Taking on the anti-Catholics

Don’t miss Msgr. Charles Pope’s take-down of a particularly feisty Catholic hater who calls himself The Friendly Atheist.  A teaser excerpt follows:

Anti-CatholicismWe know Catholic leaders are mostly a bunch of men who don’t want to hear any legitimate arguments as to why they’re wrong on issues like contraception usage and gay marriage.

Note that he says we “know” this. I do not cede this point as a premise. Frankly, most Catholics I know, think the Bishops far less decisive than our “friendly atheist” presumes. They experience them, as a group, to be far more open the the “spirit of the age,” to collegiality and to “dialogue” than they would wish.  I personally disagree with either extreme (i.e. too open vs. too closed), but the point here is that what our friendly atheist stipulates as a fact we “know,” is far more disputable than he presumes.

Further he speaks of them not being open to “legitimate” arguments as to why they are wrong on contraception and Gay “marriage.”

Again note the logical fallacy: we are first supposed to stipulate that they are “wrong” on the said issues. No, Mr. “Friendly Atheist,” you are supposed to demonstrate that.

He further implies that the arguments against the Bishops are “legitimate,” which presupposes that arguments for these positions are “illegitimate.” Here too, a logical fallacy since he has failed to demonstrate the presupposition of “legitimacy.”

Now the word “legitimacy” comes from the Latin legis, meaning “law.” In the Catholic realm we find the sources of our law in Scripture and Tradition. Now, if there are “legitimate” arguments that the “friendly atheist” wants to advance, let him attempt to do so. But, frankly, the attempts to advance any argument from Scripture or Tradition that Gay “marriage” or contraception are good, and of God, will be hard to come by, since, at every stage of Scripture and Tradition these practices are consistently condemned.

Some argue that Scripture is largely silent on contraception (but remember, NO ONE wanted small families in those days, contraception was unthinkable except perhaps in relation to prostitution), but Tradition is not silent. And as for Gay “marriage” any attempt to validate homosexual activity of any sort is fanciful. Scripture unambiguously and at every stage, condemns homosexual activity, as well as illicit heterosexual activity. Hence it is unclear what “legitimate” (i.e. based in Law) arguments the bishops should be listening to on either topic

Perhaps our friendly atheist thinks that arguments from the world are the legitimate arguments. But “the world” is not a “legitimate” (i.e. “legal”) source of the moral Law for the Church. We draw from sources of Scripture, Tradition and appeal to the Natural Law both to confirm the rectitude of our beliefs and to demonstrate to unbelievers the rectitude of our positions.

We also know that most Catholics who are not part of the hierarchy don’t buy into what their “superiors” tell them. Catholic women use birth control. Many Catholics support gay marriage. The list goes on.

Here too there are a list of misunderstandings as to the nature of the Church. We are not a body politic that determines what is right based on polls or how conforming people are. It is a tragic truth that the faithful, down through the centuries, have not always lived or upheld what is taught. That goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

And even to this day, it is not merely the “conservative” sexual morals of the Church that the faithful often ignore or dispute, it is also more “liberal” notions. For example, we are to love our enemies and not seek to retaliate against those who assail us. But most Catholics, most Christians, liberal or conservative, do not live this very well and even openly live contrary to it. Should the Church simply jettison this call to love our enemies and now sanction, approve and encourage hating enemies? Should we recognize “covenants of hatred” and seek to supply encouragement and provision and rituals for retaliation? Should we affirm those who have a “right” to hate since, after all, God gave them the capacity to hate? Is the mere fact that people don’t live the moral law reason to jettison it?

Well, let these absurdities illustrate the truth that the Church cannot allow sinful human behavior, no matter how widespread and “celebrated” be the norm for our teaching. Taking votes and simply observing human attitudes is not a good source for moral norms. We must look to reveled truth for a more sure source, a source that does not merely pander to what we want.

And note that what the “friendly atheist” calls “Most Catholics” may be statistically true, but it fails to distinguish between church-going Catholics and merely nominal Catholics. It remains a sad fact that most people who call themselves Catholics are not really practicing Catholics in any sense of the word. Perhaps they will return, but non-practicing Catholics cannot set the norm for what it means to be a believing and practicing Catholic.

There’s more and it’s all most worthy.

I wish I had the ability to calmly and effectively take on the foolish.

I don’t.

I’d rather smack ’em.

Pray for me.

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