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See, Pope, run

A few months ago, Your Humble Blogger wrote the following: The essential dividing line in American culture at the moment is the answer to this question: do you believe that all those outside of your church tradition are damned? The political events of the last three months have only confirmed YHB in this belief. Furthermore, I think that the question of what I’ve called essentialism versus pluralism is of paramount importance worldwide, in that the more that we pluralists ignore it, the worse things become.

Your Humble Blogger is, as Gentle Reader are aware, not a Christian, let alone a Catholic. In keeping with my pluralism, I find it perfectly plausible that the Catholic Church can do a great deal of good. A cursory examination of the last four decades shows, I think, that the late pontiff did a tremendous amount of good in the world, and I mean real, tangible good. I also found myself absolutely opposed to him, because of the absolutist policies he endorsed.

Now, I couldn’t possibly care less about who leads a sect of somebody else’s religion, not even if I tried. And as an American, I find the image of our secular leaders kowtowing to any foreign imam grotesque. Further, I can’t imagine why anybody would be interested in my take on the late Pope, as the church hierarchy clearly is trying to care as little as possible about those Americans who actually are part of their flock, much less those outside it. Still, I observe that the late pontiff was one of the most influential figures of the late twentieth century, and I also observe that we are having something of a national conversation about his legacy, so I hope y’all will excuse the unutterable arrogance and irrelevance of anything I have to say on the topic. Any Gentle Reader who wants to read something from an informed and affected writer should probably go to Body and Soul to read, among other entries, The Fundie Pope.

Among the articles to which Jeanne D’Orleans points is an interview with John Cornwell called A Profoundly Reactionary Pope. In this, Mr. Cornwell says, “ In the mid 1990s, John Paul's writing on secularism, democracy, capitalism, and pluralism became ever more critical. He began to state clearly in print that we are only free in order to pursue to truth. Ultimately, as he points out, the truth is the truth of the Catholic Church as expounded by the infallible Magisterium of the popes.” I think this is a great description of the basic mindset of essentialists. Many of the people in our government who I have described as fascists seem to feel that democracy is all well and good, but that it should be within the context of pursuit of the truth, as expounded by whatever infallible guru the particular fascist credits.

Now, most essentialists are not fascists. Most essentialists, I venture to say, really do have understanding, love, and pity for the damned. Many even have respect for them, to an extent. But ultimately, they are irrelevant. The people outside the church, or even the people who are only imperfectly part of the church, really exist only in opposition to it. And, ultimately, as they are undergoing eternal damnation, their suffering here has got to be a lower priority. Thus, clearly, denying condoms even as disease prophylaxis is required, because the inevitable deaths that lead from the policy are a better outcome than the damnations that would lead from the other. The Holy Father John Paul II was not a fascist, but he was willing to make the decisions his essentialism laid down for him, and that can’t be forgiven or forgotten, even as we remember his championing individual sovereignty, individual compassion, and peace. All of those things existed, and were a force for good, but he couldn’t, or at any rate didn’t, finally accept that there were many paths to heaven.

I suspect, ultimately, that the legacy the next Pope will have to deal with is the legacy of Dominus Jesus, a theological document that went out from the infallible Magisterium and which says, as clearly as it is possible for a diplomatic document to state, which side of my divide the Church is on. Again, this document isn’t addressed to me, or to you, Gentle Reader, but if you wanted to know who is working against pluralism in this country and the world, it’s good to know.

I’ve taken the liberty of bolding some pieces, but I hope I’ve included enough context to show the document fairly. I also removed the footnotes, which can be followed on the Vatican’s copy.

However, from what has been stated above about the mediation of Jesus Christ and the "unique and special relationship" which the Church has with the kingdom of God among men—which in substance is the universal kingdom of Christ the Saviour—it is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God.

Certainly, the various religious traditions contain and offer religious elements which come from God, and which are part of what "the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures, and religions". Indeed, some prayers and rituals of the other religions may assume a role of preparation for the Gospel, in that they are occasions or pedagogical helps in which the human heart is prompted to be open to the action of God. One cannot attribute to these, however, a divine origin or an ex opere operato salvific efficacy, which is proper to the Christian sacraments. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors (cf. 1 Cor 10:20-21), constitute an obstacle to salvation.

22. With the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Acts 17:30-31). This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism "characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that one religion is as good as another'". If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation. However, "all the children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged". One understands then that, following the Lord's command (cf. Mt 28:19-20) and as a requirement of her love for all people, the Church "proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life".

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,


if there are to be wars over resources like water or energy in the future, i feel like there's a high probability that statements like those will be used to justify the violence.

however i also feel that such essentialism has a price, depending strongly on the separation of the various antithetical groups. in the rich world, surrounded by people who are cooperating for the common good, it isn't as hard as it once was to call a particular religious doctrine self-serving, ignorant, or greedy.

the doctrine against the distribution of condoms amounts to declaring war on the poor, with each church prejudging a population, declaring it irredeemable, and consigning it to death over an issue which is known to be related to poverty.

i don't see the sense of this. if there is absolutely no way to atone for a particular sin, if there is no earthly redemption, why follow the pope - and what do all those crucifixes stand for, anyway.

adding: the president attended the pope's funeral, but i believe has still not attended the funeral of a fallen american soldier.

also, now that the PR onslaught has started for the new papacy: maybe it's common to read emphasis on (anybody's) church orthodoxy as a rejection of economic and political decentralization - democratization - in the 20th century. i was thinking that until i realized that the rejection was coming from people who had themselves received a chunk of this newly distributed power. this implies to me that democracy is seen by many as a temporary truce between good and evil, a stage that will lead back to the natural monopoly of the righteous.

I should mention that Pope Benedict XVI was the author of the piece I quoted at some length, the Dominus Jesus. That is, it is his name attached as the author; it went out with the full authority of the Holy See, and as such individual authorship is not clearly meaningful. Still, if you were thinking of applying my question to the new regime, well, I think it's been answered already.

hmm, yes.

also i absolutely hate it when i post things anywhere that are repetitions of things people have been saying for ages. some people bunch together for the sake of creating instability or adding strangeness to their lives, some people don't, others neither do or don't - it's unrealistic to expect that every person, or any particular person, who receives power in a power-sharing arrangement will want to apply their power according to foreign or even shared moral guidelines.

will he really throw out tens of millions of western hemisphere syncretic catholics? won't they just take their true beliefs underground again?

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