A most interesting response to Elizabeth Scalia

Over at the National Catholic Register, Steve Gredanus has a thoughtful response to Elizabeth Scalia’s apologetic for Cardinal Dolan.

He writes:

It can’t be said that there is no danger today of confusion regarding the Church’s teaching — or whether the Church’s teaching might be changing. Even in the Church, priests and religious openly campaign for changes to the Church’s teaching. Pope Francis’ famous phrase “Who am I to judge?” is misrepresented as opening the door to such change.


Third, in siding with the woman taken in adultery, Jesus went against the crowd to defend a victim in great and immediate distress. Jesus sided with a powerless, embattled person against a violent, angry mob.

Likewise, Jesus’ habit of sharing table fellowship with individuals deemed sinners was precisely a matter of welcoming the marginalized, the outcast, the powerless who had been rejected and excluded by the powerful.


When Elizabeth says “I’m not sure a bishop has a choice but to run out to meet prodigals, regardless of motivating factors,” I can’t help thinking, as advocates of the change have pointed out, that this policy shift was not something sought by parade organizers or advocated by church leaders, but something imposed on them after long resistance. Without even necessarily faulting anyone for the policy change, it can’t really be framed as a pro-active move by Catholics.

What I have been pondering since I posted Scalia’s commentary yesterday is this:  who are today’s Pharisees?

The default assumption has seemed to be to assume the Pharisees are the hardline Catholics who insist on doctrinal and moral purity and for more moderate Catholics to point a finger of admonishment at them for expressing disappointment or dismay when it seems to them their shepherds have caved to popular opinion or political correctness.

Yet I look around me and see the so-called Pharisees in the Catholic Church has a rather small, marginalized group.  While they now have access to blogs to express their concerns, some with more charity than others, in the wider scheme of things most prelates can easily ignore their complaints.  They have no power to speak of.

Were not the Pharisees of old part of the establishment, the politically-correct faction in the Judaism of the day?  They were not a beleaguered minority holding fast to the law, but had enough clout to get the crowd whipped up on their side to have Jesus crucified.

I don’t know. It’s an interesting week.  I like the example that Elizabeth Scalia has given us in terms of making a best effort to give our prelates the benefit of a doubt and to put the best possible interpretation on their actions, especially if they initially cause dismay or disappointment.



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8 Responses to A most interesting response to Elizabeth Scalia

  1. Thomas Torck says:

    We may be guilty of slothful induction if we’re not guilty of hasty generalization towards a bishop who has congratulated Muslims and manifested heterodox sentiments with regards to distributing communion to politicians who support abortion.

    In this case, this is like a father who gives the wastrel son more encouragement while he unapologetically throws money away.

    It may be the reason why we have need for “The World’s Strictest Parents”- our kids are given false compassion, the same way these prelates treat the unrepentant sinners. Not admonishment, but encouragement.

  2. EPMS says:

    Yes, Our Lord’s compassion towards sinners was often the championing of the powerless. Yet even in his parables we see the same dynamic: “Hey, I played by the rules, I bore the burden and heat of the day, I gave up everything to follow you, so obviously I deserve a bigger reward and a place of higher honour.” This point of view, the Older Brother’s point of view, is never validated.

  3. TACit no more says:

    I think possibly the wrong parable has been chosen by Ms. Scalia to apply to the St. Patrick’s Day parade situation. Cardinal Dolan’s parade quandary is more analogous to parables that depict the eventual consequences in eternity of choosing to follow God’s laws, or rejecting them, for example the parable of the seven wise and seven unwise virgins, or even that of the rich young ruler. The prodigal son eventually chose to re-consider that following God’s laws could be the right choice. The controversial group being newly permitted in the parade this year is not at that juncture yet, and we don’t know if they ever will be, collectively or individually. In the case of politically motivated activist groups that lustily promote lifestyle choices blatantly contrary to God’s revealed design for human flourishing, and set a public example of such, it should not be pre-supposed that some day hence they will see the error of their way. It seems to me that Cardinal Dolan greatly compromises any moral authority inherent in his position as a witness to truth and upholder of the Magisterium if he cannot in some way dis-associate himself from their public spectacle. Such permissiveness in the culture is what has rotted American society from at least the 1960s onward.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      TACit no more,

      You wrote: It seems to me that Cardinal Dolan greatly compromises any moral authority inherent in his position as a witness to truth and upholder of the Magisterium if he cannot in some way dis-associate himself from their public spectacle.

      Actually, the stronger statement might be if he and those in his party get up and turn their backs on the parade while the group in question passes by.


  4. EPMS says:

    This would be a PR disaster, an image/video clip endlessly recycled as exhibit 1 of Catholic anti-gay bigotry. Not to mention that Cardinal Dolan, in accepting the position of Grand Marshall, has tacitly accepted the parade as organised.

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