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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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