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a sower went out to sow ...

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 14, 2007

Maledictus XVI, reads the badge brandished by the chap in the photo above. He's punning, of course, on the Latin moniker of Pope Benedictus, telling us he's "Accursed" instead of "Blessed." Pretty much par for the course.

The shtick was part of a demonstration held in Rome last Saturday, ostensibly to promote government recognition of civil unions. Judging from the photos in the news media, however, it was yet another protest against Catholic moral doctrine, displaying the clerical drag as well as the placards ("Better Gay than Opus Dei," "Vatican = Taliban") now as familiar as flags at a Veterans Day parade.

There's some consolation to be drawn from this fashionable anti-popery. It tells us that the folks to whom the moral teaching pertains are still listening. In fact, they're listening very closely indeed, because it can scarcely be argued that the Church in Italy has distinguished herself by getting the message out, and indeed there's no shortage of Vatican clergy whose sympathies will be with the civil union stewards instead of the Church. The Roman demonstrators may well find themselves entirely at home, e.g., with the Vatican's Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff -- indeed, in charitably presuming they are not in fact the Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, I am going beyond what I know to be true.

The point is that, in terms of communicating the hard teachings, you don't need to have everyone on board. You don't even need a majority. As long as one Catholic bishop remains to point a finger at the immemorial doctrine of the Church and say, "God taught this," the outraged indignation will sprout as fast as the costume miters.

Look at it this way: anyone determined to ignore Christian sexual morality in the contemporary West would have to search long and hard before he bumped against a real inconvenience to his lifestyle; he's already gained all the civil liberties worth gaining. What drives him to fury, and chasubles, is the existence of persons who still have the temerity to say: you won, but you're wrong.

Anti-Catholicism in general, like anti-popery in particular, is protean, and changes form according to changing fears of what stands to be lost by the intrusion of Church teaching: in fact, it's a kind of projection of social acrimony onto a recognizable human enemy. Bushido Japan was alarmed by Christian rules of combat, Brahmin India by emancipation of the untouchables, and the contemporary élites ... by what contemporary élites consider indispensable and shudder at the thought of forsaking. As Phil Lawler has said, if you meet some stranger on the street-corner, and he says he's got problems with Church teaching, you know he's not telling you he's a monophysite.

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