E. J. Dionne, pleased with himself, tells us he’s not going to leave the Catholic church.
I’ve never been a fan of Dionne’s. He’s so centrist, so conventional, so smugly mainstream, so insistent on received wisdom.
So it figures that he would get all bristly at the idea that the Catholic church isn’t a wholly admirable institution.
He’s in a huff that FFRF ran that ad urging liberal Catholics to drop the ‘Catholics’ part.
Catholic liberals get used to these kinds of things. Secularists, who never liked Catholicism in the first place, want us to leave the church, but so do Catholic conservatives who want the church all to themselves.
I’m sorry to inform the FFRF that I am declining its invitation to quit. They may not see the Gospel as a liberating document, but I do, and I can’t ignore the good done in the name of Christ by the sisters, priests, brothers and lay people who have devoted their lives to the poor and the marginalized.
Oh shut up. Nobody’s asking you to ignore any good done, but paying attention to good done is not a reason for continuing to support an organization that also does immense harm, and attaches strings to even the good that it does.
And on women’s rights, I take as my guide that early feminist, Pope John XXIII. In Pacem in Terris, his encyclical issued in 1963, the same year Betty Friedan published “The Feminine Mystique,” Pope John spoke of women’s “natural dignity.”
“Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument,” he wrote, “they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons.”
You want to go there? Ok. Let’s take a look at Pacem in Terris.
The bit that Dionne quotes is in a section titled “Characteristics of the Present Day.” It starts with working men, and then goes on to women. The next section is titled “Equality of Men.” It begins
Today, on the contrary the conviction is widespread that all men are equal in natural dignity; and so, on the doctrinal and theoretical level, at least, no form of approval is being given to racial discrimination. All this is of supreme significance for the formation of a human society animated by the principles We have mentioned above, for man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by other people.
Notice anything? Men. A man’s personal dignity.
I’m not convinced that Pacem in Terris belongs on the shelf next to Friedan’s book.
For the rest of the piece he scolds the bishops a lot. Well quite – but why is that not a reason to vote by leaving? The bishops are the ones calling the shots, not the rebel nuns and the Washington Post columnists.