Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

A Contemporary Example of Mental Slavery

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 12, 2010

The perfect example of the situation I describe in my latest In Depth Analysis (Slavery of the Mind: The Cultural Case against the Church) may be found in our own culture’s response to clerical sex abuse. Here we have both sides of a faulty argument applied not to different historical situations, as is quite common, but to the same situation and at the same time.

On the one hand, the Church is excoriated on every side for its insistence that homosexual inclinations are disordered, and for implementing this doctrine by stipulating that homosexuals are not to be admitted to the priesthood. On this side of the argument, those members of the Church, including priests and bishops, who align themselves with the culture are praised as being enlightened. These are the Catholics who describe homosexuality and heterosexuality as equal blessings, and who actively seek to recruit homosexual priests and religious.

On the other hand, the Church is excoriated for its homosexual abuse of adolescents, as if those who abuse others or cover up that abuse are representative of “the Church” in the same way as the Magisterium is. I grant that many refuse to acknowledge a connection between welcoming homosexuals into the priesthood and sexual abuse of adolescents. They can hardly do otherwise if they are to maintain the fiction that homosexuality is not disordered. But we have in this two-faced argument the usual swapping of the divine and human sides of the Church, as convenience demands, just as I pointed out in Slavery of the Mind.

Note this well. In the first aspect of the argument, “the Church” is the divine side of the Church, her official and unchanging teachings, her sacramental ministry, her divine constitution and all who live by them. The human side, as represented by millions of Catholics who now accept or even promote homosexuality, is praised; only the intransigence of the divine character of “the Church” is condemned. But in the second aspect of the argument, “the Church” is suddenly condemned in terms of her human side—those who abuse children and those who protect them despite the constant teaching of the Magisterium and long-standing ecclesiastical disciplinary norms which, if followed, would have made this whole problem purely hypothetical. Here it is precisely those who have given themselves too much to the values of the surrounding culture who are “the Church”.

Such is the irrationality—indeed, the absurdity—which inescapably arises out of a culture’s blind spots. Every culture has them. Once again, it is important to recognize the self-serving double-speak which typically characterizes every culture’s special quarrel with the Catholic Faith.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: claude-ccc2991 - Sep. 27, 2017 4:15 PM ET USA

    These juridical arguments aren't wrong, just incomplete. Reiterating truth is good in itself; otherwise, Jesus would've stopped after the 1st try w/ religious leaders of His day. Truth isn't diminished depending on the mind/faith that directs the pen, or the lack of a proper response. So, the "hermeneutic of persistence" in stating truth is quite a worthwhile thing, if only to say "unless the fire is put out, the pot will continue to boil." And don't forget servus servorum Dei. TOTNFTTOEIFGMTDN.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Sep. 27, 2017 2:02 PM ET USA

    This new correction may not have canonical force, but the more Catholics ask the pope for clarification, the merrier. I do not expect, however, the pope to bother to answer this correction since he has ignored the dubia. Faithful Catholics, nevertheless, have an obligation to offer fraternal correction to Pope Francis. It is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil!

  • Posted by: gcreel8889204 - Sep. 27, 2017 9:48 AM ET USA

    As usual, you've written a thoughtful, independent commentary that we need.

  • Posted by: rickt26170 - Sep. 26, 2017 10:34 PM ET USA

    I think it is very important for every Catholic to object to this Pope's effort to throw the concept of objective truth into the ashcan of religious history. (See Bishop Chaput's writing on this issue on several forums recently - including the powerful book Strangers in a Strange Land.) An accommodation with 21st century secularism, so obviously desired by the supporters of Francis, is the road to irrelevance as shown by every Christian denomination that's followed it. We must say no.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 26, 2017 6:25 PM ET USA

    Regrettably, it appears the Holy Father is deliberately doing the things he does. The alternative speaks to his very mental competence. With each passing day the unity of the Church is assaulted. The Holy Father may do and say nothing, but it is because doing so is actually doing something that this additional appeal or correction has been presented. And there's assuredly more to come. Regardless which story is the most important, the selection process is akin to "pick your poison."