Monday, September 25, 2017

A New Inquisition

Pope Francis, Fr. Martin, and Faith without Reason
We’re witnessing a period in which the Church is trying to have Faith without the full benefits of Reason. This is odd, in a way, because it’s usually thought that the only Christians who forsake reason are impossible-to-reason-with fundamentalists. In the current moment, we have a progressive group in Rome and beyond that seems to think that Reason in any strong sense distorts or even blocks Faith.

They know the outcomes they want and aren’t about to let the logical contradictions theologians, philosophers, or ordinary believers notice, stop them.

It’s an old philosophical truth that that once you abandon the principle of non-contradiction, you can prove anything. And here is proof positive.

For example, Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., of La Civiltà Cattolica has argued that, as a good Jesuit, the Holy Father does not take something and explore its logical consequences, but instead looks directly at it and seeks inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps so (we can’t be sure that anyone really speaks the Holy Father’s mind).

But behold the confusions this leads to in the Church:

In Amoris Laetitia, as we’ve been told by various interpreters, sexual relations between the divorced/remarried are sometimes the best that can be done in the circumstances. That ceasing sexual relations may harm the family and the good of children.

But here’s another case: an industrialist makes gobs of money polluting the local environment (real pollution, not speculations about climate change). He’s confronted by a reader of Laudato Si’. He replies, however, that to clean up his plant would cripple him, probably leading to the departure of his wife and children, to say nothing of the damage to the families of workers he would have to lay off. So the best he can do under the circumstances is to regret those circumstances, seek to do better – someday, and – in the meantime – do nothing.
Where this is headed:
You only have to look at a figure like Aquinas to see that all that thinking is in the service of knowing and understanding the Beloved better, and seeking to do what He wills.

The alternative to this careful, patient, loving attention to the One who revealed himself in history, Scripture, tradition, the lives of holy men and women, and great Catholic thinkers is to substitute what you or I or someone else thinks Jesus was, or should have been.

That path now has a 500-year history. It even has a certain, if truncated logic of its own. But that logic isn’t Catholicism.
Is a new Inquisition on the way? Perhaps, when (if?) the West wakes up to its existential threats.

QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE SPANISH INQUISITION
It was under this threat that the Pope authorized the Spanish Inquisition if it should be needed. Queen Isabella instituted it two years later. The specific threat that the Inquisition faced was the "conversos." Spain had been freed form Islamic control for only a few generations. Because no Jew or Muslim could hold a high position in the Christian kingdom many Jews and Muslims had converted to Christianity. Many of their descendents now held high positions both within the royal court and within the Church. (Isabella's confessor is one example.) Many of these conversions were matters of convenience and some continued to practice their original faith secretly. With good reason it was feared that these secret Muslims and Jews might betray the Spanish cities to the Turks. This situation also affected those who had sincerely converted since they were now publicly suspect.
Today, Muslims, Jews and Westerners openly call for the destruction of the West. No Inquisition is needed when their actions speak louder than words, but the institutions are also littered with people of questionable allegiances. Whose side are they on? As for the Church, who really believes in Catholic doctrine?

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