Making a “Living” off
Parasites in the
Body of Christ
Making a “Living”
First: a short, but extremely helpful aside:
In Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, the greatest
Commander in classical antiquity, the Spartan General Brasidas, in the
winter of the 8th year of the war, laid siege to the strategic city
of Amphipolis in northern Hellas in 424 BC (visited, incidentally, by
Socrates while serving in the Athenian Army) where, in a later battle
in 421 BC, Brasidas himself was to die. He headed the most successful
army of Sparta.
It was not, however, by force of arms that Brasidas entered the
besieged city, but through sedition — and not, interestingly enough
— by the demos, or people, of Amphipolis, but principally through the
people of the neighboring city of Argilus “who had their own designs
on Amphipolis” (Bk. 4/103) and together with their countrymen inside
its walls. Amphipolis fell without a fight, and even in subsequent wars
was never recovered by Athens.
So ... you ask, what possible connection exists between today's “Professional”
Catholics in the Church, and the Argilians who lived inside the walls
First, we must understand that the Argilians lived, profited through,
enacted perfunctory rituals within, and took shelter under the aegis
of Amphipolis ... even as they planned and executed the betrayal of
the native Hellenes or Athenians within her. While not native Amphipolans,
or, for that matter, Athenians, they were, in a manner of speaking,
They earned their wages and some made their small fortunes solely
through their association with Amphipolis. They had no allegiance to
— except inasmuch as they could earn a living through — the Athenians
at Amphipolis, whom they emulated even as they despised them.
It is not the case that the Argilians looked to the Lacedemonians
(the Spartans) as their liberators (which Brasidas sincerely believed
himself and his army to be); they did not love Sparta, but they hated
Athens. Yet, daily they passed in and out of her walls, ate in her fields
and sold in her markets. They could earn a living in Amphipolis
... even as they hated her.
It is notable that even as their hatred festered, they did nothing
overtly treasonable until an opportune time ... in fact, until the appearance
of the leading elements of Brasidas’ cavalry at the gates of Argilus.
The designs they could not effect on Amphipolis of themselves, they
could, they understood at once, effect through Brasidas, and they used
him to this end.
Catholicism as “a job
Church is dangerously bloated with “Professional” Catholics — that is
to say, Catholics to whom, and for whom, “being Catholic” is a means
to making, money, and for whom Catholicism is a job, an income, and
in many cases a “profession” (not a Profession of Faith).
the American Corporate model around which the Church in America appears
to be increasingly molding itself, there is no inherent contradiction
in working for the corporation and hating the boss who runs it.
The point of significant divergence, however, is that in secular
Corporate America, the expression of such sentiments is likely to end
at the back of the unemployment line. What is strange is that in such
an event, we seldom, or rarely encounter the charge of intolerance.
The reasoning appears to be legitimate: if you do not like it here,
you are free to leave and find a job elsewhere and more to your liking.
XYZ Company produces and pushes products and services much more to your
liking, and in better keeping with, or at least more amenable to, your
However, ... if you choose to stay here at ABC Company which produces
and markets goods and services deeply antithetical to those of XYZ Company's
– whose interests are not only at odds with, but in fact inimical to
our own – we presume that you will be loyal to the interests of ABC
Company who is, after all, paying you to produce our own authentic goods
and providing loyal services. If you are willing to take our money,
you must be willing to agree with, and abide by, our policies. This
is not tyranny. If you find such policies repugnant to you, you are
free to keep them to yourself, or to leave.
You are not, however, free to disseminate policy of your
own making, or goods and services promoted by XYZ Company .... and pass
them off as ours. This is egregiously duplicitous and dishonest, is
it not? In this way only do we see a significant divergence between
the secular corporate model and its ecclesiastical emulation:
To wit: In the Church you can stay, promote your
own unique and incompatible agenda ... and even get paid
for it! Not a bad deal. Except for the Church ... and her children.
To do otherwise clearly requires a measure of some integrity.
It requires something more than a neurotic paralysis between incompatible
choices. Integrity should compel us to do, not what is profitable at
any cost ... but what is right. To be paid to make one thing and to
make another is one example. To be paid to teach one thing, and then
to take it upon ourselves to teach its contradictory for the same pay
is, I suggest, another and extremely eminent example of the absence
This breach of integrity — however lamely excused (and there are
always excuses, and they will always be cleverly couched, for they are
self-interested) is exponentially compounded, not by the intrinsic disorder
within it, and not even by a breach of faith with what is presumed to
It is, in the end, theft of the most execrable kind: it
is predation of the Widow's Mite. It is a taking of the .25 cents from
the 7-year-old girl, the dollar from the 85-year-old man, and sometimes
the lunch money from some destitute student .... to make a comfortable
living dissenting from the very things which they hold sacred and to
which they contribute at so great a cost in so little a gift. It is,
as it ever has been, a taking by the powerful from the powerless. It
is nothing less. We know the victims. They fill every pew. Now ... who
are the predators?
The fleecing of the Faithful to other ends ... which is to say, teaching
them defiance of, and in contradiction to, the authentic
teaching of the Catholic Church while “earning a living off it” to which
parents pay tribute in coppers of real sacrifice ... is distributed
between Catholic academics in nominally Catholic colleges and universities
and the monetarily-engaged-laity in any teaching capacity. The nearly
one-thousand-year-old teaching of the Church which maintains that Faith
and Reason are, as we had seen earlier, mutually complementary, neither
conflicting nor contradictory — and as such constituted an ideal basis
upon which to found an authentic Catholic education.
As with so much once uniquely and identifiably Catholic following
Vatican II, this was thoroughly repudiated in the Land-o-Lakes Conference
which, renouncing Catholicism as objectively informative in education,
favored not simply rapprochement with the secular educational
world, but complete submission to it. The conference stated this capitulation
in no uncertain terms:
“the Catholic university
must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in
the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical,
external to the academic community itself.”
This is especially true in those who inhabit that indistinct penumbra
between the priest and his local “Pastoral Assistant,” and later, in
higher education, to theologian-cum-Mandatum. Let us enumerate
a few. All are putative docents of sorts, and the one thread binding
their diversity is this: disaffection. Disaffection from the Church.
From Rome; and sometimes — perhaps more often than not — from God.
Now that we have put a point on the needle, let us touch a few
of the more bloated institutions ... but with the blunt end first; you
know, the one with the proverbial “eye” ... the passage through which
bloated purses and personalities are said to be so problematic. Too
quick a thrust with the pointed end would – at least narratively – be
anticlimactically implosive. Let us start with the Catholic Colleges,
Seminaries, and “Theological Institutes” where the “profession”
is most lucrative, the dissension most strident and the disaffection
Where to begin?
The list is long, involuted, and often redundant. Perhaps it is well
to start at the apex where the dissidence — and, commensurably, the
“professional” salaries — are greatest; in other words, where dissidence
is most amply rewarded and appears to be the sine qua non of “academic”
We must, however, and in all fairness, preface our consideration
of this implosive topic by a clear understanding of something contractual
and signatory in nature and morally binding in purpose, scope, and intent.
In other words, if you “sign on the dotted line” you agree, in taking
the money, to do the job, not as you see it, but according to
the job description clearly outlined in the contract. To do otherwise
is clearly duplicitous.
You want the money and you want the job title — both are very
appealing and the latter redounds to your notability — but the fact
of the matter is that you really do not want to do that particular job.
The perquisites, nevertheless, are very compelling indeed. It is vexing,
but it remains the case withal that, once you have entered into the
contract, you have agreed, for example, to refrain from insider trading
and to act honestly on behalf of the brokerage and its legitimate interests
which, presumably, coincide with yours, as well as those of the investors
who have entrusted their interests to you ... or you would not have
applied in the first place .... right? You will not, by contract, say,
broker securities that are not within the portfolio of the brokerage,
offer misleading advice, or encourage your investors to go elsewhere.
You concurred with the terms of the contract; they are amenable to you,
and the compensation is handsome, so ... you sign up. Correct?
Yes and no. In the cut-throat, self-interested world of corrupt
Corporate America such agreements, such contracts are, in fact, binding
and even actionable; however often they are violated as a matter of
fact, there is a real or at least a presumed binding in such contractual
agreements, together with legal recourse and punitive sanctions in the
event of breach. In fact, it is of the essence of contractual agreements
that they bind; otherwise, the notion of a contract becomes meaningless.
The moral, the ethical, dimension that has a direct bearing on
the integrity of the individual signatory to the contract is much simpler.
One simply does not (or clearly ought not) enter into — nor remain within
— affairs that entail a conflict of interest. It is both morally reprehensible
and egregiously self-interested. One does not earn ones living by violating
ones keep. It is a matter of irreconcilable contrariety. One, for example,
who agrees to work for, and to be paid by, the Anti-Defamation League,
and then use that money and position to promote anti-Semitism, is, I
suggest, guilty of more than mere duplicity in advocating the liquidation
of his employer. And now, literally, to the heart of the matter: What
is the Contract and what is the Breach?
Ex Corde Ecclesiae:
“Out of the Heart of the Church”
The Apostolic Constitution on Higher Education, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae”
– “Out of the Heart of the Church” – was issued by Pope John Paul II
in 1990 and requires professors of Catholic theology within Catholic
colleges and universities obtain a mandatum, or mandate, from the local
bishop. Professors must petition for the mandate, the purpose of which
is ensure that Catholic theologians teach authentically Catholic doctrine,
and “refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary
to the Church's Magisterium.” Such a petition may be denied by the local
bishop, or a given mandate withdrawn if the bishop deems that the theologian
is not teaching doctrine that accords with the Magisterium of the Church;
in other words, if it does not proceed
ex corde Ecclesiae.
Let us briefly look at some of the more pertinent quotations from
The Apostolic Constitution itself:
Excerpts from The Apostolic
Constitution on Higher Education:
“Fidelity to the Christian message
as it comes to us through the Church” (Part I.3)
• “In a Catholic University...Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles
penetrate and inform university activities ...” (ibid. 1.14) 6
• “a recognition of and adherence to the teaching authority of the Church
in matters of faith and morals. Catholic members of the University community
are also called to a personal fidelity to the Church with all that this
implies.” (ibid. 3.27)
• “If need be, a Catholic University must have the courage to speak
uncomfortable truths which do not please public opinion, but which are
necessary to safeguard the authentic good of society.” (ibid. 32)
• “A Catholic University, as Catholic, informs and carries out its research,
teaching, and all other activities with Catholic ideals, principles,
and attitudes.” (ibid. 2.2)
• “... all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers
are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching.
In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate
received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the
Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.”
then the “Dissidents” ...
As we see in the Apostolic Constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae,
the Holy See is unequivocally clear and succinct in the stipulations
outlined in the contract binding the Catholic theologian to the Magisterium,
or authentic teaching, of the Church. Its clarity, in fact, is pristine;
there is little, if any, room for casuistic interpretation of the Holy
See’s expectations. There is equally little room for latitude in interpreting
the commitment to teaching authentic Church doctrine — that is to say,
explicitly, doctrine that completely accords with the Magisterium of
the Church — on the part of the applicant, the professor-hopeful.
The difficulty comes to us, really, in the form of the simplest
disjunction in syllogistic reasoning evidencing itself in the manifest
absence of correspondence between otherwise irreconcilable propositions:
You must explicitly agree to abide by the terms (Ex
“I explicitly agree to abide by the terms. So much so, in fact, that
I am signatory to them. Nevertheless, I hold myself to be exempt
from them.” (bishop, professor, theologian, teacher etc.)
Apart from the formal, or logical inconsistency, there is the salient
ethical breach, and this, of the two, strikes us most forcefully. Inadvertent
errors in reasoning are of the nature of defect; deliberated breaches
of ethics are of the nature of malice. As Alasdair MacIntyre, perhaps
the most eminent 21st century moral philosopher, once astutely noted,
to hold oneself in exception to, or in self-exemption from, otherwise
universally binding norms, is not simply immoral, but is of the essence
of the unethical, the immoral. In other words, I hold myself to be an
exception to the rule ... to which all others must, or at least ought,
to comply. I hold such rules to be legitimately binding ... but not
Were it simply a matter of cognitive dissonance we could dismiss
the matter merely as a psychological aberration ... were it not pandemic
within Catholic theological academia, where, as we have said, open and
abrasive dissent is the sine qua non of acceptable academic credentials
and the appropriate posture of plausibility. The problem is deeper.
Let us take, for example, the curious figure of one “Fr.” Daniel
Moynihan who insists that, “We listened much too much to the penis when
we should have sought an audience with the clitoris.” (The Religious
Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health & Ethics)
“Daniel C. Maguire is a Professor of Moral Theological Ethics
a Catholic, Jesuit Institution and President of the Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive
Health and Ethics. … the author of
Sacred Choices: The Right to
Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions
… The articles include “Different but Equal: A Moral Assessment
of the Woman's Liberation”
“The Freedom to Die,”
“Sex and Ethical Methodology,”
“The New Look
Clearly, as an ethicist and prominent moral theologian, “father
Dan” has much to teach the young Catholic entrusted by the Church to
his tutelage ... once, that is, the student is sufficiently adept at
discerning that he is lecturing on ethics and not being gratuitously
To wit, consider the following: (Father) Daniel Maguire’s Memorable
Parenthood Federation of America 2002 Annual Conference
Interfaith Prayer Breakfast 9 March 21, 2001
“Pleasure is what sex is all about. Historic philosophy invaded western
culture with the idea that sexual pleasure is presumed guilty until
proven innocent. Only procreative intent could bring acquittal. Such
Sex rarely has anything to do with procreation.
The old axiom listen to your body was misapplied here.
We listened much too much to the penis when we should have sought an
audience with the clitoris.
penis has divided loyalties and multiple missions.
It is concerned with procreation and waste removal. The clitoris is
single-minded. It’s one goal, as Susan Ross, the ethicist says, is exquisite
How many scholars outside of the Catholic Church, have not simply
the propensity to discuss ethical issues with vulvae, but seek to an
audience with, and hope to elicit an answer from, interlabial anatomical
features? And anticipate being enlightened? That is a rare gift. Would,
then, “Fr. Dan” interview a clitoris? A distinct possibility ... even
if he is the only one who hears it speaking.
An exemplary Catholic scholar, to be sure ... despite the absence
of any consonance between “Dan’s” teaching, and the authentic teaching
of the Catholic Church at a Catholic Jesuit University. Is something
Who pays “Dan” handsomely to teach “Moral Theological Catholic
Ethics”? The Catholic Jesuit Marquette University. Who pays the university
that pays Dan? Where do the students get their tuition to pay the university
to pay Dan? From their parents. Are their parents Catholic? Largely.
Was it their expectation that by sending their son or daughter to a
Catholic University that their children would receive a genuine “Catholic”
education? Presumably. Was someone sold a bill of goods? I think so.
Who have you been listening to lately ...?
Well, we have a clear take on “what” – not “who” — Dan has been
listening to lately, and even if we do not hear what Dan hears from
his own ... well, private, sources, he is ready to proclaim it to the
world ... but who is listening, besides his unfortunate students? Certainly
not the bishops! They are, by the latest polls, apparently too busy
listening for a knock at the door by a State Prosecutor for the sexual
predators whom they have been hiding, or shuffling about … or perhaps
for they themselves. Were they attentive to the moral turpitude of “Dan,”
they would have stripped him of his faculties as a priest, prohibited
him from celebrating Mass, and wearing a clerical collar (which Dan
does not, anyway.)
Demand a Refund
Have you been defrauded? Have you been sold a bill of goods? Did
you get what you paid for? Did you get who you pay for? Who broke faith?
The “Catholic” University? The bishop? Dan of the sub-Sibylline gifts?
Actually ... all three: One for profit, one for power, and one
for prestige. And ... alas ... no one stood with Christ.
Sounds like a viable class-action suit to me.
Wasn’t it a fixation
with genitalia that brought the Church in Boston to this sad state
to begin with? Or are the two somehow related?
It depends on Who — and “what” you are listening to.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
Comments? Write us:
Totally Faithful to the Sacred
Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum
Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have but little power, and
yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.”
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