Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

When Two Wrongs Make a Right

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | May 03, 2010

Apologists have often noted that it is a motive of credibility for the Church that she is constantly attacked from opposite sides for opposite things. A case in point is the New York Times analysis of the conclusion of the Vatican’s Visitation of the Legion of Christ, in which the Times claims that “the the case was marked by the same delays and bureaucratic caution that have emerged in the handling of other sexual abuse matters crossing Benedict’s desk.”

It’s funny how those who complain that the Church is precipitate and authoritarian when she takes years to investigate wayward theologians are so quick to fault the Pope for “delays and bureaucratic caution” when he proceeds carefully and methodically with a full investigation of a religious order. When you combine this with the fact that it was precisely Pope Benedict XVI who, unable as a cardinal to overcome the curial reluctance to investigate the Legion’s founder, ensured that a proper investigation took place as soon as he was elected Pope, then perhaps the Times would be wise to exercise some delay and bureaucratic caution of its own before it trips over its collective tongue.

It’s the same with the sex abuse scandal as a whole, of course. On the one hand, the Church is unceasingly attacked for her rigidly unhealthy teachings against any sexual expression outside of a marriage open to life; and on the other, she is excoriated for her failure to discipline those who refuse to abide by her rigid and unhealthy teachings. Even more amusing, both criticisms come largely from the same sources.

In fact, you’ll find this same pattern across the board. The Church is rebuked at one and the same time for putting excessive emphasis on the next life and for preserving magnificent works of art in this life. She is abused for failing to protect the downtrodden (such as the Jews in Nazi Germany) and for condoning the use of force to liberate Christian captives under Islam (such as in the Crusades). She is ridiculed for disdaining human nature and for claiming that God took on that nature in the Person of her Lord and Savior. She finds her social teachings ignored even while she is accused of failing to use her influence for human good. On and on goes the secular litany of complaint. The Church is ever too much and too little, and all at the same time.

“To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like?” asks Jesus Christ.

They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another,
“We piped to you, and you did not dance;
we wailed and you did not weep.”
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, “He has a demon.” The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, “Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Mt 11:16-19; Lk 7:31-34)

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 See full bio.

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  • Posted by: jillgirlpower4102 - May. 05, 2010 11:01 AM ET USA


  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 04, 2010 2:38 PM ET USA

    It is a stunning defense of the Church...., but it could be said to ignore "the dark side...." The direct comparison to the Divine Person of Our Lord can only be taken so far. Holy Mother Church, like her sons and daughters, is a "work in progress..." It is only at the End of Time, when she will be presented to the Father, "without spot or wrinkle" by her Most Glorious and patient Spouse, Jesus, Our Lord.

  • Posted by: wojo425627 - May. 03, 2010 8:50 PM ET USA

    You should see all the discussion boards over at People saying the pope should resign for covering up sex abuse, they constantly quote and link secular newspapers and dissident theologians and websites and they refuse to read the links I send them for orthodox news and views including your site. They say they want change but won't acknowledge truth.