As my friend and co-blogger Paul Zummo has noted here, First Things has given the ax to Maureen Mullarkey’s blog due to her outspoken criticism of Pope Francis. They have every right to do this if they wish. However, I have every right to fisk the editor of First Things’, R.R. Reno, statement announcing this, hilariously entitled No More Tirades, if I found the statement fatuous, which I did. Herewith the fisk:
First Things stands for something.
That is a relief.
Many things, actually.
Considering the heterodox leanings of many people after working at First Things (I am looking at you Damon Linker and you Jody Bottum), I would say that is an understatement.
One of them is a commitment to reality-based conservatism, both in matters of faith and of public life. I mention this, because I’ve decided to end our hosting of Maureen Mullarkey’s blog.
“Reality -based conservatism.” Way to borrow the charming habit of the left of calling their adversaries delusional.
Maureen has a sharp pen and pungent style. Her postings about Pope Francis indicate she’s very angry about this papacy, which she seems to view as (alternately) fascism and socialism disguised as Catholicism. This morning she put up a post that opens with the accusation that the Vatican is conspiring with the Obama administration to destroy the foundations of freedom and hobble the developed world. I’ve had my staff take it down.
I do not ascribe to the view that Catholics should not criticize the papacy.
Unless, apparently, the criticism is barbed and attracts attention.
When Catholicism was derided by an ascendant Protestant elite, it made sense to close ranks.
Actually, as a matter of historical fact, Catholics in this country have always fought like cats and dogs.
Today we’re very much a part of the elite.
Only if we sneer at our religion. For those who don’t and who achieve high office, they are under continual assault. Google Antonin Scalia for a good example of this.
When Francis spoke to Congress, he shook the hands of a Catholic Secretary of State.
The pro-abort John Kerry is about as Catholic as his late senior senator Ted Kennedy.
When he spoke he was flanked by a Catholic Vice President and a Catholic Speaker of the House (who had succeeded a Catholic Speaker).
Pro-abort Joe Biden is on a par with Kerry. Boehner’s last major action as Speaker is brokering a deal for the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.
In the front row sat Supreme Courts Justices, the majority of whom are Catholic.
This after the Court just mandated gay marriage throughout the nation, with two of the “Catholics” happily signing on.
There’s no cultural need today for Catholics to maintain an artificial united front.
Only if Catholics are concerned about the Faith rather than using Catholicism as some sort of ethnic identifier.
I’ve criticized Pope Francis and his encyclical, Laudato Si. However, Maureen’s commentary on Francis goes well beyond measured criticism.
Measured criticism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
She consistently treats him as an ideological propagandist, accusing him of reducing the faith to secular political categories.
A sadly accurate assessment in many areas.
This is her way of reducing him to the political terms she favors.
Actually, the Pope by his language and actions has done that. His speech to Congress, in which he gave a big air kiss to most issues embraced by the left, is a prime example.
And those terms are the ones used by radio talk-show hosts to entertain the public with mock-battles against various Empires of Evil.
You don’t listen to many radio talk shows do you? Of course when bashing someone on the basis of stereotypes, it does not do to engage in accuracy.
I don’t want First Things to play that game.
Your call, just as it is our call whether we read First Things. Mullarkey has brought more attention and readers to First Things than any other writer for you in many a moon.
More is at stake here than decorum.
One would hope.
I’m much more favorable to free markets than Francis seems to be.
That is a pretty low bar.
That’s something worth spelling out. But it’s a sign of moral blindness and intellectual poverty if we fail to recognize an important truth in his harsh words about the global system organized to promote capitalism, and with it largely American interests. That system—our system—does not shower blessings on everyone.
But it does far more than any other system devised by the mind of Man.
To point that out, as Francis does, in no way makes him a supporter of the Castro brothers or a disciple of Che Guevara, as Maureen implies.
No, but some of his statements do align him with devotees of Castro. (Evo Morales nods in agreement while holding his Commie Cross.)
Enough! We need to think about the church and the world as they actually are, not by way of caricatures.
Please, your citations of the alleged strength of Catholicism in the US bear no relationship to the reality of a large portion of Catholic elites in this country being in open rebellion against the teachings of the Church on abortion, gay marriage, etc.
I was recently interviewed about Francis by America magazine.
One of many mistakes no doubt.
The interviewer asked whether American conservatives were not now the “cafeteria Catholics.”
Only because America confuses core Catholic teachings with leftist wish lists.
I answered that, in a certain sense, yes, we are. We’re all at odds with some aspect of the Church’s leadership. It’s not possible for Rome to teach in a way that entirely satisfies the social, moral, intellectual, and spiritual needs of more than one billion people. There’s a hierarchy of truth that helps us understand why some things are obligatory, while others are recommended to us for our consideration.
The Church has left most matters in this Vale of Tears up to the wisdom of the laity. That whole render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s thing, and Christ refusing to play arbiter over a disputed estate.
What matters most, however, is our spiritual disposition. Are we docile to our bishops and their fraternal head, the pope? Are we willing to see and learn what they want to teach us? Will we accompany them, to use one of Francis’ favored images?
Why in Heaven’s name? When a man is speaking rubbish it does not matter if he is a Pope or a janitor. A Pope has an extremely limited charism of infallibility. Outside of that his ideas stand or fall just like anyone elses.
The Church asks us to be docile. That’s my goal. I don’t need to agree with Francis in all instances, even most. But I need to be open to instruction. I need to try to see what he’s trying to get us to see.
“Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.”
Bishop Melchior Cano
In a much, much more limited way, the same is true of our political adversaries.
Actually most leftists think that conservatives are evil and should be shouted down.
Citizenship is a kind of friendship, a mutual commitment to share the public project of our nation.
Actually Americans have disagreed bitterly about the nation from the foundation of the Republic.
We certainly disagree, debate, and try to win arguments as well as elections. But in all this we need to have the moral and spiritual generosity to enter into our adversaries’ ways of thinking, if but for a moment.
Putting yourself into the shoes of an adversary is not a bad ability to have, so long as it is not an excuse for selling out to the other side, which right now has very much the dominant position in our culture.
We’re in this American project together. We need to accompany each other, even as we contest for the future.
I find this ending odious when it is recalled that Reno just fired someone for having views different from his. Go here to read Ben Domenech’s reaction to this debacle at The Federalist.