Friday, March 27, 2009

Phoenix bishop calls Notre Dame's Obama invite "public act of disobedience" to U. S. Bishops

The Catholic furor over Notre Dame's invitation of the pro-abortion Barack Obama to give the university's commencement address and its award of an honorary degree to the President just got hotter. Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix has charged Fr. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, with a "public act of disobedience" to the U. S. Catholic Bishops:
The grounds for the bishop’s charge are found in a 2004 statement from the U.S. bishops which calls on the Catholic community and Catholic institutions not to "honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
Stay tuned...

HT: Carl Olsen


Art said...

An example of Catholic "moral principles" that these delusional bishops expect rational Americans to obey:

"Since it is absurd that a blasphemer of Christ exercise authority over Christians, we on account of the boldness of transgressors renew in this general council what the Synod of Toledo (589) wisely enacted in this matter, prohibiting Jews from being given preference in the matter of public offices, since in such capacity they are most troublesome to the Christians. But if anyone should commit such an office to them, let him, after previous warning, be restrained by such punishment as seems proper by the provincial synod which we command to be celebrated every year. The official, however, shall be denied the commercial and other intercourse of the Christians, till in the judgment of the bishop all that he acquired from the Christians from the time he assumed office be restored for the needs of the Christian poor, and the office that he irreverently assumed let him lose with shame. The same we extend also to pagans. "

And then we have this:

"In some provinces a difference in dress distinguishes the Jews or Saracens from the Christians, but in certain others such a confusion has grown up that they cannot be distinguished by any difference. Thus it happens at times that through error Christians have relations with the women of Jews or Saracens, and Jews and Saracens with Christian women. Therefore, that they may not, under pretext of error of this sort, excuse themselves in the future for the excesses of such prohibited intercourse, we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress. Particularly, since it may be read in the writings of Moses [Numbers 15:37-41], that this very law has been enjoined upon them.

Moreover, during the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, they shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning. "

So, Martin, are you going to be traveling around the Bluegrass on Easter weekend, making sure that Jews obey this wonderful example of Catholic morality?

Frankly, the hypocritical, even evil proclamations of Catholics when it comes to morality (or, rather, the appalling immorality that pervades Christianity) are pitiful and laughable. And, in this case, rather amusing.

Martin Cothran said...


So I can apply this same argument--that because some representatives of a certain group have, at some point in history, said something stupid, that therefore the group, as a group, is stupid--to, say, atheists? Or Darwinists? And how about college professors?

Art said...

"Some representatives"??? I'd say that my quotes come from roughly the same level of authority in the Catholic Church (well, maybe a bit higher up) as the bishop who is lecturing Notre Dame about morality. And they represent official church doctrine for the vast majority of the history of the church. We're not talking about outspoken extremists that do not represent the church. We're talking core Catholic values.

All I'm saying is consider the source. A duly-appointed representative of an institution that has assembled a body of work spanning more than 1000 years that is inherently, relentlessly, inevitably immoral and evil isn't going to be taken seriously when he starts to ramble on about morality. Nor should he be taken seriously.

tc said...


If you think that bishops expect Americans Catholics to initiate pograms against the Jews, you are the one that is delusional. I'll charitably assume you just don't understand the way in which doctrine gets developed in the Catholic Church, the relation between social teaching and dogma, or the nature of Synodal authority.

Catholicism has always admitted that the Church can be (and often is) prone to moral failings and that these can sometimes infiltrate even the teachings of the Church--this results from "original sin" (hopefully you've heard of this concept). This is why the Catholic Church is not bound to all the decisions ever made by synods, or to every clause endorsed by an oecumenical council. However, over time the dialectic of faith makes itself clearer, and produces a body of dogma that is normative for the Church and her adherents becomes quite clear; no-one disagrees with the creed, for example.

No-one denies that there were bad popes or mistaken councils, and any institution with the longetivity of the Catholic Church has some pretty serious moral failings. I might just as well over-generalize about the scientific enterprise being "relentlessly, inevitably immoral", and it has only been around a fraction of the time that the Catholic church has. Of course, this would be unfair, because simply because some eminent scientists have misused their discipline doesn't mean the discipline is inherently evil any more than it follows that simply because some eminent Catholics have misused their religious institution the whole thing is evil.

And if you want to be taken seriously, you should not claim that antisemitism is a "core catholic value", unless you happen to be debating your intellectual peers over at, who claim -- just as credibly -- that Darwinism promotes eugenics.

Art said...

Martin, I don't know where you got the idea that I expect Catholic bishops to re-institute the pogroms that were a mainstay of Catholicism (and Christianity in general) for centuries. My point is this - representatives of institutions (like the Catholic Church) that have a long, consistent history of cruelty, immorality, and evil should try looking inwards instead of lecturing others about morality. Interestingly, the flock agrees that church leadership should be ignored.

I share your delight or relief that the past 50 years or so of Christian history have seen a turning away (in part, unfortunately) from anti-Semitism. However, the cynic in me acknowledges the truth (that you wish to deny) that Christianity and anti-Semitism have gone hand -in-hand for centuries, even millenia. The sentiment was seen in the pew and the cathedral, and at every step in between. And the sentiment still exists in churches today. A betting man would bank on the likelihood that the past half century is a blip, a historical aberration, and that Christians will inevitably return to their roots, a heritage that is steeped through and through in anti-Semitism.

Martin Cothran said...


I guess I find it strange for people to credit every bad action that members of some group have committed and completely ignore the good actions. You talk about anti-semitism which some Christians have engaged in, which has no warrant in legitimate Christian teaching whatsoever, and completely ignore the work in, for example, the saving of Jews in World War II, which directly follows from Christian morality.

In other words, I think I have three problems with your argument. The first is that obviously there have been people who have abused their positions in the Church and encouraged anti-semitism, but I would question your assertion that this has been the norm, historically in the Church (and by the "Church" I mean here the Eastern and Western Churches, Catholic and protestant, although I would also defend this thesis in each particular body as well).

At least if you're going to make this assertion, you should back it up with evidence, which you have not done. Absent evidence, it is a mere prejudice, which is ironic, given that that is exactly what you are arguing against.

The second problem is that, even if you establish that antisemitism has been prominent and significant at times (which I do not necessarily deny), you make no distinction between actions that have resulted from the abuse of church offices, and actions that result from legitimate Christian teaching. Abusus non tollit usum: the abuse of something is not an argument against its proper use.

Either you are blaming every bad action by Christians on Christianity itself, in which case you are simply not observing a basic distinction between what a belief system teaches and what some of its adherents actually do with it, or you are making a charge which the Church itself already admits and has repented for: that its members do not live up to its teachings.

As Chesterton put it: the best argument against Christianity is Christians.

Finally, I fail to see how you can condemn the Church (or anyone else) for anything on any other basis than the moral beliefs of the Church itself which you have apparently picked up second or third hand from your own culture. I can understand why a Christian would say that anti-semitism is wrong, but I can't see why you do.

Unless you have some moral code with some sort of ultimate grounding, then you have no standing to say anything about the behavior of the Church--or of anything else.