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John Wayne's Holster: In Defense of the Papacy
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Friday, April 08, 2005

In Defense of the Papacy

Earlier this week, Thomas Cahill, author of “How the Irish Saved Civilization”, penned an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times entitled “The Price of Infallibility”. Read it Here. The article is very critical of the papacy of John Paul II. The thesis of the article is that the Pope, via his rigid authoritarianism, had a failed papacy because he was unable to find common ground with the needs of modern Catholics. The Pope was seen as too inflexible on issues such as masturbation, abortion, birth control, stem-cell research, and homosexual behavior.

Cahill maintains that the Pope’s lasting legacy will come from the Episcopal appointments he made - the bishops appointed by John Paul II essentially shared his views. Progressives often portray the hierarchy of the Church as a collection of misogynistic and self-righteous condemners who are stuck in yesteryear. They point to the Pope’s unbending opposition to condoms, particularly when it comes to controlling the spread of AIDS in Africa, as an example of his failure to bring the Church into the new millennium. In Cahill’s eyes, the Church’s rigid authoritarianism will eventually lead to its downfall.

I find it befuddling that the secular media expect the Church to act as if it were a democratic establishment – as if its position on issues should shift with the wind of public opinion. This attitude denies the fact that some truths are eternal – that they can not be changed. This way of thinking is so foreign to the progressive mindset that it seems incomprehensible to them. Progressives want to replace the culture of moral absolutism with the haze of moral relativism. They want the Church to compromise, but the Church can not. To compromise the truth requires that one perpetuate a lie.


At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a little off the main subject, but it is one of my pet-peeves and I have your attention, so read on.
The whole infallability theme, disturbs me. Many people, Catholic and otherwise, assume that EVERYTHING that the Pope says is infallabile. In fact, Popes have only used the infallability clause in their writings about 6 times in the last hundred years. They are "guiding" the Catholics of the world, 99% of the time. Only a minute amount of their preachings fall into the "from God" infallability realm. People need to research their own church history.

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Joe Verica said...

Hey Anon

thanks for the comment.

I agree with your point on infallibility. Popes infrequently make infallible statements. In order for a statement to be infallible, it must be a statement about "faith and morals" and must be made as an official, binding statement by the Pope/Church in its official capacity.

As far as I can tell, there have only been two such statements that have clearly and unequivocally been made. Both concern Marian doctine, the first being the Assumption and the other being the Immaculate Conception.

There are a few others, such as the inviolability of human life (i.e abortion, euthanasia) that appear to have been made infallibly, but it is not entirely clear.

I think the reason the Church has the problem with a misunderstanding on the part of the laity is that She has been somewhat vague as to when infallibility applies and when it doesn't. But clearly, not all statements that the Pope utters are intended to be taken as infallible. For example, statements such as "priests can not marry" are merely matters on Canon law and are subject to change at the discretion of the Church.

Opponents of the Church also use the infallibility issue to confuse and mislead people in order to discredit the Church.


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