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Pope Francis Should Seek Clarity on Moral Responsibility

One of the consequences of living in an information age is that we are made instantly, and constantly, aware of the disasters around the world, both natural and man-made, and of the enormous suffering that they cause. There are no more far-away lands of which to know nothing, to quote Neville Chamberlain, a man whom nobody would describe as wicked but yet who is the most despised of British Prime Ministers. We are all citizens of the world now.

Knowledge of suffering seems to place upon us an obligation of compassion that is greater than we can possibly bear. We respond in one of two ways: to claim a level of feeling that is greater than we actually can or do feel, in which case we become humbugs; or we harden our hearts and become like Pharaoh. The compassion center in our brain, if such exists (and some neuroscientists claimed to have found the empathy center), is overwhelmed and worn out. A visitor to Mussolini once emerged from his visit exclaiming ‘Too many spats! Too many spats!’; our compassion center, in like fashion, cries ‘Too many famines! Too many civil wars!’ And so we retire to cultivate our garden.

Pope Francis chose Lampedusa recently as his first place to visit outside Rome after his election to the papacy. Lampedusa is an Italian island of 8 square miles with a permanent population of 6000, which so far this year has received 7800 migrants trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean from sub-Saharan and North Africa, that is to say more than 1000 a month. When the Pope officiated at mass on the island’s sports field, there were 10,000 in the congregation, two thirds more than the permanent population, suggesting that the migrants stay a few months at least on Lampedusa. How far the 4000 non-inhabitants of Lampedusa (many of them presumably non-Catholics) attended the mass for religious reasons, and how many for political advantage, may be guessed at but not known.

In effect the island has been transformed into a refugee camp, not necessarily with the approval or agreement of the original inhabitants. This was a fait accompli imposed upon them by political, historical and geographical circumstances.

Estimates suggest that about 100 migrants a month for the past twenty years have drowned during their clandestine passage across the Mediterranean towards Europe. This being the case, no one could possibly say that the migrants decided on the journey in a whimsical or light-hearted fashion. The attraction of Europe or the repulsion of their homelands, or both, must be very powerful for so many people to risk so high a chance of so pathetic a death. The Pope said that all his compassion went to the immigrants who had died at sea ‘in these boats that, instead of bringing hope of a better life, brought them to death,’ and this was right and proper. Surely someone must be lacking in both imagination and feeling not to sorrow for these poor people.

Compassionate fellow-feeling, however, can soon become self-indulgent and lead to spiritual pride. It imparts an inner glow, like a shot of whiskey on a cold day, but like whiskey it can prevent the clear-headedness which we need at least as much as we need warmth of heart. Pascal said that the beginning of morality was to think well; generosity of spirit is not enough.

In his homily, the Pope decried what he called ‘the globalization of indifference’ to the suffering of which the tragedy of the drowned was a manifestation and a consequence. Our culture of comfort, he said, has made us indifferent to the sufferings of others; we have forgotten how to cry on their behalf. He made reference to the play of Lope de Vega in which a tyrant is killed by the inhabitants of a town called Fuente Ovejuna, no one owning up to the killing and everyone saying that it was Fuente Ovejuna that killed him. The West, said the Pope, was like Fuente Ovejuna, for when asked who was to blame for the deaths of these migrants, it answered, ‘Everyone and no one!’ He continued, ‘Today also this question emerges: who is responsible for the blood of these brothers and sisters? No one! We each reply: it was not I, I wasn’t here, it was someone else.’

The Pope also called for ‘those who take the socio-economic decisions in anonymity that open the way to tragedies such as these to come out of hiding.’

With all due respect, I think this is very loose thinking indeed of a kind that the last Pope would not have permitted himself. The analogy between the two situations, the murder of the tyrant in Fuente Ovejuna and the death by drowning of thousands of migrants, is weak to the point of non-existence. After all, someone in Fuente Ovejuna did kill the tyrant; no one in the west drowned the migrants. Is the Pope then saying that Europe’s refusal to allow in all who want to come is the moral equivalent of actually wielding the knife?

By elevating feeling over thought, by making compassion the measure of all things, the Pope was able to evade the complexities of the situation, in effect indulging in one of the characteristic vices of our time, moral exhibitionism, which is the espousal of generous sentiment without the pain of having to think of the costs to other people of the implied (but unstated) morally-appropriate policy. This imprecision allowed him to evade the vexed question as to exactly how many of the suffering of Africa, and elsewhere, Europe was supposed to admit and subsidize (and by Europe I mean, of course, the European taxpayer, who might have problems of his own). I was reminded of a discussion in my French family in which one brother-in-law complained to another of the ungenerous attitude of the French state towards immigrants from the Third World. ‘Well,’ said the other, ‘you have room enough. Why don’t you take ten Malians?’ To this there was no reply except that it was a low blow: though to me it seemed a perfectly reasonable response.

The Pope’s use of a term such as ‘those who take the socio-economic decisions in anonymity’ was strong on connotation but weak on denotation, itself a sign of intellectual evasion. Who, exactly, were ‘those’ people? Wall Street hedge fund managers, the International Monetary Fund, opponents of free trade, African dictators? Was he saying that the whole world economic system was to blame for the migration across the Mediterranean, that the existence of borders was illegitimate, that Denmark (for example) was rich because Swaziland was poor, that if only Losotho were brought up to the level of Liechtenstein (or, of course, if Liechtenstein were brought down to the level of Lesotho) no one would drown in the Mediterranean? There was something for everyone’s conspiracy theory in his words; but whatever else they meant, we were to understand that he was on the side of the little man, not the big, itself a metonym for virtuous sentiment. The only specific group whom the Pope denounced were the traffickers in people, those who arrange passage of the migrants in return for money and who are utterly indifferent to their safety; but this denunciation hardly required moral courage because such people have no defenders.

Warmth of feeling cannot be the sole guide to our responses to the dilemmas that the world constantly puts in our path. There was, for example, a sudden influx of Congolese refugees into the city in which I worked as a doctor. Within a short time a ‘community’ grew up and in three or four years the Congolese population of the city went from zero to half a per cent of the entire population.

I had quite a few Congolese patients and although the regulations stated that they were to be treated only in emergencies I could hardly refuse them other treatment, and did not. I soon found that I was giving them advice on all sorts of non-medical matters. I liked them as people; often they had suffered terribly; most of them were determined to do their best in their new country. In many ways they were admirable (admirable people often emerge from the most terrible circumstances). It helped our relations that I had once crossed the Congo in the days when it was Zaire and that I knew something of the country’s history; to meet someone for whom the Congo was not merely a name, if even that, must have been a relief to them in their isolation.

Despite my sympathy for them (how much better their children behaved than the spoilt brats of the local population!), and the fact that I was willing to break some bureaucratic rules on their behalf, I did not think that the government could very well throw wide open the doors of the country to the Congo and let all who wished come, although there was no reason to suppose that those who would be excluded would be any worse human beings than those who were admitted. There was injustice in this, for some would benefit and others would suffer merely by chance and not by merit or demerit. But to right this injustice would be worse than not to right it: hence the tragedy. The nature of human existence inevitably creates conflict between desiderata.

That is one of the reasons why the kingdom of the Pope’s master could not possibly be of this world. And the absence of the tragic sense in the Pope’s remarks allowed him to wallow in a pleasing warm bath of sentiment without distraction by complex and unpleasant realities. Perhaps this will earn him applause in the short run; but in the long run he does not serve his flock by such over-simplifications.

Reader Discussion

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on July 22, 2013 at 16:05:13 pm

Thank you for your article. The same could be said in a similar application to Arizona and the other southwestern States that share borders with Mexico. Hundreds die crossing the Arizona desert, despite water stations and call boxes placed throughout the deserts by the federal government (with signs in English, Mexican, and Chinese) to accommodate those entering the United States illegally-- while ignoring the execution of current U.S. immigration laws.

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T.M. Eisenhauer
on July 24, 2013 at 10:28:36 am

In Australia a pragmatic approach by the Liberal (conservative) government almost completely stopped the boat people ("asylum seekers" in the language of the moral exhibitionists).

The moral exhibitionism of the Labor government led by Kevin Rudd (elected in 2007) created a situation where nearly 50,000 people have now come to Australia by boat and over 1,000 have drowned.

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Michael O
on July 24, 2013 at 20:06:17 pm

This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking article. However, I'm still a bit hazy as to how the costs of doing the right thing outweigh the benefits of doing it. In particular,
"there was injustice in this, for some would benefit and others would suffer merely by chance and not by merit or demerit. But to right this injustice would be worse than not to right it: hence the tragedy."

What exactly are the costs? Higher taxes? Higher population density? Are you saying that these are all more important than human lives?

The current problem in the world is not moral exhibitionism. It is the rampant materialism and egoism, the "me-me-me" culture in our society.

As an aside, as a believer, the kingdom of the Pope's master cannot indeed be of a world like that. But it will come and when it does, we will be answerable to Him who is in charge of all things.

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Boris
on July 24, 2013 at 21:43:23 pm

As a rabbi columnist recently pointed out, compassion has a bastard half-brother just like other virtues. Think of the distinction between generosity and profligacy. He called in "compassionitis" and fingered the very fallacy in the inflicted subject's mentality. Their wits having been turned by Weltschmerz, they can no longer bear the thought of some particular sub-set of the world's tragedy and suffering, so begin clamoring for something, anything to be used as a remedy. As TD points out, at that point they are impervious to reasoning that points to others who must lose if their Designated Victims gain, or point (as in the Congo example) to a need to consider the primary school arithmetic of the situation. Aristotle, the first philosopher to scrutinize the generosity/profligacy distinction, drew the ultimate conclusion 2500 years ago: in the long run, impractical morality is no morality at all.

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LewB
on July 28, 2013 at 07:02:11 am

Sentimentality in the Catholic Church?
Well, THAT'S never happened before.

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Anton
on July 28, 2013 at 17:21:58 pm

I am in agreement with your assessment of our Pope's words. I have been reading his many speeches over the past months and find that he provides a sloppy slap against the infamous "them" without recognizing the reality of the situation. I'm recalling also his speech on labor -- he spoke saying that there are no jobs to even have -- and instead of thanking the people who create jobs -- he laid it at their feet that they did not create ENOUGH jobs because of their greed.

HUH?!?!!?? This reminds me of Christ's words this past week about a house divided amongst itself. How is it that the very capitalist system that has created jobs and lifted millions -- nay, BILLIONS -- from the scourge of subsistence living -- how is it that very same system is so grossly indulgent that it does not create yet more jobs? No word, as I recall, about the goverments who have regulated the jobs away (witness Obamacares effect on full-time work).

Where is this Pope's discipline in intellect? I am faithful, but I see only the simple easy path -- to paint a boogey-man in others.

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Rob
on August 01, 2013 at 19:51:35 pm

Great article and so well stated. Unlike our Pope, unfortunately. I do hate to say it but the new Pope (or should I say, Bishop of Rome) continues to amaze and stun me, almost on a daily basis, with his apparent lack of forethought before opening his mouth or taking one action or another. I am a Catholic and he is my Pope but I shudder to think what's coming down the pike with him at the helm.

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Elizabeth
on August 01, 2013 at 23:17:35 pm

Amazing that TD isn't a Traditional Catholic.

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JR
on August 01, 2013 at 23:55:59 pm

Non-Catholics, please understand that there's been a revolution in the Catholic Church. It was officially sanctioned during the Hippie Council, aka the Judas Council, aka the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65. The wretched sentimentality, exhibitionist "humility," and adolescent frivolity seen from the likes of Pope Francis and John Paul II (do not be deceived; JP II was no conservative, but was thoroughly on board with the Judas Council Revolution) flows from the philosophical and theological poisons of modernism and neo-modernism endorsed during this revolution and spread by its dread spirit.

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Alphonsus Jr.
on August 02, 2013 at 03:48:41 am

To borrow from Abraham Lincoln, what is this great thing that no man wants for himself?

As TD's brother in law amply demonstrated, immigrants are wonderful, as long as someone else must endure them rather than ourselves. Nothing smells so foul as the vile stench of hypocrisy.......

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Christian
on August 04, 2013 at 14:07:32 pm

I too have to wonder about our new pope. I was so glad when he was elected but have to struggle to make excuses to myself for some of the things he says and does. He seems so warm and loving, and full of devotion to the Blessed Mother and Eucharist, etc. His visit to Lampedusa troubled me, not because of the very tragic suffering that occurs and should rightly be acknowledged and dealt with, but rather his lack of seeming to care for what this huge influx of immigrants means to the lives of the ordinary people who already are struggling to get by. We have the same problem in the USA and many countries around the world, from what I gather. To me, whoever the powers that be are the ones he should address. I see it as cheap labor for the elites - they are the ones responsible from what I can tell, causing people to have to leave their homes and try to make it to another country. It is not fair to pretend that letting in millions of immigrants does not hurt the most vulnerable of our countries who have no work and very little hope either. Pope Francis seems like a good and intelligent man, so I have to wonder why he does the things he does. As pope, he is shepherd of all of us - I pray he may be more clear on where he is coming from.

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Edie
on August 06, 2013 at 16:04:45 pm

Again...how many divisions does the Pope have? Moral exhibitionism is only worrisome when it's wedded to political power. https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/353797/front-man

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Dennis
on August 08, 2013 at 13:18:24 pm

Thank God you are not the pope!

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gerard
on August 08, 2013 at 14:00:38 pm

[...] That is one of the reasons why the kingdom of the Pope’s master could not possibly be of this world. And the absence of the tragic sense in the Pope’s remarks allowed him to wallow in a pleasing warm bath of sentiment without distraction by complex and unpleasant realities. Perhaps this will earn him applause in the short run; but in the long run he does not serve his flock by such over-simplifications. [...]

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Image of Papalism and Its Discontents | Old Life Theological Society
Papalism and Its Discontents | Old Life Theological Society
on August 08, 2013 at 21:07:50 pm

[...] Theodore Dalrymple’s tough critique of the Pope’s visit to Lampedusa: [...]

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Image of Two unrelated but interesting posts on sentimentality | Foolishness to the world
Two unrelated but interesting posts on sentimentality | Foolishness to the world
on August 08, 2013 at 21:50:19 pm

Sadly, Francis does not have the clarity of Benedict.

Michael Voris is right. This is shaping up to be a very messy Papacy. Thinking before speaking would go a long way.

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Marc
on August 09, 2013 at 09:02:29 am

[...] via Pope Francis Should Seek Clarity on Moral Responsibility | Online Library of Law and Liberty. [...]

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Image of Pope Francis Should Seek Clarity on Moral Responsibility | Catholic4Life
Pope Francis Should Seek Clarity on Moral Responsibility | Catholic4Life
on August 09, 2013 at 11:19:26 am

So far, the new pope is a "head scratcher" on my part.

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D Paul
on August 09, 2013 at 12:01:43 pm

I hate to be so blunt but this piece is making me slightly ill. Worse, is the Amen corner. As "Edie" writes: "I too have to wonder about our new pope. I was so glad when he was elected but have to struggle to make excuses to myself for some of the things he says and does." Don't struggle, Edie. The pope is not a mayor or a dimwitted Congressman the head of a political party. He is our Pope and it disgusts me to see him dragged down. I'm a Catholic. I honour the Pope. If you think you have to make excuses for him then try not speaking. Instead, study his words and pray over them. All I've seen so far is a man moved by extreme poverty and millions of people forced to roam the world for the kind of things most of us take for granted. If this doesn't make sense, trying reading the Gospels. And if that doesn't make sense, make an appointment with your priest.

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Charles Lewis
on August 09, 2013 at 12:35:53 pm

[...] This article by Theodore Dalrymple chides the pope directly. After discussing the pope’s remarks at Lampedusa, he writes: [...]

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Image of Conservative Catholics Gloves Coming Off | CathNewsUSA
Conservative Catholics Gloves Coming Off | CathNewsUSA
on August 09, 2013 at 12:51:35 pm

Thank you, Dr. Dalrymple, for an excellent and, yes, brave article. You dare to challenge the prevalent mood of our age which is, unfortunately, sentimental emotionalism. I also find Pope Francis shallow to the point of incoherence.

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Sygurd
on August 09, 2013 at 18:19:14 pm

Catholic teaching is very clear: a Pope's self indulgent foray into economic, immigration and social policy incoherence is not binding on the Catholic faithful. The Pope is either undisciplined and a flabby thinker or he has more fondness for Marxist doctrine than we have been led to believe. He can spend the rest of his Papacy fulminating against "them" or writing economically illiterate tracts against "the Man" but it in no way becomes part of the Deposit of Faith.

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Tarr
on August 09, 2013 at 22:20:58 pm

I think this was what Pope Francis was trying to call attention to. Dr. Dalrymple makes good points and I agree the analogy, when analyzed closely, is weak but who says all of the Popes arguments are flawless? You're right in saying that our society is egoistic, and this has been the focus of recent Popes' preaching. Dr. Dalrymple even alludes to this problem but failed to see that maybe the Pope was making a comment on Western society's tendency to shirk personal charity in favor of the Somebody-Else's-Problem mentality.

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Patrick
on August 10, 2013 at 00:13:32 am

It seems to me that in his talk at Lampedusa (and other similar ones) Pope Francis is asking for more imagination (yes, triggered by compassion), not simply accepting all that come to the door. Could "we" help fix the situations that compel them to leave their homelands? That is more imaginative and, ultimately, more effective.

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Fr. James Dallen
on August 10, 2013 at 02:06:55 am

The Pope is clearly the spiritual equivalent of Ronald McDonald, an oddly costumed media creation designed to say things that people want to hear but no one in their right mind would actually care about.

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chuck
on August 10, 2013 at 14:18:46 pm

This is exactly like the Mexico/US issue. And those who think they should all be allowed to come here are supporting recipes for disaster.

When we collapse, as we are on our way to doing, we will not be able to help anyone, or provide sanctuary for anyone. And, Mexicans are not abused or living in a totalitarian state. They have, in fact, almost the identical Constitution as ours; they copied it from ours.

As in Europe, I am not sure how those who don't live in the real world as compared to some world of self-fulfilling idealizing, , can decide that the rest of us should fund and give way to those from other countries. Countries, which, by the way, have had longer to make it than we have had.

To survive, countries need to act in their own national interest, and no one has done more for the world than the west, and in particular, the United States. We can help people in their own countries, but not let them threaten the existence of ours.

I thought the Pope's comparison to be foolish, and inclined to encourage the sense of entitlement in those in wretched countries, as to their rights to take over , in huge numbers, the rest of the world. A recipe for disaster. For everyone.

The impoverished, ignorant, uneducated, and unhealthy inhabitants of the world may thus entitled, but we do not need to feel compelled to let them in. We cannot sustain the one out of three Mexicans who say they will come here if they can, and Europe cannot be expected to acquiesce to the demands of the millions from back-water countries who want to take over Europe's countries, and lead them to absolute bankruptcy and dissolution of their sovereignty.

We will fall. And take a look at the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, which includes letting in too many people who did not share the Roman vision, and creating huge welfare classes.

Why is France, for instance, supposed to give up their country to take in Muslims who want to take over all aspects of France- religion, law, culture, treatment of women, education - everything? And, by the way, that is the Muslim plan for the world.

It is time for citizens to get over apologizing for wishing to preserve their national identity and prosperity, in favor of those who did nothing to help achieve that status, and whose goal, in many cases is either to deliberately destroy their host culture, or to change it by sheer numbers and demands.

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Evangeline Brabant
on August 10, 2013 at 19:10:12 pm

Of course it's not part of the deposit of faith. But I think there's something you don't understand in all this. It's okay to criticize capitalism and not be a socialist. Look at Rerum novarum — an encyclical from Pope Leo XIII — that demanded capitalist industry do such things as pay a living wage and reduce the hours of workers. Leo XIII was no socialist but he recognized that abuse can come from any ideology. Besides, in what way has Benedict fulminated against "them" or "the man?" His concern about the poor is not an indictment those who have. It almost seems as if you don't want a Catholic pope but a Republican. Again, read the Gospels. Jesus was criticized by the "them" of those times for hanging out with the riff raff. Whose side would you have been on, Tarr?

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Charles Lewis
on August 10, 2013 at 19:19:20 pm

Gerard: I"m so thankful to see there is one person here who has not lost his mind. Have you seen the comment referring to Vatican II from someone named Alphonsus: "It was officially sanctioned during the Hippie Council, aka the Judas Council, aka the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65." Thank God the views of the Catholics here who agree with the rabbi's assessment are in a tiny minority position. They know better than the pope, they dismiss Vatican II even though it is an official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. You're right, I'm so glad the author of this article is not the pope and his "Amen Corner" is not made up of our bishops. I don't think I'll ever stomach coming to this site again. For you Catholics attacking Pope Francis, you should all be deeply ashamed.

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Charles Lewis
on August 11, 2013 at 02:07:50 am

Dr Dalrymple is being kind to this Pope.

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Stephen Manning
on August 11, 2013 at 08:48:48 am

One hasn't lost one's mind to find fault with muddled public comments. If the Pope is going to condemn cultural and systemic evil, then he should recognize how voices within the Church have contributed to the repression of individual moral conscience through the theological downplaying of personal sin over recent decades. Central to our faith is the recognition that evil in the world is entirely sourced in the collective effects of human individuals failing the better angels of their nature. Our Lord was not crucified over a “misunderstanding.”

Moral exhibitionism, the sort that condemns greed but says nothing about sloth and envy, is as evil as material exhibitionism. It increases in proportion to a refusal to soberly consider the social effects of personal sin. Thus, we wind up with civilizations whose social ethos treat the crushing of baby skulls in abortion or the veneration of the mental affliction of homosexuality as acts of “compassion.”

The new evangelism can not evade the reality that all of us, not some of us, all of us are sinners.

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Father George Ryan
on August 11, 2013 at 13:14:45 pm

You advise us to read the Gospels. OK, let's read them in the context of Pope Francis' words and actions. Pope Francis refuses the papal privileges (or what's left of them); Jesus praised Mary for anointing him with an expensive oil (and Judas complained about its not being sold and the money given to the poor). Pope Francis thinks that Christianity is all about poverty; Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you". Pope Francis talks constantly about changing the world; Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world. This is to show that your "argument" is extremely selective and feeble. One can support almost anything by picking and choosing isolated quotes and situations from the Bible. On the basis of Matthew 8:22 we could argue that the burial of the dead is not necessary; on the basis of Mark 7:2-9 we could argue against washing our hands before eating. So let's stop this foolishness and face the facts: Pope Francis' wishy-washy, shallow rhetoric does nothing to strenghten the Catholic faith.

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Sygurd
on August 11, 2013 at 18:59:51 pm

Dr Dalrymple, thank you for clearly enunciating what a lot of faithful Catholics have been hearing, seeing and sensing about Pope Francis. It is not being unkind or critical to state the obvious.."He puts us nervous". Words are simple, Solutions are difficult. Cardinal Burke recently stated the most cogent thought on the whole matter...namely..."To fix the Church, fix the liturgy first" Since the Church and it's liturgy is first of all about glorifying God and worshiping He and His Son Jesus Christ, it is no small thing. To the contrary it is foundational to our faith and Christ's Church. Therefore, the liturgy is critical. It's an area that PF has direct control (if he so chooses to exercise it) and has an immense impact. The last 50 years have provided empirical evidence of same...to wit..the Churches have been emptied in direct correlation to the cram down of the N.O. liturgy post Vatican2

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James
on August 11, 2013 at 20:51:42 pm

Yes, but the US of A did invade the US of Mexico and we are still paying the price for that unjust invasion. US soldiers entered Mexico illegally -definately breaking Mexican law when they invaded.

Anyway, US law allows people to enter without a visa and seek refuge for legitimate reason. So not everyone who enters the US without a visa (and stays!) is an illegal, yes some are.

I think the pope is referring in part (and accurately) to people who anonymously vote for politicians with unjust policies.

Very clear thinking from the pope that BXV would be proud of.

(By the way, "Mexican" is the original language (excluding Indian languages of course) of the border (and some other) states, so please remember that English is the "second language" for California, Tejas, Colorado (Colored) etc, and get used to signs in the original language - Mexican)

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Daniel
on August 11, 2013 at 21:03:01 pm

No, it was the refusal of the Liberal government there to pass the Rudd government's original plan that created the situation. The original plan took away the incentives to get in a boat, while still living up to our moral obligation to accept legitimate assylum seekers.

Rudd was simply living up to Aussie international (and natural law) obligations.
Aussie's I know voted for his government partly because they were embarrassed to be Australians under the Howard government's treatment of legitimate refugees. You are correct that he stopped boat people, but that included legitimate assylum seekers, and for that reason he is remembered as someone who manipulated Aussie selfishness in the way described accurately by the pope.

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Daniel
on August 13, 2013 at 15:45:30 pm

James,
You are right to be concerned about corruptions to liturgy, but wrong about the source of entropy in Catholic practice. Correlations do not establish causality.

Nonetheless, the one correlation that is most meaningful is the loss of a sense of humility and a loss of a sense of our fallen state. Decreased confession lines is the most telling fact about the state of the Church. The entirely orthodox nature of Vatican II is not at fault. The fault lies with the cultural breakdown of the post war era, which accelerated during the sixties, and how it affected so much junk theology in our ecclesial culture. A world that should have come to terms with the reality of a universal, ingrained evilness in the human condition, made clear by the war experience, instead took refuge in false ideologies and pseudo-scientific determinist explanations of the human condition that made it easier for us to explain evil in the world in terms of certain catagories of people from whom we are able to exclude ourselves and exonerate ourselves. This sort of thinking infected many not very bright theologians within the Church, but it became an easy sell to post-war generations suffering from corrupt university educations.

Meeting Our Savior in the Eucharist is the focal point of our faith. But so is the constant realization of how our sins lead us to need a savior.

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Father George Ryan
on August 15, 2013 at 03:53:08 am

And no one on the right side of sanity could possibly accuse the Catholic Church of not being a part of the solution to the problems of the material world. It could sit back and say "render unto Caesar" but it doesn't, unlike the Cassandra du jour: Dr Dalrymple who just points and sneers from a distance and is incapable of offering solutions.

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Amber
on August 15, 2013 at 12:17:54 pm

Dear Father,
You wrote:
"The entirely orthodox nature of Vatican II is not at fault. The fault lies with the cultural breakdown of the post war era, which accelerated during the sixties, and how it affected so much junk theology in our ecclesial culture."
Didn't Pope John XXIII and the Council fathers (not to mention the Holy Spirit) know that before they decided to "open the windows" to such a world?

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Sygurd
on August 15, 2013 at 17:35:29 pm

Daniel, your comments on both Arizona and Australia are confident, assertive and full of seeming facts, but ring of fanaticism. Being Australian and NOT a Rudd fan, I think your characterisation of his asylum policy is way off mark. The current Rudd solution of sending boats to Papua New Guinea with a suggestion of settlement there because (as Rudd party TV ads loudly announce) boat people will NEVER settle in Australia is pure political theatre - neither party knows what the hell to do for the reasons Dalrymple outlines.

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angela
on August 16, 2013 at 14:36:52 pm

I said more than what you quote. Selective sentence attacks are a rather lamentable internet practice. Clearly, I made additional remarks of a post-war culture swayed by powerful collective desires to not be reminded of the sinful nature of man.
It’s rather insulting to the Holy Spirit that you would lump providential guidance with the fallibility of human prudential judgments, which should in themselves not be held accountable to individual sins of pride among theologians. The “windows” expression is obviously a metaphor, and it referred to the powerful instruments of evangelization that Vatican II gave the Church.
No disrespect, but I tend to doubt you’ve done much missionary work. You do not speak to the souls of non-believers without proving to them that God has not abandoned them. Vatican II gave authoritative expression to one of its prime doctrines, the universal salvific will of God. The fact that more-compassionate-than-thou fools and idiots used this to justify the unjustifiable in moral theology and liturgical abuses is not the fault of Vatican II and its veneration of Catholic truth.

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Father George Ryan
on August 16, 2013 at 15:34:36 pm

I guess the doctrine of Papal Infallibility means nothing to you people.

Perhaps you'd like to exchange it for The Doctrime of Dalrympian Infallibility.

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Sophia
on August 18, 2013 at 14:40:26 pm

Read the pope's comments as a whole. His message is clear: give more love and attention to the poor, to the children dying of hunger, to the miserable immigrants. Are we not giving enough love? Most likely so... Do your part in this job. I just wish he would give his people a louder and clearer guidance in other areas in our church. http://bit.ly/13ZC4QH

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Eddie N.
on August 25, 2013 at 02:09:16 am

Papal Infallibility has to do with solemn ex cathedra decisions and nothing at all to do with the personal homeletic style of popes, which are always subject to their human fallibility.

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Father George Ryan
on August 30, 2013 at 13:18:07 pm

[…] of people of “indifference” to the plight of migrants. Essayist Theodore Dalrymple took the Holy Father to task for the “loose thinking” behind his and, by extension, Archbishop Schnurr’s* […]

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Image of CT roundup | Over the Rhine and Into the Tiber
CT roundup | Over the Rhine and Into the Tiber
on September 12, 2013 at 20:48:32 pm

It is not the Pope's job to work out every detail. The Pope sets a direction and calls on us all to imitate Christ, pick up our crosses and climb our own personal Calvary. We can, we should start with plan A, which the Church has laid out quite consistently, that a country should be run in such a way that its inhabitants can, under normal circumstances, be born, live, create a family and die on their native soil. If we are to do anything to stem the tide of tragedy, the first thing to do is to ask what went wrong with plan A. Was there a natural disaster? Is there some lack of resources that is causing mass migration? Usually the answer is no, that it is simply bad government, generally either of the socialist type or the crony capitalist type. Once these people tear apart their social fabric and run for the first world, whether EU, US, or elsewhere, they have already had much go wrong with their lives. We can and should attempt to stop the tragedy before they board the boats. At the very least, this will reduce the death toll and may cease it entirely.

Simple measures, like insisting on cheap and simple methods that the poor's meager belongings are protected by the law and that they are allowed to work and earn a living in dignity without having to bribe the state for the privilege is a good thing which we give lip service to, but could do much more to ensure.

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TMLutas
on October 03, 2013 at 19:35:31 pm

I would have understood the Pope's statement of 'those who take the socio-economic decisions in anonymity that open the way to tragedies such as these to come out of hiding,' as directed more or even primarily at the corrupt African governments these people are fleeing... perhaps a reference to the unrest caused by the radical Islamic elements there on the African continent.
The judgment does not seem to me to be against Europe or Europeans except inasmuch as they might influence that African situation.
I think Dalrymple makes too hasty a judgment on the Pope's imprecise and over-generous compassion. Calling this a weakness on denotation and an intellectual evasion is perhaps viewing the situation too narrowly. Consider the consequences when Rome spoke out against the Nazis - thousands of innocents were rounded up in retaliation and killed. In public, to denote by pointing the finger at radical leaders of African countries will result in what? This kind of truth telling is not only not diplomatic; in such cases the truth should be spoken where it can be most effective while doing the least harm. By saying "See, I'm naming names and showing the world who the rats are!" when the world is not poised and ready to remove the rats... that will result in perhaps having a moral sense of superiority but it will definitely result in the punishment by way of retaliation on those non-Muslim infidel and westerners who seek to flee their persecutors in Africa. History will repeat itself.
Moreover, the venue in which the Pope spoke was not a scholarly one. I don't think we should expect, then, scholarly distinctions.
The appeal to compassion does call attention to the tragic situation, and that is not a waste of words nor something to term 'wallowing' since, if the Pope did not raise the issue, he would be more vehemently taken to task... and rightly so.
There are other venues and means available to the Pope for communicating the Church's well considered and scholarly position and I'm content to allow the Pope to use those with the people who can effect the changes needed.

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Nick
on January 09, 2014 at 12:34:09 pm

Dalrymple has forgotten the historical connection. European colonialism (imposing artificial borders, looting resources, racism, interventions, chaos) has seriously impoverished and destabilised the African continent. Many of the inhabitants can hardly survive back home and seek a better life abroad.
The Europeans did the same - they invaded the Americas, Australia and NZ, slaughtered the indigenes, grabbed massive tracts of land and set up permanent settlements. Imagine the state of Europe if the overseas settlers were forced to return.
The Europeans could do it by force. The Africans are militarily weak and have to go as refugees.

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Eddie
on February 05, 2014 at 15:10:05 pm

What rubbish you speak. You obviously know nothing of history except what a bunch of malcontent marxist 'professors propagandized to you.

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Gordon
on June 15, 2015 at 06:35:51 am

[…] What if the Church called on the wealthier nations to open their borders wide to everyone who wished to move […]

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Image of Christianity Made Impossible | Aleteia
Christianity Made Impossible | Aleteia
on July 17, 2015 at 09:48:58 am

[…] theocracy that we would be right to reject.Q: What if the Church called on the wealthier nations to open their borders wide to everyone who wished to move there?A: With the outcome that these newcomers could vote to impose […]

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Image of Christianity Made Impossible | Aleteia
Christianity Made Impossible | Aleteia
on July 21, 2015 at 07:51:38 am

[…] What if the Church called on the wealthier nations to open their borders wide to everyone who wished to move […]

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Image of Christianity Made Impossible | Aleteia Staging
Christianity Made Impossible | Aleteia Staging
on July 10, 2017 at 14:53:38 pm

And of course, if any Western nation did take steps to relieve the suffering in Syria (invade Syria, depose the minority Alawite dictatorship, give them several centuries of nation-building and a law worth being equal before), this pope would certainly condemn the "illegal, aggressive" war that put a stop to the suffering and migration.

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Kemaris

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