Sunday, July 11, 2004

has a fine explanation of why dissent really happens.

This reminds me of a passage from an excellent book, Turmoil and Truth: The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church , by Philip Trower.

Christians, heaven knows, should prize the state of grace above all things, but if they become unaccustomed of thinking of themselves as sinners and accustomed to valuing the feeling that they are nice and good, they will become tempted, if they do fall into serious sin, instead of being sorry for having offended God, to be angry at no longer being able to think well of themselves.

This attitude of mind has, I think, not a little to do with today's drive by lay people to have the Church alter its moral teaching. It would also explain the anxiety of so many European and American bishops to accomodate them. The Church must allow contraception and divorce, one hears it argued, because "so many of our best Catholics want them." As far at one can see, the only reason why the prelates in question regard these particular Catholics as the best is that they are well-off, well-educated, and have the right table manners.

This is very much a middle-class phenomenon. When the poor decide to break a law of God, they don't normally expect the Church to alter her teaching so that they can continue to think well of themselves. They are not astonished at finding themselves sinners. In this they have more in common with the rich and grand who, whatever their other failings, are not usually interested in a reputation for moral rectitude either.


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