Ordinarily I love my work. I enjoy learning about the latest developments in the Church and in the world, explaining them to our readers, and engaging in the debates that arise from those developments. But there are times when I wonder—as I read one story after another illustrating the same old familiar mistakes—whether anyone is paying attention. This week has been one of those times. Bear with me, please, as I explain my frustration.
- Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) Victor Manuel Fernandez, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, proclaims that no Catholic bishop can judge “the doctrine of the Holy Father.” But the Pope—any Pope—cannot have a doctrine of his own, separate from the perennial doctrine of the universal Church, which he is called to uphold and defend. To say that this is the Pope’s doctrine is to suggest that the Pope could change it, and thereby to encourage those who want doctrinal change. Does Fernandez, who is now the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, believe that doctrine can change? In the same interview he responded to a question about same-sex marriage thus: “At this point it is clear that the Church only understands marriage as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman…” [Emphasis added.] At some future point might the Church reach a different understanding? The Argentine prelate’s words certainly allow that interpretation.
- Mayor Justin Bibb is outraged that the Cleveland diocese will not support gender transitions. Implicitly accusing the Catholic Church of hatred, Bibb says that the diocesan policy is “a shocking betrayal of the church teachings that have shaped who I am today.” So should we conclude, then, that in his youth Mayor Bibb attended a church where gender-swapping was accepted? Of course not; no such churches existed until a few years ago. Like so many other self-righteous politicians, he has conformed his own doctrine to the spirit of the age.
- Leaders of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have thrown their support behind the Biden administration’s emergency spending plans. (Perhaps it is worth mentioning that some of the funds in the supplemental proposal—for refugee resettlement, disaster relief, and programs for migrants—will go to Catholic agencies fulfilling government contracts.) Has the USCCB ever warned Congress that profligate spending increases the federal deficit, fuels inflation, and thus places new burden on the poor and the elderly? Who profits from inflation? Debtors—and today Uncle Sam is the world’s leading debtor. A debtor government that allows inflation is saving itself through the suffering of the vulnerable. Catholic social doctrine should have something to say on that subject.
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