Trump’s Relationship with the Catholic Church in the USA

Apr 30, 2020 | 17 comments

NCR Editorial: Dolan delivers the church to Trump and the GOP


  1. Neil Bray

    A number of problems exist in this article. 1) It rejects any AUTHENTIC SIGNS OF GOD’S PRESENCE AND PURPOSE” (Gaudium et Spes) in some policies being pursued by Donald Trump. 2) It is simplistic to say that anyone can “hand” the Catholic vote to Donald Trump. 3) It is overly laden with the political group speak of the NCR. The NCR’s candidate for President is Joe Biden.
    Cardinal Dolan was a bit too effusive regarding Donald Trump. He and his fellow bishops acknowledge what Donald Trump is doing in terms of maintaining freedom of Catholic religious practice and in supporting the Church’s prolife teachings. They also criticize his policies on immigration and social equity. Their realism here accords with the constant need for Catholics to work with God to necessarily and constantly draw good out of evil and to support the good as it arises. In the political context the Catholics are not well placed to express judgement on the character or motivations of the political players.
    Does the author align himself with the stance of the prominent feminist Linda Hirshman, who despite believing Tara Reade’s accusation of sexual assault against Joe Biden, still intends to vote for him (New York Times May 6)?
    Based on his own words Joe Biden and his supporters (Democrats) regard Catholic teachings as fossilised, and seek to designate as lawless the way of life based on some of them. Whatever Donald Trump’s motivation, in the context of the conflict between the Church and the world, his political actions act as a restraint on Joe Biden’s anti Catholic policies. It would have been totally ungracious for The Cardinal to ignore this.

    • soconaill

      AUTHENTIC SIGNS OF GOD’S PRESENCE AND PURPOSE in some policies being pursued by Donald Trump?

      In these policies perhaps?

      Mendacity from Dawn to Dusk in pursuit of retention of the Presidency come November, including:

      Blaming everyone but himself for everything that goes wrong – especially these days the far higher rate of Covid-19 related deaths among the US African American community due to e.g. its over-representation in the elderly care sector and its typical lack of health insurance cover;

      Encouraging the conspiracy theory industry that called the Sandy Hook massacre a hoax, forcing bereaved parents of the young children massacred there to seek protection from US courts;

      Encouraging the gun fetishism that killed over 3,000 children in the USA in 2015, almost twice as many as cancer.

      Attributing the obvious effects of human warming of the Earth’s atmosphere to anything but the obvious cause – the human overuse of fossil fuels;

      Gulling the nativist right wing of US Protestant evangelicalism into supposing he has any faith whatsoever, other than an unshakeable faith in his own ability to gull anybody into anything;

      Promoting the AntiChristian Prosperity Gospel, the very antithesis of Catholicism;

      Seeking to attach even US Catholics to this fantasy, in the supposition that this will end abortion – when, as Fr Thomas Reese SJ tells us, an entirely new strategy is needed on abortion – one that addresses the economic and social vulnerability of women, because: “When [US] women are asked why they are having an abortion, the main reasons given are that having a baby would interfere with their education, their work or their ability to care for the children they are already raising, or that they simply cannot afford another child at the time.”

      Endangering the security, dignity and morale of women in US life: Trump’s own record on this is one of degrading and insulting women to the lowest possible level, including the gibe: ‘You could see .. there was blood coming out of her – wherever’;

      Disrupting the Western alliance against both Chinese and Russian globalist and anti-democratic ambition by currying favour with the crudest dictators and refusing to read his own security briefings on rampant foreign electoral interference in the US – to advance HIS cause;

      Deliberately fostering an international swing to a narrow and bickering nationalist xenophobia – the complete antithesis of the Christian Gospel;

      Aligning his own survival to the Bannon cause of Wasp ascendancy – the remnant of the US pro-slavery Confederate cause;

      Undermining the US health care and insurance system at precisely the moment when those without insurance are most at risk;

      Attacking the very foundation of the US constitution, the separation of federal state power that sought to prevent any president from doing exactly what he is doing – exalting the rights of the executive branch for sheer personal survival, aggrandisement and gain;

      Setting back decades the international consensus againt political corruption by blatantly attempting to use his own office to blackmail a foreign government into indicting his chief political rival for the very same offence.

      Never in the Gospel did Jesus of Nazareth call Christians to seek to employ state coercion in the pursuit of just one moral end, or to shut our eyes to a mass of immorality in such a cause. Joe Biden is far from perfect, no doubt – but if ever there was an argument for rejecting the most glaring incompetence, hypocrisy, racism, cruelty and narcissism – and the single greatest threat to international cohesion at a time of global crisis – that argument is the current incumbent of the US White House Oval Office.

      Sean O’Conaill

  2. Peter Torney

    As an elderly Catholic layman, I was much disheartened by Cardinal Dolan’s recent gushing support for President Trump. But then I thought of the excellent article by Eugene McCarragher in Commonweal (see link)
    Written in 2012 it unpacks eloquently, and brilliantly deconstructs, the conservative theology of Prelates such as Dolan and the Catholic right, many of whom were fiercely critical of President Obama when he was in office, some in quite vicious terms. It is a remarkably instructive overview of how these highly conservative gentlemen think.
    Alas, the many failures of the Episcopate in general over the years has left me and I am sure many others with serious questions about the moral credibility and authority of these Church figures.
    The Church seems to act as an organisation of the Bishops, by the Bishops, for the Bishops their Presbyters and Acolytes (if I may paraphrase Lincoln’s Gettysburg address). They act as if we, the laity, didn’t exist, albeit the implicit rationale they offer is ‘that it all for us, the laity, and for our benefit and the benefit of our eternal souls’.
    This group of approximately 5000 male clerics, or roughly 0.0003% of the Catholic people of God, abrogates unto itself all authority in matters of faith and morals through elaborate legitimating theological apologetics. The rest of us, the remaining 99.9996% have no say nor any insight from the Holy Spirit and must assent to what is in many instances flawed ‘teaching’ or ridiculous positions. (I base the above percentage calculation on the figures of approximately 5000 Bishops to 1.5 billion Catholics world-wide. I hope my arithmetic is correct!!)
    Perhaps this reality worked and was suitable in another age and another time. But in today’s world such a position on the part of the Episcopate is perceived by many as little more than delusional nonsense, no matter what theological semantics are used to justify it.
    So, what are we, the laity supposed to do in these circumstances? Good question!

    • soconaill

      You pinpoint exactly my own centre of exasperation, Peter. Cardinal Dolan was a ‘Visitator’ to Ireland in 2012, and therefore one of those who sought an explanation for the disastrous Ferns, Murphy and Ryan reports in (absurdly) Irish ‘dissent’. We know the consequence: the absurd scapegoating of the ‘famous five’ Irish ‘dissenters’, and the sending home of others from the Irish College in Rome.

      Subsequently this article of mine was published in Doctrine and Life:

      You will see that it expresses exactly the same frustration at the magisterial straitjacket that implicitly denies to every Irish lay person from Confirmation onward any possibility of inspiration by the same Holy Spirit – for whom we are all nevertheless told we are ‘Temples’. Is it any wonder that the sacraments are now being dismissed by so many in Ireland as meaningless?

      To cut to the chase, this is why ACI is currently campaigning for the recognition by the Irish Bishops’ Conference of Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, which in 1964, promised all of us ‘institutions’ through which we could declare our pastoral needs to our pastors – and raise a critical voice also, if need be.

      See ‘Ongoing / LG37 Campaign’ in the main menu above.

      It’s time we put a ‘Timer’ on the ICBC on this site too, as time is running out to make Catholicism respectable and honest in Ireland. It’s now 225 days since we put our case to the ICBC at Maynooth on October 1st last – without, so far, any acknowledgement – and none of us is getting any younger.

  3. Peter Torney

    Thanks for those links Sean and your illuminating comments – I will follow them up.

    Alas, if the Bishops have done nothing about LG37 in the 55+ years since the document was promulgated at Vatican II, it’s unlikely any change of significance will happen in our lifetime if at all.

    At least those laity who do speak out on this and other things, like yourself, can take comfort in the fact of your intellectual honesty and integrity. You are speaking truth to power.

  4. Neil Bray

    We laity will contribute far more by our prayers, good works, our penances, our reparations, our acceptance of our crosses, our worthy reception of the sacraments than we will ever do by promoting our own influence in Church matters. The quality of our influence derives from grace which relies on these practices. This is the evidence from the lives of the saints. For the vast majority of same, their influence on the lives of those around them, and on bishops, drew significantly from the wisdom arising from their sense of the faith and their practice of the virtues.

    This was the central message of Pope Francis in his “Schreiben Von Papst Franziskus An Das Pilgernde Volk Gottes In Deutschland” (Letter to the German Faithful) June 2019. He referred to it as the need for conversion in order to participate meaningfully in synodality. This is an essential context Lumen Gentium 37.

    • soconaill

      Is there in this comment, Neil, the implication that ‘conversion’ for lay people cannot involve protest at the now 20,263 day failure of Irish bishops to implement Lumen Gentium 37 (1964) in Ireland – when, as a consequence horrific abuse of Irish children continued 1964-94 – and Irish bishops became proactive in that matter only in 1994 – when some Irish Catholic families brought that matter to the secular courts?

      In 2009 the Ryan report identified the deference of Catholic lay people to their clergy as the basic reason for the failure of the state to ensure the safety of children in the residential institutions. Is it the same deference that you are still calling us to?

      In that letter by Pope Francis to the Catholic people of Germany in June 2019 he says this of Synodality (Article 3):

      “In the recent plenary assembly of the Italian Bishops I had the opportunity to reiterate this central reality for the life of the Church by bringing the dual perspective that this works: “synodality from the bottom up, that is having to take care of the existence and the proper functioning of the Diocese : the councils, the parishes, the involvement of the laity … starting from the dioceses: you cannot make a great synod without going to the base …; and then the synodality from top to bottom “

      It is precisely that ‘going to the base’ that never happened in Ireland. The consequences have been horrific, and they are ongoing. A clergy that cannot trust its own people to pull together – and talk together – in a crisis is a clergy that doesn’t know its own people. Holiness must surely protest as well as pray in the present emergency. We in ACI trust in the Holy Spirit to bind us together, co-responsibly, and appeal to our bishops to do the same.

  5. Neil Bray

    One couldn’t have a synodality of spiritual growth without the laity. They have to make their effort. Synodality “requires an attitude of alertness and conversion from the people of God, and especially from their shepherds.” (Par 12) So there is an especial bottom down dimension as well.

    The Pope contrasts two approaches to synodality. One pertains to a “temptation” to remake the Church in one’s own image, irrespective of the assembly concerned. The epithet ‘temptation’ arises from the idea “that in the face of many problems and shortcomings, the best answer would be to reorganize things, make changes, and “patch up” to order and smooth the life of the Church by the logic of the day that one of a certain group adapts.” (Par 5)

    On the other hand synodality cannot escape the logic of the need for the grace of conversion to ensure that our personal and community action is increasingly aligned to the kenosis of Christ. (cf. Phil. 2 , 1 -11). Kenosis is the ‘self-emptying’ of Jesus’ own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will. To speak, act and respond as the body of Christ also means to speak and act in the manner of Christ with the same attitudes, with the same prudence and the same priorities. Following the example of the Master who “dispensed himself and became a slave” (Phil. 2: 7 ). The grace of conversion frees us from false and sterile protagonisms. It frees us from the temptation to stay in sheltered and comfortable positions and invites us to go to the edges to find ourselves and listen better to the Lord. (Par 12)

    This is the basis of my contribution printed above 14/5/2020.

  6. soconaill

    That reference by Pope Francis to ‘false and sterile protagonisms’ is very apt. The Adversary rejoices when we Christians bicker among ourselves just for the heck of it. Clearly the pope is concerned to prevent the church from falling into that trap, and not just in Germany. Rivalry can absorb all energy and hold an entire society in crisis – as seems to be happening in the USA at the worst possible time. A similar rivalrous paralysis is indeed a very real danger in the church.

    But this cannot mean that in Ireland we lay people must maintain a total silence over an obviously outdated church system that continues to shut us out of all discussion of its future. Here in Derry diocese some of our clergy took years to devise a plan for pastoral renewal, finally launched in 2018. Yet our parish priest told me immediately that most other Derry priests had decided the plan was unworkable. From what I can hear and read, he was right about the attitude of Derry clergy. The diocesan website records no progress in the plan in 2019-20.

    For clergy to take over a decade to prepare a plan, and then, without looking for input from lay people, to decide that this plan cannot work – that speaks of a critical problem of morale and leadership. So does the disappearance of the 2011 national plan for catechetical renewal, Share the Good News – also a dead letter in Derry diocese. ‘Whatever happened to that?’ asked Archbishop Diarmuid Martin last year.

    So in asking for an absence of rancour and rivalry in the church Pope Francis is not saying ‘ just stay quiet and say your prayers’. Nobody was more concerned about unity in the church than Jesus – but that did not stop him from confronting those who opposed his own outreach to the margins. There are similar forces at work in the church in Ireland – and they too need to be opposed and overcome if we are to stay true to the Lord, and obey Pope Francis on synodality.

    Our Irish ‘margins’ include many thousands appalled by decades of church scandal that have never been explained or discussed ecclesially by the entire Irish People of God. We are ruled by elephants in the room that our bishops do nothing to remove – apparently in the hope that eventually ‘the remnant’ will forget all about that. ‘Remnantism’ has replaced the ‘New Evangelism’ as the only observable programme of the moment – and what a sorry exercise in hopelessness that is!

  7. Neil Bray

    There is rancour and rivalry in the Church. Perhaps there always was going back to Annanias and Sapphira in Acts 5. In the current situation rival groups roughly inhabit two divisions, one in the National Catholic Reporter/The Tablet camp and the other in the EWTN/The Catholic Thing persuasion, that’s me. Apart from a few individuals, neither division engages with the other.

    The ultimate issue is God. The following runs the risk of being sanctimonious. But the fact is that until people begin to twig His nature, we can seek to persuade forever and get nowhere. History shows that one of two ways forward is what I set out above on 14/5/2020.

    There is the well know story, recently relayed by Cardinal Sarah, of a priest taking his first ministerial steps, . He visited St Teresa of Calcutta asking her to accompany him with her prayers.” She replied: “I always pray for priests. I will pray for you also.” “For how much time do you pray each day?” He spoke of celebrating Holy Mass each day, praying the Breviary each day [a long exercise in 1969, before the Divine Office was simplified], praying the rosary each day.

    Mother Teresa said: “That is not enough, my son! That is not enough, because love cannot be reduced to the indispensable minimum; love demands the maximum!” He did not understand and replied he expected her to ask what acts of charity he did. She said “Do you think that I could practice charity if I did not ask Jesus every day to fill my heart with his love? Do you think that I could go through the streets looking for the poor if Jesus did not communicate the fire of his charity to my heart?” “Read the Gospel attentively and you will see that Jesus sacrificed even charity for prayer to teach us that without God we are too poor to help the poor.”

    Some priests may well seem “poor”, off beam, to the laity in certain respects!!

    The other way forward from my perspective, to put it simply, is a proposition of Fulton J Sheen, as written in First Things, April 2020, “that God creates each person with the reason to know God and the will to obey the authority of God’s Church. If a person submits to the authority of the Church, he may benefit from the objects that perfect his reason and will—the grace of Christ in the sacraments.” Still very much a WIP.

    We may debate the second “way forward” forever but will get nowhere without the first. Christ’s “last farewell to the world was from the powerlessness of the Cross where His eyes could summon us to the sweet purpose of life.” (F.J. Sheen)

    • soconaill

      Fulton J Sheen: “God creates each person with the reason to know God and the will to obey the authority of God’s Church.”

      Is not ‘the authority of God’s Church’ traditionally thought by Catholics to be personified by the reigning Pope? Is that not, at present, Pope Francis? Is EWTN not a sponsor of the Vigano letter of August 25th, 2018 – on the morning of Pope Francis’s Mass in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. I don’t watch EWTN, but this seems to be ‘the rumour’. EWTN and ‘absence of rancour’ don’t appear to ‘work’

      Also, doesn’t ‘the authority of God’s church’ need to be unpacked differently for the post 1994 real world – when not only is the episcopal magisterium at odds with itself but unable to gain traction on the attention of most after decades of exposure of its subordination of child safeguarding to the public image of the ordained ministry, followed by a complete terror of open assembly, the only possible avenue of recovery of lost authority?

      Fulton J Sheen died 1979 – and now his own cause for beatification /canonisation has been put on hold – reportedly because even he may have failed the child safeguarding standards now routine. Surely ‘the authority of the church’ needs a ‘refocus’, when the continuing relevance of the Psalmist injunction to put trust only in the Lord has been re-emphasised by the world’s bishops themselves?

      Is it your contention, Neil, that unremitting prayer is to be attributed only to your own preferred ‘way’? If so, why? Just as Mother Teresa could love and pray and tend to the needs of the poor at the same time, so can anyone, surely – even a reader of the Tablet or NCR. Surely Jesus was praying as he was critiquing the shortcomings of the Temple system?

      Finally it is surely absurd to disqualify lay people from any attempt to ‘influence’ the church when ‘lay people’ could include e.g. a police officer, a psychiatrist, a judge, a parent, a teacher – every one of them likely to have responsibility for the safety of children, a safety that can be endangered – we now know for sure – by an ordained Catholic priest or bishop. Could you please read Hans Zollner SJ’s lecture on the dangers of paternalism and get back to us? And have you heard of the NBSCCC? Not even Irish bishops would try to argue now that lay people do not have a vital role in keeping even themselves in order.

  8. Neil Bray

    “Just as Mother Teresa could love and pray and tend to the needs of the poor at the same time, so can anyone, surely – even a reader of the Tablet or NCR.”

    I would change this sentence as follows: “Just as Mother Teresa could love and pray and tend to the needs of the poor at the same time, so should a reader of the Tablet or NCR seek to pray and love in the spirit of the kenosis of Christ.” That is what we all have to do. That was my point in 14/05 above.

    I could answer the points made at 16/05 above but such a response would amount to a futile tit-for-tat interaction – achieving what?

    One of the great characteristics of Catholicism is the opportunity offered to all the baptised who wish to pursue the truth to engage in the practices set out in 14/5 above after the example of the saints. This is practical stuff, involving dare one say it, realistic love – absolute concern for the wellbeing of all aspects of the desires of God and of all aspects of the life of a person in question. Without the practice of this practical love it is impossible to hold together the varied ministries of 1 Corinthians 12, and avoid splintering and division.

    In this regard the urgent and vital question is not just what we think we know but of how we know. The practical love referred to above is a necessary part of the mode of all knowledge. This is a slow burner.

    I have no need to read about paternalism. My experience of it occurs mostly when attending a Sacrifice of the Mass where the celebrant overrides the text of the Missal and, probably unwittingly, patronises me with himself and his thoughts. I do not approve of paternalism.

  9. Pascal O'Dea

    Thanks for your reasoning on the need for laity to engage in areas of competence. Surely by way of baptism we are called to engage fully in our responsibility, and it is part of our duty to inform – as in the NCR article calling Cardinal Dolan to account.

  10. soconaill

    My questions, Neil, are aimed at eliciting useful meaning from your comment of 14/05, which deprecates ‘promoting our own influence within the church’ in favour of ‘our prayers, good works’ etc. This implies an antithesis, an incompatibility, of the former with the latter, does it not?

    When I question how ‘good works’ directed at child safeguarding, for example, can fail to influence the church, and therefore to promote the influence of those who undertake them, you do not meet that question squarely, and in your latest of 17/05 simply give us bog-standard teaching on the importance of practical love.

    If you believe this must all be new to us, why exactly do you think that?

    Moment-to-moment the church can only hang together by observing, first-of-all, the Great Commandment. Agreed – no contest – so exactly what kind of ‘promoting of influence’ is it you are derogating? If you are referring to anything you see on this site relating to the purpose and current activities of ACI (e.g. under ‘About Us‘ or Ongoing‘ above), could you tell us plainly?

    Perhaps there is a negative nuance in your use of the word ‘promoting’, the nuance that occurs in the term ‘self promotion’? There too, no contest. If lay people are indeed to influence the church for the better they must indeed listen to and answer the call to all to a life of holiness, and especially the call to love and conciliation – and beware of the temptation simply to self-promote.

    But again, given the hurt and alienation caused to so many in Ireland by revelations of a church system that has caused intense suffering to so many – and is now failing to capture the fervent attachment of younger generations – are you arguing that no effort made to change that system could be free of the taint of self-promotion – and that everyone so engaged must therefore be in need of the advice you give re prayer, sacraments … and practical love?

    My reference to Hans Zollner’s lecture on the challenge posed to child safeguarding by paternalism arose out of what appears to be your defence of a church system that is inherently paternalistic – especially in its structural denial of a voice to the unordained. But perhaps there again I am misinterpreting you?

    Ignoring questions aimed simply at elucidation and mutual understanding will get us nowhere either. You yourself have pointed to the risk of mere sanctimony (16/05).

  11. Neil Bray

    Apart from my submission on Donald Trump, I have been making one simple point which I will make again in a different way.

    Our diocese is working towards creating a pastoral plan and invited submissions from all regarding it. The unfortunate priest in charge received a 13-page document from me amounting to four points which I consider vital. That was an effort to influence affairs.

    But this effort at influence is not the most important thing I can do. My main responsibility is to make myself pray for the success of the pastoral plan irrespective of whether or not my proposals are accepted or whether my involvement is sought in any capacity. The kenosis aspect of this responsibility is the Pope’s idea, (indeed that of his predecessors), not mine.

    This is the one point I have been trying to make not alone in relation to influence, but in relation to the disunity in the Church. The interactions we have done here indicate that the many doctrinal chasms in Catholicism, in the context of the fundamentals of our faith – The Sacrifice of the Mass, the nature of the ordained priesthood, conscience, objective evil to name but a few – cannot be resolved by discussion or argument but by God. Our most important weapon in this regard is also prayer. But engagement can also be helpful for different reasons.

    Since you mention my evasion of the child abuse scandal, I would say the following. There is plenty of evidence in Ireland of the baptised laity engaging in cover ups (both men and women) of many instances of such abuse, even as we speak. But the Church is now a very safe place for children, due to the involvement of selected lay people as safety agents. Any catholic association has to avoid identifying the current crop ordained priests as needing surveillance to protect children from them. It’s unfair. Catholic associations have to have better reasons than this for promoting (nothing wrong with that) the ministry of the laity in accordance with the nature of Catholicism.

    • soconaill

      Firstly, and by far most importantly: I agree fully with your paragraph four, and am grateful for the time you have taken with this.

      Second, ACI’s major focus just now is not the abuse issue – as you will see if you look under ‘Ongoing’. It is the looming possibility of Irish churches in which the sanctuary lamp has been alight for many generations being taken out of Eucharistic use, without the communities those churches have served ever having been convened to discuss that looming possibility. This is currently very likely to happen in this neck of the woods because the essential involvement of lay people in pastoral co-responsibility is not being forwarded by too many priests, and current canon law disables bishops from doing anything whatsoever about parish priests who behave this way. For more look at:

      Third, ‘surveillance’ is a pejorative and loaded way of describing the child safeguarding regime made mandatory even by the Vatican, a regime that has still not resolved the crucial issue of bishop accountability. Ian Elliott, the internationally consulted Irish child safeguarding expert responsible for the establishment of the NBSCCC 2007-2012 is on record as continuing to have serious misgivings about an Irish Catholic safeguarding system that does not give the NBSCCC true financial independence or the right to audit diocesan performance without notice and without a bishop having considerable residual leverage over a final NBSCCC report on his diocese. Meanwhile the hope of Archbishop Scicluna of Malta, the pope’s own go-to person on clerical child abuse – that bishops would make themselves accountable directly to their own people – has not been realised either – and this has particular significance for Ireland because of the far wider dialogical deficit since 1964.

      That canonical power of a bishop to postpone forever the dialogical confrontation of all of the issues that have arisen in Ireland since 1994 is currently hamstringing them. Your faith in God to resolve even that problem in time is well founded. Prayer teaches us all to be patient and to forgive, and an unknown number of Irish Catholics have a faith too strong to be destroyed by the failings of clergy, however shocking to begin with.

      Could it be that if you had taken the time initially to gather a holistic impression of what ACI is up to we could have gotten to fundamental agreement on para 4 a little earlier? Even so, this has been a useful exercise for which I am grateful.

  12. Neil Bray

    One assumes that one of the reasons for creating the ACI website was for the use of members of the ACI to interact with people of similar interests. There is no onus on the ACI to allow non-members to make submissions and I am grateful for being allowed to do so. So I will stop requesting space – for a while.

    I find interactions like these can create checks and balances on my own thinking.

    If my area was faced with the issue of the abandonment of Churches I’d be tempted to suggest to my neighbours to each spend time in different parishes in rural France to help assess the possibilities, keeping in mind of course the state ownership of most of the Churches there and the latter’s historical patrimonial value. The French have been dealing with this problem for years. I observe the different responses every year.

    In terms of the child abuse atrocity, has Divine Providence drawn good from the evil thereof? And does Divine Providence still expect something from Catholics in terms of the healing of the victims?

    Secular commentators in particular tend to refer to child sexual abusers as in effect “evil itself” but that is the limit of their analysis of evil per se. Have certain Irish theologians ignored the moral theological significance of the cover-ups?

    In Veritatis Splendor Pope St John Paul rejected the notion of proportionalism as a legitimate method of determining whether an action per se is evil or not. Simply put, under proportionalism, the determination of an action as evil relies on a judgement of the extent to which the proportional good or evil consequences of an action outweigh each other. This view has revived in recent years. Would the act of shooting Hitler dead in 1938 been a good act or an evil act?

    At least some cover-ups in the child abuse scandal were done in the belief that it was more important to save the reputation of the Catholic Church or of religion itself than to acknowledge the crime. This was proportionalism in action, even if the actors concerned never thought of the word proportionalism. Under proportionalism the actors involved could even claim to have acted in good conscience. The Irish cover-ups show why Veritatis Splendor rejected proportionalism. But some Irish moral theologians still teach and defend it without sufficient consideration of the difficulty of predicting the future or the resultant implications for the issue of conscience.
    Thank you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This