The year of mercy for torture, usury, and unjust war apologists

November 13, 2015 § 29 Comments

Pope Francis says:

“Before the problems of the church it is not useful to search for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of obsolete conduct and forms that no longer have the capacity of being significant culturally,” the pontiff said at one point during his remarks.

“Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts, interrogatives — but is alive, knows being unsettled, enlivened,” said the pope. “It has a face that is not rigid, it has a body that moves and grows, it has a soft flesh: it is called Jesus Christ.”

“The reform of the church then, and the church is semper reformanda  … does not end in the umpteenth plan to change structures,” he continued. “It means instead grafting yourself to and rooting yourself in Christ, leaving yourself to be guided by the Spirit — so that all will be possible with genius and creativity.”

This of course can be interpreted in a way which is perfectly orthodox, depending upon the listener; but the overall thrust of Francis’ preaching is unmistakable.  If I am interpreting him correctly, and I am pretty sure that I am, Pope Francis is telling us that intellectualism and hidebound rule-following is disconnected from real life and unmerciful; and that being a stickler for doctrine in the face of real pastoral situations in the peripheries is not walking with Jesus Christ.

Well, I have to say, he’s got my number. This blog is basically all about hidebound doctrinal rule-following, and justifying it intellectually. Probably the most prominent intellectualist doctrinal rule-following I am guilty of on this blog involves my condemnations of usury and torture.  Close behind that is the way I am such a stickler for the just war doctrine, and how I don’t give people a break for voting for Republican candidates who stump for torture and unjust wars. I’ve been mean and judgmental toward poor beta men on the peripheries of culturally significant sexual life, by calling into question the practice of lying to get women to have sex with them.  And I’ve even been known to criticize priests, on an intellectual technicality, for failing to follow the rules.

So maybe we should give unrepentant torture apologists, usury apologists, and unjust warmongerers tickets for Holy Communion, so they can get past the turnstiles and bouncers.  If the Pope says that doctrine has to take a back seat to pastoral mercy, well, who am I to judge?

§ 29 Responses to The year of mercy for torture, usury, and unjust war apologists

  • Harry says:

    Except for Mafiosi – you may remember that he purported to excommunicate them (though Canon Law doesn’t provide for this).

  • Zippy says:

    Well, he didn’t formally excommunicate the Mafia, as I read it. What he said was this:

    “Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated, …”

    So he gives the Mafia as an example of people who have excommunicated themselves by “[going] along the evil ways”.

    Presumably this also includes among others torturers, unjust war supporters, usurers, exploiters of the poor, employers who pay an unjust wage, the divorced and ‘remarried’, women who have had abortions and the abortionists who assisted in the murder, people who use contraception, and sodomites — all of whom have “gone along the evil ways”. I mean, if we are being inclusive not exclusive.

    These words cannot be taken in isolation, oh no! That would be entirely too promethean, even neopelagian, would be a self-involved means of making ourselves feel superior through judgmentalism and exclusionary rules! The walk with Jesus is a merciful walk, a walk in the flesh, where we go out to people in their lives in the world! It is not isolation in a doctrinal fortress to protect ourselves, no!

    In keeping with Pope Francis’ own pastoral emphasis I think we should de-emphasize the intellectual, doctrinal aspect here. We need to understand that in the periphery of organized crime, mortal sin is not culturally significant. Eventually, through a long pastoral process or short, all mafioso should be admitted to Holy Communion.

  • Mike T says:

    One of the many questions this behavior raises is how he can justify communion for those living in a state of adultery, but say a faithfully married couple has 3-8 kids and uses birth control no communion for them. That is a great example of the hypocrisy in this behavior. Someone living in blatant adultery, which was a sin that the Law punished with execution, is treated more “mercifully” than a couple that just doesn’t want to have more kids after they’ve been fruitful and multiplied a few times.

  • Mike T says:

    *non-abortifacient birth control

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Nobody who is in a state of mortal sin is supposed to receive Communion. But it isn’t as if there actually are any turnstiles or bouncers. Communion at Mass is the quintessential example of enforcement via the ‘honor system’.

    And in the half century I’ve been a Catholic I think I can count the combined number of times I’ve heard about adultery or contraception in a homily without running out of fingers.

    So what this is really about is getting permission – a moral license – to commit mortal sin and receive Communion anyway. It is about abandoning even the thin gruel of enforcement implied by the honor system.

  • Patrick says:

    “One of the many questions this behavior raises is how he can justify communion for those living in a state of adultery, but say a faithfully married couple has 3-8 kids and uses birth control no communion for them.”

    Yeah. A cynic or a true believer would probably say that’s the whole point. Ultimate “mercy” for anyone who chooses to conform to liberal norms rather than to the Church.

  • CJ says:

    So what this is really about is getting permission – a moral license – to commit *SOME* mortal sin[s] and receive Communion anyway.

    Fixed that for you. I bet those bishops with palatial residences are wondering where their pastoral approach is.

  • Mike T says:

    Nobody who is in a state of mortal sin is supposed to receive Communion.

    And therein is the matter of straining gnats while swallowing camels. According to Francis, if the Duggars were Catholic and decided to use condoms for a few years, they’d be in the same boat as a thrice remarried life long Christian whose “spouses” are all living. Yet, the latter would receive pastoral mercy despite basically doing the spiritual equivalent of trying to defecate on Christian teachings about marriage.

  • Mike T says:

    This is why many conservative Protestant churches reject literally any basis for remarriage while the spouse lives. Even if your spouse was secretly a sexually deviant, pathological liar atheist who told 100 people while stoned on heroin and doing lines of coke off a stripper’s ass that they intended to lie at the altar, the response is “too bad, no out for you because we won’t budge on anything.”

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    I realize that it is a thing of yours to occasionally waltz through here and downplay the vile, grave, despicable, hellfire-deserving evil of contraception.

    Take it somewhere else. I’m not in the mood.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    B.b.b.bbbuuut Zippy, [redacted].

    [Please address comments to the subject rather than making them about other thread participants. Thanks. ]

  • Mike T says:

    I love the smell of an ad hominem in the evenin….

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    Regarding torture, I thought this was a pretty incredible story. Not often that a major country admits to something like that.

    I can imagine most of our domestic torture apologists condemning the Russians stridently, which would be ironic since by our own apologists’ logic what the Russians did was sound. In fact, by their logic the Russians actually have the moral high ground because in one act of torture they permanently convinced Hezbollah to check passports for Russian nationality before kidnapping.

  • Mike T says:

    I don’t doubt that it is, but what I find interesting about the Russians versus our own apologists is the fact that the Russians, in their total lack of sentimentality about what they are doing, actually ended up using far less evil to accomplish their goals. Still gravely evil, but by going forth and sinning boldly they finished in one act what takes us possibly hundreds of acts of brutality.

  • Hrodgar says:

    If they actually had a total lack of sentimentality, then reason would teach them that no temporal benefit, however great, is worth any eternal loss, however small. Immorality is not an indicator of a LACK of sentimentality. Rather the reverse if anything.

    That said, having looked at the article, while the mutilation of the living is pretty clearly wrong and mutilation of corpses probably so (I haven’t looked deeply into the subject, but to bury the dead is one of the corporal acts of mercy, which would seem to imply that mutilating the dead would be in roughly the same moral realm as stealing a coat from a homeless person), whether killing relatives of terrorist leaders was wrong would seem on the face of it to depend pretty heavily on who those relatives were and what they were up to. They might themselves have been involved in the commission of acts of murder and assault against Russians, for instance.

    I’ll concede that, whatever their faults may be, the Russians who ordered those acts seem to have a better grasp of how people actually act than our current and recent administrations, so that when they sin for a temporal benefit, they are more likely to get some actual temporal benefit out of it.

  • Mike T says:

    I’ll concede that, whatever their faults may be, the Russians who ordered those acts seem to have a better grasp of how people actually act than our current and recent administrations, so that when they sin for a temporal benefit, they are more likely to get some actual temporal benefit out of it.

    Indeed. Both our acts of torture and theirs are insane from the perspective of eternity. However, one can recognize that the Russian method actually managed to get the mission accomplished in one single bout of highly targeted evil while our method accomplished nothing of value while doing about the same to endanger the immortal souls of everyone involved. In fact, one could argue that ours is worse because its ineffectiveness requires us to use it a hell of a lot more which introduces the additional moral danger of becoming spiritually reprobate.

  • Zippy says:

    Their acts are insane from the perspective of objective truth. Arguing over which gibbering drooling lunatic is more insane than the other gibbering drooling lunatics is foolishness. Arguing over whether short time preference is better than even shorter time preference is foolishness.

    The infatuation of some parts of the political right with ruthless Russian efficiency is not going to end well.

  • Mike T says:

    The infatuation of some parts of the political right with ruthless Russian efficiency is not going to end well.

    You are correct, sir. However, it is the natural consequence of creating a selectively legalistic and pacifist system. Our system rewards drone pilots that bomb entire city blocks to take out a terrorist or two, but prosecutes men like Allen West when they scare the ever loving hell out of a single man who gives them probable cause to think they’re a terrorist or terrorist collaborator.

    I think it is very nearly like what Europe faces in the dichotomy between hard nationalists and multiculturalists. The inability of the moderates to actually have a spine and govern according to reason and morals has forced a lot of people to perceive that there is no viable choice other than a bad one.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    However, it is the natural consequence of creating a selectively legalistic and pacifist system.

    The way that I have put it in the past is that when you strip away liberalism’s unsustainable ‘noble lies’ without unequivocally repudiating its metaphysic, what you are left with is ruthlessly efficient brutality.

  • ACThinker says:

    Mike T November 13, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    None of the reasons you list here actually would count for a Catholic either. It would be acceptable for a separation, but not remarriage, would require an annulment, and these aren’t grounds for them on the face of it. A separation is used as a safety mechanism, which is to say when staying in the same house is physically dangerous, the couple may separate.
    Example of grounds – lack of substance – ie one of the spouse is already married, then obviously the new marriage is invalid. It would be like trying to use wonder bread for communion bread, or apple juice for communion wine. Have to have the right stuff to have the sacrament take place.

  • Mike T says:

    these aren’t grounds for them on the face of it

    I am not a Catholic, but I find it hard to believe there is no basis for an annulment when one of the parties confesses beforehand that they intend to lie their ass off at the altar about their beliefs and commitment to living that way.

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