Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bishop Gerald Kicanas on Notre Dame

If history tells us anything about our bishop's conference, Bishop Kicanas will be the next president. His stand on the Notre Dame decision to invite President Obama is troubling as it is filled with dualism and an embrace of the cultural assumptions of liberalism that lead to confusion. It is particularly surprising to see his defense of Fr Jenkins' 'intentionality.' According to Tucson's bishop, it is intentionality that determines the ethical goodness of an act and, therefore, pro-life Catholics should not be too hard on Notre Dame. Perhaps this is the reasoning that allows Bishop Kicanas to publicly applaud pro-abortion politicians who may offer other policies that are in compliance with their intentionality. In this regard we should remember Flannery O'Connor who wrote that "tenderness deprived of the source of tenderness leads to the gas chamber." In a nihilistic culture, many horrors are carried out by people who thought they were doing good. For example, the communists killed 150 million innocent people and believed it was just. The new society that would eliminate class distinctions justifies the act and this allowed them to believe that they were doing something good. Intentionality alone is an insufficient guide and a Catholic bishop should know better.

Although it is difficult to exercise authority and no one wishes to punish, it is important to remember that discipline is exercised for the salvation of souls. It is not about politics (this would be a reduction). It is an act of mercy, albeit a difficult mercy. Bishops must safeguard the moral clarity of the faithful and to correct those who make mistakes in matters of faith or morals. Those who violate the teaching of the Church with good intentions are especially in need of correction. Dialogue is necessary but so is discipline.

History is filled with memory of those who suffered unjustly by well-intentioned people.

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