By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 27, 2004
In a notable New York Times column of some years past (3-4-2000), Peter Steinfels, a famously liberal Catholic himself, rightly scored the reflexive intellectual self-congratulation of dissenting Catholics and their sympathizers:
A woman with an impressive track record in liberal, humanitarian causes was singing the praises of her daughter-in-law. "She's a Catholic, you know," the woman said, "but she's a thinking Catholic."
Can one imagine that woman saying of someone, "She's an African-American, you know, but she's an educated African-American"?
"Thinking," or an equivalent term like "independent," is usually a code word. It refers to a Catholic who disagrees with church teachings on abortion, contraception, ordination of women, etc., regardless of how much or how little actual thinking or independence has gone into the disagreement.
Australian Jesuits Frank Brennan and Bill Uren are, not to put too fine a point on it, thinking Catholics. They are naturally in a flutter about Sydney's Cardinal George Pell's intransigence in the matter of gluten-free hosts and sodomy:
Father Frank Brennan said the push by Catholic conservatives for greater Vatican control was driving people away from the church. "All of us need to accept that the revolution in sexuality has left many people, especially young people, completely uninterested in the views of an all-male, unmarried clergy," he said. "For example, I have been ordained almost 19 years and I have never had any person come to me in confession to talk about contraception."
Brennan and Uren are talented men, but neither their accomplishments nor their learning quite justify the patronizing air of superiority with which they deliver their pronouncements. Can they really award themselves points for conclusions that every seventh-grade girl in the western world has reached by her own resources?
Describing his battle with Archbishop George Pell over the issue of the primacy of conscience as a "war at arm's length", Father Brennan said the clergy needed to consider their consciences ahead of church law.
Doesn't Whoopi Goldberg make the same argument in Sister Act, somewhere?
"It is interesting that few argue that if your conscience instructs you to be racist or weak on social issues, it is acceptable to be so," Dr Pell said.
Celebrated Australian conscience-follower Frank Klep was unavailable for comment.
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