Sunday, January 27, 2008

Loyal Opposition? No, Just Plain Old Dissent

Coach Rick Majerus (St. Louis University basketball, who publicly proclaimed his support of abortion and embryonic stem cell research at a Hillary Clinton rally) may be a nice guy and may be a great coach, but he is not a good Catholic if he refuses to give submission of mind and will to the authentic Magisterium of the Church on matters of faith and morals. While the Archbishop of St. Louis (and the Pope for that matter) have no authority to tell him how to play basketball, ethical issues such as abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research are totally and completely under the purview of the Church and her official leaders.

One hundred and nine years ago, on January 22, 1899, Pope Leo XIII issued his encyclical Testem benevolentiae nostrae which condemned the heresy of
Americanism. This pernicious theological error proposed that there are no absolute moral principles or immutable doctrines. It held that truth was relative and that the personal conscience is the sole and supreme arbiter of ethical behavior. Americanism denied the necessity of cultivating a well formed conscience, tested and guided by the Natural Moral Law and the Divine Positive Law of God Himself.

Coach Majerus should get his money back from the Jesuits at Marquette who taught him. They did not teach him the truth. Morality is not subjective but objective. Imagine if a basketball player tells the coach he disagrees with him and will follow his conscience instead. How long will he be playing? If any player personally chooses to reject one or more of the rules of the game or if they refuse to yield to the authority of the referee, will he not be asked to leave? What about his freedom? If you want to play basketball, you agree to follow the rules, to obey the coach and to obey the officials. If you want to be a Catholic Christian, you obey the Pope and the Magisterium. Period.

Dissidents like Charles Curran, Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeeckx and Leonardo Boff paved the way for others to dissent from official church teachings. Their rebellion spawned a generation of moral and doctrinal recalcitrant miscreants. Americanism is particularly dangerous since it appeals to the patriotism found in most everyone. Trying to adapt and morph traditional morality and ethics may have made some of these clowns delude themselves it was worth the effort. Archbishop Burke and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope B16) had every right, obligation and duty to correct erroneous proposals, refute heretical teachings and to discipline the disobedient to protect and preserve the common good of the entire Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Coach Majerus is entitled to his opinions and has the freedom of speech but it is not an absolute right. He must judge his ideas against the veracity of divine revelation. All believers must embrace the teaching authority of Church, founded by Christ Himself and entrusted to Saint Peter and the Apostles and their successors, the Pope and Bishops in communion with him.

Personal liberty does not give anyone the right to deny others their inalienable human rights. Slave owners used to argue that they were free to do as they will with their own property. Sadly, they saw African-American slaves as property and not as human beings. The law of the land, thanks to the Dred Scott decision of the US Supreme Court, had been that blacks were not citizens and could never vote. Likewise, Plessy vs. Ferguson legalized racial segregation. Both were immoral, evil and sinful acts, LEGAL but WRONG. Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion but it remains a totally evil, sinful and abhorrent injustice against the innocent unborn. Nazi Germany enacted the Nuremburg Laws which legalized anti-Semitism and paved the way for the Holocaust. Were those who erroneously considered Jews or African-Americans to be partial or even totally non legal persons entitled to their opinions? Sure, as long as they kept it to themselves. Once spoken in public, it must be addressed and consequences delivered. Abortion is murder, plain and simple. Those who promote and support it are wrong and if they openly support it, they are placing themselves outside the Church.

Why do so many people consider theology, religion, morality and ethics subjects prone to opinion? Sacred Science is like Physical Science. Both are true. 2 + 2 = 4 is perennially true whether in Bedrock or in Boise. Abortion is always immoral just as is slavery, racial segregation, racism, and anti-Semitism. Euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research are equally malevolent and sinful, regardless of how many disagree. Bottom line is that if you profess to be a Catholic and you work at a Catholic institution, then your public words and actions must conform to the moral, ethical and doctrinal principles of the Catholic religion,
otherwise, QUIT or be QUIET.

Coach Majerus should stick to comments on sports and leave faith and morals to the Church founded by Christ and authorized to teach in His name. No one else has such credentials. Ironically, had he espoused racist rhetoric, despite his right of free speech, he would have rightly lost his job ASAP. Free speech does not trump prudence, justice or the civil rights of others.

Bravo to Archbishop Burke for being brave enough to enforce the penal codes of canon law. These are medicinal measures meant to persuade the offender to repent and recant and come home. When more bishops and pastors do likewise to politicians and anyone who openly in public rejects church teaching on faith and morals, that is, when they publicly refuse them Holy Communion and threaten Excommunication, it is not to be mean, rather, it is tough love. Anyone can lie to you or withhold the truth from you. Only someone who truly loves you, however, will tell you the truth, no matter how difficult or painful since you deserve nothing less. A good coach not only trains his players to play well but to also to play their best and to do it honorably and honestly.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fr.Trigillio,can you comment on Sr.Joan Chissiter. She is coming in April to speak at Chaminade Catholic College here in Hawaiil. I need something to show our pastor, so they quit advertising for her.
thanks so much,
Teresa Fredericks

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Thank you, Father !

I, an Englishman, was not familiar with "Americanism".

I couldn't agree more.
If you want to be in the team, you have to follow the rules.

The Catholic Church has rules.
Oh, I suppose most of us fail to observe all the rules all the time.
I suppose that's what a sinner is.

But it's not quite the same thing as ignoring the rules, or questioning the rules in a loud voice in a public forum.

There is Catholic truth, which is an objective truth.

Then there is dissent, which is a subjective opinion.

So, some of the rules are difficult.

But I've never heard a dissenter giving this as the reason for his dissent.

Padre Giovanni Trigilio said...

"We’ve been living in an ecclesiastical tsunami this week. The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the position of Pope Benedict XVI has had all the force of a universal avalanche."

That was Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, response to B16 becoming pope. She is also a regular speaker for CALL TO ACTION (check their webpage). She advocates women's ordination and espouses dissent as a viable option for Catholics when they disagree with the Magisterium or Hierarchy on matters of doctrine or discipline. Many bishops and dioceses will not allow such rebels to speak in their territory.

Diane K said...

It seems to me, Padre, that both Sr. Chittister and Rick Majerus would have been served better by a copy of the Catholic Answer Book, or Catholicism for Dummies than all the "education" they have gotten from their respective institutions.

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