The lesson of Thrasybulus

As I contemplate certain things going on in the Church right now, I am reminded of Thrasybulus of Miletus.

The story of Thrasybulus is in Book V of Herodotus’ Histories.  A messenger from Periander, a 7th c. BC tyrant of Corinth, asks Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus, for advice on how to govern.   Thrasybulus doesn’t immediately respond.  Instead he leads the messenger into a field.  Then, drawing his sword,  he slashes the tallest ears of wheat off their stalks.  The message: eliminate potential threats to your absolute rule by preemptively cutting down any men who are prominent enough to raise a challenge.

If anyone sticks his head up, chop it off.

Eliminate excellence by all necessary means and with extreme prejudice.

Some sharing options...

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Olympian Middle and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to The lesson of Thrasybulus

  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    Herodotus’ story gives rise to the concept of Tall poppy syndrome:

    “The tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term primarily used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and other Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.”

  2. wmeyer says:

    Apparently this same lesson appears in Democrat training manuals.

    Elimination of excellence has been for decades a practice in US government schools. Looking at the online videos of college students who are unable to answer the simplest questions about history, it has been most effective.

    For this practice to be applied in the Church is tragic, but also most human. We are all sinners. No special dispensations for priests, bishops, nor even popes.

  3. Rob22 says:

    Father Z, your comment could be interpreted in different ways. You had better be careful. Look at what has happened to long term (18 year) evangelical convert Ross Douthat for saying certain things. He is getting blasted by some “orthodox” Catholics and supported by others. As well as being blasted by progressive Catholics.

    It is sad and I hate to have to put it in political terms but it seems to fit.

    Today the “orthodox” catholic movement seems to b splitting into sort of paleo-orthodox and neo-orthodox where honest criticism of bishops or actions is pounced upon be the neo camp.

    In Douthat’s case he didn’t say he was leaving the church or would if the core teaching on marriage/communion is changed. Just that his understanding of the nature of the church would forever change – if the Pope changes this doctrine.

    All this is tragic as it speaks to multiple apparent divisions within the Church.

    One of the largest Catholic forums has taken to deleting some posts that yes, are critical of a bishop, but only in the sense that the item quotes or documents actions by some prelates that are progressive. Again a political term. I know as I read one of these posts and later wanted to get a copy of the link and the post was gone when I went back.

    Be prepared to be mis-interpreted. Either willfully or because particular language you use is open to different interpretations.

    Anyway, thanks for having an open and honest forum. I am a convert in large part due to Douthat and am asking the same questions he is asking in his blog.

    ,u

  4. Supertradmum says:

    This was behind Bismarck’s revamping of the education system and also behind Dewey’s utilitarianism. All thinkers were to be eliminated by the systematic dumbing down of education, moving from liberal arts to mere technology. Academia has been choosing the mediocre for years, as those in power chop the heads off the best by not granting them tenure.

    And, is this not what was happening from the 1950s on in seminaries, when the best and brightest were discouraged on purpose, creating the abysmal lack of leadership among bishops we see so clearly now in American and Europe?

    The process is diabolical, of course, as the evil one wants to destroy the Church, and as outside influences failed over the centuries, inside treachery is the answer. I suppose as a student of history, like yourself Fr. Z., I am not surprised by any chaos or confusion.

    Some of us who were studying theology in the late sixties saw schism in our classrooms and knew eventually there would be a Modernist and Americanist schism. I am surprised it took this long to hit Rome. Most Catholics in America and in England have been in schism in practice by not obeying or believing in Humanae Vitae. But, God promises the Church that His Holy Spirit is with her until Christ returns. This is our Faith.

    Keep blogging, Father, until our heads are cut off by stupid laws of censorship and control which are coming in a matter of time.

  5. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I see what you did there.

  6. Sword40 says:

    Message is well taken. Spooky isn’t it.
    Off to Mass (TLM) now.
    Cheers

  7. Gerard Plourde says:

    Fr. Z, you are in my prayers. May these words of St. Paul give you comfort and strength. “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2 Cor. 12: 7-10)

  8. oldcanon2257 says:

    Sounds like the ecclesiastical equivalent of Stalin’s “Great Purge”. I doubt that the purge will be limited to prelates only but will affect the entire hierarchical structure of the Church, purging the clergy of any “Wojtylian and Ratzingerian agents”, be it real or perceived.

    The case of Cardinal Burke bears some similarities to that of Cardinal Merry del Val (Secretary of State under Pope Pius X). Except that even though the then-newly elected Pope Benedict XV removed Cardinal Merry del Val as Secretary of State, he relegated him to the less powerful (but still pretty important) role of Secretary of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. On the other hand, Cardinal Burke, by all indications, might end up in exile in a purely ceremonial post.

  9. Ignatius says:

    Interesting.
    A good friend of mine, a priest of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires that acted for quite some time in an administrative position at the Conferencia Episcopal Argentina (Argentina’s Bishops Conference), said to me that the most striking difference between Card. Quarracino and Card. Bergoglio styles of management was that the former always wanted to have as auxiliaries persons of certain prominence and qualities (Aguer, Rossi, Bergoglio, etc.) who would help him to make decisions and implement them, even if these people were very different from him and among themselves; Bergoglio, on the contrary, seemed to be pleased in surrounding himself primarily with people which would not dare to object to his own pre-determined decisions.
    Best regards,
    Ignatius

  10. Muv says:

    Reminiscent of the story of the Bell of Huesca – vile stuff.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_of_Huesca

  11. msc says:

    I somehow always think of Livy’s version (1.54; trans. Foster): “And the soldiers, seeing him ever ready to share in their dangers and hardships, and ever lavish in distributing the plunder, came to love him so devotedly that the elder Tarquinius was not more truly master in Rome than was his son in Gabii. [5] And so, when1 Sextus saw that he had acquired strength enough for any enterprise, he despatched one of his own followers to his father in Rome, to ask what the king might please to have him do, since the gods had granted that at Gabii all power in the state should rest with him alone. [6] To this messenger, I suppose because he seemed not quite to be trusted, no verbal reply was given. The king, as if absorbed in meditation, passed into the garden of his house, followed by his son’s envoy. There, walking up and down without a word, he is said to have struck off the heads of the tallest poppies with his stick. [7] Tired of asking questions and waiting for an answer, the messenger returned to Gabii, his mission, as he thought, unaccomplished. He reported what he had said himself and what he had seen. Whether from anger, or hatred, or native pride, the king, he said, had not pronounced a single word. [8] As soon as it was clear to Sextus what his father meant and what was the purport of his silent hints, he rid himself of the chief men of the state.”

    Do you really think this is what is happening?

  12. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    I can see where Cardinal Burke fits in this analogy. Who are the other actors?

  13. Gratias says:

    Let us pray that Cardinal Burke will continue to lead the way from his Knights of Malta exile. Who knows, perhaps the Knights will provide one more service to the Church.

    What is of course the greatest sadness is that Pope Benedict had to abdicate. His monastic retirement is really like the cutting off the tallest intellect. Strong forces must have been at play. However, we had a good run with Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Maybe this is a time to keep our heads down and wait them out.

  14. jfk03 says:

    The history of the Church is full of purges. One noteworthy example is St. Maximos the Confessor whose tongue was torn out and hand cut off for standing up against the Monothelite Heresy in the 7th Century. Both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople had become infected with this heresy. Maximos died in exile in 662.

    Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake! Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.

  15. ChrisRawlings says:

    Yeah, but how often does that do anything more than simply make a lot of people really, really angry? I don’t think that your analogy is what is happening in the Church, and even if it were accurate I think it would only be immensely counterproductive. People don’t take well to having unappealing things rubbed in their faces.

  16. ChrisRawlings says:

    Why is everyone applying the analogy to Cardinal Burke? The man now has more prominence and support today than ever before. That’s the problem with the analogy or at least the governing strategy it suggests. If you want to put Cardinal Burke or Cardinal Muller or anyone else “in their place,” as it were, why would you do it in a way that raises their profile and alnost liberates them from certain protocol that works against very publicly saying certain things? I ascribe no such motive to the Pope and if this was anyone else’s design, well, they’re failing. They’re failing terribly

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    Off topic… as I was walking home just now from visiting Holy Redeemer Church in Madison to get a plenary indulgence for the Holy Souls in Purgatory I was on the curb about to cross the street when a bus comes by… a big wrapped bus with some kind of political message… vote… We the People… then on the back I see: NUNS ON THE BUS. If anyone is in Madison and wants to meet them (or something) I looked it up on the internet and they are right now having an event at the Unitarian church (because isn’t that where LCWR sisters celebrate All Souls Day) right by University Hospital and tomorrow morning they will have a rally at 8:30am at the Labor Temple on South Park St. more info: http://host.madison.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/religion/in-the-spirit-nuns-on-the-bus-announce-surprise-madison/article_4d280e82-0bb4-5120-b2d0-a728b82c94de.html

    Some may remember that I attended their rally in Janesville, WI and published pictures and story and broke the story that they had a staff person employed by the Soros funded group Faith in Public Life, as the press person for Nuns on the Bus.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Ignatius says,

    Bergoglio, on the contrary, seemed to be pleased in surrounding himself primarily with people which would not dare to object to his own pre-determined decisions.

    Your name explains it. Jesuits are trained to seek God’s will in daily examen–not in consultation with others. Of course, the question is whether, in light of the influence of Rahner et al in their intellectual formation, they find God’s will or merely are left with false certitude of their own.

  19. lsclerkin says:

    kinda like building a pagan shrine on top of a holy place. Marks it forever. As a holy place. Or holy man.

    The intent by the pagans was to destroy and while out their enemy.
    Instead, they marked/identified a holy place/person forever.
    So there. :)

  20. Siculum says:

    I have good news. Amazon finally reports that my copies of the 5 Cardinals books are truly en route, and now about 50 miles away from my house. I ordered those things back in September.

  21. TNCath says:

    Well put, Fr. Z. I’m afraid there will be more heads to roll in the coming year.

  22. marcelus says:

    Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:
    2 November 2014 at 4:57 pm
    I can see where Cardinal Burke fits in this analogy. Who are the other actors?

    Surely the villain here is the Pope. The man with the cycle .

    I do not agree however but. …

    When I see Crdl Forte as Prefect of the CDF and Kasper in the Rota, I will start to believe.

    Menatime, portraying the Holy Father .(who is saying that???) as out headhunting is not proper , though we are all entitled to think what we may.

    I still think it was maybe his temper’? that led the good Crdl to aim at the Pope. This to some ,has been what they were waiting all along, to others, some shoulder raising thing and still others, with or without a right and /or obligation if any at all, think it has been unnecessary and willin the end bring about more problems than benefits to the trads.

  23. I don’t think a purge of the orthodox would be possible right now; believe it or not, the orthodox still hold lots of power in the church, especially if they choose to speak up. They may not hold controlling power, but they still are too numerous and influential to marginalize. They may not be steering the ship right now, but they certainly could scuttle it if provoked. There simply are far too many active bishops and cardinals appointed by St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to attempt a purge today.

  24. Lin says:

    If it is true that JPII and Benedict XVI appointed so many active cardinals, please advise how it was that Cardinal Bergolio was elected pope? Having just returned from a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, and having been told that Mary’s Immaculate Heart will prevail in this screwed up world, I would not be a bit surprised if Father Z’s theory is correct. Whether you believe Mary is appearing there or not, it is an amazing experience to spend some time in Medjugorje. Masses are overflowing, confessionals have long lines, and attendance at the daily rosary and adoration in St. James church are also overflowing. We need our priests to end each sermon recommending confession and making it more readily available. The end is near for all of us. Pray and fast!

  25. Supertradmum says:

    Just a thought or two: could not part of the chaos be a result of all of our sins?

    And, two, should we not, instead of dwelling in negativity, (and I do not mean you Fr. Z as you are a priest of faith), pray that this pope really listens to the Holy Spirit and if need be, changes into a real leader?

    My faith is in God, not people.

  26. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Of course , the prominent men of Thrasybulus of Miletus’ era, did not receive the promise that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against” their ideals . But, nobody said that some good people weren’t going to receive the occasional unfair (may we say ‘unwarranted’) butt kicking or get slapped around either.

    Let’s not imagine that Cardinal , er, I mean,a “prominent man” we hold in dear esteem would somehow be immune to such treatment, which almost seems par for the course in Church history – right from the get-go:

    “But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
    persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed ; . . . ”
    (Don’t you just love those resilient wheat stocks and poppies with the rubber necks ?)

    That being said, one is still left to wonder whether there is anything more hurtful to the faithful than a persecution which appears to come from the inside (lets leave an emphasis on “appears” for the moment).

    Perhaps a spelling adjustment is in order , to help us preserve the memory of that particular Synod (I’m thinking maybe Synodd) ? At the very least, we’ve all been given ample proof of just what a snarling monster the media can turn into when it resorts to reporting with ulterior motives, ultimately distorting and manipulating the truth – almost beyond recognition at times.

    I don’t remember ever following a synod so closely before, or ever being so disappointed. It began as a workhorse, the enemy strategically placed a couple of burrs under the saddle , several media media characters of the more shady variety subsequently donned their sharpest pair of spurs , gave a couple of kicks . . . and before we knew it, there was a runaway horse that didn’t even resemble a horse any more , with 10 sets of reins – being pulled in 15 different directions . ( I see “weird” some mornings when I look in the mirror , but what transpired at that synod even outdid my best personal “weird”) .

    All of which suggests the best thing we can be doing is praying for both Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke- maybe even doubling our efforts.

    While the general aimless were moaning in public about how the Synod (read: certain conservative Cardinals) had let Pope Francis down, National Catholic Register (I think I’m becoming a little more paranoid- after I had just typed “National Catholic Re” – I wondered which letter would come next a “g” or a “p”, then I proceeded to freak out and lost all my salt and light, and subsequently had to go and change) published a more balanced expression of a similarly titled theme, written from a much more sound perspective – entitled “Eleven Ways The Synod Failed Pope Francis’ Vision.” Amidst all the doubt , maybe we should still leave alittle room for the “benefit of the doubt” (emphasis on “maybe”).
    (I apologize if a link to this article has already been posted in the blog.)

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/11-ways-the-synod-failed-pope-francis-vision/

  27. The Masked Chicken says:

    “All thinkers were to be eliminated by the systematic dumbing down of education, moving from liberal arts to mere technology. Academia has been choosing the mediocre for years, as those in power chop the heads off the best by not granting them tenure.”

    I cannot buy this contrast between the liberal arts and technology. Music may have gone off the rails, but classical musicians are playing at the highest level of competence in history. 300 people apply for one faculty position in the sciences and they are expected to have at least 50 published papers on their resume (50 in a year or one per week is even better).

    What we are seeing in education is exactly paralleled with what we are seeing in economics in the West: a, “creaming,” of society dividing it into the 1% and the 99%. Obviously, the 1% are neither dumbed down or impoverished, but given every advantage. The push to cut off the heads of those near the upper echelons are very high. The masses are given bread and circuses.

    To put this bluntly, at least in education, it is nearly impossible to stop a man from learning if he really wants to learn. The problem is that few really want to learn, because learning is hard. We have been inculcated with a, “psychology of ease,” that believes that all difficulties vanish before the commercial break. That was not due to Dewey or Bismark or Galton. It was due to the acceptance of a lie – that a pseudoscientific explanation should trump common sense.

    The liberal arts, where they are not competency-based, are in a mess. Popular music is a mess because of the morality of the musicians, not because they cannot play the instrument. Literature is, similarly, in a mess because of the screwed-up moral leanings of writers (you should read some of the free books in the mystery or sci-fi sections on iTunes or Amazon to see how morally infantile the general public is). The degradation in education, today, in large measure, is a result of the degradation in the moral attitudes of the learners. Let me repeat that: the degradation in education, today, is the result of the degradation in the moral life caused by the elevation of suspect and unproven pseudoscientific theories of psychology to the status of not only a science of living, but even a religion, creating its own concepts of sin and salvation.

    In a proper moral climate, St. Paul’s words in Phillipians 4: 8 are acknowledged:

    “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

    It is when morals decay that the unthinkable becomes thinkable and the easy answer becomes the true answer. Why were there not rioting in the streets when contraception was first suggested? It was because it was sold with pseudoscience as being the right thing to do. Protestants bought into this much earlier than the Church, but it was the subtle change in the moral anthropology of man that preceded Vatican II whereby temptation was redefined as mere psychological impulses, that made contraception sound plausible – who wouldn’t want to satisfy a mere impulse, especially if psychologists said it was okay – a sacrament, even. So, contraception went on to become a bastardized sacrament and just like receiving Communion at daily Mass, it was seen as a path to personal fulfillment.

    Make no mistake, we could get put of this mess if we wanted to, but a lot of people would have to have cold light thrown on their dark sciences. In the end, it has been a change in the understanding of man that has been at the root of this mess. Vatican II railed against it, but did nothing to hold the line. Now, the ship is so far out to sea that only the loudest fog horns are heard.

    The Chicken

  28. Sonshine135 says:

    There is an old saying Fr. Z, “It is always darkest before the dawn.” As I have taken time to digest what is happening in our church, and I cannot fear what is happening. As an avid hiker, I have to climb difficult trails on the mountain sometimes before I can see in the breath-taking view from the top. This difficult time we are experiencing is an edification for people like Cardinal Burke. While I wish no ill will on our current Pontiff, and in fact, pray he has a long, healthy, and successful pontificate; I believe Cardinal Burke or one like him will be Pope one day. I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide our church. I also am blessed to have Priests, and in particular, a young Priest who speaks truth with clarity and authority. He is reinvigorating my love for the church and its teachings. All it takes is for small fires such as this to break out and the flames fanned for it to become a roaring inferno.

    Funny thing about chopping the head off of the tallest ear of wheat- there is always another ear waiting to grow that tall.

  29. John of Chicago says:

    The Japanese version of Thrasybulus: “The nail that pokes its head up gets hammered down.”

    The responses to the interim and final Synod on the Family reports may be good examples. Just who one thinks is wielding the hammer/sword and who is getting wacked on the head “depends on whose ox is being gored.” (Another useful old proverb. From Exodus, maybe?)

  30. MikeJDP says:

    Have faith and put your trust in the Lord.

    “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    Upon this rock: The words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews which our Lord made use of, were the same as if he had said in English, Thou art a Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church. So that, by the plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock, upon which the church was to be built: Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same. Where also note, that Christ, by building his house, that is, his church, upon a rock, has thereby secured it against all storms and floods, like the wise builder, St. Matt. 7. 24, 25

    The gates of hell: That is, the powers of darkness, and whatever Satan can do, either by himself, or his agents. For as the church is here likened to a house, or fortress, built on a rock; so the adverse powers are likened to a contrary house or fortress, the gates of which, that is, the whole strength, and all the efforts it can make, will never be able to prevail over the city or church of Christ. By this promise we are fully assured, that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatsoever shall at any time prevail over the church of Christ.

  31. Kathleen10 says:

    Not being a cradle Catholic but a convert, I am way behind on understanding Catholic issues behind the scene, which many of you have such an admirable grasp of. The Baptist Church is what we attended, and that sensibility, I guess, has stayed with me, even though I am in full alignment with Catholicism and love it so. These times are more than unusual, they seem a tribulation. You can see it everywhere, Satan is having his way. The way Pope Benedict XVI abdicated, all that has happened since. We are being sifted like wheat. Somehow this all fits into God’s plan for us.
    If the tallest poppies get cut down, it is left to the much smaller poppies to stand as tall as they can. We can’t expect the tall poppies to do everything and take all the hits.

  32. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Supertradmum and Grumpy Beggar,

    Amen to your sentiments. We should pray unceasingly for the Pope and all the Church with the assurance of Our Lord that we are never abandoned. “upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against It.” (Matt 16:18. Douay Translation)

  33. marcelus says:

    I do not think it appropiate to speak of purge. Again we are going in the wrong direction.

  34. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Supertradmum and Grumpy Beggar,

    Amen to your sentiments. We should pray unceasingly for the Pope and all the Church with the assurance of Our Lord that we are never abandoned. “upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against It.” (Matt 16:18. Douay Translation)

    Amen to your “Amen” Gerard Plourde.

    This same message was brought home to me somewhat poignantly once more earlier today, right at the time I was visiting a cemetery to gain the (God-willing , plenary) indulgence for the holy souls. I had just come from Mass – where we had already prayed for the Holy Father’s intentions this morning . . . But, it struck me that if I were to personally make an effort at being a little more prudent about how I express my concern regarding the way things are run (or runny) at the top, while not ignoring the obvious, I might be doing our holy Catholic Church (which is holy , but made up of sinners) a better service.

    We already see/recognize some indicators of division. And my dear old dad used to say that Satan’s MO is always the same – “divide and conquer” . I think I was being reminded to make sure ( – only speaking solely for myself here ) I don’t become an unwitting instrument which aids or abets in that process. One verse we used to pray from the Penitential Rite in the previous version of the Roman Missal was: ” Lord Jesus, you heal the wounds of sin and division, Christ have mercy.” The practical implications of that one, to me personally, can , on occasion be a little daunting. I sometimes get to wondering if my own guardian Angel were permitted to converse with me, whether his counsel to me might’ve eventually ended up as being reduced to the same 4-word mantra which he would repeat to me over and over again : “Pray more, moan less.” : )
    God Bless .

    @ The Masked Chicken : Thanks for a very compelling piece . There is a lot of wisdom and inspiration in there for some of us who are musicians. Your post also expounds upon what the CCC [1869] confirms – that structures of sin are nothing but the product of personal sin ; and that sin makes us accomplices of one another.
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm

    The “psychology of ease” cannot be anything but a reality today , given that it feeds on the goal of individual instant self-gratification.

    The contraception and even the abortion mentality ,as you intimate, are not really saying , “Tell us contraception and abortion are fine , are our right and are our prerogative” , they’re saying “Tell us it’s good and wholesome for us to have sex any time we want, with whomever we want, however we want .. . . how many times we want . . . we want . . .we want . . .yada yada yada.”

    For all the fuzzy intentions that appeared to be floating around at the synod regarding divorced and remarried Catholics, they may have overlooked one crucial point, that is, if the outspoken opinion of a deacon friend of mine is on the mark – and he usually doesn’t miss ; substantiating his propositions with facts and figures: He told me several years ago that he’s convinced the leading cause (not the only cause) of divorce among Catholics – is not so much that they rushed into something before they knew what they were doing , it is because the majority of them (who divorced) were practicing contraception. If we consider the damage contraception does to the unitive dimension of marital life while it thwarts the generative , it makes perfect sense, in a very sad sort of a way. Still, despite the fact that this friend consults with a lot of confessors, one would be tempted to imagine that exact figures on that particular aspect might prove difficult to compile – right. . . ? What are they going to do – hold a poll for all married Catholics ? Set up a little booth just outside the church as they’re coming in to Mass and just pop the question: “Excuse me, we’re trying to get a general feel for things here : Do you and your spouse practice contraception ?” (. . . speaking of having one’s head cut off ).

    As difficult as that might appear, there is a more than plausible consensus from those pastors who really care that a significant number of (ahem) “practicing” Catholics, are also “practicing” contraception.
    An excerpt from Bishop James Conley’s letter earlier this year on contraception:

    ” Tragically, a majority of people in our culture and even in our Church, have used contraception. Much of the responsibility for that lies in the fact that too few have ever been exposed to clear and consistent teaching on the subject. But the natural consequences of our culture’s contraceptive mentality are clear.”

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/pat-archbold/dont-misread-bishop-conleys-letter-on-contraception

    It could be mentioned that, from a post conciliar (Vatican II) perspective, Blessed Paul VI spoke out to definitively hold the line with Humane Vitae , and Saint John Paul II , ate , breathed, preached, and amplified that definitive teaching all the way to his grave , going so far as to bluntly and graphically define its antithesis which we were (are) living in as the Culture of Death. But what happened subsequently? A lot of people selectively stuck their fingers in their ears and said , “We believe.”