… by Dr. Anthony Esolen, a frequent contributor to CWR, writing for Crisis:
Imagine someone appealing to Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, to justify the activities of gangs in Los Angeles. Why not? Lord Baden-Powell wanted boys to do risky things, and what’s more dangerous than running guns or smuggling cocaine or fighting another gang in a shooting spree? He enjoined upon the Scouts a stern code of honor and loyalty, and who is more loyal than a new recruit for the Crips? Who is more willing to shed his blood for the honor of the gang?
Imagine someone appealing to Michelangelo to justify porn. Why not? Michelangelo painted nudes all over the Sistine Chapel, and Hustler and Penthouse are full of nudes. Michelangelo endured the disgruntlement of the prudish, so that the figures in his Last Judgment were later provided with discreet veils and tunics and loincloths. And aren’t Hustler and Penthouse stuck underneath the counter at convenience stores? Michelangelo admired the sculpture of ancient Greece; those ancient Greeks, for their part, traded in vases depicting acts of pedophilia. So why should a busy stockbroker in a hotel not be allowed to relax in front of a television, watching whatever delights his sophisticated tastes?
Imagine someone appealing to Florence Nightingale to justify doctor-dosed suicide. She wanted to relieve suffering, didn’t she? Imagine someone appealing to Saint Francis of Assisi to justify looting for fun and profit. His heart was with the poor, no? Imagine someone appealing to Saint Catherine of Siena to justify the modern feminist. Why, Saint Catherine dared to rebuke cardinals and popes!
Imagine a lawyer returning his fee when he loses a case; imagine a television pundit suddenly admitting that he doesn’t know what he is talking about; imagine a Hollywood starlet speaking English; imagine the Cubs winning the World Series; imagine anything most absurd, and you have not yet approached the absurdity of those who claim that Catholic Social Teaching implies the existence of a vast welfare state, bureaucratically organized, unanswerable to the people, undermining families, rewarding lust and sloth and envy, acknowledging no virtue, providing no personal care, punishing women who take care of their children at home, whisking the same children away from parental supervision and into schools designed to separate them from their parents’ views of the world, and, for all that, keeping whole segments of the population mired in a cycle of dysfunction, moral squalor, and poverty, while purchasing their votes with money squeezed by force from their neighbors.
I’m sick of it.
Read the entire piece, “Catholic Social Teaching: It’s Time to End the Misrepresentations”.
And, of course, one of the usual suspects leaves this comment: I think you should work and live with the poor in the U.S. Catholic Social teaching has been one of the greatest gifts it has. You seem to be so out of touch with compassion and yet you are very harsh in your judgement of people. Examine your conscience. Begin with Matthew 25:31.” Yes, that’s right: if you point out that what so often is passed off as “social justice” and “Catholic social doctrine” has nothing to do with real social justice or authentic Catholic social doctrine, you’re a jerk, a meanie, and a judgmental hater. I’ve run into this attitude repeatedly, and it speaks volumes about the massive failure of basic catechesis and communication on the part of bishops, clergy, educators, parents, and catechists. The above column, by the way, is the first of five that Esolen is writing on the topic.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!