Action Alert!

Looking for the Inquisition? Check the mirror.

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 20, 2017

When you see a New York Times column with the title, “Expect the Inquisition,” what you don’t expect (well, I don’t, anyway), is this sort of thoroughly reasonable analysis of arguments within the Catholic Church.

Reflecting on incidents involving Josef Seifert and Father James Martin, among others, Ross Douthat makes two important observations. First, the struggle is by no means one-sided, although the media coverage leans heavily in one direction. (It’s noteworthy that regular readers of the Times are well acquainted with the case of Father Martin; they’re probably hearing for the first time about the ouster of Seifert.) Second, since Pope Francis has encouraged open debate on all fronts—Douthat notes that “the only Catholic certainty now is uncertainty”—it is absurd to suggest that arguments should be tamped down out of respect for ecclesiastical authority. The arguments are real, Douthat writes, and the “public pretence of tranquility” is a sham, which nearly everyone recognizes as such.

Douthat acknowledges that it is difficult to predict what will ensue from the current turmoil. In his penultimate paragraph he asks a series of rhetorical questions. My own prediction, which I make with some misgivings, is that the answer to the final question is Yes.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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