Catholic dogmas on status

Usually, it is heretical rather than orthodox positions that are given well-known names.  If the doctrine that grace is needed to be worthy of salvation has a name I am unfamiliar with it, but everyone knows the contrary position is called “Pelagianism”.  I am similarly unfamiliar with names for the components of Chalcedonian orthodoxy numbering Christ’s person and natures, but everyone knows the alternatives are called “Nestorianism” and “Monophysitism”.

So we should not be surprised that although Catholics have very definite doctrines on relative social and presumed moral status (henceforth simply “status” because status and moral reputation are always relative to others–“everyone is a sinner” completely negates the social force of “X is a sinner”), these doctrines do not have names, but their contraries do.  The doctrines are as follows

  1. Non-Catholic > Catholic
  2. Laity > Clergy

These statements are usually not given names, but their contraries are called “triumphalism” and “clericalism”, and they are excoriated as the worst enemies of proper thinking, just as Chalcedonian Catholics said about Nestorianism and Monophysitism.

People are always presenting “proofs” of the two laws.  They are always of the following form.  Some Catholics/priests do bad things.  Therefore Catholics/priests are inferior to non-Catholics/laity.  Absolutely never is there the slightest attempt to compare with a fair non-Catholic/lay control group:  an equal number of people over the same block of time in similar circumstances.  This is the sure sign of bigotry at work.  Never is an argument made against my tribe that couldn’t just as well be used to prove the inferiority of people whose last names begin with the letter “A”, or whatever.

The practical consequences of the first law (against “triumphalism”) are as follows.  Catholics must never claim to be always or as a rule better in any way than non-Catholics, but it can routinely be claimed that many (by implication, most) non-Catholics are better than Catholics.  When non-Catholics accuse Catholics of moral failure, Catholics may not defend themselves; they must always apologize.  Remember how John Paul II apologized for the Chinese Church to her very persecutors?

The very fact that non-Catholics reject the faith is said to be the fault of Catholics giving scandal against the unbelievers’ more finely-honed moral sensibilities.  Thus, even our virtue which differentiates us from the unbelievers (faith is a virtue–look it up) is taken as evidence of our moral deficiency.  What’s the matter with us that we’re not scandalized by each other enough to apostasize?  The practical consequences of the second law against “clericalism” are analogous.  As the most visible Catholics–those who have volunteered to let their lives become a living hell as punching bags for the anti-Catholic world–priests, bishops, and religious must be particularly wicked people.

As recent events indicate, clergy never stick up for the laity, and laity never stick up for the clergy.  We prove our faith in Christ by our faithlessness to each other.


WARNING:  Before commenting, be advised that posts attacking and demonizing the Catholic clergy will not be tolerated on this weblog.

4 Responses

  1. ‘Clergy>laity’ is not ‘clericalism’.
    ‘Laity>clergy’ is not ‘laicism’.

    Clericalism is a phantom of anti-Christians, the clericophobes. Besides that laicism (not mentioned in the essay) is a term that was in use throughout the first part of 20th century and later by clergy of traditionalist movements concerning matters internal to the Church. Therefore it is an issue of modernity. Laicism is/was defined as the idea that clergy ought not to exercise the office of temporal power, which, being a reactionary you should know, boils down to commanding armies. Priests did not command armies, carry weapons or train in their use. A priest is not allowed to spill human blood, this is in accord with tradition.

    By this, even Baldwin I of Jerusalem ought to be considered a ‘transgressor’ in this matter of ‘laicism’ (if you believe it is a transgression) as he did not wish to give over the governance of Jerusalem to the clergy. All this happened at the height of clerical primacy yet medievals were prudent enough to separate the classes to their particular duties and dignities of state.

    One to feed, one to teach and one ‘gainst wicked lads to strive.

    With the bloody advent of bizarre techno-bureaucratic-police states everyone, even women, are swarming in to govern. I see no reason a clergyman should not be city governor, senator or president or whatever. If society was Christian it would not be a police deepstate anyway.

  2. “Absolutely never is there the slightest attempt to compare with a fair non-Catholic/lay control group: an equal number of people over the same block of time in similar circumstances.”

    In the 90’s, A.W. Richard Sipe estimated that 6-9% of priests sexually abused a minor. The ~300 predator priests in Pennsylvania made up about 6% of the ~4900 priests from 1950 to 2010. This is the incidence rate floor, including only those discovered—much time has elapsed. The victims were mostly boys. In general, perhaps 1 in 20 boys (5%) are sexually abused, but this is misleading. The total molested by the priests was in the thousands. These molested 3+ on average. So, considering sexual predators often molest more than one, a very small percentage of the general population are predators compared to priests.

    “Never is an argument made against my tribe that couldn’t just as well be used to prove the inferiority of people whose last names begin with the letter “A”, or whatever.”

    This is simply not true. A significantly higher percentage of priests abuse boys compared to the general population or those whose last names begin with the letter “A”. Even if true, the argument “Look how bad the Protestants are too!” is not compelling (or good optics). Any sub-group that abuses children much higher than average must, by definition, be morally inferior (as a group). Catholic or non-Catholic, lay or clergy, Christian or atheist, is irrelevant.

    “Some Catholics/priests do bad things. Therefore Catholics/priests are inferior to non-Catholics/laity.”

    Consider Matthew 7:15-20 and Jesus’ handling of the Pharisees. Not all individual Pharisees deserved criticism (e.g. Nicodemus), but as a group, the office was worthy of condemnation. The book of James asserts that Christians must be morally superior or else they are frauds. The priesthood is expected to have lower than average rates of sin over non-believers and laymen. Their faith should be demonstrated in their works. If not, it is bad fruit that should be cut out. Predator priests have dead faith. They are Christian (and Catholic) in name only. Those who reject the “Catholic” clergy do so in imitation of Jesus because they reject the rotten fruit.

    When you consider that 1 in 16 Catholic priests should have a millstone put around their neck and drowned, this should be sobering.

    Citations: National Center for Victims of Crime; A.W. Richard Sipe; Mark Dominus

  3. As I said, you have nothing to compare these numbers to, because you cannot know what the results would be if Church and state were to go on a campaign to find sexual abusers with names starting with the letter “A” going back to the 1940s, assume all accused are guilty, and offer the same prospective financial incentives as one has for accusing a priest. I commend you for gathering what numbers you could come up with, but they don’t get you very far. The selection biases are just too enormous.

  4. […] censor their comments to avoid criticism. Such censorship is cowardice. Consider the warning on this post by Bonald of Throne and […]

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