A philosophy professor at the University of Notre Dame has declared in the New York Times that the bishops no longer decide morality in the Church and that “the immorality of birth control is no longer a teaching of the Catholic Church.
Gary Gutting, Endowed Chair in Philosophy, makes the typical muddles of how the teaching magisterium is actually the “faithful” and not the bishops in union with the Pope. Of course “faithful” is defined as those who agree with my position. That a majority opinion constitutes truth and you have to wonder why we aren’t all Arians if this is so. If the Israelites got to vote up and down the Ten Commandments would any have survived? As G.K. Chesterton stated “Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
Oh and will anybody be surprised that they professor teaches from the works of Peter Singer?
* The headline is taken from the fine quip at the end of the post from the Cardinal Newman Society.
Typical Notre Dame crap. Fire this guy. Why is he working at even a Catholic-in-name-only university like Notre Dame?
When will the Notre Dame University fire this loony professor???
Come off it. The fact is that I have *never* heard a priest or a bishop preach to the faithful about the evils of contraception. The outrage over Obamacare is comical.
Also, the fact that a philosophy professor has a work on the reading list for a course does not mean that s/he agrees with the work. It doesn’t even mean that s/he doesn’t violently disagree with it.
That which separates one from The Word of God as He Has revealed Himself to His Church in the trinitarian relationship of Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and The Teaching of The Magisterium, is what keeps one from being in communion with His Church to begin with. Communion is not a matter of degree.
i think the most hilarious (read: disastrous) part of his argument is the fact that he begins it by identifying himself as a philosopher and a “catholic” – and then goes on to say that unfortunately we don’t live in a world where God directly speaks to us. hmm. well I suppose that makes those pesky Catholic beliefs like Scripture and the person of Jesus a little fuzzy, doesn’t it. you can’t claim to be a member of a faith that is founded on God directly acting in the world and then make arguments based on the fact that God never acts directly in the world. sounds like a wonderful philosophy professor.
First, how many times have you heard a priest or bishop preach about anything?
Second, that there has been so little preaching against contraception in the past 40-50 years is indeed a scandal; but a temporary laxity is not the same thing as an abandonment or abolition.
And third, the Church’s teaching is not exclusively by way of homilies. There is the Catechism; there are the writings of Popes (e.g., Humanae Vitae), bishops, saints, laymen; there is the historical witness against all forms of contraception from the earliest days to the present. Barring some involuntary impediment, there is no excuse, especially in this Internet age, for an average Catholic not to be aware of the teaching of the Church on any matter.
> Jimmy Doyle, too bad you don’t come to my parish.
> Francis: Like your stuff! Is the Philosopher’s comment anything like I am Catholic, But…?
Really, Jimmy Doyle, you need to find a new parish!
Every Sunday and holy day of obligation, plus assorted other days, since you ask; and at six different parishes in the US and UK and various others from time to time. You acknowledge that there has been “little preaching against contraception in the past 40-50 years” but do not mention that this means there has been very little such preaching ever since the Church’s position was first unequivocally affirmed in Humanae Vitae 44 years ago.
And I realise that the Church’s teaching is not exclusively by way of homilies. I was not claiming that anyone had any excuse for not knowing what the Church’s position is on the matter. My point is that the vast majority of the priests and bishops now up in arms about the teaching on contraception not being respected by the State are the very same priests and bishops who have entirely failed to assert that teaching in the chief way available to them — homilies — at any time since the teaching was first promulgated by the Church. Presumably they do not want to alienate their congregations, who very nearly all believe, rightly or wrongly, that the teaching is something close to absurd. They, and similarly non-Catholics, can reasonably conclude that the priests and bishops are not entirely serious about the matter. The fuss they are making now merely brings them even more into disrepute.
I realise that there are exceptions to this, such as, apparently, Fr Don. But they are very few and far between if my experience is anything to go by. So while I appreciate PR’s advice I doubt very much there will be a suitable ‘new parish’ within easy driving distance.
may I make a suggestion? Ask your parish priest to use the opportunity of the current discussion to talk about contraception. If he refuses, ask him why. If no good reason is given, tell him respectfully that you disagree and leave it at that. Nothing may change in the parish, but you will have planted a seed that may sprout at some point.
And perhaps do the same individually with other people.
You and I are part of the Church as much as the priest, so it is also up to us to educate others.
If you have already done that, well done!
Roberto: Thanks for the suggestion. But, just to be clear, I’m afraid I myself am sometimes inclined to think that the teaching on contraception is something close to absurd. (Anyone who thinks this makes me a ‘cafeteria Catholic’ can bite me.) The fact that it’s Church teaching weighs heavily with me but I can’t really see it. I mean, even if you buy the (rather dubious) Thomistic arguments about the natural purpose of sexual activity, contraception still doesn’t look any worse to me than the ancient Egyptians’ practice of throwing up between courses so they could carry on deriving pleasure from eating. And that was kind of gross and decadent, but even if it were widespread now it would be odd if it were condemned in its own special papal encyclical.
What bugs me is: how many good Catholics do you think feel really guilty because they just can’t get themselves to believe this stuff? And part of my point is: a significant number of them might believe it if their priests ever, even once, *stated* (let alone argued for) the rationale for the prohibition at Sunday mass. But the vast majority never have and never will, in many cases presumably because they don’t believe it themselves, and in many others because they don’t want to think of their congregations laughing in their sleeves. I didn’t think the situation could get any more ridiculous, but the bellowing outrage of the hierarchy about the US government’s failure to respect their ‘teaching’ has taken the whole thing into the stratosphere of the absurd.
One Catholic who totally walks the walk on this is of course Benedict, who obviously believes in the teaching with great fervour and professes it, and argues for it, ceaselessly, to the obvious embarrassment of many priests and bishops. That I can respect. I just wish he could persuade me.
“What bugs me is: how many good Catholics do you think feel really guilty because they just can’t get themselves to believe this stuff?”
I suppose almost as many “good Catholics” who can’t get themselves to believe the stuff about not having sex before marriage. The good Catholic parents who don’t really expect their sons to be virgins when they marry. The good Catholic engaged couples who scoff – or get angry – when their priest suggest stop cohabiting before marriage. The good Catholics who don’t believe the stuff about no remarriage without an annulment. That’s not even counting the Catholics who doubt that Christ really is present in the Eucharist.
But I’m not bugged by good Catholics feeling guilty about their unbelief. Rather I’m worried about how many of them are hardening their hearts and can’t conceive the sin of “the stuff” the Church teaches that is really the same “stuff” that God has warned us against since Moses was on the earth. I mean, if we want to compare pagans, the Roman epicureans (not Egyptians) eating and purging was almost normal compared to the pagan men “wasting their seed” (that is, their semen) that God condemned in the Old Testament.
What bugs me is this: How many of those “good Catholics” are going to their graves unrepentant, not because they were ignorant but because they think that God grades on a curve (hence the oh-so-common phrase at funeral homes about the deceased not being religious or God-fearing but, being a “good man,” God would have to take him in.)
I’m talking specifically about the teaching on contraception, MissJean. Moral teaching is not supposed to be a matter of blind faith, since it is part of that very teaching that in matters of morals human reason is sufficient to discern the truth. And the arguments on the contraception issue seem to me exceptionally weak and, even if they work, only make artificial contraception as bad as pagan eating and purging (this is depicted in Egyptian wall paintings). It seems to me a much stronger case can be made for other aspects of Christian chastity (although even there the arguments won’t cut much ice with those not already committed on other grounds).
In any case, if the arguments are so strong, why have I never seen a priest or bishop make them from the pulpit? This is the issue I wanted to bring up, because it makes such a mockery of their outrage over the health insurance issue: they insist the rest of the country respect a teaching they (most of them) clearly don’t respect themselves. And this is why I am sympathetic to Catholics who can’t bring themselves to believe the teaching on contraception: unlike the case of the real presence, or even chastity, most of the people who have assumed responsibility for their spiritual wellbeing give no sign of believing it themselves. So your comparisons with other teachings and doctrines are not apt.
You say you’re not “bugged” by the guilty feelings of “the good Catholics who don’t believe the stuff about no remarriage without an annulment,” but rather you’re “worried about how many of them are hardening their hearts and can’t conceive the sin of ‘the stuff’ the Church teaches that is really the same ‘stuff’ that God has warned us against since Moses was on the earth.” Yet the Old Testament patriarchs were conspicuously casual polygamists, and Christ himself acknowledged that Moses had allowed divorce because the people were so “unteachable” (Matt 9:7-8). Anyone who wants to make a lot of noise about divine teaching being unchangeable should reflect upon these cases.