Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pope Francis, Humanae Vitae, and Margery Eagen’s devastating fallacies—UPDATED ALREADY?

Filipinos at Pope Francis’ Mass in Manila, Jan. 18.
(Photo: AFP/Ted Aljibe.)
You would think that a writer billed as a “spirituality columnist” for a website that professes to cover “all things Catholic” would have some familiarity with Catholic teaching, especially the most controversial doctrines. However, Margery Eagen, writing for Crux, talks about Pope Francis’ recent speech at the Mall of Asia as though her only knowledge of Catholicism came from Planned Parenthood.

Although he has not lived it himself, I had thought [Pope Francis] understood something about good people living real lives in real marriages. I had thought he even understood something about the beauty of sex in marriage, the need for sex in marriage.

I was wrong.

In the United States, his words will have little practical impact. Most Catholic women have used birth control for decades. There are no more families with 12 and 14 kids in the Sunday morning pews. But his words do reveal a heartbreakingly backward perspective: that the highest calling of married women is sacrificing all to rear children, as many as come along, no matter those women’s talents or skills or dreams.

These aren’t the words of a person who’s well-educated in Catholic doctrine, let alone someone who should be discussing Catholic spirituality. These are the words of a journalist content to work with the straw-man “Catholic beliefs” constructed for her by second-wave feminism, the kind of nonsense which led Elizabeth Dias at TIME to write that “the mainstream media has nearly no understanding of the Church.”

In fact, Francis’ words reveal no such chauvinist nonsense. To be sure, he offered a doughty defense of the goodness of family and childrearing against “ideological colonization”, a branch of “cultural imperialism”. Eagen’s criticism presents us with the kind of false dilemma demagogues love: you’re either for contraception or you’re against women working outside the home.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Talking smack about the Pope

It’s been over a week now, and certain people still haven’t gotten over the spanking Maureen Mullarkey received for her rather slanderous attack on Pope Francis. And a spanking it was; R. R. Reno, the editor-in-chief of First Things, not only washed his hands of her post but offered his own rebuttal to it, calling her criticisms and caricatures of Francis “overdrawn and ill-tempered”.

Oh, wait a minute — that’s not the spanking they’re not over. Rather, they’re not over the explosion from the Patheos blog, Catholic and Enjoying It, written by The Blogger Whom I’m Damn Well Going to Name for Just This Once, Mark Shea.

You see, Shea had just written the day before about the Catholic right’s pre-dismissal of Francis’ yet-to-be-completed encyclical on climate change; and lo and behold, out comes Mullarkey’s hit piece. (You could almost hear him yelling at the clay pigeon launcher, “Pull!”) So he unloaded on Mullarkey, as well as her First Things combox followers, calling it a “festival of crazy contempt for Francis” and a “revolting (in every sense) smear job”.

Christopher Ferrara at The Remnant promptly got upset on Mullarkey’s behalf, deploying even more right-wing buzzwords and straw men, along with a healthy dollop of radical-traditionalist contempt for “neo-Catholics”. (Apparently, Francis “kissed the Koran” when he posed for that shot holding the anti-fracking T-shirt.) Nevertheless, we might have been able to walk away from the shindy — certainly it doesn’t appear Shea’s given the matter any further attention — had not my Catholic Stand colleague Donald R. McClarey weighed in with further acid, preceded with the biggest straw man of them all:

“…[C]riticism of this Pope is verboten in the eyes of some bloggers.”