Showing posts with label hypocrisy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hypocrisy. Show all posts

Monday, October 2, 2023

It's Iimi! Law, Justice, and the... (sigh) American Way

 When Ms. Celarent invites herself into a meeting of the Socratic Club, the group is in the midst of a discussion over recent items in the news. When asked how they fit in with the Catholic understanding, Iimi must discuss Law, Justice, and the... (sigh) American Way.

Post-Comic Notes:

The cover background was done through AI. 

Monday, July 17, 2023


 It's a lazy Saturday youth group. The girls go, hoping for a quiet session. Little do they realize they are about to participate in… CATHOLIC AMERICA: CIVIL WAR!

Pre-Comic Notes:
The arguments from Daryl and Sean are ones I've personally experienced from these factions on Social media.

 Post-Comic Notes:
Obedience to the Pope and bishops in communion with him is a key ingredient in being Catholic. It doesn’t matter whether or not we agree with the politics of the dissenter. Obedience to the Church, with the Pope being the arbiter of what interpretation is correct is mandatory. If we don’t have that, we’re blind guides.

What can I say about the cover? I've always been a fan of the Silver Age comics…

 I originally had "Rad Skull" with the emblem of the SSPX. But I decided not to use it because the comic might inspire factional comments that it was supposed to be acting against. However, I do not apologize for portraying Daryl and Sean's decisions as morally wrong.

 The Parish response to the SSPX setting up in Babylon was loosely based on a different group, Iglesia ni Cristo, setting up a storefront church and aggressively targeting Hispanic Catholics in our (real life) parish. They didn't last. But it was a concern at the time.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Ersatz Fidelity

Ersatz: adjective. Made or used as a (usually inferior) substitute for something else. German = compensation, replacement.

During the pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI it was easier to confuse conservatism with Catholicism because the greatest evils of the era condemned by the Catholic Church also happened to go against the conservative ideology. Under the pontificate of Pope Francis, it has become easier to confuse liberalism with Catholicism because the greatest evils condemned by the Catholic Church also happened to go against the liberal ideology. It would be false to say that the Catholic Church moved “left” or “right” during these pontificates. The Church still is teaching what she has always taught. But certain groups of Catholics have fallen into error either by assuming that their ideology is correct, or that an ideology they oppose is wrong.

I have seen some Catholics protest in response that they are not at all political. But that is to miss the point. Our fidelity to the Church, as established by Christ with His teaching authority, must come above our defense of party X or condemnation of party Y. If we make excuses for one group that we would not make for another or if we condemn one group more harshly for the sins we shrug off when the other party does it, then we are partisan despite our protests. If we argue that “the stakes are too high” to speak out against the party we think of as less of a threat, then we are partisan despite our protests.

Think about it. When the Church speaks out on an evil, do we get angry if the bishops did not speak out at the same time on another issue? We should be aware that the bishops have condemned all the evils present in our country. It is our own ignorance and bias that leads us to only notice it when the side we think is less evil is condemned while ignoring it when our opponents are condemned.

We also display this fault when we say that the Church “neglected” issues we favor under certain Popes and got “back on track” under certain Popes. That sort of behavior guarantees that whoever succeeds Pope Francis will be viewed on a Left-Right axis. If the successor tends to be more like St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, it will be seen as a “rejection” of Pope Francis. But if his successor is more like himself, it will be seen as a “rejection” of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. That’s entirely the wrong approach to take.

All three Popes—like their predecessors—have taught on all the moral issues of the era. If you read Pope Francis on abortion and same sex “marriage,” you will see his views are like his predecessors. If you read St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI on economic justice§, immigration and the environment, you will see they sound like Pope Francis. The narrative that we have “fallen away” or “finally gotten on track” does not show problems with the Popes or the Church. It shows problems with us.

In a similar way, when we place our bishops in political categories because of how they view the loss of the sense of Sacred over the Eucharist, it does not show a problem with the bishops. It shows a problem with us. Yes, our bishops can make errors in judgment and even choose to sin through commission or omission. But we cannot use that fact to reject them when they teach us.

We need to realize that our problem is ersatz fidelity. When we consistently get angry at one side and consistently get angry with the Church when she does not target that side, that once again shows that the problem in the Church is us. We justify why we cannot act against what the side we think of as less evil while refusing to consider the same arguments used against us by those who think the other side is less evil.

The result is we believe that the Catholic Church rests with us and we cannot be in the wrong when we interpret Church documents, or the words of Popes. If the Pope and the bishops in communion with him should ever speak out on an issue we think is “less important,” we immediately think that the Church is in danger of—or already is—error. That is not faithfulness to the Church. That is imposing our template on whether we will obey and calling those conditions “fidelity.”

This also applies to how we approach those bodies that the Pope gives authority. Canon law points out:

CAN. 754 All the Christian faithful are obliged to observe the constitutions and decrees which the legitimate authority of the Church issues in order to propose doctrine and to proscribe erroneous opinions, particularly those which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops puts forth.

So, if we try to argue that a document of the CDF lacks legitimacy because it was not signed by the Pope, we are also guilty of ersatz fidelity. The documents and decrees cannot be promulgated without the approval of the Pope.

Yes, some conservative Catholics claim to be “truly faithful” while picking and choosing which teachings to follow. But so do the so-called “Spirit of Vatican II” or “Pope Francis Catholics” (a term I loathe) who interpret Pope Francis in a way that justifies what they were going to do anyway. Members of both groups believe that Pope Francis supports sexually active same sex relationships—despite all his rejections of it—and only disagree over whether that “support” is good. When these factions fight over this to claim that they alone are the faithful ones, I can only shake my head, because both are wrong¥.

I believe that if we want to be truly faithful, we will need to change our thinking. If we encounter a Pope or bishop acting in a way that we cannot square with what we think the Church should be, we should first ask if we were the ones who have somehow gone wrong. Otherwise, our supposed fidelity is exposed as a sham: We are not faithful in learning from the Church that teaches with Christ’s authority. We are creating a cheap substitute that merely bears a similar appearance.



[†] Falling into the ideology trap is not merely endorsing one party. We can also do this by bearing a special hostility for one party to the point that we ignore the other evils from the side we think of as less at fault.

[‡] We should note that these Catholics do testify against any defense through ignorance when they bring out a Church condemnation of their opponents’ position to condemn their party.

[§] For example, look at St. John Paul II in his Sollicitudo Rei Socialis.

[¥] Some of the readers might wonder if I am overlooking the possibility that I might be guilty of this myself, I can only say, “Of course I am… but I try not to be.” I will admit that even when writing this piece, I have found my thoughts flitting over to the behavior of others I wish would listen. But, when I catch myself doing that, I try to go back and see if I have been guilty of the same. Of course, I have preferences on what should be done. But I believe we should be willing to consider why it is if the Church decides on a different path.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

We Have Work to Do

The USCCB meeting is ended and even the media has conceded that the decision to draft a document was not about barring politicians from Communion. It is to be about the meaning of the Eucharist and the importance of being properly disposed to receive it.


However, the reaction from vocal groups of Catholic critics shows that—for whatever their motivation might—we have a desperate need to re-educate the faithful on what the Eucharist is (only a minority believe it is The Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ) and why we cannot receive in a state of grave sin (cf. canon 916). Moreover, the rhetoric used to attack those bishops concerned with the attitude of pro-abortion politicians shows a general loss of understanding of what sin is in relation to God.


It was never the intention of Pope Francis to say that the impenitent should receive the Eucharist or that we do not need to make use of the Sacrament of Penance. That is an invention of those who disagree with Church teaching. Pope Francis stressed being sorry for our sins and turning back to God. We must understand his words on the Eucharist being for sinners, not a reward for the perfect in light of what St. John Henry Newman said:


Now all of us are sinners, all of us have need to come to God as the Publican did; every one, if he does but search his heart, and watch his conduct, and try to do his duty, will find himself to be full of sins which provoke God’s wrath. I do not mean to say that all men are equally sinners; some are wilful sinners, and of them there is no hope, till they repent; others sin, but they try to avoid sinning, pray to God to make them better, and come to Church to be made better; but all men are quite sinners enough to make it their duty to behave as the Publican. Every one ought to come into Church as the Publican did, to say in his heart, “Lord, I am not worthy to enter this sacred place; my only plea for coming is the merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour.” (St. John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8, Sermon I)


All of us have sinned and all of us will sin again. The question is whether we approach God in a proud manner or humbly. We need to say, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13), not, “I’ve done nothing wrong; you change your Church!” The former admits to God that they have done wrong and would make it right if possible, trying to avoid that sin. The latter does treat the Eucharist as a reward. The person says they are good enough to receive it… because the sin the Church speaks out against is “not as important” as the sins of their enemies. This is a perversion of what we are called to be, and what Scripture and Sacred Tradition tells us we must strive to be.


Of course, this is not only the problem with one party. We all need to remember that the most dangerous sin for each person is the one which condemns him or her to hell. I see some Catholics arrogantly proud that they oppose abortion and other Catholics arrogantly proud that they oppose unjust immigration policies… yet both make excuses for the evils they or their faction supports. That is a clear sign that we have lost sight of The Lord’s command to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). If we immediately think of others when we hear this, we need to think again.


So, yes, the Church has work to do in reminding everybody that we must seek to live this way. But we also have work to do. Every one of us must strive to live this way with God’s grace and seeking forgiveness when we fail.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Reflecting on the Current Rebellion

You shall not commit murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not corrupt boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not practice sorcery. You shall not kill an unborn child or murder a newborn infant. And you shall not desire the goods of your neighbor. (Didache Chapter 2.2)


* * *


Here is another suggestion, which may not be without its value—if you find yourself thus apparently deserted by the light of faith, do not fluster and baffle your imagination by presenting to it all the most difficult doctrines of the Christian religion, those which unbelievers find it easiest to attack; do not be asking yourself, "Can I really believe marriage is indissoluble?  Can I really believe that it is possible to go to hell as the punishment for one mortal sin?"  Keep your attention fixed to the main point, which is a single point—Can I trust the Catholic Church as the final repository of revealed truth?  If you can, all the rest follows; if you cannot, it makes little difference what else you believe or disbelieve. (Msgr. Ronald Knox, In Soft Garments, pages 113-114).


Back in 2016, I wrote a piece about the attack against the authority of the leaders in the Church. At that time, the main issue was people using the misconstrued words of Pope Francis to push an agenda either to excuse rejecting a teaching or to undermine obedience to the Pope. Five years later, the main issue is… pretty much the same thing.


The issue in question is the Eucharist and receiving in a worthy manner. What drives this question is the fact that certain Catholic politicians are protecting and expanding abortion as a “right,” contrary to the obligations of Catholic teaching. Catholics conscious of grave sin must not present themselves for Communion (canon 916). Manifest public sinners must not be admitted to Communion (canon 915).


Among the bishops, the dispute is over reminding the faithful about what the Eucharist is and how they must be disposed to receive. In the past, American bishops have went along with a “let the individual bishop decide how to handle it in their diocese” approach. Unfortunately, since the treatment varies from place to place, some politicians appear to be facing no consequences for their actions.


Adding to the confusion is the misrepresentation of Pope Francis’ words on the Eucharist. It is true that the Pope said that the Eucharist is medicine for the sinners, not a reward for the saints… and there is nothing wrong with that statement, properly understood. All of us are sinners in need of salvation. Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy stressed Confession and he told priests not to make it difficult for those seeking to return.


The problem is some are twisting his words in a way that denies the need for that  repentance. The Catholic understanding is that God will continue to forgive us when we fall. But people forget that part of being reconciled with God is the intention of turn away from sin. Yes, we will fall again. But the The result is some Catholics do think the Eucharist is a reward… in the sense of a Participation Trophy. The common attitude is that one can go on sinning with no need for reconciliation or firm purpose of amendment to “go and sin no more” (cf. John 8:11).


This attitude is exposed when we see people treat abortion as a “political issue” and falsely accuse the bishops of political bias. It shows a serious problem when Catholics think of it as a “liberal political policy” and not the “deliberate killing of the unborn child” that was condemned since the First Century AD (see the quote from the Didache at the top of the article). Catholic Politicians and their defenders ignore this universal denunciation, treating it as a matter of preference.


In addition, we see extensive use of the tu quoque fallacy which distracts from the issue at hand by accusing the bishops of ignoring other issues. If one wants to to discuss these issues separately, that can be done. But the fact that Bishop X is accused of wrongdoing does not remove the guilt from the evil of abortion or the requirement of the proper disposition to receive the Eucharist. The bishops have to respond to that. Ezekiel 3:17-21 tells us:


Son of man, I have appointed you a sentinel for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, you shall warn them for me. If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked and they still do not turn from their wickedness and evil conduct, they shall die for their sin, but you shall save your life. 


But if the just turn away from their right conduct and do evil when I place a stumbling block before them, then they shall die. Even if you warned them about their sin, they shall still die, and the just deeds that they performed will not be remembered on their behalf. I will, however, hold you responsible for their blood. If, on the other hand, you warn the just to avoid sin, and they do not sin, they will surely live because of the warning, and you in turn shall save your own life.


The bishops as shepherds are the sentinels. Regardless of whether we accept or reject their warning, they must speak out or perish. And we are called to obey the teachings of the Church because the Church teaches with the authority given by Christ. (Matthew 7:21-23, 16:19, 18:17-18, Luke 10:16, John 14:15, John 20:23). If we will not give our obedience to the Church, we are rejecting Christ.


This current rebellion is a symptom of a larger problem. We will follow the Church only as far as that obedience costs us nothing. But if she tells us specifically that we are supporting evil, we get angry. That can be Catholic Democrats on abortion, or Catholic Republicans on unjust immigration policies. It can also be Catholics belonging to political parties of other countries with their own situations of sin. In all of these cases, the Church teaching crosses national boundaries.


If we are angry when the Church does speak out, we should recall the words of Msgr. Knox, quoted above: “if you cannot [accept the teaching authority of the Church], it makes little difference what else you believe or disbelieve.” The parts we pick and choose will be of no avail at the final judgment when God asks us why we did not listen to the Church on the rest.




(†) It should be noted that people routinely practiced abortion and infanticide when the Church condemned this, so it is not a cultural belief.

Saturday, June 19, 2021


Canon 915: Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.


Canon 916: A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.


There is a rule of thumb for an iceberg. For every foot sticking out of the water, ten feet are below the surface. So, except for when a change of balance causes a shift that reminds us about how big it is, the visible portion looks less threatening than it actually is. Aside from the practical nautical knowledge of navigation in icy waterways, this knowledge makes for a lot of memes involving what lies beneath a problem.


In the aftermath of the USCCB meeting of June 16-18, I think the iceberg meme serves as a useful symbol for the hostile response directed towards the bishops. Yes, we now have an ominous threat emerging where Catholics—including Catholic politicians—have reacted with hostility towards the decision to draft a document that in part looks to consider the requirements for receiving the Eucharist. But that threat was not caused by the USCCB vote. It was always that big beneath the surface. What the vote did was expose just how big the threat is.


The hidden part of the iceberg in this metaphor was just how large the number of American Catholics who failed to grasp what the Eucharist really is and how we are to prepare ourselves to receive it, combined with the failure to understand that the teachings of the Church are not opinions that can be rejected. The result is, when the bishops voted (fewer than 25% voted against it), it brought how big a problem it was to the surface.


The situation is that the long held teaching is being labeled as “weaponizing the Eucharist” by those who fall under the prohibition. And that demonstrates, as Ven. Pius XII put it:


Perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin. Smother that, deaden it — it can hardly be wholly cut out from the heart of man — let it not be awakened by any glimpse of the God-man dying on Golgotha's cross to pay the penalty of sin, and what is there to hold back the hordes of God's enemy from over-running the selfishness, the pride, the sensuality and unlawful ambitions of sinful man? Will mere human legislation suffice? Or compacts and treaties? In the Sermon on the Mount the divine Redeemer has illumined the path that leads to the Father's will and eternal life; but from Golgotha's gibbet flows the full and steady stream of graces, of strength and courage, that alone enable man to walk that path with firm and unerring step.


The loss of the sense of sin makes reception of the Eucharist “a right” and the Church insisting on our need to receive sacramental confession if we are conscious of grave sin “being political.” It is a problem that runs deep and over a long period of time. With no past agreement on how to handle it, this reaction demonstrates the opposition has hardened.


This is not going to be a lament on what might have been. There is no point in saying “we should have dealt with this earlier.” We have to deal with the situation as it exists now. Unfortunately, because the bishops are in disagreement (168 for, 55 against, 6 abstentions), those Catholics who are supporting what the Church has always called evil can play on this division to attack those who want to enforce the Church teachings.


That does not mean we can attack those 55 bishops who voted against writing the document. Sure, under canon 212 §3, we can make our concerns known… if done “with reverence toward their pastors.” But disagreement over how to handle a situation does not automatically prove a rejection of Church teaching or moral laxity.


Nor can we claim that the 168 bishops voting in favor of writing a document are acting “in opposition to the Pope.” The Ladaria Letter did not forbid the bishops taking action. It called for “agreement as a conference,” which doesn’t necessarily mean a unanimous vote (73% voted in favor. A 2/3 margin is required). During the process of drafting it and before voting for it, there will be opportunities to come to agreement on what is to be done.


But we should be speaking out against the dissent that attacks Church teaching. Sure, one can legitimately say that Bill Barr was wrong to sign off on an execution (this is currently a popular tactic on the internet… though it’s a tu quoque and the differences are greater than the similarities). But, if these critics are aware that his action was wrong (and it was), then they are without excuse for not also condemning the continuing actions of the pro-abortion politicians who enable and protect the evil of abortion.


So, I believe that the iceberg that threatens the Church in the United States is the disobedience and the justification for evil given when that evil is on our side. It is easy to be self-righteous towards the other side’s faults. But, if we will not repent of our own failures while condemning the other side for theirs, then we should remember the words of The Lord: “For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you (Matthew 7:2).” This does not mean that the Church is guilty of being judgmental when she applies censure to the recalcitrant who publicly flaunt their disobedience. But it does mean we play the hypocrites if we excuse our own side—going against the teachings of the Church—for what is unforgivable for our enemies.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

It’s Iimi! What Good Is The Golden Rule?

I’ve mentioned Iimi’s older sister, Della, before. Here we meet her and her college roommate, Myrna, as they discuss how losing sight of the Golden Rule led to the situation we have in this country today. Even for people who do not accept Catholicism as true, the teachings are a way leading out of ruin.

I chose to bring Della in because, as the comic progresses, she will play a role. So, it seemed good to establish her character quirks before then.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Breaking the Golden Rule

In my time, I have been accused of cynicism, of false equivalence, or of making excuses for immoral factions. The reason people seem to think I am guilty of these things is because I see a serious problem with both major factions in the United States. That problem is, in a dualistic political system, we are seeing each faction condone in themselves what they condemn in the other side… often to the point of arguing differences which are not differences but similarities.

This kind of behavior—used by both major political parties—is less concerned with correcting wrongdoing wherever it occurs and more concerned with using what the other side does to attack and discredit their enemies for political gain.

From the Catholic perspective, this cannot be justified. Whatever is morally wrong cannot be justified. Whatever one tries to condemn in “the other side” while ignoring or explaining away in their own party without carefully explaining why the differences matter is hypocrisy. As The Lord taught us:

Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12).


Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.  (Matthew 7:3-5)

If we want “the other side” to reform, we need to reform ourselves. If we want “the other side” to treat us justly, we must treat them justly. These rules of course apply to us regardless of whether they do it themselves.

Of course, people try to justify this double standard. They say X is worse than Y for example. That may be true (abortion comes to mind here). But what people forget is the fact that, even when X is worse than Y, this does not permit us to do or justify Y ourselves. People are much better at seeing hypocrisy in others than in themselves. So, if we do evil—no matter how we justify it—those we disagree with will notice it and dismiss what we validly say. No, they are not justified in doing so. But we are causing scandal by our own behavior all the same.

If the reader is tempted to say but what about…? at this point, then please stop. Do we think that Catholics who supported Trump or Biden are guilty of worse than what our own party has done? That may be. But that does not excuse us from looking at ourselves and turning away from the evils we have been silent over or even supporting.

Do we look at the words issued by bishops or the Pope as “intruding” into the political domain when it goes against us? That is a clear sign of a double standard, because we can be sure we would not object if the other side’s policies were so targeted. The Catholic teaching is not “Left” or “Right.” It is about the Greatest Commandment: 

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40)

When the Church speaks out on an issue that goes against a political platform, we can be sure that said political platform is violating the Greatest Commandment. We should want to change it. Obviously, Democrats are the ones who can change Democrat platforms and Republicans are the ones who can change Republican platforms. So, if we are looking at Catholics in the other major party and asking, “Why aren’t they doing anything to change their party?” we should first look at our own behavior. Are we striving to change our own party’s faults when it goes against Catholic teaching?

Yes, there is a risk of encountering hypocrites who have no intention of changing and only want to use the charge of hypocrisy to bash their opponents. But, given Jesus spoke harshly against hypocrisy, we certainly should strive to eliminate it from ourselves regardless of what others may do. As the angel told John in the book of Revelation: Let the wicked still act wickedly, and the filthy still be filthy. The righteous must still do right, and the holy still be holy (Revelation 22:11).

That verse does not mean “don’t try to convert others away from their evil.” It means, “the fact that others do wrong does not excuse us from doing right ourselves.”

We should keep that in mind the next time we are tempted to explain away our own inaction while condemning others for not acting.



(†) Yes, minor parties exist. But their effect on our system is normally negligible unless they play spoiler and split the vote for one of the major parties.

(‡) I list it as us and them because as soon as I name one party, someone is going to stop there and think that only the XX Party is guilty (or innocent) when this is really a “bipartisan” problem.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

It’s Iimi! The Corpse in the Lab

In this episode, Iimi debates another Catholic about the tu quoque and special pleading that some use to condemn the other side for ignoring some pro-life issues... while doing the exact same things themselves. She points out that both sides are guilty and we need to fight to change our side, regardless of what others do or fail to do.