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.


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