Sunday, March 09, 2003

As I mentioned below, Mr. Dreher has long been putting forth the notion that "dissent" in the Church contributed to the scandals, and any effort in dealing with the scandals would be incomplete without "rooting out" this dissent.

But then, Mr. Dreher pretty much lays out a blueprint for dissenting from the Church in the post-scandal Church:

One cannot help wondering, though, how much more seriously American Catholics would take church leaders if not for the sex-abuse scandal, which is still very much with us.

This type of argument could be applied to anything:

  • "Church Anuls Homosexual Marriage; Defrocks Presiding Priest": It's interesting that the Vatican feels the need to move so swiftly to prevent two consenting adults from committing to each other, when it was so slow to prevent the sexual abuse of children.
  • "Church Excommunicates Bishop Who Ordained Women": Is it any surpries that the all-male Church hierarchy places a higher priority on keeping women out of thier circle of power than in preventing girls from being raped by priests?
  • "Bishop Speaks Out Against Pro-Choice Politicians: Why is the Church more concerned about a politician allowing women to choose abortion than it is about protecting chidren in its care?

All of these arguments are, of course, nonsense. But people who cheerlead arguments like Mr. Dreher's would have a hard time dismissing them (especially since they say they're looking for consistency. ) And the people inclined to make and be persuaded by arguments like the above aren't likely to be versed in the differences between purdential judgements and matters of faith; they'll just know that an orthodox Catholic commentator used a similar argument, and won much approval for it.

One might say that the Church itself has opened itself up to this, so it's not Mr. Dreher's fault for using it. But Mr. Dreher professes to love the Church. When you're in disagreement with a loved one, you don't exploit vulnerabilities so that you can win the argument. You make your case strongly, yes, but also with compassion and charity. Nobody wins if you win by scoring a cheap shot.
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