Good summary and analysis of @DouthatNYT v. @MassimoFaggioli

Last week I attended an event at Jesuit-run Fordham University (hereafter F.U.), billed as a debate between Ross Douthat of the NYT (aka Hell’s Bible) and uber-lib Massimo “Beans” Faggioli of Augustinian-run Villanova (a committed “New catholic Red Guard”), about the state of the Church after 5 years of the papacy of Pope Francis.   The two have in the past engaged on Twitter.  Their positions differ starkly.  Ross is right.  “Beans”… not so much.

I was going to write about it more at length than I did, but I figured someone else would.  I was not disappointed.

At NRO, Tim Rice summed up the event.

Where Is the Catholic Church Headed?
In a debate, Ross Douthat and Massimo Faggioli discussed Pope Francis’s legacy and its effect on internal Church
controversies.

[…]

In his opening remarks, Douthat laid out three criteria that can be used to evaluate Francis’s papacy thus far: his impact on the public’s perception of the Church (a success); his attempts at reforming the Vatican bureaucracy (a disappointment); and his position on “moral-theological controversies,” specifically, communion for the divorced and remarried (a problem).

Faggioli, meanwhile, outlined a genuinely surprising position. Rather than making a straightforward case for why Pope Francis has changed the Church for the better, Faggioli rejected the possibility of evaluating his papacy in terms of “continuity” with past popes, since doing so would assume that “Christianity at some point . . . was complete,” which Faggioli does not think is true.

While I emphatically disagree with this argument, I have to hand it to Faggioli: From the outset, he made clear that he was not planning to debate Douthat on the implications of the Francis papacy. [The topic of the event.] Instead, through a combination of rhetorical tricks and soft-peddled Hegelianism, he would completely redefine the role and nature of the Catholic Church.

During the crux of the debate — the discussion of communion for the divorced and remarried — Faggioli raised his most theologically unsettling point. To defend his position that remarried persons should be able to receive communion, Faggioli invoked the case of Germany, where 50 percent of Catholic marriages end in divorce.

For Faggioli, the implication is that at least 50 percent of German Catholic children never see their parents receive communion and lose their faith because of it. This, he says, is “bad for evangelization,” and in order to keep the pews full, the Church’s role should not be to deny communion to the divorced and remarried, but instead to ask, “What can the Catholic Church do to make the faithful able to receive sacraments?” [What leapt to my mind when I heard Faggioli’s shocking proposal was John 6, wherein the Lord teaches hard truths and people leave.  He didn’t say, “Hey! Wait! I take it back!”  The same Lord wondered if, when He returned, He would find faith. (Luke 18:18).  Faggioli rightly laments the empty pews.  But we cannot break doctrine for the sake of mere numbers.  No wonder he attacks the categories of “continuity and discontinuity”, hallmarks of how Ratzinger/Benedict sees the aftermath of Vatican II.]

This is a lovely suggestion, and one that I’m not entirely unsympathetic to. However, the fact remains that Faggioli is suggesting the Church do much more than provide sacraments to the faithful. Just before invoking the German case, Faggioli characterized the country as one of the most secular in the world. But rather than lamenting what secularism has wrought on marital life in Germany, reasserting the Church’s position on marriage, and insisting that the faithful strive to live according to her laws, Faggioli argues that the Church ought to bend to the will of secular society.

It should be clear to anyone, not just practicing Catholics, that this is absurd. If the Church exists simply to accommodate the whims and failures of secular modernity, then what is the point of the Church? Pope Benedict XVI has warned  against precisely the kind of “accommodation” Faggioli is calling for, writing that when “the people cannot cope” with God, they “bring him down into their own world,” and insist that “he must be the kind of God that [they need].” In other words, “Man is using God, and, in reality, even if it is not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God.” To fully drive the point home, Benedict equates this kind of worship with the Israelites desert worship of the bull calf. [That’s it.  The Golden Calf.  “They said to [Aaron]: Make us gods, that may go before us: for as to this Moses, who brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is befallen him.”]

Unsurprisingly, this progressive interpretation of Catholic doctrine eventually reveals itself to be rank historicism. Throughout the debate, Faggioli drew out the argument that allowing the remarried to receive communion would not represent a radical change in doctrine but a return to the teachings of the Gospel[And 2+2=5!]

Eventually, Douthat drew his argument to its logical conclusion with this question: Were priests throughout history in fact misleading their divorced and remarried parishioners by telling them they could not receive communion? After a few seconds’ pause, Faggioli gave the only answer he could: “There are different responses to the same question in different times.”

Throughout their conversation, both Douthat and Faggioli repeatedly observed that the debate over Pope Francis and the future of the Church is carried on primarily among Catholic intellectuals, unbeknownst to most of “the flock.”

[NOTA BENE] It strikes me, however, that everybody — Catholic or not — has a dog in this fight, which is about more than communion and canon law. At its core, this debate is about truth and our ability to judge right from wrong. Could we possibly say, for instance, that it’s impossible to judge the presidency of Donald Trump relative to past presidents? Of course not — that would be preposterous, as I’m sure Faggioli would agree.

To pass moral judgements on papacies, presidencies, or anything else, we must have recourse to truth, and to the institutions that have upheld this truth for centuries. Whether in the Church or in the academy, we must resist this dangerous historicist impulse. If we don’t, we will find ourselves, in the words of Pope Benedict, in “a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.

— Tim Rice is a policy analyst living in Brooklyn.

Fr. Z kudos to Mr. Rice for his succinct and accurate summary.

 

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30 Responses to Good summary and analysis of @DouthatNYT v. @MassimoFaggioli

  1. Sawyer says:

    “There are different responses to the same question in different times.” — Massimo Faggioli

    “What is truth?” — Pontius Pilate

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It’s amazing how many people think that they know better than Jesus Christ.

    Also, I’m glad that Fazoli’s hands out cheap breadsticks. But it seems that Faggioli’s ideal church would hand out cheap grace, cheap Communion, and cheap lies. Still, eventually the bill comes, and you pay for it with your soul….

    [Well done. Good Bonhoeffer reference.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. frjimt says:

    I hope you wore your biretta & cassock to the event (w/out your crucifix, holy water & ritual for exorcism)!

    [Of all the things to bring, the holy water and crucifix are the last to omit! Brrrrr…. it was creepy. I’m old-fashioned in regard to clerical garb out and around. I rarely go out and about in these USA in a cassock. I guess I absorbed that from my old mentors who followed the laws laid down by the Council of Baltimore. Cassock in church or on the grounds. Suit out and about. Some younger clerics are using the cassock when out and about. That’s fine. But I on;y do that occasionally, for example, when I am heading to a Mass and I just have to go from the garage in my car to the event.]

  4. Ultrarunner says:

    “In order to keep the pews full, the Church’s role should not be to deny communion to the divorced and remarried,” and yet the German Church has no problem denying communion to those who don’t contribute to keeping the Church’s financial coffers full through enforcement of the Kirchensteuer. If the Catholic Church in Germany wants to increase church attendance, a good place to start would be to lift the penalty of practical excommunication attached to German Catholics who opt out of the German Church tax.

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    Faggioli argues that the Church ought to bend to the will of secular society

    This, quite exactly, is the Americanist Heresy.

  6. Alexander says:

    Hegelianism, historicism, modernism – same difference. Isn’t Faggioli just using one heresy to defend another? Or more accurately, defending a heresy with more of the same heresy?

  7. LarryW2LJ says:

    I’ve posted this quote here and other places. It is fast becoming my favorite words to live by. I found it on the whyImcatholic.com site. It was written by Whitney Belprez, an agnostic who found God and became Catholic. She writes:

    “Trust and obey. Always. Because He is God ….. and I am not.”

    Those words are gold! And as suburbanbanshee alluded to, there are WAY too many people out there willing to take on a role that they are not qualified for and can’t handle.

  8. Imrahil says:

    Dear Ultrarunner,

    once again:

    There is no such thing as opting out of the German Church-tax. The German Church-tax is automatically collected from all Catholics.

    The German Church quite justly applies the penalty of practical excommunication to those who commit the crime of schism by declaring, in a public statement with stamp and signature, that they are not any longer Catholic.

    As we all agree that one must not do evil that good may come of it (nor for any other reason), it is quite immaterial what the motive for such schism is.

    (Still, if you’re interested, the misguided believer who does think there is an “opting out” and does not want to pay to these Church officials is a rare oddball. Reasons for “leaving the Church” usually are genuine unbelief or at least include genuine indifference to the Faith and practicing it. Specifically where “in order to keep the pews full” is concerned – whatever we think of other measures to the same effect – the practical excommunication we are talking about here with statistially negligible exceptions only concerns those who wouldn’t show up in said pews anyway.)

  9. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    Faggioli’s behavior shows that many people of the left like Faggioli are being deceitful when they plead for “dialogue,” even though they constantly insist on it.

    And his behavior here is post-Catholic, like the behavior of Fordham’s leadership, and the behavior of what Austin Ivereigh calls “Team Bergoglio.”

    They are all the spawn of their mentor Cardinal Kasper, who DISBELIEVES in the Catholic faith, to wit:

    “The God who sits enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offense to Man.” (Kasper, God in History, 1969). This is an outright rejection of St. James the Apostle (James 1: 17) and the Council of Nicea, which, actually being Catholic, condemned what a Kasper writes as heresy.

    Kasper also denies the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ power over nature and death, he calls the miracle accounts “legends.” (Kasper, Jesus the Christ, 1974, pp 90-91; reissued in 2011, without change in this denial). Kasper gives examples of what he denies: the calming of the attorney at sea; the feeding of the 5000; the Transfiguration; and the raising of the widow’s son, the daughter of Jairus and Lazarus. “Legends” writes Kasper.

    His “theology” is promoted by Pope F, so it is logical to conclude Pope F, and Faggioli and the rest of Ivereigh’s “Team Bergoglio” shares the same DISBELIEFS with Kasper.

    These men are post-Catholic.

  10. Aquinas Gal says:

    Ah, Villanova. Besides Faggioli, they employ Katie Grimes, assistant professor of theological ethics. Her favorite “theologian” is rapper Tupac Shakur, and she thinks Thomas Aquinas would certainly promote same-sex “marriage” if he were alive today. Sad but true she is teaching young minds there… A couple years ago Rod Dreher wrote some columns about her “theology.” How to destroy the Church through catholic “education.”

  11. chantgirl says:

    Chris in Maryland 2- The Calming of the Attorney at Sea sounds like it would be a good Gilbert and Sullivan tune to me ;)

    Seriously, though, you bring up a good point. We are trying to have dialogue with people who do not believe what the Church teaches. I long for the day when the dissenters admit what we have known all along, that they are lapsed Catholics because they don’t believe. I would just love some actual honesty.

  12. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    I know…pesky, stupid dumb phone autocorrect occasionally inserts humorous stuff.

    I agree that these people like Faggioli are disbelievers, and they are trying to get away with pretending otherwise.

    We are witnessing the rapid revelation of grand scale decay and degeneration in the Francis-Kirk. It was always there, now it just wants to take over.

    I refuse to sit by and let it happen. These men, from Francis on down, are post-Catholic. I will never entrust my children to them. They are pied pipers. The only “spirit” that guides them is the zeitgeist.

  13. sibnao says:

    Those pesky pews. They demand to be filled with rear ends, don’t they? If you have pews, their demands are more important than truth, God’s will, and consistency. Your pews require rear ends; they have no opinion whatsoever on the piety of the people perched above them, and in fact seem to say that if the rear ends are there, the pastors have done their jobs!

    News flash to pastors: every last pew could be filled and you might still be failing miserably at your job.

    I think we need a new term: Numerism. The heresy by which we judge the goodness, rightness, fitness, or holiness of anything based on how many people show up.

  14. The Masked Chicken says:

    In, Captain America: Civil War, Sharon Carter gives the eulogy at her great-aunt’s funeral (Peggy Carter, one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D.). What her aunt told her niece about how to live amidst the many, many different pulls of the world is highly relevant to this debate. The younger Carter said:

    “She had a photograph in her office: Aunt Peggy standing next to JFK. As a kid that was pretty cool. But it was a lot to live up to, which is why I never told anyone we were related…I asked her once how she managed to master diplomacy and espionage at a time when no one wanted to see a woman succeed at either. And she said, ‘Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No, you move’.'”

    J. Michael Strazinsky puts the words in Captain America’s mouth in the comics (actually, in The Amazing Spider-Man, but Captain America is visiting during the Marvel Civil War), but the actual quote comes from Mark Twain. According to the librarian Ann Litz,

    “It’s from “Glances at History (suppressed.) Date, 9th century,” a manuscript in the Mark Twain Papers at the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, CA. I have been unable to pinpoint when it was written, but it was first published long after his death, in “Mark Twain’s Fables of Man” by the University of California Press in 1972.

    It more recently appeared on page 88 in “The Bible According to Mark Twain” (Touchstone/University of Georgia Press, 1996).”

    The full quote is:

    ‘In a republic, who is the country?
    Is it the government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the government is merely a temporary servant: it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. It’s function is to obey orders, not originate them.
    Who, then is the country? Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it, they have not command, they have only their little share in the command.
    In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country: In a republic it is the common voice of the people each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak.
    It is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians.
    Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man.
    To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.
    If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have your duty by yourself and by your country. Hold up your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.
    This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world–
    –No,you move.”

    This century will be marked by and mankind will live or die by the contest for the true waters of the river of truth. Christ is the vine; we are the branches, but every branch must be watered by the same water that flows from the vine if they are to survive. If that water becomes contaminated on its journey from the vine to the branches, then it has become a poison masquerading as sustenance and what will happen to the branches of the vine that sip of the deadly drink?

    Faggioli is a poor chemist, for he doesn’t realize that true water never changes its formula, even if it finds different uses, from time to time. Water never adds or subtracts an oxygen atom, for that would turn H2O into H2O2, which is to turn the most life-giving liquid into a deadly fluid – hydrogen peroxide, which will bubble and burn and render useless any organism. Water cannot be one thing at one time and another thing at another time. Indeed, if the composition of water is immune to the vagaries of popular sentiments, how much more is the composition of that which is a true marriage immune to attempts to redefine it. Indeed, to attempt to redefine it is to turn it from a source of life and peace to a potion that bubbles, burns, and excites the secret furies of a man and a woman.

    Where one plants oneself – that is the test of a man, of a culture, of a Church. How many people throughout history have mistaken the easy agreement of their passions for the cool invigorating waters of truth?

    How long ago has it been (and it has been a long time) since the Church, the sommelier of the life-giving waters, has looked society in the eyes and said, “No. You move.”

    Even now, Western civilization stands before the chief Chemist, awaiting its final exam. There is only one question on the test: what was the composition of the water by which you planted yourself.

    It is really easy to be a martyr. One simply has to know true water when he tastes it.

    So many in the Church, today, alas, do not remember what water tastes like or, even worse, are willing to add a pinch, here, or remove a jot, there, to season the water to taste.

    The difference between the true Faith and a faith seasoned to taste is the difference between trying to transubstantiate wine and whine. Yes, a little difference can turn the 23 psalm into the 23 salami. Perhaps, Prof. Faggioli should think on these things.

    The Chicken

  15. tamranthor says:

    My issue with the homosexualists is not that I fear anyone. Once one fears God, there is no other fear. And yet the continue to call us “homophobes.”

    They hope to instill this fear, because by it they believe they can wrest control of Catholicism away from God himself by forcing us to make changes. What they do not see is that, once changed, they no longer have Catholicism. They will have remade the Church in their own (heretical, sinful) image.

    And as I recall, Jesus mentioned that would be pretty much impossible.

    I might be angry, too, if I felt my sin was so great I could not be a full member of God’s Church. But then, every time I commit a mortal sin, I put myself precisely in that position. The difference is that I am willing to set aside my “need” for that particular sin and come back to Him with all my heart. I do not believe the homosexualists are willing to put aside the least sin for that end; first the sin of homosexual sex, and second the sin of calumny toward those who tell them it is a sin, and third the desire to demolish the Church, which is the ultimate end of their fevered dreams.

    Not sure how to fix this issue, but I suspect prayer and humility are the same two, powerful tools to employ.

  16. Ultrarunner says:

    In his 2016 book, “Benedict XVI, The Last Conversations”, the German Pope Emeritus noted that divorced and remarried Catholics routinely receive communion, and same-sex marriages are increasingly being blessed in the Church, while those who opt-out from the church tax, are treated as if they are guilty of “heresy, apostasy, schism”.

    “Indeed I have serious doubts about the fairness of the system as it is…I do not mean that there should not be a church tax, but the automatic excommunication of those who do not pay, is not sustainable, I think.”

    Over 200,000 German Catholics opted out of the Kirchensteuer in 2015 alone. Numbers of this magnitude do not represent “rare oddballs” or “statistically negligible exceptions”. In years which find scandal in the German Church, opt-out numbers peak.

    Half of all marriages in Germany end in divorce. Providing communion and blessings for those in “irregular relationships” represents a corruption of the sacraments, but has the direct effect of mollifying the significant portion of the German tax base in those relationships. Denying sacraments to those who opt out of a tax represents the obverse of that particular Church tax policy coin, and keeps billions of dollars flowing to the German Church every year upon pain of spiritual death. This carrot and stick approach serves to raise vast sums for the German Church at the expense of the Church’s supreme mission; the salvation of souls.

    The lengthy case involving retired German theologian Hartmut Zapp represents the landmark legal decision in this matter and is an excellent primer on the plight of faithful Catholics who wish to opt out of paying the tax while seeking to remain faithful members of the Church.

  17. Imrahil says:

    Dear Ultrarunner,

    two points:

    1. The question of the justice and appropriateness of the Church tax, per se, and also the justice of its automatic collection (leaving those who would like to “opt out” no option to do so other than declare themselves schismatic) are topics rather different from how, once the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater, to treat the schismatic in question.

    2. I have no right that you read what I wrote, but if you do quote me, please look at the context. When I spoke about “statistically negligible minorities” and “rare oddballs”, I did not mean those who left the Church. I meant those among them who do so despite being practicing believers: and they are perhaps one in ten thousand. So, I stick to what I said, though not to what you read into it.

    3. The “lengthy Zapp case” boils down to Zapp’s misreading of a rather unmistakable Papal document (which says that schism does not include what was then important as actus formalis, but which did not abolish can. 1364).

  18. OldProfK says:

    Regarding Mr. Faggioli’s claim, I believe the noted philosopher G. Gloinson said it best:

    “The words of this wizard stand on their heads.”

  19. AA Cunningham says:

    “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Luke 12:57

  20. JabbaPapa says:

    Imrahil :

    1. The question of the justice and appropriateness of the Church tax, per se

    To find yourself excluded from the Sacraments from not having paid some sums of money de facto constitutes Simony, no matter how some Germans might want to spin it.

    Our obligation to contribute the the welfare of the Church and of our churches and parishes and dioceses and monasteries etc is a personal moral and religious obligation, but it is enforceable only by Faith, not by the factious laws of men.

    It is sinful to refuse contributing financially to the Church of course, but it is most certainly NOT any “justification” for the revival of the mediaeval penalty of minor excommunication.

  21. Imrahil says:

    Dear JabbaPapa,

    whatever about “de facto simony”, let it be noted that one of the big points about simony in the Middle Ages when that problem (because it arose) was extensively dealt with was that it must not, under any circumstances, be “de jure simony”.

    The penalty in this case is not for withholding the tax but for stating “I am not a Roman Catholic” in public with stamp and signature. Can someone please, please tell me how in all the world that latter thing is not an excommunicable offense?

    As for that,

    Our obligation to contribute the the welfare of the Church and of our churches and parishes and dioceses and monasteries etc is a personal moral and religious obligation,but it is enforceable only by Faith

    this is quite right, if not in a particular situation the law of the Church says otherwise. There is, however, nothing in Divine or natural law that would forbid the Church – if she does so by ecclesiastical law given by the competent authorities – to determine what, under this title, is rightfully hers, and give her some other weapon than appeal to the conscience to get it.

    The Church is not a toothless lioness.

    (The idiom, I don’t know if its also an English one, has “tiger”, but I thought comparison with a lioness would suit better.)

  22. JabbaPapa says:

    Imrahil :

    … for stating “I am not a Roman Catholic” in public with stamp and signature

    hmmmm, that is a good point, even though this would seem to be true only in cases where you have previously paid your Church tax and seek to stop doing so ; first time tax payers would not need to make such a statement, just leave the “church tax” section blank in their application for a tax ID (though obviously this would then create an obligation to contribute to their parishes and dioceses through some other means).

    The whole business is anyway quite imperfect …

    Can someone please, please tell me how in all the world that latter thing is not an excommunicable offense?

    Because it’s not a formal apostasy, but it’s a sin of lying to the tax authorities for purposes of material gain. Which is not an excommunicable offense.

    OK, it’s certainly a mortal sin, given that it clearly constitutes “bearing false witness against thy neighbour“, for indeed this lying to the tax authorities does material harm against the Church (and in several ways, not just the financial) ; but then if these tax dodgers are to be punished by exclusion from the Sacraments for a reason of being considered as in a permanent state of mortal sin for as long as they continue to dodge this tax, then in that case how is it OK for those in situations of permanent adultery to be given access to the Sacraments in those very same churches ?

    You’re quite right anyway that it’s not simony de jure.

  23. Imrahil says:

    Dear JabbaPapa,

    I did not say apostasy. It is quite true that a sizeable portion of these people, perhaps the majority (but not all or virtually all of them) still identify as Christians, which would clear them of apostasy. Also, though most of them don’t believe all the Church teaches, without any public statement in doctrinal matters we cannot talk about the crime (and can only speculate on the sin) of heresy.

    I said “schism” which is defined as “refusing [in general] to submit to the Pope or hold community with the rest of the members of the Church submitted to the Pope”. Who declares that he leaves the Catholic Church does precisely that.

    And if he lied? Well, as any decent man he is treated, until the contrary be proven (or at least strongly suspected) as if he told the truth; and with the exception of a few cases having a publicity in orthodox and especially non-German orthodox Church cirles far exceeds their numbers, he actually does tell the truth. They do really refuse to submit (though the fact that if they actually refuse to submit to Church authority by action, they save money, may be a trigger to refuse to submit to Church authority by action, rather than simply ignoring it which they would otherwise do.

    And besides, all those Christians who fell away in the Roman persecutions, did they suddenly find faith in the heathen gods and the divinity of the Emperor, and therefore apostatized? No, by all human probability, the great majority of them remained Christians in their heart. In their hearts, what they did do was lie to the authorities that they were law-abiding Caesar-worshipping citizens, when in reality they were Christians; the corn of incense was not meant as more than pretense. May God have mercy on them, as on us poor sinners. But it does not seem that the Church thought their action irrelevant.

    As for leaving the “Church membership” field in one’s employer’s documents, one’s tax declaration open without actually having left the Church, that’s tax evasion and is punished, possibly with up to five years imprisonment or a fine (though they would mostly get probation), and certainly with having to pay all the money back once caught, plus 6 % p. a. of punitive interest.

  24. Imrahil says:

    As for the comparion with the divorced-remarried problem:

    1. It looks nice as an argument to compare things to one another, but that one thing is wrong does not make a quite different wrong thing right.

    2. I think one has to recognize that with the divorced and remarried people, there actually is a pastoral problem, whatever the solution. There’s the new relationship, however sinful; personal entanglements, and so forth. (Which is recognized by the Church in allowing brother-sister cohabitations, in spite of their obvious temptatiousness. Now if one decides against the other to turn their pseudo-marriage into that, it can make bad blood, and so forth.) As much as we may say that this is to be born because it’s the unsinful thing to do, that sometimes morality can lead to hardships etc., there’s no denying at least that the hardships are there.

    With a tax-dodger, there is no problem at all: he simply has to reenter the Church and pay his tax. The only thing he has to bear is to have a bit less money. (And no, that doesn’t kill his family – and if it would, why then, he must apply for charity.)

    —–

    Btw. I’d like to mention the following thing. I may have seemed a defender of the Church tax in this thread; and in so far as it is attacked for what I think the wrong reasons, I am. On the whole I have not formed a decision on the matter, though, and there are some very real problems with it, which (curiously enough) I find little mentioned.

    So, I defend the Church tax when it is attacked on the grounds that the Church should not have money, because she should, or that believers wouldn’t have an obligation in morality to pay, because they do, or that they shouldn’t be forced to act on it, on the very general reason that the threat of hell (or even purgatory) is in a much heavier manner coercive than other means of coercion commonly used. “We refuse, on principle, to force you to do anything, only we say that you’ll go to Hell if you don’t, and we’ll (hopefully) go to Heaven because we do” may be position many Protestants seem to hold the very definition of “morality” (as opposed to law), but it’s not a Catholic position or at least not a position popular in Catholicdom (and not mine). (Note that this is quite different from the, indeed, frequent case that the Church has to threat with Hell because she simply has not the means to hinder the sin.)

    But there are real problems with the Church tax. One such real problems with the Church tax is this: Suppose a man has lost his faith and, consequently enough, left the Church (with the collateral bonus of saving money, but actually because he really did lose his faith). Or take a different man who never even has been baptized, such as there are now many in the East of Germany. A missionary approaches him to lead him (back, or first-time towards) the Faith. How, then does it sound to the as-yet unbeliever if he says, in effect: “Behold, I am bringing to you tidings of great joy: Christ has saved us, etc. Oh and by the way, on the practical side of it this means, among other things, that you have to pay some 2 % of your monthly income to the organization I happen to be working for.”

  25. Semper Gumby says:

    “It’s amazing how many people think that they know better than Jesus Christ.” Amen, suburbanbanshee.

    “Pope Benedict XVI has warned against precisely the kind of “accommodation” Faggioli is calling for, writing that when “the people cannot cope” with God, they “bring him down into their own world,” and insist that “he must be the kind of God that [they need].” In other words, “Man is using God, and, in reality, even if it is not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God.”” Good point Tim Rice.

    John 6 and Hard Truths indeed.

    Douthat’s book “Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics” is worth a read. Douthat boils it down to four trends:

    1.Gnosticism – and deliberately distorted biblical scholarship

    2. the Prosperity Gospel – the televangelist hucksters and preachers, some of whom have “personally written” up to two dozen “pray and get rich” books.

    3. the American Heresy – the Mormons, and those sects that believe the U.S. is a Promised Land

    4. Inner Goddess/God. This heresy is of course worldwide and not merely an American phenomenon, it is also widespread among pagans and occultists.

    Fr. Neuhaus’ book “American Babylon” is worth a read also.

    Douthat

    US HERE – UK HERE

    Neuhaus

    US HERE – UK HERE

  26. JabbaPapa says:

    Imrahil :

    I said “schism”

    I can’t see how lying to the tax authorities for purposes of reducing your tax bill might constitute formal schism, as it is hard to see how it might constitute either a “refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff” or a “refusal of of communion with the members of the Church subject to him“.

    Refusal to pay your tax is not a refusal of communion.

  27. JabbaPapa says:

    Imrahil :

    As for the comparion with the divorced-remarried problem:

    1. It looks nice as an argument to compare things to one another, but that one thing is wrong does not make a quite different wrong thing right.

    I cannot recall having described tax dodging as being “right”.

    I defend the Church tax when it is attacked on the grounds that the Church should not have money

    I cannot recall ever suggesting that the Church should not have money, nor that the Faithful might have no moral obligations to provide it.

    How, then does it sound to the as-yet unbeliever if he says, in effect: “Behold, I am bringing to you tidings of great joy: Christ has saved us, etc. Oh and by the way, on the practical side of it this means, among other things, that you have to pay some 2 % of your monthly income to the organization I happen to be working for.”

    Yes, indeed.

  28. scotus says:

    Faggioli argues that the Church ought to bend to the will of secular society.

    Ah, but which secular society? Why does it always have to be twenty-first century western secular society? What about, say, African, secular society? Should the Church bend to the whims of African secular society? If, say, monogamy, is a barrier to people joining the Church in Africa, should the Church simply accept polygamy?

  29. Imrahil says:

    Dear JabbaPapa,

    1. The sentence “I am not a Roman Catholic”, said by a Roman Catholic (in the sense of canon law, semel catholicus etc.), by logical implication includes denial of submission to the Roman Pontiff and/or communion with the members of the Church besides him.

    What it does not logically imply is “I am a Roman Catholic and refuse to pay my tax”. If you said that, the correct answer by the responsible official would be “you aren’t asked in that matter”.

    2. I did not suggest you called tax-dodging right, which is why I did not say so. My point was on the value of comparison with rather different things, and I don’t have to retract that.

    3. I didn’t suggest either that you said the Church should not have money or that the faithful shouldn’t be obliged to provide it, which, again, is why I did not say so. These suggestions, often rather veiled and all the more forceful, do come up in the discussions, so I wanted to make a start at the most extreme position. Yours was, if I recall correctly, “third in the line”, as it were: “Yes, the Church should have money, yes, people are obliged to provide it, but no, people must not be held to provide it other than by appeal to conscience”; that, again if I recall correctly, was your position. But I thought that, while I’m at it, I could also contradict those who’d say “no” to the first two.

  30. JabbaPapa says:

    Imrahil :

    1. The sentence “I am not a Roman Catholic”, said by a Roman Catholic

    I cannot see that such a sentence exists on the relevant tax form — you’re inferring something that’s not there.

    Furthermore, you have not demonstrated that the statement, when made by a practising Catholic, is anything other than a lie.

    Yours was, if I recall correctly, “third in the line”, as it were: “Yes, the Church should have money, yes, people are obliged to provide it, but no, people must not be held to provide it other than by appeal to conscience”

    erm, not quite — I suggested that a properly formed moral conscience was the only truly material means to enforce it (indeed, one with this proper manner of conscience would not seek to dodge the tax in question), and I said, of those who had never declared their “membership” of the Catholic Church that : “obviously this would then create an obligation to contribute to their parishes and dioceses through some other means“.

    And there’s —

    Can. 222 §1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.

    But also —

    Can. 213 The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments.

    Now, I’m absolutely NOT qualified to propose any sort of worthy analysis of this matter from the point of view of the Canon Law (and an analysis by a competent and qualified canonist would be quite useful IMO), but I will suggest that your notion of deliberately lying to the tax authorities in Germany constituting “schism” is about as tenuous an accusation, in canonical terms, as the attitude of the German church constituting “simony” ; in that I doubt that either accusation could be upheld de jure.