Monday, August 27, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Clergy and Christian Revival

Atheist warning: Another religious post.


One of the things that impressed me most about the U.S. founding fathers is their recognition that good laws cannot constrain bad men. They understood that it did not matter what type of managerial structure you put in place, if the the people you were managing were corrupt the organisation was going to fail. Virtue, not better management, is the foundation of a stable and prosperous polity.

Living a virtuous life comes with the presupposition of knowing what virtue is. Hence the importance of philosophy, faith, ethics, etc.  These establish the norms of virtue and until modern times it was taken for granted that foundational stone of virtue in the West was religion and it was only relatively recently that men thought a system of ethics could be built on pure rationality alone.

Now, the point of this post is not to debate the respective merits of various ethical systems but simply to point out that ethical systems are foundational basis of any kind of "stable" society. In other words, values matter. In fact, values come before management. As the the old NRx adage goes, politics is downstream from culture,  and the current problems of the West should not be seen as a problem primarily of poor management, rather it needs to be recognised as a problem of crappy people. Nietzsche understood this very well.

Therefore the most important institutions in a society are its cultural institutions, and here I don't mean art galleries and libraries, but the whole system of value generation and management that concerns itself with the society's beliefs. Don't get me wrong, management matters, but management is primarily concerned with achieving desired goals and ideals and therefore, in a sense, management is subordinate to the culture.

It is this blog's contention that  what primarily ails the West is the collapse of the Christian value system and empozzment by both the modern secular project, a radical branch of the Enlightenment and the decay in quality of Christian thought. Secular has attacked Christianity from the outside but theological developments within Christianity have undermined it from within.

Therefore any restoration of the West has to come about with a restoration of the Christian value system first. Failing this and system is unable to reboot. However, Christianity itself has serious problems which seems to make this unlikely. That is why the task of fundamental importance for the West is the reformation of Christianity. Everything else is second order.

It is beyond the intention of this post to go into a through analysis as to why Christianity failed but it's important to briefly dwell on this subject. For years, the standard trope from the "orthodox" factions of Western Christianity laid the blame at  the feet of the laity, who they asserted, had been disobedient, and all would be right if they subordinated themselves to authority and doubled down. There is probably an element of truth in this position however, consistent loss, over a long period of time points to systemic error in operations and what this means is that there is a serious problem with command.

Unfortunately, one of the "faults' to which Catholicism is particularly prone to is the "preferential option for the clergy" which in essence means that when things go wrong the clergy looks exclusively among the laity for error. This Clericalism in the Church isn't just a problem about church power, but a mindset affects the Church's role in the world and how it responds to it. It assumes that when things don't go the way as the clergy expects it should, it is the "world" and not themselves which are at fault. It facilitates a sort of blindness when it comes to clerical self examination  and conditions them to look for faults everywhere else but themselves. From a systems analysis point of view it means that problems within command system don't get fixed and continue to perpetuate. Mistakes keep being made.

Things seem to have however come to a head with this current sexual abuse crisis--some sense of the awareness of the magnitude of the evil seems to be beginning to be grasped even by the clergy--however this should not blind us to the fact that corruption is not just sexual in nature, and the leadership of the church has been "inert" to many issues which verge on the morally negligent.  The Vatican finances have been a mess for decades. Theft, fraud and money laundering may not inspire in us the disgust that pedophilia does but they're moral evils none the less.  Idiot trads, blaming everything on V2, need to be reminded that prior to it many Catholic Priests were sympathetic to Vichy and the Nazi regime. Garrigou-Lagrange, one of the foremost Thomists of his time and the supervisor for JPII doctoral thesis, felt that the support of Charles De Gaulle (a pious Catholic) was a mortal sin, while the support of Vichy was morally upright. Dwell on that for a while.

Now, bad priests are always going to be a problem in the Church and that's not really the issue, the real issue is how the Church as an institution handles them and by any objective measure the handling has been a mess. Apart from what appears to be a lavender mafia within the hierarchy, many of the senior clergy, even when not complicit, seems to be suffering from a spiritual HIV which makes them incapable of recognising and  dealing with evil appropriately. The average contracepting, spiritually lax, morally dubious Catholic had a better grasp on the moral evil of pedophilia than many theologically trained bishops. Reflect on this for a moment and it illustrates just how deep the problem is. With Shepherds like these......

What the sexual abuse saga has forced is the recognition that the hierarchy has some serious systemic problems, the problem for Catholicism is, how do you fix up a system where the clergy have gone bad and even the virtuous laity have no rights. The answer is you can't while still operating in the system. For a reboot to occur some sort of "disruption to the usual process" is going to be necessary. And I do think we're headed for a period of disruption.

As I see it, the rechristianisation of the West is a precondition of any Western revival but before this can happen Christianity has to sort its problems out. For better or worse this is a problem with Catholicism rather than Christianity in general. I do not feel that Orthodoxy is up to the task and "sound"  Protestantism is a spent force. Therefore the action will be in Catholicism.

As I see it the following will need to occur:

1) A replacement of the current ecclesiastics, i.e. the officer corps. I imagine that what will happen here is that the Christian laity will through a sense of sensus fidelium put their weight behind certain bishops over others, purging the malevolent ones. It's gonna get sectarian. The Church will split into three factions; the trads, the lefties and the doctrinally sound.

2) Theological developments will have to occur which enable Christianity to engage modernism effectively. (Modernism, except in the case of a divinely willed apocalypse, is not going away) Some of the required development will come from the legacy of Protestantism, work ethic, acting like the elect, less reliance on the confessional, less mystical and more pragmatic Christianity, etc. A new "Theology of the Body" will be developed but I feel it will only have tenuous links with the work of JPII. These developments will most probably arise in the unexpected fringes and perhaps from the laity as well.

Interesting times lay ahead.

When I started writing this post the latest allegations against Francis (which I believe are false*) were not yet made. Things are moving much faster than I expected.

*Some of the revelations reported by Rod Dreher indicated that the homosexual subculture in the church exists in both liberal and apparent ultraorthodox variants. I feel that that this is a good cop/bad cop routine being played on Francis. Being Pope is a bit like being president, your information is given to you by your subordinates and so you are dependent on them. It became apparent during the recent Chilean controversy that Chilean bishops had lied to him, he finding out the truth after sending his own investigators to ferret the truth.  A lot of Trads don't like Francis, and are quite prepared to believe anything negative about him, (conformation bias) and while I'm not a big fan of his, I do think he is being set up.

29 comments:

Bruce Charlton said...

On the positive side, presumably if/ when there Are good and virtuous Men, then they will produce good laws and institutions - or else transform the existing ones. But in doing so, they would need to go against the mainstream and dominant aspects of laws and institutions. This seems unavoidable. We cannot avoid discernment and tough choices.

The Social Pathologist said...

We cannot avoid discernment and tough choices.

Agree Bruce. It's a very perilous time.

Hoyos said...

Plus Protestantism is really, really far from dead. When was the last time you were evangelized by a non Protestant?

c matt said...

As for a reset to the system, no one really likes to hear it but the bug (or virus?) was Vatican II. Compared to prior councils, the documents generated from VII read like the post-modern gibberish they are. The disease was allowed to fester until it infected everything. Benedict, bless his heart, just was not strong enough to remove heresy (and heretics) root and branch, allowing the weeds to continually sprout up. He was a bit naive to think speaking the truth would be sufficient, when almost no one was particularly interested in hearing it.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Hoyos

Plus Protestantism is really, really far from dead. When was the last time you were evangelized by a non Protestant?

True, the problem isn't zeal which Protestants have aplenty it's the thorny problem of the truth. The problem with Protestantism is that its various denominations have conflicting views on many of the most fundamental things as is so fractured that it doesn't form a coherent cultural block of enough mass to move culture anymore.

Hoyos said...

True. Like Catholics that way...

I'm joking but I'm dead serious. Discipline seems to have broken down across denominational lines.

The Social Pathologist said...

@cmatt


no one really likes to hear it but the bug (or virus?) was Vatican II

I don't think so. Men like and Congar and Lubac deplored the changes that had occurred post V2 but recognised that changes had to take place. The old way of doing things wasn't going to work any more. I mean when men like Garrigou Lagrange, champions of orthodoxy end up supporting crypto Nazi's over men like De Gaulle, there is a serious problem with the system.

I deplore Kumbayah Christianity with a passion but the more I read about the post Trent changes to the Church the more I realise the reason why it couldn't beat Modernism is because it was the prototype of it. Attacking it meant attacking itself.

@Hoyos

So true.

Anonymous said...

"One of the things that impressed me most about the U.S. founding fathers is their recognition that good laws cannot constrain bad men. They understood that it did not matter what type of managerial structure you put in place, if the the people you were managing were corrupt the organisation was going to fail. Virtue, not better management, is the foundation of a stable and prosperous polity. "

This brings the Platonic view of the polis: the polis is nothing but a human soul augmented.

Doctor, have you ever read MacIntyre? In his After Virtue, he discusses why the Enlightenment rational justification of morality had failed and stress the centrality of virtues in the common life.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Anon

Doctor, have you ever read MacIntyre?

No, though a lot of people who I respect have mentioned him approvingly.
Another book I'll have to have a look at. So much to read, so little time.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the problem is the quality of people who becoming bishops. A Robert Bellarmine or Charles Borremo (or a Cardinal Richelieu) wouldn't go into the priesthood today, they would be an I-Banker/corporate lawyer/neurosurgeon with a big family that goes to mass every Sunday. Priests enjoy very low status in society now, and add to this gatekeeping by liberal clergy (and by liberal I mean h...) keeping potential right-leaning reformists out of the seminaries. Most of the human capital in the church is probably in the laity. Reforming the church in a way that isn't simply copying the Episcopalians (my nightmare) is going to take ambitious and talented people.

MK said...

SP: As I see it the following will need to occur...split into three factions; the trads, the lefties and the doctrinally sound.

You sound like a prot; you are now deciding who is "doctrinally sound, DS" not letting evolution decide. Yes, clearly lefties are not DS, but trads at least claim to be... but your version of "DS" is left undefined. A personal Christianity. Good luck with that.

Theological developments will have to occur which enable Christianity to engage modernism effectively.

I don't think so. VII provided the tools to deal with modernism. The West just didn't like them and decided to go extinct instead. We don't need to touch doctrine. Just a change in practice.

European Christianity is beta and culturally dead. It is thus fading away. You find this too incredulous to believe, sure. Well, I'm afraid it's gonna look like the 7 churches in Revelation. Those were all REAL CHURCHES. They are all now gone. Why? Because they lost the faith and couldn't demographically keep up with Muslims. QED.

Modernism, except in the case of a divinely willed apocalypse, is not going away)

No, demographics will take care of things. Already is.

A new "Theology of the Body" will be developed but I feel it will only have tenuous links with the work of JPII. These developments will most probably arise in the unexpected fringes and perhaps from the laity as well.

TOTB is true, but it was an attempt to save liberal Westerners so will probably fail. Like Jazz, it will simply be forgotten/ignored as evolution paves the way for a new form of human culture that actually breeds. It will be like the Anglican church: True but too little, too late, too stubborn and proud to survive the next era. Won't be missed.

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Anon

A lot of the problem is the quality of people who becoming bishops.

Yes, I agree.

Most of the human capital in the church is probably in the laity. Reforming the church in a way that isn't simply copying the Episcopalians (my nightmare) is going to take ambitious and talented people.

I agree with this as well. And like you, the last I want is a "democratic" solution to the problem. Though, I have to confess, I don't really have a mapped out plan of how to achieve this.

@MK.

You sound like a prot; you are now deciding who is "doctrinally sound, DS" not letting evolution decide.

Doctrinally sound= Truth.

VII provided the tools to deal with modernism.

The scholars of VII agree that there was still work to be done.

Goldeneye said...

Doctor,

This is off topic, but I want your thoughts on this. You've talked about the purpose of sex before on this blog, and after mulling on it for a while, a thought occurred to me.
If I remember correctly, there are supposed to be two parts to sex, the unitive and the procreative. What if the primary purpose of sex is actually the unitive part,and the procreative part is a secondary purpose?

These are half formed thoughts, but critiques are welcome.

TN Papist said...

I thought more about how the laity accept or do not accept a moral teaching of the Church. It cannot be in committing or not commiting the act, because a large number, maybe even a vast majority of Catholics, commit different sexual sins, particularly fornication, but those are still considered mortal sins. However, the majority of Catholics that commit different sexual sins confess those sins in confession, that is they accept that their actions were mortally sinful. Therefore, in the case of the pill and other forms of contraception, the determining fact of whether the laity accept the teaching is not whether 90% or 99% of the laity use contraception, but whether a majority of those laity then confess that in confession.

ConantheContrarian said...

What was so bad about the Vichy Regime?

MK said...

SP: When I started writing this post the latest allegations against Francis (which I believe are false*) we not yet made.

I'm fairly traddie but always liked Francis (until he stared to weasel around about remarriage, wimpy). But looking objectively at the data so far things don't look good for Francis. No bias, I'm inclined to be trusting here.

So I'm curious as to your belief...do you know something I'm missing? Have you changed your mind after the latest dose? Everyone involved (minus a few bishops) look guilty as hell to me, pope as well, and to lock it they looks weaselly and evasive. I can't see how it's not true. and I'd like to believe otherwise.

MK said...

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/proof-that-rome-knew-about-mccarrick/

As I said, I'd love to find some possible explanation for Francis. But this looks open and shut, to me. /sad.

The Social Pathologist said...

Sorry lads, it's been a very busy week and weekend and I've not had time to attend the blog.

@Goldeneye

I'll get back to you later in the week.

@Conan

How about the complicity in the extermination of the Jews? The utter subservience to Nazi Germany. De Gaulle thought them traitors to France.

@TN Papist.
but whether a majority of those laity then confess that in confession.

Not necessarily. People may confess their sins for a whole variety of reasons and many people don't have a good theological grounding. People struggling with their conscience may confess "just to be on the safe side", having a two way bet. Some may do it on a pro forma basis to access the Eucharist. Saying the words and meaning it are two different things.

@MK.

I think it's useful to begin with the Chilean bishop's affair. If you remember, the Chilean bishops lied to Francis about the affair, which only came about after he sent his D.A. to investigate the situation.

The problem with the Papacy is that it is dependent on the Curia for the day to day running of the operation. The pope is, in a sense, caught in a perceptual bubble largely controlled by the Curia.

I think that there is a fair amount of truth to the Vigano revelations, particularly the existence of various factions in the Church, who "filter" what the Pope sees. It's obviously true that Rome knew about McCarrick but I'm not sure that Francis did. I personally think, given the increasing awareness of the various cliques within the Vatican, that Francis is being fed a lot of bullshit.

Secondly, Francis has marked his pontificate as being one of "mercy". He does distinguish between crimes and sins. He clearly has acted on crimes that he is aware of, but he seems to be very lenient with regards to sins. Sexual activity between consenting seminarians/bishops is a sin, not a crime, and I think he feels that mercy rather than punishment may be a better medicine. I think he takes the theology of forgiveness very seriously and wants men to be redeemed--even the homo's.
The problem here is that this runs smack bang into issues such as prudence and scandal. None of the recent three popes have distinguished themselves in these areas.

I don't agree with a lot of Francis's approach or some of his theology--the capital punishment thing in particular which is hugely problematic-- but I agree with his reformist approach because the Church has been on a losing battle with modernism and needs to change tacticts in order to reverse the continual series of losses.






Avitus said...

"Sexual activity between consenting seminarians/bishops is a sin, not a crime, and I think he feels that mercy rather than punishment may be a better medicine."

This behavior is clearly a crime under the Law of Moses, with a well defined penalty:

"Leviticus 20:13 King James Version (KJV)
13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

This crime is certainly subject to forgiveness and mercy, especially with *repentence*, but it is still a crime.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Avitus

This behavior is clearly a crime under the Law of Moses, with a well defined penalty

With all due respect, comments like this serve to obfuscate the issue. Mosaic law is not the law of the secular state.

Avitus said...

The Pope is a monarch and controls sovereign territory, in which some of the most scandalous of the relevant behavior has occurred. If the Law of Moses is not being upheld in this jurisdiction of all places one must ask why.

Lack of secular suppression of consensual homosexual behavior is a very recent phenomenon. The Pope could aggressively advocate for the suppression of such behavior by secular authorities and use his position as monarch to set an example. His failure to do so sends a signal that this isn't a "real" problem, which has led to the spread of the behavior -- this is not "mercy".

The failure of the Pope(s) to do this can not be blamed on bad advisors feeding him nonsense -- he has his own copy of the Bible and can read the news.

Martin Gregory said...

I would be in your 'doctrinally sound' category. Now that we know Pope Francis knows all about McCarrick, if per impossible he was earlier fed lies, given today he implied the devil was inspiring his critics. And given we know he goes out of his way to bring close corrupt/compromised men who he consequently has power over: what can we *really* conclude about the current situation? Jorge Bergoglio is everything described in 'The Dictator Pope' 'The Political Pope' 'The Lost Shepherd'. As a test of Catholicism the removal/widespread resistant to, Pope Francis and his papacy is central/key.

http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2018/08/31/francis-the-backslider-he-didnt-just-cover-up-for-mccarrick/

"Three observations about what Pope Francis said here:

1. In maintaining that he had found nothing worthy of blame in the “investigatio” preceding Ricca’s appointment as prelate of the IOR, Francis confirmed that the personal dossier on him that was kept at the secretariat of state had been carefully scrubbed of his scandalous past. But in the preceding weeks Francis also had available to him the accusatory documentation kept at the nunciature of Montevideo, incontrovertible documentation, seeing that on the basis of it the secretariat of state had withdrawn Ricca from diplomatic service in the field. And yet he ignored it.

2. Francis applied to Ricca the typology of those who have committed “sins of youth” and then have repented. But this is never the image of himself that Ricca has presented, rather that of one who has always rejected as baseless “gossip” the accusations against his conduct.

3. And it was in reference to none other than Ricca that Francis pronounced the famous phrase that has become the trademark of his pontificate: “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?” With this phrase, Bergoglio reversed completely to his favor in world public opinion an affair that otherwise could have seriously undermined his credibility.

This is the feat that Pope Francis is again attempting today, after the McCarrick affair has been laid bare by ex-nuncio ViganĂ²."

Martin Gregory said...

You're busier than I am, and have been able to keep up with news a bit closer. Ed Feser 'Why Vigano is almost certainly telling the truth' https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/09/why-archbishop-vigano-is-almost_5.html

What we ought to be thinking is how #2013Conclave was almost preternaturally anti-prophetic. Given what was about to happen Brexit, Trump, Salvini, Wikileaks, deepstate/establishment freakout 'Russia'... renewal was coming and many dissidents have bravely put their hand up at this time, and been censored and jailed or non-personned, perfect cohort to show Xian solidarity with. As JPII did in Poland. But Francis' papacy from Charlemagne Prize *for spruiking mass immigration*, hiding during important national votes for gay marriage/abortion, inviting radical abortionists, global warming misanthropes to Vatican conferences, to promotion of LGBT Fr James Martin types etc etc has been almost indistinguishable from a deep state operation. It is eerie.

And to be called the devil by Bergoglio for condemning the acts described by Vigano is kind of the last straw. It is narcissistic abuse: gaslighting of historical proportions. Francis thought he was going to be spiritual leader of the world at a prog-world-historical inflexion point (height of Obama/NSA spying global power) He has no resources to recover from political reversal. He is cracking up and showing who he really is, and because he's Pope we're in singular historical territory now. Eerie.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Martin.

I think that Ed Feser made a good comment here:

One can only speculate about why the pope has taken such a lenient attitude toward the priests and prelates in question. One possibility is that he takes such a policy to follow from his well-known emphasis on mercy over law and justice. Another is that he regards the churchmen in question as theologically sympathetic allies, and is for that reason willing to overlook their actions. Whatever the reason, a rehabilitation of McCarrick, including a canceling out of whatever penalties were imposed privately by Pope Benedict, would not be surprising given this history

As I've said before, I think Francis' advocacy of mercy has come at the expense of prudence and justice. I don't think he is "theologically sympathetic" to them, though I imagine many Trads see things this way. For the Trad, any change which is not stricter, authoritarian and in alignment with tradition is a liberalisation, even if it is true. For the Trad, they are unable to distinguish between true and false reform unless it fits within their preconceived framework.

And to be called the devil by Bergoglio for condemning the acts described by Vigano is kind of the last straw.

I just had a look at Francis's homily. He does not explicitly mention Vigano's name. Though, I think it is a fair assumption that he was thinking that Vigano was in the pay of the Devil when he made the comment. I have to remind you that Vigano's pointing out that Francis was hanging around homo's is much of the same vein as the Pharisee's charge the Jesus was hanging out with sinners.

I think that Vigano's fault is that he attacked the characters of his opponents--(thereby exposing examination of his own faults)--instead of aiming at the problem of Francis's, Benedict's, and JPII's approach of dismissing justice and prudence when it came to dealing with clerical sexual abuse.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Martin.

Oh, and the other thing.

The whole Ricca issue shows just how foul the politics of the Vatican are. Ricca's history is scrubbed clean, by whom?

Francis has to work through his subordinates and it's clear he's being fed a certain picture of the world which does not correspond to reality by the curia.

The whole Chilean sexual abuse saga, where he had to send his own investigator in to find out what was going on is a clear example that there is something seriously wrong in the higher levels of the Vatican.

Oblationem said...

I am a Trad, you call us, "Idiot trads, blaming everything on V2, need to be reminded that prior to it..." Are you trying to talk over Vatican II as if it had nothing or little to do with the decline of the Church? With Vatican II evil triumphed over the Church as never before in the history of the Church.
Oblationem

ApoloDoc said...

The answer is quite obvious. You seem to think that the Catholic Church has some sort of authority to create TRUTH. That SOLELY resides in the Scriptures which is why the Reformation was needed. Rome has been inventing new beliefs out of whole cloth for centuries. All you have to do is look at all of the changes in their positions over time.

Issues such as the worship of Mary are a great example. After the beginning of Acts, there is no further menton of her in the Word. For the first 200 yrs, she is NEVER seen as having ANY role other than the mother of Jesus in His incarnation. Not sinless, not immaculately conceived herself, not taken up, not to be prayed to. All of that is utter fabrication.

Go to the Scriptures themselves for truth (that which was canonical before Rome sought to defend itself; the Jews never held the Apocrypha as canonical). Pedophilia? Consider WHY Rome decided that celibacy was "required" for clergy and why that might not work so well!

Anonymous said...

The rot starts at the head. The pope has sold out not only to communism but to Islam as well.
In November 2013, the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium was published by the Vatican. Paragraph 253 reads in part: ". . . . authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence." The pope is ignorant about the truth of Islam and he has built bridges between himself and Islam. The Catholic faithful know better and this causes the flock to lose all hope. The pope must now support Islam or Islam will destroy him sooner than later. Of course, Islam and their global jihad have factored this into their world takeover, such as it is. One tenant of the jihad is to discourage and ultimately destroy all religion save Islam. And they are off to a rip-roaring start.

whirlwinder kjhull@verizon.net

Lugh said...

Glad to hear the Garigou-Lagrange saw the evil of the nascent New World Order and was on the right side. Often men of great profundity are clueless when it comes to the events of the day. Not in this case, Deo Gratias.

"Pope" Francis has been on side of the Gay Mafia for decades. It's easily researched. Obviously such an apostate should never been made Pope. I mean a Pope should be a Catholic, right?