Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Mike Moroski’s State of the Church Address

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 14, 2013

When assistant principal Mike Moroski was fired by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for publicly supporting gay marriage, naturally the press wanted to talk to him, and he wanted to talk to the press. The result is what I call Moroski’s State of the Church address.

It is probably safe to assume that Moroski is exaggerating the widespread “Catholic” approval he has received for his refusal to recant even at the cost of his job. But we have no reason to suppose that he is lying when he cites his own formation in Catholic schools and the support of Catholic priests and sisters as sources of encouragement. Yet it is painfully obvious that he has drawn his values not primarily from the Church but from the secular American mainstream.

One can see this clearly in his statement that “Gay marriage is NOT something of which to be afraid.” The reference is clearly to the dominant secular framing of the question in terms of homophobia. Yet the Church has never explained her opposition to gay marriage in terms of fear, but only in terms of the fundamental nature of marriage, which is in turn constitutive of a healthy social order.

One can also see this in Moroski’s selective portrayal of what he would like us to believe is the key spiritual issue in the argument over gay marriage: “As a proud Catholic, I’m heartbroken that my belief that all committed, loving couples should be able to make a public pledge to take responsibility for each other for a lifetime has led to this ultimatum.” Moroski may well be heartbroken, but he is self-evidently not heartbroken as a Catholic. Neither the Church nor any previous culture has ever defined marriage as two loving people promising to take responsibility for each other. There is nothing distinctively marital about that.

We can all too easily believe that Moroski was badly formed in Catholic grade school, high school and (count them) “three Catholic universities”. But it surpasses reasonable belief that even a remotely attentive Moroski, if he were the least concerned with his own spiritual development, could have missed the Church’s understanding of marriage entirely, even if it were opposed by his teachers. This is an understanding richly expressed in both the Old and the New Testaments, including by Christ Himself, to say nothing of the constant extra-curricular arguments about that understanding at least since the rise of divorce, in which any student could be expected to discern a distinctively Catholic position.

On the other hand, if his educational formation were primarily affective rather than intellectual—in other words, if it consisted of being told, in essence, to be nice—then we would understand. It becomes possible to portray almost anything as Catholic if Catholicism has no cognitive content.

It is also instructive to see Moroski assessing his own spiritual progress in a purely affective way, that is, according to how he feels: “I have experienced God more in the past week than my entire life. I feel like I’m on the right track.” But the equation of feelings with spirituality is a classic confusion which even the most minimal experience with the spiritual life should clear up. By Muroski’s method, we would be forced to conclude that persistence through spiritual dryness is a sign of being on the wrong track. But this is a mistake only a neophyte can make—or perhaps someone who is really covering his blatant worldliness with a faux-spiritual veneer.

One suspects, of course, that Moroski is a philosophical and theological advocate of his own autonomy above all. See my latest In Depth Analysis: Epistemic Authority: Preferring the True and the Good to the Self. This too could be the root of his confusion. Whatever the case, Moroski has amply established his Catholic intellectual incompetence.

So why do I construe Moroski’s comments as a kind of State of the Church address? The first reason is that Moroski, even if he is engaged in special pleading, can believably cite his own formation in Catholic schools, his own relationships with the clergy, and his ongoing support by priests and sisters. This reminds us of the persistent infection of secularism and Modernism which has afflicted the Church for many years. The second reason is Moroski’s failure to develop, in his own life, any sort of intellectual engagement with the Faith. This is a common indicator that a person has never noticed that the message of Christ is a constant challenge to worldly values; it is a form of spiritual sloth that is also very widespread in the Church today. 

And the third reason is that, despite all of this secularized squishiness, Mike Moroski was fired by what we may at least loosely call a typical Catholic archdiocese in a typical Western nation. In other words, something about the State of Church is changing. Nothing is more calculated to improve the formative influence of Catholic education than the dismissal of teachers and administrators who prove themselves intellectually incompetent as Catholics. So it is actually his firing that makes Moroski’s situation timely. It is what Moroski refers to as “this ultimatum” that brings his State of the Church address, in 2013, completely up to date.

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: pmbrown592261 - Feb. 23, 2013 11:57 AM ET USA

    "Nothing is more calculated to improve the formative influence of Catholic education than the dismissal of teachers and administrators who prove themselves intellectually incompetent as Catholics." Yes - as Voltaire said about the execution of the British Admiral Byng, "pour encourager les autres."

  • Posted by: - Feb. 16, 2013 7:02 PM ET USA

    This article made my day! I don't follow the secular news much, so I hadn't heard about Mr. Moroski's firing, but it's so encouraging to hear that somebody cared enough about the children in their care to fire him!

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Feb. 16, 2013 2:39 PM ET USA

    It is sad there is so much inconsistency among dioceses when these sorts of incidents show up. For example, the firing of Mike Moleski for his stance on "gay marriage." Then you have cases where there are Catholic school teachers are openly co-habitating; the parishes know, the pastors know, the dept. of education for the diocese knows, the bishop probably knows; and more importantly, the children know, and nothing is done, firings do not occur, contracts are renewed year after year.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Feb. 14, 2013 7:45 PM ET USA

    A Catholic woman who "attends Mass frequently" was cited by NPR as a supporter of legalized "gay marriage," and she stated a gay couple could provide "just as much love" as a conventional married couple for children. Prelates have not persevered. So many souls endangered; the Church's fundamental mission compromised on a grand scale in so many areas. It's difficult to exaggerate the evil done to souls; the evil cannot go on. Lucifer's cry resonates among too many of our brethren. Enough.

  • Posted by: sparch - Feb. 14, 2013 4:47 PM ET USA

    LOL. "Being told to be nice". Look at the american church today, to say nothing of the overall american culture. That statement says it all. We should all be 'Nice". One question. What is "being nice".

  • Posted by: Jason C. - Feb. 14, 2013 3:29 PM ET USA

    What's "heartbreaking" is that guys like this can be, even temporarily until they are outed, in charge of our Catholic children. PEOPLE IN CHARGE: how do you keep getting suckered by these secularist job-seekers possessed only of some three-degree pedigree? Ask them a few questions beyond what the fakers will know: (1) WHY does the Church oppose artificial contraception? (2) Who are Jesus' maternal grandparents? (3) Name the three archangels. (4) Favorite 20th century saint?