Thursday, August 19, 2010

How gay marriage hurts heterosexual marriage

The Purple Heart is a military decoration of venerable age in our still-young republic. It signifies that the wearer has been wounded in the service of his country.
Imagine, if you will, that you are a soldier who has received this decoration, and you are proud to wear it.
One day, a judge decides that it's unfairly discriminatory to award this medal only to those who were actually wounded, and decrees that it must henceforth be distributed to every person who has ever served in a branch of the armed forces, even to those who were discharged dishonorably.
Might you not feel that the distinction awarded to you for your sacrifice was now devalued?
Now imagine that the people react to this judicial decision by formally reconfirming the Purple Heart in its traditional purpose, not once but twice. On both occasions, judges declare this expression of the will of the people unconstitutional.
The next time somebody asks you "How could gay marriage possibly harm heterosexual marriage?" it might help to ask them if they've heard of the Purple Heart.

Casual anti-Pius-XII sneers in everyday life

I'm starting to keep track when I encounter little fragments of casual disdain for the supposed silence of Pope Pius XII during World War II. This pair of quotations are from Herman Wouk's novel War and Remembrance:
The archbishop didn't know all the Pope knew. The Pope had his reasons to remain silent, mainly the protection of Church property and influence in German-held lands; also, the old Christian dogma that the Jews must suffer down through history, to prove that they had guessed wrong on Christ, and must one day acknowledge him. ...
"Europe is a Christian continent, isn't it? Well, what's going on? Where's the Pope? Mind you, there's one Catholic priest right here in Marseilles who's a saint, a one-man underground. ..."
Wouk gives both of these lines to sophisticated characters, insiders in Italy and Vichy France, whom we are meant to regard as experts. No rebuttal is offered at the time these statements are made, nor is a more sympathetic view of Pope Pius conveyed anywhere else in this widely-read novel.
Of course, Wouk was writing in the mid-1970's, when Rolf Hochhuth's play The Deputy was recent and still riding high as the intellectual's default "understanding" of the subject of Pius' wartime conduct.
And yes, it's "only" a work of fiction. But does that really mean that in creating an imaginary narrative, an author has no responsibility to find out the truth, and tell it? Or at least to avoid character assassination?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Progressivism and the Catholic Church

Well, that's a subject line that would merit book-length treatment. But today, for now, just this:

Why is it that several generations of American Catholic clergy and laity have concluded that the big-government solutions of the Progressive Movement are just dandy expressions of Catholic moral teaching?

Looking back through history, it seems to me that the Church generally has had endless trouble when governments were huge and powerful. First there were the persecutions led by pagan Roman emperors. Then, when the emperors turned Christian, there were the repeated interferences in favor of heresy (e.g., Arianism and the Iconoclastic movement), followed by heavy-handed persecution of heresy (e.g., of Monophysitism in the Eastern Empire, a bone-headed move that helped soften up Christian unity for the first waves of Muslim conquest).

In the West, as the power of regional governments grew, starting in the 9th century, we had the Holy Roman Emperors demanding to appoint their own bishops, and generally interfering with the Church governance. As the national governments of France and England grew in power and stability, they too sought to control the selection of the Church's leadership -- finally including the Papacy itself. The Tudor dynasty in England ended the turmoil of the Wars of the Roses and re-established the kingdom, only to have Henry VIII squander his father's legacy, plunder the Church's property to refill his coffers, then tear his country's Church away from Rome in his mania for siring a male heir.

When the "divine right of kings" gave way to the democratic revolutions of the 1700's and 1800's, the Church suffered again -- once again at the hands of all-powerful states which had undergone a change of masters but not a change in their lust to control every important feature of private life.

And then in the 20th century there came those twins of totalitarianism, Communism and Fascism, and their rich uncle Progressivism. These three huge-government movements have all sought to tame the Church to their purposes, and to persecute it when it dared to be uncooperative.

And now we're into the second year of the Presidency of Barack Obama, and of the overwhelming legislative ascendancy of the radical wing of the Democratic Party. Their hostility to core moral teachings of the Church, soft-pedaled during the campaign, is now clear.
And yet so many Catholics still babble about the importance of promoting "social justice" through bigger and bigger government, through the permanent triumph of the Progressivist cause.

If we Catholics really want to promote "social justice", perhaps we should work on making ourselves extraordinary examples of charity and virtue. When we arrive at our own particular judgments before God, I don't think he's likely to ask us how diligently we voted for socialist programs, so that the poor could be helped through the forcible taking of money from other people. Instead, I think He'll ask: "What did you give, freely and humbly, because your heart was illuminated by My grace?"

Sunday, August 08, 2010