Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Response to Mark of Minute Particulars

Mark from Minute Particulars offers a thoughtful response to my previous post on Catholic disagreement w/ the Vatican over Iraq and further reflections on the semantics of "dissent" and "disagreement". In the latter part of his post Mark expresses his deep concern at the words and actions of various as yet unidentified "Catholic pundits", online or in print:
I get the impression that Catholics are being encouraged to look for loopholes, to walk within the letter but perhaps not the spirit of Church Teaching, to wiggle and squirm so they can comfortably dismiss the clear statements of concern about current events from the USCCB and the pope. I don't mean genuine, faithful dissent that may be heroic, objectively correct, and noble. I don't mean a humble, reverent shaking of one's head in disapproval. . . . I mean the dissent of Catholics who boldly proclaim the bishops are wrong, the Vatican is wrong, the pope is wrong on an issue of utmost moral significance.

I don't understand the loud and booming dismissals of official statements by USCCB and the pope that many have offered for public consumption. I don't quite see how these Catholic pundits can be so confident; from my vantage point they only seem to be offering a simplistic notion of the difference between doctrinal statements and prudential judgments, a shallow reading of the Tradition, and subtle but definite resistance to letting the Lumen Gentium shine without filters or obstruction through the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

But more importantly I'm troubled by the following fact: most of this resistance is coming from faithful, good-willed, intelligent Catholics. Sure there are some frothing fringe folks, but many of these opinions are coming from those who, judging from what they've said in the past and on many issues, are wiser, smarter, and older than I am. It's as if the cap is stuck on the St. Blog's toothpaste tube and the current crisis is giving it a good, hardy squeeze; the toothpaste is squirting out in places I would have never suspected. And this is disturbing because it makes it clear that the consensus on many issues of earlier times was a little more brittle than I thought.

Mark: Thank you, for offering your thoughts on this matter. If there is anything in this blog such that would give you this kind of impression -- mea culpa. While I stand by what I've said in my previous post, disputing this war should not be a matter of "looking for loopholes" or cause for "loud and booming dismissals" of the Pope and the statements of our bishops (single or collective); in that I am certainly in complete agreement with you.

I do not have much time to write right now, given the hour. But I understand and am most sympathetic to your concerns. (My recent posts were certainly not the last word on this topic, but rather a brief response and correction).

Lastly, on this note: I have devoted some of my time this past week to putting together a new website on the just war debate. It is actually modeled after my plodding exploration of the Church's encounter with classical liberalism and, while very much a "work in progress", will hopefully compile a substantial amount of sources from both sides of the debate so as to provide a resource for further research and ground for civilized and respectful discussion by interested parties. *

    * Note to readers: one can only google for so long, and those better acquainted with various criticisms of the Iraq war on specifically "just war principles" are invited to submit their recommendations (books as well, please). I would sincerely appreciate it.

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