal environmental record) for the putative ecological catastrophes the world faces. I doubt it. John XXIII was certainly well familiar with Rerum Novarum, the encyclical by his predecessor Leo XIII, wherein he defends the rights of workers but also strongly supports the right of people to own property. Since encyclicals are simply clarification of Church doctrine John XXIII would hardly oppose or overturn it.

Christopher Johnson (also a non-Catholic!) in his Midwest Conservative Journal, ably sets afire the rest of Flatteau's flatulences, so I will only point out the one I find particularly egregious:
Would John, the "liberal" Pope (who is already beatified) have closed the environmental circle for the Church if he had not died five years into his reign? Perhaps. He never lived to see the commission that he appointed issue a recommendation by a vote of 57 to four to discontinue the Vatican's absolute ban on the use of birth control pills. Pope John's successor, Pope Paul VI, sided with the tiny minority and retained the controversial total artificial contraception prohibition that many otherwise devout Catholics have always felt free to ignore [emphasis added].
Dream on, pal. Catholics are required to obey Church teachings. When they do not, they are, depending on the nature of the violation, in a state of mortal sin and must confess and be absolved by a priest. Catholics who flout Church teachings are no more "otherwise devout" than meat eaters are "otherwise vegetarian."

A further point: when Pope Paul VI, weak as he was, by the grace of God managed to summon the courage to write Humanae Vitae, he spared the Catholic Church the fate of the mainline protestant denominations, that by their slavish adherence to contemporary trends (and warned "they would die" if they did not), now find themselves fiercely competing in a race to oblivion. While he is not likely be canonized anytime soon Catholics everywhere should pray for the repose of Paul VI's soul. It is not overstating it, in my opinion, that he saved the Holy Catholic Church.

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