Monday, November 4, 2013

Guest Editorial on "Cursing the Darkness'

Note from KMT:  What follows is another guest editorial from Shawn McElhinney who wished to offer some thoughts on a recent essay.  The opinions expressed are his alone.


While far from the first to respond to an article recently penned by Steve Skojec on the direction the Church has taken since the election of Jorge Bergoglio to the See of Peter, I want to nonetheless address some of the points he raised at this time.
To start with, it reads to me as one giant gripe-fest about how the Church today is not configured in a way that Mr. Skojec would claim to prefer. There also seems to be a lot of misplaced nostalgia on his part for a past that oftentimes did not exist. For example, Mr. Skojec claims that Catholicism was "historically a majestic thing" and repines for the ages of magnificent cathedrals but in doing so fails to realize that there were men who built those things whose kids and grand kids, etc. never beheld the magnificence of the completed structure that he is able to view today. He also complains about a lack of "rubrics of liturgy, sacred art and music, church architecture, adoration, Eucharistic processions – in short, a tapestry of creative genius" while ignoring the fact that a lot of these matters were not uniform throughout church history and others were absent for significant parts of church history as well.

I will omit at this time going over in detail his lamenting that that Catholicism in his words "was always a religion that inspired and demanded the best from its adherents" and settle for making one point worth reflecting upon here. Mr. Skojec seems to revel in the notion that in eras past the Church was "a stumbling block for Jews and folly for Gentiles" without noting the irony in his own writing. For you see, he repines for an age when the Church was a stumbling block and folly for others but now when it is clearly a stumbling block for him and he sees a folly in the idea of modern conversions today in light of problems the Church now has, he suddenly thinks his struggles and problems are to be pitied unlike those of others in eras past.

As far as what he says personally about Pope Francis, I remember reading not a few comments by liberals horrified at the election of Pope Benedict XVI who claimed that they saw in his eyes some semblance of evil and this was no less disgraceful on their part than what Mr. Skojec has claimed about Pope Francis. And then we have Mr. Skojec's question of "what kind of Christian tells an atheist he has no intentions to convert him?" My answer is simple: a very shrewd one. Because there is a lot of grandiose nonsense in proseltysm. And if someone knows you have ulterior motives going in, what is the likelihood that they will give you due diligence in considering what you have to say? There will always be suspicion by the person you are dealing with that you have an agenda and that will create to a certain extent a climate of mistrust.

Mr. Skojec also has problems with some of the statements in the pope's interviews. This is where concern for context matters and I know Mr. Skojec will think it is a matter of making excuses to say that. But the simple fact is: a text without a context is a pretext. And if Mr. Skojec has a problem with some of the pope's statement to an atheist, let me fill him in on a cold hard truth: atheists and a lot of non-Catholics do not give a rip about the Eucharist, the Mass, the Sacraments, the Liturgy, or any of that. They do however if they are of good will have an interest in certain matters of the material realm. To form a common ground here where it is able to be done is an important step in solidarity from which further ties can be made. If Mr. Skojec thinks either the material realm is not of significance in reaching folks of good will separated from the ecclesiastical body or that a haughty triumphalist approach is to be recommended, I can point to examples of popes prior to Mr. Skojec's beloved "before the second half of the twentieth century" period who were themselves opposed to such things.

I will in the interest of economy of prose pass over his disgraceful comparison of Pope Francis to some of history's scoundrel popes and simply note that if Mr. Skojec has a problem with the way people of ill-will can twist the words of Pope Francis to their own ends, he should take careful note that Satan twisted the words of Scripture to try and trap Jesus and Jesus himself had his actions and gestures horribly misrepresented by certain "more pious than thou" folks in his day.

In summary, I understand that this age is not without its share of problems. But I submit that at any period of history this has been the case albeit the discomforts from one age to another can (and have) varied. The problem we all have is oftentimes history is not viewed in its completion but instead from a sort of romanticized past that often did not exist. And it is not helped by the sort of complaining that people like Mr. Skojec make where they cry about losing a mythical past rather than dealing with the present and its crosses. As Kevin Tierney noted so succinctly in his previous response to Mr. Skojec, the reason to become Catholic is because the Church has the fullness of truth and the Sacraments that are necessary (and that aid) in salvation. Whatever waxing and waning has happened throughout church history, that has always been the case. Mr. Skojec needs to decide when he wants to start lighting candles rather than cursing the darkness because in traditionalist circles much as everywhere else there is far too much of the latter and not nearly enough of the former. And that is the bottom line really.


  1. This takes me back & reminds me how I once called Shawn my friend. Thought we have had a falling out in the past(no need to air the dirty laundry).

    It bring a tear to the eye and makes me miss those times.

    Brilliant take down. I would almost suggest we should revive the LidlessEye Inquisition to smack down this new crop of crazies but I think maybe we should take our P's & Q's from Pope Francis.

    Keep the Faith brothers.

    I Yachov Ben Yachov James son of James pray it so.

  2. It's a different time. My path was never the polemical one you guys walked. I'm a lot different nowadays as well. I became an even stronger lover of the Latin liturgy but became increasingly Eastern-lite in my theology. (Especially regards the Sacraments.)

    The new "crop of crazies" really doesn't have a lot of the intellectual heft in previous times. Part of that is because for all of Francis' alleged sins, this ain't Koran kissing or Assisi going on. So people find different ways to jack up the outrage.

  3. Koran kissing most likely was something JP2 did off the cuff & was a bad idea in hinsight. The first Assisi even was a bit of a cock up. Buddist monks thought they could put a statue of Buddah on a Catholic Altar and other cock ups. The Second one was better. My opinion has never changed that the event itself in theory wasn't immoral for reasons argued in the past which I will not dig up. But certainly the argument could be made it was a bad idea even if not intrinsically immoral since it could have sent the wrong message.

    I think Paul VI suppressing the Old Mass was a Bad idea. I think Pope St Victor suppressing Jewish Catholic Easter celebrations on Passover was a Bad idea.

    But there is no reason to be a jerk about it. Rational sober criticism is possible but it's the "crazies" who muck it up for everybody.

    Cheers man.

  4. ###This takes me back & reminds me how I once called Shawn my friend. Thought we have had a falling out in the past(no need to air the dirty laundry).###

    The past is the past. I do not hold a grudge and I hope you do not either. (In my mind its all water under the bridge.)

    ###It bring a tear to the eye and makes me miss those times.###

    Though there are some things I wish I had done differently, I have in general good thoughts about those times.

    ###Brilliant take down.###

    Thank you sir!

    ###I would almost suggest we should revive the LidlessEye Inquisition to smack down this new crop of crazies but I think maybe we should take our P's & Q's from Pope Francis.###

    I have expressed my views of applying past approaches to current circumstances in an earlier guest editorial to Kevin's weblog James:

    On Divisive Terms, Dialogue, and Reading the Signs of the Times (circa August 6, 2013)

    ###Keep the Faith brothers.

    I Yachov Ben Yachov James son of James pray it so.###

    Glad to see you again James :)

  5. Those were different times. As it is Shawn is always free to write at Catholic Lane, which he will do soon. Still trying to do the best to get my "vision" off the ground there, but so far positive results. (Traffic in that section is up for starters!)

    Back then LEI might have been what's best for business, but if it got created nowadays it would be laughably dated. (The intensly polemical nature of several of its authors for starters.) Just like if I revive my old blog it would be outdated, as

    1.) Traditionalists no longer need to make the case that our views deserve a fair hearing

    2.) Scandal porn just isn't what it used to be in regards to widespread liturgical abuses, Koran Kissing, or interfaith gatherings as I mentioned before.

    No, what's best for business now is for traditionalists and their non-trad allies to make the case they want to make, and most importantly, show how sound teaching and doctrine actually lead to sound spiritual formation so we can live our lives in holiness. You simply couldn't be that aggressive in your case when you were sent to the Indult ghettos.


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