Catholicism as ...
in the Body of Christ
... bear with me
for what appears to be a short
aside, but is not:
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
had their own designs on Amphipolis
(Bk. 4/103) and their countrymen inside its walls. Amphipolis fell without
a fight, and even in subsequent wars was never recovered by Athens.
... you ask, what possible connection exists between today's "Professional"
Catholics in the Church, and the Argilians who lived inside the walls
To answer this, we must first clearly
understand the nature of a parasite (such an impolite term!): it is
an organism that lives in or on a host
from which it obtains nourishment without benefiting
or killing the host, even as it debilitates it.
The Argilians were essentially parasites: they lived, profited
through, enacted perfunctory rituals within, and took shelter under
the aegis of of Amphipolis ... even as they planned and executed the
betrayal of the vast majority of native Hellenes or Athenians within
her. While not native Amphipolans, or, for that matter, Athenians, they
were, in a manner of speaking, "professional" Amphipolans. 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 Lakedaemonians (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.
situation we presently face within the Roman Catholic Church is not
entirely unlike the situation in which Amphipolis found itself in 424
BC. The Church is morbidly infected and dangerously bloated with
Catholics, that is to say, Catholics to whom, and for whom,
is a means to emolument, money; for whom Catholicism is a job, an income,
and in many cases a
(not to be confused with a
Given 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 (in the form
of litigation). 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 lifestyle. 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, however, not 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.
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 the 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 of integrity.
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 be holy.
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 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?
division of labor in fleecing the poor to their own ends
... which is to say, in defiance of and in contradiction to the
authentic teaching of the Catholic Church to which the
pay tribute in coppers of real sacrifice ... is fairly equally distributed
between clergy and lay and especially those in that amorphous penumbra
in between, ranging from local
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 from God.
Now that weve 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
... 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
is most lucrative, the dissension most strident and the disaffection
deepest. The commensurability between the latter two and the first (the
emolument) appears to be fairly proportioned.
The list is long,
involuted, and often redundant. Perhaps it is well to start at the apex
where the dissidence and, commensurably, the
salaries are greatest; in other words, where dissidence is most amply
rewarded and appears to be the sine qua non of
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, 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 incomprehensible.
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 who agrees to work for, and be paid
by, the Anti-Defamation League, and then uses 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:
of the Heart of the Church
The Apostolic Constitution on Higher Education
Vital points of consideration
First let us look at:
The Apostolic Constitution itself:
Apostolic Constitution on Higher Education,
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
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 pertinent excerpts (click here for the entire
text). The Apostolic Constitution calls for:
to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church
a Catholic University ... Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles
penetrate and inform university activities ...
consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that
the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message
includes 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.
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.
a natural expression of the Catholic identity of the University,
the university community should give a practical demonstration of
its faith in its daily activity, with important moments of reflection
is a question not only of preaching the Gospel ... but also of affecting
and, as it were, upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, humanity's
criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines
of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are
in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation.
General Norms ... are valid for all Catholic Universities and other
Catholic Institutions of Higher Studies throughout the world." (II.1)
General Norms are to applied concretely at the local and regional
Catholic University, as Catholic, informs and carries out its research,
teaching, and all other activities with Catholic ideals, principles,
and attitudes. It is linked with the Church either by a formal,
constitutive and statutory bond or by reason of an institutional
teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities
responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic identity
of the University ... calls for the recruitment of adequate personnel,
especially teachers and administrators, who are both willing and
able to promote that identity. The identity of a Catholic University
is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect
for Catholic doctrine.
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
particular laws or customs presently in effect that are contrary
to this Constitution are abolished. Also, any privileges up to this
day by the Holy See whether to physical or moral persons that are
contrary to this present Constitution are abolished.
... the Dissidents
we see in the Apostolic
Constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Holy See is unequivocally
clear and extraordinarily 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
on the part of the applicant,
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 :
must explicitly agree to abide by the terms.
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.
Apart from the formal, or logical subreption, 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; deliberate breaches
of ethics are of the nature of malice. As Alisdair McIntyre, perhaps
the most eminent 21st century moral philosopher, once astutely noted,
to hold oneself in exception to, or self-exempt from, otherwise universally
binding norms, is not simply immoral, but 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 upon me.
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.
us take, for example, the curious figure
of one Daniel Maguire who, according to his own web site 1,
is the author of Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception and
Abortion in Ten World Religions, among several other ... titles,
admonishes us that,
listened much too much to the penis when we should
have sought an audience with the clitoris.
Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health & Ethics)
C. Maguire is a Professor of Moral Theological Ethics at
Marquette University, a Catholic, Jesuit Institution
and President of the Religious Consultation on Population,
Reproductive Health and Ethics. Dr. Maguire has a degree
in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University
in Rome, one of the worlds major Catholic universities.
He is the author of Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception
and Abortion in Ten World Religions, Fortress Press, 2001.
Dr. Maguire has written over 150 articles printed in publications
such as The New York Times, Atlantic, USA Today, The Crisis:
Journal of the NAACP, etc. The articles include
but Equal: A Moral Assessment of the Woman's Liberation",
Psychotherapist as Moralist,
Freedom to Die,
and Ethical Methodology,
New Look of Death" and
Action at Bay.
Of his many ... honors ... he was listed by Ms. Magazine
as one of the
male heroes of the past decade, men who took chances and
made a difference,
1982. His book, The Moral Choice, won
Scholarly Book of the Year, 1978.
The University of Notre Dame named Maguire one of the ten
best teachers, 1983-1984.
His published books include: Moral Absolutes and the
Magisterium, 1970; The Moral Choice, 1975;
A New American Justice: Ending the White Male Monopolies,
1980; The New Subversives: Anti-Americanism of the Religious
Right, 1982; The Moral Revolution, 1986;
On Moral Grounds: The Art/Science of Ethics, 1991;
The Moral Core of Judaism and Christianity, 1993;
Sacred Energies, 2000; What Men Owe Women,
2000; Sacred Choices, 2001; and Sacred Rights,
Clearly, as an ethicist
and preeminent moral theologian,
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 salacious.
To wit, consider the following:
to the Penis and having an Audience with the Clitoris
(Father) Daniel Maguire's
Memorable address to:
PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA
2002 ANNUAL CONFERENCE
INTERFAITH PRAYER BREAKFAST
MARCH 21, 2001
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 nonsense. 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. The penis has divided loyalties
and multiple missions. It is concerned with procreation
and waste removal. The clitoris is single-minded.
Its one goal, as Susan Ross, the ethicist says, is exquisite
many scholars outside of the Catholic Church, have not simply the
propensity to discuss ethical issues with vulvae, but to seek an
audience with, and hope to elicit an answer from, inter-labial anatomical
features? And anticipate being enlightened? That is a rare gift. An
audience with the Pope? Out of the question. He would not listen. With
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
and the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church at a Catholic Jesuit
University. Is something immediately amiss?
handsomely (not) to teach
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
education? Presumably. Was someone sold a bill of goods? I think so.
Who have you been listening to lately ...?
Well, we have a pretty clear take on
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 ... and who is listening, besides his unfortunate students?
Not the bishops! They are, by the latest polls, apparently too busy
listening for the liveliest pulse ... and thither they go! Or to the
most correctly and popularly nuanced political agenda likely to increase
the numbers despite the cost.
What Mandatum? Oh ... that Mandatum.! Yes, we'll have
to look into it seriously ... someday."
Demand a Refund
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
University? The bishop? Dan of the sub-Sybilline 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're listening to.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
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