Showing posts with label Covington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Covington. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Anticlerical Trojan Horses in Our Causes

Beware of Greeks bearing Gifts—Aeneid

Beware of Gifts bearing Greeks—Every person who riffed on Aeneid 

The Covington incident, among Catholics, has metastasized. It’s no longer the media or the “Black Hebrew Israelites” that are the target of outrage. Now it’s the bishop of Covington and other bishops who echoed him in denouncing the events before it turned out the video was out of context. It’s not my intention to pass judgment defending or attacking the bishops in this article. Bishops aren’t infallible of course. They can make errors in judgment. They can sin in doing so. But there’s a big difference between an error in judgment and maliciously rejecting their obligations to shepherd the Church. 

This concerns me because, while this incident is less than a week old, the rhetoric we’re hearing dates back to at least the pontificate of St. John Paul II. That rhetoric is of the “corrupt and cowardly bishops” which assumes that whatever mistake of judgment or sinful behavior that an individual bishop might commit is willfully and maliciously practiced by all the bishops. The argument is that, if they weren’t guilty of X (fill in your own blank here), they’d be denouncing the disliked position. 

People forget there is an anticlerical movement in the Church that seizes on any incident of bad judgment or scandal and uses it to bash the Pope and/or bishops. Whether the incident is a Bishop in Point A not barring a pro-abortion politician from the Eucharist (per Canon 915), a Bishop from Point B not disclosing cases of clergy abuse, or a Bishop from Point C saying something that turns out to be false, those critics with issues against the Church seize on these things to push their agenda—that the bishops they dislike are “proof” of the corruption of the Church as a whole. According to their views, the Church is in error unless they change to act as they prefer.

No, not all Catholics are members of this anticlerical mindset. It’s not wrong to want justice. We want politicians to be held accountable. We want the abuse scandals to stop. We wish certain bishops didn’t jump the gun on Covington. But, we need to beware of falling for the rhetoric of the Catholics alienated from  and hostile to the Church. If we look to the anticlerical sources when they attack wrongdoing in the Church, we might be swept up when these sources start attacking the authority of the Church.

The sources most loudly attacking the Bishop of Covington are notorious for their hostility to the Pope. Their mantra is that the Church is overrun by liberalism and modernism. They are using each incident that comes along as “proof” that justifies their dissent. They treat Incidents X, Y, and Z in locations A, B, and C as if all the evil was maliciously done by every diocese across the world simultaneously... except for the bishops they happen to agree with.

The danger is accepting the false narrative of the anticlerical movements. If one listens to their attacks too long, one might be tempted to accept that their dissent is justified. This is why I say beware of accepting the accounts of those at odds with the Church. You might happen to agree with them on disliking how a bishop handled something. But if one accepts their narrative uncritically, they might find themselves accepting the dissent that everyone is guilty, because there always was and always will always be sinners in the Church, and some of them will be priests or bishops.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

On MAGA Hats and the (Ongoing) Rush to Judgment

What you see in the picture to the left of the text is probably a Rorschach test reflecting your political views.

When the story of Covington Catholic broke, people immediately formed reactions. In my case, I first thought “set up!” When the diocese issued an apology and promised an investigation, I thought there might be something to the charges. 

Mea culpa. I was wrong both times. Once I realized that, I decided to step back and wait, deleting some of my commentary on my blog’s Facebook page that was based on those early reports.

I’m glad I did that [#] because, when people started taking a deeper look, it was plain that different factions focused on parts of the video that fit their preconceived notions while others (like me) assumed due diligence had been performed. In other words, everyone who formed an opinion thought (and many still do think) that what they knew was all they needed to know. 

Unfortunately, much of that “thought” was caused by what people think of the MAGA hat. Some people who support Trump focused on the MAGA hats and saw allies under fire. Some who oppose Trump focused on the hats and saw thugs bullying a Native American veteran. Either way, it was a view of “100% of the blame goes to your faction, 0% goes to mine!”

As more is known about the story, it’s clear that three [§] parties were involved and it’s possible that some members of both the Covington Catholic students and the Native American group responded in unacceptable ways. Unfortunately, the partisans won’t step back. They scour the video for minute clues that they claim exonerates their position and refuse to consider that some of the actions on “their” side may have been wrong.

Not only are they refusing to consider that, they’re expanding their targets. Now some are blasting the diocese and the school for initially announcing an investigation (with potentially dire consequences) and apologizing to the Native Americans. Never mind the fact that they’ll still need to investigate whether the students violated the code of conduct expected of them. Others are blasting the media (in general) for the initial reporting. No doubt there were errors in judgment based on the assumption that all the facts were out. But the partisans are still doing what they accused others of. They’re assuming their knee-jerk reactions were true and act as if they’re looking for vindication, not truth.

This has to stop. 

It’s one thing to be mistaken. It’s quite another to obstinately refuse to consider the possibility that things are different than your first impression led you to believe. Assuming that those you mistrust must be guilty and those who you agree with must be innocent is rash judgment. As the Catechism teaches:

There’s time for all of us to step back, calm down, and wait for the facts to emerge—recognizing that our biases may be distorting our views. But if we will not do that, we’re just as guilty as the “other side” we blame.


[#] I’m especially glad that I didn’t write a blog post based on my first impressions. That would have been even more embarrassing to retract.

[§] I find it interesting that the group identified as the “Black Israelites,” which seem to have instigated the incident, are the group that seems to be ignored by both sides in this faction war. They do seem to be the necessary and sufficient cause that caused the incident. However, that doesn’t excuse any subsequent wrongdoing by members of the other two groups.