Parasites in the Body of
Making a “Living” off
First: a short, but extremely helpful aside:
In Thucydides’ History
of the Peloponnesian War, the greatest Commander in classical antiquity,
the Spartan General Brasidas, in the winter of the 8th year of the war,
laid siege to the strategic city of Amphipolis in northern Hellas in
424 BC (visited, incidentally, by Socrates while serving in the Athenian
Army) where, in a later battle in 421 BC, Brasidas himself was to die.
He headed the most successful army of Sparta.
It was not, however,
by force of arms that Brasidas entered the besieged city, but through
sedition — and not, interestingly enough — by the demos,
or people, of Amphipolis, but principally through the people of the
neighboring city of Argilus “who had their own designs on Amphipolis”
(Bk. 4/103) and together with their countrymen inside its walls.
Amphipolis fell without a fight, and even in subsequent wars was never
recovered by Athens.
So ... you ask, what possible connection exists between today's “Professional”
Catholics in the Church, and the Argilians who lived inside the walls
First, we must understand
that the Argilians lived, profited through, enacted perfunctory rituals
within, and took shelter under the aegis of Amphipolis ... even as they
planned and executed the betrayal of the native Hellenes or Athenians
within her. While not native Amphipolans, or, for that matter, Athenians,
they were, in a manner of speaking, “professional” Amphipolans.
They earned their wages and some made their small fortunes solely
through their association with Amphipolis. They had no allegiance to
— except inasmuch as they could earn a living through — the Athenians
at Amphipolis, whom they emulated even as they despised them.
It is not the case that the Argilians looked to the Lacedemonians
(the Spartans) as their liberators (which Brasidas sincerely believed
himself and his army to be); they did not love Sparta, but they hated
Athens. Yet, daily they passed in and out of her walls, ate in her fields
and sold in her markets. They could earn a living in
Amphipolis ... even as they hated her.
It is notable that even as their hatred festered, they did nothing
overtly treasonable until an opportune time ... in fact, until
the appearance of the leading elements of Brasidas’ cavalry at the gates
of Argilus. The designs they could not effect on Amphipolis of themselves,
they could, they understood at once, effect through Brasidas, and they
used him to this end.
Catholicism as “a job
Church is dangerously bloated with “Professional” Catholics — that is
to say, Catholics to whom, and for whom, “being Catholic” is a means
to making, money, and for whom Catholicism is a job, an income, and
in many cases a “profession” (not a Profession of Faith).
Given the American Corporate model around which
the Church in America appears to be increasingly molding itself, there
is no inherent contradiction in working for the corporation and hating
the boss who runs it.
The point of significant divergence, however, is that in secular
Corporate America, the expression of such sentiments is likely to end
at the back of the unemployment line. What is strange is that in such
an event, we seldom, or rarely encounter the charge of intolerance.
The reasoning appears to be legitimate: if you do not like it here,
you are free to leave and find a job elsewhere and more to your liking.
XYZ Company produces and pushes products and services much more to your
liking, and in better keeping with, or at least more amenable to, your
However, ... if you choose to stay here at ABC Company which produces and markets
goods and services deeply antithetical to those of XYZ Company's
– whose interests are not only at odds with, but in fact inimical
to our own – we presume that you will be loyal to the interests
of ABC Company who is, after all, paying you to produce our own authentic
goods and providing loyal services. If you are willing to take our
money, you must be willing to agree with, and abide by, our policies.
This is not tyranny. If you find such policies repugnant to you,
you are free to keep them to yourself, or to leave.
You are not, however, free to disseminate policy
of your own making, or goods and services promoted by XYZ Company
.... and pass them off as ours. This is egregiously duplicitous
and dishonest, is it not? In this way only do we see a significant divergence
between the secular corporate model and its ecclesiastical emulation:
To wit: In the Church you can stay, promote your
own unique and incompatible agenda ... and even get
paid for it! Not a bad deal. Except for the Church ... and her children.
To do otherwise clearly requires a measure of some integrity.
It requires something more than a neurotic paralysis between incompatible
choices. Integrity should compel us to do, not what is profitable at
any cost ... but what is right. To be paid to make one thing and to
make another is one example. To be paid to teach one thing, and then
to take it upon ourselves to teach its contradictory for the same pay
is, I suggest, another and extremely eminent example of the absence
This breach of integrity — however lamely excused (and there are
always excuses, and they will always be cleverly couched, for they are
self-interested) is exponentially compounded, not by the intrinsic disorder
within it, and not even by a breach of faith with what is presumed to
It is, in the end, theft of the most execrable kind:
it is predation of the Widow's Mite. It is a taking of the .25
cents from the 7-year-old girl, the dollar from the 85-year-old man,
and sometimes the lunch money from some destitute student .... to make
a comfortable living dissenting from the very things which they
hold sacred and to which they contribute at so great a cost in so little
a gift. It is, as it ever has been, a taking by the powerful from the
powerless. It is nothing less. We know the victims. They fill every
pew. Now ... who are the predators?
The division of labor in fleecing the poor to their other ends ... which
is to say, teaching them defiance of and in contradiction
to the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church to which the
“ignorant masses” pay tribute in coppers of real sacrifice
... is fairly equally distributed between clergy and lay.
This is especially true in those that inhabit that indistinct
penumbra between the priest and his local “Pastoral Assistant,”
and later, in higher education, to theologian-cum-Mandatum.
Let us enumerate a few. All are putative docents of sorts, and the one
thread binding their diversity is this: disaffection. Disaffection from
the Church. From Rome; and sometimes — perhaps more often than not —
Now that we have put a point on the needle, let us touch a few
of the more bloated institutions ... but with the blunt end first; you
know, the one with the proverbial “eye” ... the passage through which
bloated purses and personalities are said to be so problematic. Too
quick a thrust with the pointed end would – at least narratively – be
anticlimactically implosive. Let us start with the Catholic Colleges,
Seminaries, and “Theological Institutes” where the
“profession” is most lucrative, the dissension most strident and the
Where to begin?
The list is long, involuted, and often redundant. Perhaps it is well
to start at the apex where the dissidence — and, commensurably, the
“professional” salaries — are greatest; in other words, where dissidence
is most amply rewarded and appears to be the sine qua non of
We must, however, and in all fairness, preface our consideration
of this implosive topic by a clear understanding of something contractual
and signatory in nature and morally binding in purpose, scope, and intent.
In other words, if you “sign on the dotted line” you agree, in taking
the money, to do the job, not as you see it, but according
to the job description clearly outlined in the contract. To do otherwise
is clearly duplicitous.
You want the money and you want the job title — both are very
appealing and the latter redounds to your notability — but the fact
of the matter is that you really do not want to do that particular job.
The perquisites, nevertheless, are very compelling indeed. It is vexing,
but it remains the case withal that, once you have entered into the
contract, you have agreed, for example, to refrain from insider trading
and to act honestly on behalf of the brokerage and its legitimate interests
which, presumably, coincide with yours, as well as those of the investors
who have entrusted their interests to you ... or you would not have
applied in the first place .... right? You will not, by contract, say,
broker securities that are not within the portfolio of the brokerage,
offer misleading advice, or encourage your investors to go elsewhere.
You concurred with the terms of the contract; they are amenable to you,
and the compensation is handsome, so ... you sign up. Correct?
Yes and no. In the cut-throat, self-interested world of corrupt
Corporate America such agreements, such contracts are, in fact, binding
and even actionable; however often they are violated as a matter of
fact, there is a real or at least a presumed binding in such contractual
agreements, together with legal recourse and punitive sanctions in the
event of breach. In fact, it is of the essence of contractual agreements
that they bind; otherwise, the notion of a contract becomes meaningless.
The moral, the ethical, dimension that has a direct bearing on the integrity
of the individual signatory to the contract is much simpler. One simply
does not (or clearly ought not) enter into — nor remain
within — affairs that entail a conflict of interest. It is both morally
reprehensible and egregiously self-interested. One does not earn ones
living by violating ones keep. It is a matter of irreconcilable contrariety.
One, for example, who agrees to work for, and to be paid by, the
Anti-Defamation League, and then use that money and position to
promote anti-Semitism, is, I suggest, guilty of more than mere duplicity
in advocating the liquidation of his employer. And now, literally, to
the heart of the matter: What is the Contract and what is the Breach?
Ex Corde Ecclesiae:
“Out of the Heart of the Church”
The Apostolic Constitution on Higher Education, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae”
– “Out of the Heart of the Church” – was issued by Pope John Paul II
in 1990 and requires professors of Catholic theology within Catholic
colleges and universities obtain a mandatum, or mandate, from
the local bishop. Professors must petition for the mandate, the purpose
of which is ensure that Catholic theologians teach authentically Catholic
doctrine, and “refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything
contrary to the Church's Magisterium.” Such a petition may be denied
by the local bishop, or a given mandate withdrawn if the bishop deems
that the theologian is not teaching doctrine that accords with the Magisterium
of the Church; in other words, if it does not proceed ex corde Ecclesiae.
Let us look at The Apostolic Constitution itself:
Excerpts from The Apostolic
Constitution on Higher Education. The Apostolic Constitution calls for:
to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church” (Part
• “In a Catholic University ... Catholic ideals, attitudes and principles
penetrate and inform university activities ...” (ibid. 1.14) 6
• “One consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that
the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message
includes a recognition of and adherence to the teaching authority of
the Church in matters of faith and morals. Catholic members of the University
community are also called to a personal fidelity to the Church with
all that this implies.” (ibid. 3.27)
• “If need be, a Catholic University must have the courage to speak
uncomfortable truths which do not please public opinion, but which are
necessary to safeguard the authentic good of society.” (ibid. 32)
• “As a natural expression of the Catholic identity of the University,
the university community should give a practical demonstration of its
faith in its daily activity, with important moments of reflection and
prayer.” (ibid. 39)
• “It is a question not only of preaching the Gospel ... but also of
affecting and, as it were, upsetting, through the power of the Gospel,
humanity’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest,
lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are
in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation.” (ibid.
• “These General Norms ... are valid for all Catholic Universities and
other Catholic Institutions of Higher Studies throughout the world.”
• “The General Norms are to applied concretely at the local and regional
levels.” (ibid. 2)
• “A Catholic University, as Catholic, informs and carries out its research,
teaching, and all other activities with Catholic ideals, principles,
and attitudes. It is linked with the Church either by a formal, constitutive
and statutory bond
or by reason of an institutional commitment.” (ibid. 2.2)
• “Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university
activities ...” (ibid. 2.4)
• “The responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic
identity of the University ... calls for the recruitment of adequate
personnel, especially teachers and administrators, who are both willing
and able to promote that identity. The identity of a Catholic University
is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to
respect for Catholic doctrine.” (ibid. 4.1)
• “... all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers
are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching.
In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate
received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the
Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred
Scripture and Sacred Tradition.” (ibid. 4.3)
• “Any particular laws or customs presently in effect that are contrary
to this Constitution are abolished. Also, any privileges up to this
day by the Holy See whether to physical or moral persons that are contrary
to this present Constitution are abolished.” (ibid. 5.11)
then the “Dissidents” ...
As we see in the Apostolic Constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae,
the Holy See is unequivocally clear and extraordinarily succinct in
the stipulations outlined in the contract binding the Catholic theologian
to the Magisterium, or authentic teaching, of the Church. Its clarity,
in fact, is pristine; there is little, if any, room for casuistic interpretation
of the Holy See’s expectations. There is equally little room for latitude
in interpreting the commitment to teaching authentic Church doctrine
— that is to say, explicitly, doctrine that completely accords with
the Magisterium of the Church — on the part of the applicant, the professor-hopeful.
The difficulty comes to us, really, in the form of the simplest
disjunction in syllogistic reasoning evidencing itself in the manifest
absence of correspondence between otherwise irreconcilable propositions:
must explicitly agree to abide by the terms. (Ex Corde Ecclesiae)
“I explicitly agree to abide by the terms. So much so, in fact, that I am
signatory to them. Nevertheless, I hold myself to be exempt from them.”
(bishop, priest, teacher, local head of your DRE, or Department of Religious
Education, i.e., Catechesis, etc.)
Apart from the formal, or logical inconsistency, there is the salient
ethical breach, and this, of the two, strikes us most forcefully. Inadvertent
errors in reasoning are of the nature of defect; deliberated
breaches of ethics are of the nature of malice. As Alasdair MacIntyre,
perhaps the most eminent 21st century moral philosopher, once astutely
noted, to hold oneself in exception to, or in self-exemption from, otherwise
universally binding norms, is not simply immoral, but is of the essence
of the unethical, the immoral. In other words, I hold myself to be an
exception to the rule ... to which all others must, or at least ought,
to comply. I hold such rules to be legitimately binding ... but not
Were it simply a matter of cognitive dissonance we could dismiss
the matter merely as a psychological aberration ... were it not pandemic
within Catholic theological academia, where, as we have said, open and
abrasive dissent is the sine qua non of acceptable academic credentials
and the appropriate posture of plausibility. The problem is deeper.
Let us take, for example, the curious figure of one Daniel Moynihan
who insists that, “We listened much too much to the penis when
we should have sought an audience with the clitoris.” (The Religious
Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health & Ethics)
“Daniel C. Maguire is
a Professor of Moral Theological Ethics at Marquette University, a Catholic,
Jesuit Institution and President of the Religious Consultation on Population,
Reproductive Health and Ethics. Dr. Maguire has a degree in Sacred Theology
from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, one of the world’s
major Catholic universities. He is the author of Sacred Choices:
The Right to Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions,
Fortress Press, 2001. Dr. Maguire has written over 150 articles printed
in publications such as The New York Times, Atlantic, USA Today, The
Crisis: Journal of the NAACP, etc. The articles include “Different
but Equal: A Moral Assessment of the Woman's Liberation,” “The Freedom
to Die,” “Sex and Ethical Methodology,” and “The New Look
Clearly, as an ethicist and prominent moral theologian, “father
Dan” has much to teach the young Catholic entrusted by the Church to
his tutelage ... once, that is, the student is sufficiently adept at
discerning that he is lecturing on ethics and not being gratuitously
To wit, consider the following: (Father) Daniel Maguire’s Memorable
Planned Parenthood Federation of America 2002
Annual Conference Interfaith Prayer Breakfast 9 March 21,
“Pleasure is what sex
is all about. Historic philosophy invaded western culture with the idea
that sexual pleasure is presumed guilty until proven innocent. Only
procreative intent could bring acquittal. Such nonsense. Sex rarely
has anything to do with procreation. The old axiom listen to your body
was misapplied here. We listened much too much to the penis when
we should have sought an audience with the clitoris. The penis has divided
loyalties and multiple missions. It is concerned with procreation
and waste removal. The clitoris is single-minded. Its one goal,
as Susan Ross, the ethicist says, is exquisite sexual pleasure.”
How many scholars outside of the Catholic Church, have not simply
the propensity to discuss ethical issues with vulvae, but to seek
an audience with, and hope to elicit an answer from, interlabial anatomical
features? And anticipate being enlightened? That is a rare gift.
Would, then, “Father Dan” interview a clitoris? A distinct possibility
... even if he is the only one who hears it speaking.
An exemplary Catholic scholar, to be sure ... despite the absence
of any consonance between “Dan’s” teaching, and the authentic teaching
of the Catholic Church at a Catholic Jesuit University. Is something
Who pays “Dan” handsomely to teach “Moral Theological Catholic
Ethics”? The Catholic Jesuit Marquette University. Who pays the university
that pays Dan? Where do the students get their tuition to pay the university
to pay Dan? From their parents. Are their parents Catholic? Largely.
Was it their expectation that by sending their son or daughter to a
Catholic University that their children would receive a genuine “Catholic”
education? Presumably. Was someone sold a bill of goods? I think so.
Who have you been listening to lately ...?
Well, we have a pretty clear take on “what” – not “who”
— Dan has been listening to lately, and even if we do not hear what
Dan hears from his own ... well, private, sources, he is ready to proclaim
it to the world ... but who is listening, besides his unfortunate students?
Certainly not the bishops! They are, by the latest polls, apparently
too busy listening for a knock at the door by a State Prosecutor for
the sexual predators whom they have been hiding, or shuffling about
… or perhaps for they themselves! Were they attentive to the
moral turpitude of “Dan,” they would have stripped him of his faculties
as a priest, prohibited him from celebrating Mass, and wearing a clerical
collar (which Dan does not, anyway)
“Mandatum? What Mandatum?
“Oh, yes ... that Mandatum! Yes, we’ll have
to look into it seriously ... someday.”
Demand a Refund
Have you been defrauded? Have you been sold a bill of goods? Did
you get what you paid for? Did you get who you pay for?
Who broke faith? The “Catholic” University? The bishop? Dan of
the sub-Sibylline gifts?
Actually ... all three: One for profit, one for power,
and one for prestige. And ... alas ... no one stood with Christ.
Sounds like a viable
class-action suit to me.
Wasn’t it a fixation with genitalia that brought the Church in Boston
to this sad state to begin with? Or are the two somehow related?
It depends on Who — and “what” you are listening to.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
Comments? Write us:
Totally Faithful to the Sacred
Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum
Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have but little power, and
yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.”
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