the church intransigent

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 22, 2006

"Well, his baptism didn't un-Jew him," snickers one Aryan girl to her friend. This Nazi cartoon from the 1930s is primarily anti-Catholic in thrust, taking for granted the viewer's anti-Semitism. The wholesome maidens watch as the convert Jew and his convert wife exit the patently Catholic church (all the expected Romish props are in sight) and they observe that one's ethnicity is not left behind by a change in religious conviction. These are good German lasses, you see -- no missals or rosaries in their pretty hands -- and they understand that Race is more basic than Faith.

The Catholic Church hadn't moved with Zeitgeist, the Spirit of the Age, but remained stuck in her inherited belief that her first members were baptised Jews and that any person of any race that submitted to her teachings and discipline could belong. Nazis resented this retrograde view, especially as the Catholic Church's willingness to accept Jewish converts put those converts into a position vexing to the Nazis' own plans for them. Their very special plans.

Because her doctrine does not change, the Catholic Church is continually in conflict with the Spirit of the Age, which always finds some aspect of that doctrine inimical and so finds the Church infuriatingly intransigent. Of course, the focus of the resentment shifts with shifting cultural values. This week the National Catholic Reporter is snickering at the Church for her intransigence in the matter of fashionable onanism. The editors put sneer quotes around the word "unnatural" (used of contraception) and "disordered" (used of the homosexual libido) so as to make it clear that their own judgments have long since parted from the Church's.

Would the NCR see any similarity between the ridicule Nazi propagandists directed at the Church and its own ridicule of Catholic doctrinal tenacity? Almost certainly not. Part of the syndrome of being a child of one's age is a lack of the historical imagination to recognize oneself in a different setting, endowed with a different array of sentimentalisms. In fact, such people are certain they'd be on the side of the angels in any situation. The personal advantages they have purchased by their social conformity are so enormous and comprehensive that they fail to see it as conformity at all. This was true in 1930s Germany, when the right wing was in the ascendant, and it's true in the West today, when the left wing is. Joseph Sobran once wrote:

[Liberals] want us to believe that their willingness to conform to today's fashions is proof that they would have had the courage to defy yesterday's fashions. Somehow I find it hard to believe that today's coward would have been yesterday's hero, if only he'd had the chance. More likely he would have been, like most people, a timid conformist in any circumstances.

Look at is this way. If it were your goal to move in the most socially prestigious circles of today's world -- at the parties connected with the performing arts or fashion or big media -- whose opinions would let you move effortlessly and contentedly among the beautiful people: those of liberal half-Catholics, or those of the orthodox Catholics they despise? And which group, coincidentally, congratulates itself as the "Thinking" Catholics? To hold views that are currently fashionable is not necessarily to embrace falsehoods, but for a Catholic it ought to be -- at minimum -- an embarrassment. As Chesterton put it, "We do not really need a religion that is right where we are right. What we need is a religion that is right where we are wrong."

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 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Nov. 23, 2006 10:42 AM ET USA

    NCR, the NY Times and the Democrat Party go together. Now if the Church would just recognize homosexual marriages, abnormal sexual behavior, abortion and divorce; NCR would have its mission fulfilled.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 23, 2006 8:49 AM ET USA

    "Remember what the self-righteous Nazis saw as the cancer in their society was the liberal left:" Let's see who they went after with a vengeance: (1) Polish Catholics (2) Dietrich Bonhoffer (3) Eric Voegelin (4) Dietrich Von Hildebrand And that's just off the top of my head.

  • Posted by: Patricius - Nov. 22, 2006 7:44 PM ET USA

    Uncle Di, we are all to some degree guilty of sophomorism. NCR's editors in particular are "foolishly wise". Were a true journalist to read your piece, he may bristle at the criticism, but would recognize the parallels and take heed. A Sophomore would bristle at the criticism and denounce the writer. Editors are no longer guardians of orthopraxy (in journalism), but rather agents provocateur for the latest theory. The editors of NCR are looking to graduate to the NYT, not record our days.

  • Posted by: rpp - Nov. 22, 2006 7:00 PM ET USA

    Too bad the Church doesn't (cannot?) sue the NCR for misuse of the word "Catholic".

  • Posted by: - Nov. 22, 2006 6:24 PM ET USA

    Oh now I get it. We're supposed to listen to science and observe the human experience in order to set Church doctrine. Never mind the Bible or the magisterium, that's soooo yesterday.

  • Posted by: Fatimabeliever - Nov. 22, 2006 6:03 PM ET USA

    Chesterton was right and we sorely need strong leadership who put God first and state that a sin is a SIN! They hid behind the phrase "tolerence" much too often thereby sending wrongful messages to people who think it is fashionable to allow someone to continue in sin forgetting the passage in the Bible about "WOE! WOE! to you if you cause one of these little ones to sin." They forget God calls us all His Children and Our Lady of Fatima said: "WARS ARE A PUNISHMENT FOR THE SINS OF MANKIND.".

  • Posted by: - Nov. 22, 2006 1:43 PM ET USA

    The NCR's definition of what the Church should be, it might as well just become a political party. Wait...The NCR already has their Church of choice, the Democratic party. All they need is a liturgy to reinforce their Democratic Party platform. I know, they could adopt the "Pride Parade's" all over the country as their liturgies. These symbolize everything they believe: Gender Equalness, Sexual liberty, pacifism, economic redistribution, social engineering....A match made in Hell!

  • Posted by: ladybird - Nov. 22, 2006 12:36 PM ET USA

    Remember what the self-righteous Nazis saw as the cancer in their society was the liberal left, the decadent, licentious, intellectual elite. Naziism was very much a reactionary swing in opposition to the secular "fashion of the times". This is the same mind-set that Mel Gibson expressed recently. But that should not deter us from calling out to those who err. We should not fear to shout "But that pompous ass is stark naked!" I often wonder if I'd have had the courage in those d

  • Posted by: - Nov. 22, 2006 10:51 AM ET USA

    If the NCR was out on the fringes of ecclesial life in this country, this would be no big deal. Since it is the paper of record for much of Catholic academia, Church bureaucracy and many members ofthe U.S. episcopal college, then it becomes something else.