Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

News coverage in the whirlwind, or theater of the absurd?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | May 24, 2024

The range of news stories we cover is really quite remarkable. There are nearly always stories in all three Catholic news categories: Perhaps we should call them the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll illustrate what I mean by selecting a few stories from the past three days.

First, the good:

I was very pleased to see Cardinal Fernández attempt to mend fences with the Coptic Orthodox Church, which suspended theological dialogue with the Catholic Church over the Vatican approval of blessings for same-sex couples in Fiducia supplicans. Cardinal Fernández, the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, emphasized that “the Catholic Church shares the teachings” of the Coptic Orthodox Church in rejecting “what is called sexual perversion in its general and comprehensive understanding, and all types of sexual practices outside the sacred framework of marriage”. He also stated that the Catholic Church “has a positive view” of the Coptic pastoral approach, which emphasizes the importance of “warfares of thought, sight, and attractions” in resisting homosexual temptations, as with all temptations to sexual activity outside of marriage. This was an important clarification by Cardinal Fernéndez, given the steadfast omission of any moral judgment on homosexual activity in Fiducia supplicans.

Another item of good news was the announcement by the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints that the necessary miracle has been approved for the canonization of Blessed Carlo Acutis. This additional miracle will lead to wider veneration of a sixteen-year-old saint who combined computer skill with Eucharistic devotion to host a website covering Eucharistic miracles. We here at CatholicCulture.org are sympathetic to saints on the web, but we know it’s a tricky calling (and so have not yet published our own comprehensive list of the signs and wonders associated with our sterling work). Moreover, bragging is not the same as doing. Young Carlo walked the walk, and he is a great inspiration for our times. Though we are increasingly isolated in a secular culture, we can all still find ways of spreading the Gospel.

Second, the bad:

Those pesky Carmelites in Arlington, Texas have not only rejected the authority of the local bishop but have rejected a Vatican-appointed superior. Mother Marie of the Incarnation, president of the national Carmelite Association of Christ the King, was selected to bring the community back to proper order, but she reports that when she visited the community, “I was rejected and not granted admittance.” There is something very wrong when we become so attached to our own ways of doing things that we refuse the correction of those who have legitimate spiritual authority over us. The obedience required by our state in life is a key element not only in good ecclesiastical order, but in both family life and personal salvation.

Out in the (even more) secular world, the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Houston County, Georgia, violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by not including sex-change surgeries in its insurance. This is very similar to the ruling of the New York State Court of Appeals that the Diocese of Albany must provide its employees with insurance coverage for abortion. Such rulings have become commonplace, and it is important to appeal this sort of legal tinkering all the way to the Supreme Court, especially in a period in which we apparently cannot expect legislators and political executives to respect either natural law or Divine Revelation. Still, victories without conversion will be limited.

Third, the ugly

The bishops of England and Wales have apparently chosen a secular dance to attempt to weave a pattern of moral voting in the forthcoming national elections. Emphasizing that voters must put “the common good before self-interest”, the bishops singled out the importance of reforming the criminal justice system, welfare and housing policies, and policies regarding migration and carbon emissions. Are these the overwhelming issues weakening the common good in their territory? Are these the issues on which the “wrong” position will lead to eternal death? Fortunately, the bishops, in a fit of moral clarity, also urged legislators to oppose euthanasia. But this constant confusion in advocacy and voting between prudential issues and absolute right and wrong needs to stop.

And in a very bizarre case all around, a Florida priest faces charges for preventing desecration of the Eucharist. How can this be? You might well ask: It seems that when a mentally unbalanced woman grabbed the ciborium as Fr. Fidel Rodriguez was distributing Communion, he stopped her in her tracks by…biting her on the forearm. The woman had already been denied communion because of her strange behavior. But when asked about the incident, she insisted, “I just wanted a cookie.”

Now stop it! You know you’re in trouble when you find yourself laughing at things that just aren’t funny at all…. But apparently that’s our new calling nowadays: Theater of the Absurd.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: dayhut1205 - Jun. 07, 2024 7:56 AM ET USA

    we live in the theatre of the absurd - it has become the calling pf the world around us. Our role is the saving of souls. The two are at odds.

  • Posted by: loumiamo4057 - May. 26, 2024 7:00 AM ET USA

    A priest is supposed to protect and prevent desecration of the Eucharist. So both hands were unavailable to him. I suppose he could have tried to abruptly turn away, or else administer a quick kick to the shins. Or even a swift and sure head butt might have been better. I propose this important issue be placed Numero Uno on the list of topics at the upcoming synod.