the liberal legacy

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 02, 2005

Retired Cardinal Paolo Arns of Brazil on his "disagreements with the Pope":

"I am in favor of the promotion of women and always defended their ordination by the Catholic church. My mother raised 21 children, 13 of her own and eight by adoption, and all of them accomplished what they set out to do. How can I accept that women be treated as less than men? I have immense respect for my mother and all my sisters."

"How can I accept that women be treated as less than men?" Quite handily, it would seem, your honorably-retired Eminence. That is an episcopal ring on your 83-year-old finger, is it not?

I just don't understand liberal Catholics, especially churchmen. Put aside for the nonce the questionable intellectual acuity of a man who believes, wherever Robin Williams disagrees with St. Augustine, that Augustine is wrong and Williams right. What baffles me is the moral universe in which these guys operate.

Suppose you, as a priest or bishop, are sincerely convinced that the Church is in error about, say, contraception or sodomy or the ordination of women. By that very fact, necessarily, you're living a lie. Because either you've spoken your mind about your dissent with the same boldness and clarity with which you proclaim the Creed -- in which case you'd be out on your ear -- or else you're not out on your ear, which means you haven't really (candidly, repeatedly, publicly, defiantly) spoken your mind. You're a subversive, or a time-server, or a careerist. A moral castrate.

No fair pleading "patience with change." By your own admission the Church teaches, and practices, immoral doctrines. You elected to accept the summons to Holy Orders. That means as long as you "hold your commission" as a cleric, you are complicit in, and share moral responsibility for, the Church's teaching and her action in conformity to that teaching. Who cares if you've expressed your dissent to your friends? The majority of people, Catholic or not, take your priesthood as eo ipso identification with Church doctrine. Had you served four years in the SS at Buchenwald, it wouldn't count much toward acquittal if every weekend of your guard duty you'd muttered, in your cups, your personal sympathy for the victims.

Real men, adults, realize that life doesn't present them with more than a few opportunities to state solemnly what they really believe, what's most important to them. If they find the Church wrong, they walk away from her. Even if I think they're mistaken, I can respect them. But how can I respect you, a bishop or a priest, when you stammer just enough of the approved words to keep your job, but have your fingers crossed behind your back (so to speak) for all of your adult years? What can your life mean to you?

With the freedom to live as a man of integrity-- simply by walking out the door -- you have chosen to live as half a man. Your vaunted respect for your mothers and sisters is either a pose you strike for the news cameras, or else too morally trivial to warrant a search for alternative employment. There is no third possibility. I think at some level you sense this, and are bothered by it, and I think this goes far to explain your sporadic fits of despondency, rage, lethargy, and self-pity. You realize that the clock is running, that the chance to take a stand is vanishing, and that your pet social cause was just that -- a pet. A frank conversation with a genuine Catholic is like a slap on a sunburned neck.

Were it simply a matter of your personal comfort and equanimity, we could shrug it off: just another guy with a grudge. Yet by winking and stage-whispering, "None of us really believes this tripe, but play it long and we'll get by," you've left a lot of damage behind you. Well, Father, Bishop, Archbishop, your winks and whispers have earned a lot of smiles from a lot of influential people. Enjoy them.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 24 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Mar. 07, 2005 12:03 PM ET USA

    Retired or not he is still a Bishop & therefore is morally obligated to keep his personal opinions which are contrary to the teachings of the Church to himself. Neither he nor the faithful profit from his open dissent from Church teaching. It's only purpose is to serve the Bishops pride, further confuse the faithful & lead them away from The Truth which is scandalous.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Mar. 06, 2005 10:40 PM ET USA

    The post by JK SJ, is like asking "do you carry a lunch OR take the bus to School?" Because of who a Bishop IS I would think that he has no right to offer an opinion which is contrary to Church teaching..written or otherwise. His "personal" opinions have no weight at all if, for one, they are not in-line with Church teaching. A "ban" on such discussion? Certainly there is always a ban on sin. An ABp causing scandal by speaking as an "authority" on such a fundamental issue is serious matter.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 05, 2005 8:02 PM ET USA

    You're right, Novus Est, this has been fun. Here's my question: Does a retired bishop have the right to express his misgivings to a reporter about the Church's teaching on the ordination of women, or do his personal comments have the same weight and authority as an official document? Surely John Paul II's ban on further discussion of the issue was not a prohibition on personal opinion outside of one's teaching office, but on official published dissent. That's what the CDF investigates, no?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 05, 2005 12:47 AM ET USA

    Does this contribution by Diogenes set any sort of "comment record?"

  • Posted by: Brad - Mar. 04, 2005 9:30 AM ET USA

    For those sorely concerned about division, consider this: the Church is not split. Some are with Her and some are not. Jesus lost all his disciples in John 6 save 12 and then He gave them a chance to leave as well. If they did all leave then the Church would have consisted of one. We have free will. It is not up to God and His Church to force us to be together. It is up to Him to show us the Way to salvation.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 03, 2005 2:37 PM ET USA

    JK-Cdl A needs his halo calibrated. The distinct difference is that Cdl A is a very public figure with a very public responsibility who chose to make his lack of ecclesiastical/episcopal integrity an issue by challenging an infallible doctrine while still claiming to be Catholic. Di' is justly asking that Cdl A, the episcopacy & other religious be held acountable for defying Church doctrine. Di' is not a public figure and the truth of what he posted is still not vitiated by his anonymity.

  • Posted by: Ignacio177 - Mar. 03, 2005 4:34 AM ET USA

    These comments should be sent to every R.C. seminarian in the country. IN the gospel today thursday 3rd week of lent Jesus says you are either for me or against me. You either gather or scatter. We have too many christians QBs running mis-direction plays. Anonymous comments in this type of forum are acceptable because those mis-direction artists are calling the plays and will not call the number of the fullback if he bitches. Diogenes writes like Jerome Bettis runs, no mis-direction.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Mar. 03, 2005 1:18 AM ET USA

    Maria, hang in there! Your experience is part of the signs of the times. Prayer, sacrifice, sound spiritiual reading (the Scriptures, the Saints, etc), the CCC, Church documents, all the while clinging to Jesus (esp in the Most Blessed Sacrament) while united with Our Lady (esp via the Rosary) and you'll be just fine! ... Truth from an anonymous source trumps heterodoxy from anyone, whether they be castrated or not.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 11:35 PM ET USA

    Thanks Di, there are times that I am afraid to say what needs to be said -- so maybe I am lacking "testicular fortitude," though in reference to liberals I prefer to refer to it as lacking a SPINE. I wonder what percentage of Bishops have beliefs that are actually in accordance with Church teachings. Does anyone know where I can get this info? I think it would be a great conversation piece, and maybe something to help true Catholics in their fight against liberal ideology. VIVA IL PAPA!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 11:34 PM ET USA

    On page 80 of Peter Kreeft's Socratic Logic is covered the Fallacies of Diversion. Back in St Edmund Campion, SJ's day, back when Jesuit martyrdom meant more than a paper cut from reading America and NCR, the Ratio Studiorum meant that novices knew their argumentative fallacies cold. My how the order has fallen on hard times. Saint Ignatius pray for us. Eloquentia Perfecta - St Edmund Campion.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 10:01 PM ET USA

    May I interject another consideration here -- the people in the pews and what effect a cleric such as Di describes has on them. Many people don't know where to turn anymore. People, especially those facing serious problems, need good sound Catholic teaching. But one priest says this, another says that. I have personal experience of it and its devastating effect. This is not what we need from a priest. This is not help. It just adds to our confusion. We can pick up on your uncertainty.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 9:25 PM ET USA

    Today's (Thursday) Gospel has a lesson for us here. When accused of casting out devil's by Bielzibub, the Price of Devils, Jesus' reply was "No kingdom that is divided in itself can stand". Take a look at the way the Anglican Church is splitting asunder.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 9:02 PM ET USA

    Thanks, Abraham, but I'm not a priest for quite a while yet. The contradiction here is obvious: Diogenes calls Arns a "moral castrate" because "you haven't really (candidly, repeatedly, publicly, defiantly) spoken your mind." But the accusation by Diogenes is made anonymously, and is thus neither candid nor public (nor, for that matter, particularly defiant). We may certainly agree that Arns is wrong, but we can hardly call HIM the "moral castrate." He's proven, ahem, testiculos habet...

  • Posted by: shrink - Mar. 02, 2005 5:27 PM ET USA

    Since Fr. Keane has leveled the ad hominem attack, here is a modest proposal for him: Refrain from any and all forms of sex, drugs (including booze), and rock&roll for a year, and then return to preach to Diogenes about the virtues of courage and accountability. It's an unfortunate requirement of contemporary history that any man with an SJ behind his name ordained in the last 30 years needs to present his spiritual bonafides before the serious Christian should give him a hearing.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 4:08 PM ET USA

    Fr K, again you miss the point entirely & attack the messenger. Cdl Arns may stand by his own vacuous words but they're not the words of the Church. By dissenting from Church doctrine he serves neither the Church nor the fauithful only himself & it is Cdl Arns who is the moral castrate & coward, not Diogenes. What specifically did D say that is 'theologically odius' for you to slander him by calling him a moral castrate? What bearing does Ds anonymity have on his veracity?

  • Posted by: Brad - Mar. 02, 2005 2:35 PM ET USA

    James - Of course this appears to be the same Cardinal encouraging the Pope to resign. "A man of service" to the faithful or a man of service to his own ideas? The Pope has spoken definitely on the matter of women priests - there can be none and there should be no more discussion regarding as such. Whom are we following?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 1:39 PM ET USA

    Nice to see the Pope's Jesuit light infantry lending their Pelagian views to the matter in Sound Off. Nothing like poisoning of the well before drinking deeply.

  • Posted by: Remigius - Mar. 02, 2005 1:02 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, thanks for stating in such clear terms the issue at hand here. A successor of the Apostles who rejects an essential teaching of the Church on the nature of the sacrament of Holy Orders is living a lie. Either repent or get out. How about a third alternative: demotion. Alas, the toleration of dissenting priests has has its evil fruit the effrontery of a dissenting Cardinal. Off to a monastery with him. Prayer/penance are in order. Enough demolition of the House of God by its guardians.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 12:45 PM ET USA

    Of course, Cardinal Arns was enough of "a man of integrity" to voice his misgivings about the Church using his own name. I'd prefer a man who stood behind his words to a "moral castrate" such as Diogenes any day. By whom is the Church better served, a man who gave his life to the service of the faithful and offers gentle criticisms after retirement, or a coward who uses pseudonyms to spew his/her particularly noxious brand of odium theologicum?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 12:28 PM ET USA

    My, Diogenes, you are defensive about manhood! The Cardinal is "morally castrated"? Is there a fear of castration lurking somewhere, buried beneath your sophistry?

  • Posted by: Brad - Mar. 02, 2005 11:14 AM ET USA

    Extremely well said Diogenes. I'm keeping it for future reference. It reminds me of another great author, C.S. Lewis, who said "I think it is your duty to fix the lines clearly in your own minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession" (see Doesn't this poor Cardinal realize that he tossed an incredible insult at his heroic mother by saying that her motherhood just doesn't measure up?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 10:39 AM ET USA

    Its hard (for me) to tell where these errors begin, but I go back to the French Revolution and their determination to remake all in their own image. The fact that they were willing to murder people for the idealistic and mutually contradictory "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" shows that they and he are ideologues. Truth, reality, creation, and human nature are irrelevant, Hegel's "so much for the facts". These people are satanic cancers on the backs of men (male and female for the ignorant).

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 10:25 AM ET USA

    It seems obvious what his mother set out to do (does the will of the Lord ring a bell?), but its too bad she didn't get the promotion the C. believed she deserved. I wonder what his sisters set out to accomplish. This C. isn't just in Brazil, he's all over our diocese which is led by a Bishop who spent ten years writing a piece for the predecessor to the USCCB justifying the ordination of women, but which never got published. He's also, surprise, a big promoter of homosexual clergy and Bishops.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 02, 2005 9:45 AM ET USA

    This kind of sneaky cowardice occurs constantly now. Politically correct positions are slipped into the Intentions at mass; a gender neuter word is substituted for a masculine noun or pronoun; a wink is made in the direction of "women in the Church" or those of different sexual persuasions; a priest will slyly note how much better girls are than boys as servers. This list goes on and on. It smells of rank moral cowardice and subversion and speaks ill of both the person(s) and their causes.