Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell plans to ask new principals of Catholic schools to make a "religious submission of intellect and will" to the teachings of the Church. Now it is easy to foresee the reaction. Diogenes has a cartoon from the Brisbane Times that asserts that this submission makes you brain dead and he then goes on to talk about "Thinking Catholics."
The term "Thinking Catholics" used by some progressive Catholics annoys me. Though when I was an atheist I was annoyed by atheists who called themselves "Brights" and "Freethinkers." All of these terms are an evidence of intellectual pride and I though I didn’t like the terms I remember the pride of being an atheist as being smarter then those dumb theists who blindly followed a faith. Reading some "Thinking Catholics" I detect this same pride which is in many ways similar.
I have wondered if at the creation of the Angels if the Satan and those who fell with him considered themselves "Thinking Angels?"
Now I consider myself a "Thinking with the Church Catholic" and those how have the mind set as evidence by the cartoon would consider those like me a "Unthinking, with the Church Catholic" which only shows their ignorance. Thinking with the Church means that you actually have to find what the Church thinks first before you can do any religious submission of intellect and will. Those that think this is easy again are misinformed. I certainly know in my case there would a slew of things that I believed and held that had to be abandoned in the face of Church teaching. It is just that when I investigated these convergences on my way into the Church and the reasons they were taught that I found those teachings to be true and my previously held assumptions to be false. So contrary to what "Thinking Catholics" assert you have to do a lot of thinking to be faithful to the Church and it is certainly not a case of blind intellectual faith in the Church. Now in my case it did help that I believed in the Church prior to believing all that she taught and this attitude helped me to better understand to some degree what she taught. As Augustine said, "I would not believe the Gospels if it were not for the Church."
One of my favorite stories taht I have read was in Alice Von Hildebrand’s book The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich Von Hildebrand when she describes her husbands entry into the Church. He was taking private lessons from a priest when he told the priest that he was ready to enter the Church. The priest knowing that Dietrich was against the Church’s teaching on contraception told him he would not bring him into the Church until he assented to it. Dietrich Von Hildebrand immediately made a declaration that he believes what the Church teaches despite his own lack of understanding and previous disagreement. Dietrich Von Hildebrand went on to wonderfully defend the Church’s teaching and to teach about the evil of contraception later in his life.
Thinking Catholics try to assert that faithful Catholics have to leave their brain at the door to be faithful to the magisterium where in fact the opposite is the case. To be obedient to the teaching authority of the Church you must leave you intellectual pride at the door and that whatever intellectual gifts you might have will be fully exercised in understanding and defending what the Church actually teaches.