Monday, May 25, 2020

Have We Forgotten Our First Love?

Reading Scripture this morning, I came across this passage from Revelation 2:1-5 (NABRE).

The one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands says this: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors. Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

The reason this stood out for me this time through the New Testament was how it might tie in to the infighting going on in the Church at this time. With all the focus on the policies of the Church and which faction they benefit, it seems to me that we are in danger of losing our first love of Christ that should be our motivation in dealing with others. Our Lord didn’t give us a church. He gave us The Church under the headship of Peter and his successors. In defending the Church, some treat it as an institution that we either favor if we agree with it, or get angry with if we disagree with it.

But if the Church is God’s gift to us to be the visible means of carrying out His mission, then reducing our participation to fighting over what we want the Church to be is forgetting our first love of God. That doesn’t mean we keep silent when there is a problem in the Church. But it does mean we need to handle these problems in light of our love for God and His for us.

Do we believe that God established what we know of as Christianity? Then let us live it out of love for Him, not as a collection of bylaws for membership. Do we believe that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ created and continues to protect? Then let us handle our affairs in the Church out of love for The Lord who built it on the rock of Peter, giving all due obedience out of love, not out of reluctance or legalism. If we make known our needs (see canon 212 §3), then let us do so out of love of God and each other as the Greatest Commandment (cf. Matthew 22:36-40) was formulated, and not “The Pope/Cardinal/Bishop/Priest is a jerk and a moron!”

It’s unfortunate that the different factions in the Church seem to think the Greatest Commandments is suspended when dealing with those we think are wrong. For example, I’m unhappy with the anti-Francis attitude in the Church. But I have to constantly remind myself that my dislike for their behavior does not merit treating them contemptuously. Those who dislike the Pope, or those who dislike the “dubia cardinals” and other critics (along with all other factions out there) should remember that treating these people as enemies goes against the One who must be our first love.

Yes, sin is wrong and must be opposed. But we cannot treat sinners as those to be despised. That was the attitude of the Pharisee that our Lord condemned. Jesus taught, “For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you” (Matthew 7:2). We need to remember that if we love Jesus, we will keep His commandments (cf. John 14:15). That means we must look at ourselves and see how we have transgressed. But love and mercy (even when correcting) is part of His commandments. 

No, loving the sinner does not mean calling the sin good. But too many think it does. Both the “conservative” and “liberal” Catholics think the Church calling for moral laxity when it calls for mercy. They merely differ over whether they think it is good or not. But both are wrong. The sins we tolerate—disguising our partisanship as mercy for the sinner—are wrong just as wrong in the eyes of God as the ones we abhor (and show no mercy for the sinner).

So, to regain our First Love that we have lost like the Ephesians, we need to start acting out of love for God and our neighbor and not limiting our compassion to our allies and treating our enemies with evil. 

 

________

(†) One year for Lent, I gave up using sarcasm in my replies on social media. You might think that’s ridiculous (and maybe it is), but it definitely left me thinking about the charity and tone of what I said. It also changed my views of them. The further I go back in my blog history, the more cringeworthy some of my comments seem. So, what I write in this post has a particular relevance to my personal life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Factional Nonsense: A Problem Plaguing American Catholicism

I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

There’s been a story going around (soon to be a released documentary) about the late Norma McCorvey—the “Roe” of Roe v. Wade—that she was first the face of pro-abortion and then pro-life because of money. I don’t know if this is true or a matter of convenient editing in response to the fear that abortion might lose its protected status. Indeed, we have contradictory accounts from people who were alleged to have been paying her. If it’s false, she’s not around to defend herself. If it’s true, that might be the origin of the movie Citizen Ruth. But I noticed that the usual suspects in Catholic America swooped in to use this as one more opportunity to demonize their opponents. 

And that’s a problem. Too many American Catholics are seeing this as just one more battleground to advance their political views while pretending they are defending the real meaning of Catholic teaching. I don’t doubt that both of these factions have members who are sincere about the people who they try to help by their cause. But I’m seeing a disturbing number of American Catholics who seem to show more schadenfreude over whatever makes their opponents look bad than concern about people.

American Factional Catholicism tends to be split into two groups: conservatives who think that things they don’t like in the Church are liberal, and liberals who think the things they don’t like in the Church are conservative… often to the point of trying to insist that the Church embrace their politics if they want to be truly in step with God. And they sneer when they do so. We’ll hear that the bishops belong to the other side of the political divide and are partisan in doing so when they speak against the preferred faction. We’ll see accusations that the Catholics from faction A are not truly Catholic because they maliciously support the evil in their faction.

Both of these factions ought to be rejected. The Catholic teaching is not factional, and both of our American factions are at odds with the Church in serious ways. But all too often we see Catholics from these factions think that only the “other side” is political.

It’s time for us to stop putting up with factional nonsense. If we’re inclined to lean towards one faction in determining who is a “good guy” and who is a “bad guy,” we need to rethink our understanding of the Church. We’re called to evangelize the whole world and reform our own lives in the process. That means being aware of the log in our own eye before we look down on others for the splinter in the eyes of other people. If we’re willing to make excuses for our own faction while condemning Catholics from another faction for doing the same, we are no better than they are. If we demand that everyone obey the Church where we agree and refuse to do so where we disagree, we are no better than they are. And, since we ought to know our obligations, what do we call it if we refuse to do it?

But if we look to overcome the evils in the factions we think are more beneficial and respond in charity to those who belong to factions we oppose, we might find ourselves doing God’s work instead of behaving like factions that pretend to be serving God when they’re really serving themselves.

And if we’re tempted to think that this is a problem only with the “other side,” then we need to start with ourselves.

_______________


(†) The premise of the movie is a satire about pro- and anti-abortion activists battling to use the title character as a symbol for their causes, and using money to bribe Ruth (a grossly irresponsible drug addict of a character), forgetting her humanity. When it came out it was roundly condemned by both sides for playing up the stereotypes of their own side.

(‡) And (as an aside for the non-American reader), unfortunately, in America it is a both. We’re very dualistic, politically.

(∑) To avoid appearances of political bias, I try to sort Conservative-Liberal and Democrat-Republican dichotomies in alphabetical order. I also try to capitalize or leave the compared terms as lowercase consistently as well. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Thoughts on Truth and Sincerely Believed Error

I’ve been encountering a lot more conspiracy theories—though not by choice—on social media lately. The tendency always seems to be based on the taking the facts of a case and giving dubious interpretation to those facts. There might be liars out there who feed this information to those who believe it, but many of them seem sincere in their belief and are shocked if you question their ideas. Because it’s “obvious” to them, they think it should be obvious to everyone.

Of course, we can all think of examples among certain groups of people. The anti-Francis Catholics and the like immediately come to my mind. Others might immediately think of the COVID-19 deniers. But it goes way back. I don’t doubt that the people who believe Jack Chick tracts or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion get equally shocked by our disbelief, thinking their bizarre ideas are true. 

But other falsehoods are given more widespread credibility. I’ve seen people allege Christian conspiracies against whatever sinful behavior gets transformed into a “minority.” So, our objections to certain behaviors—especially by those who work at Catholic schools and can cause public scandal—is often treated as a sort of conspiracy to discriminate. Our teaching on contraception and abortion becomes a “war on women.” These are just as dubious as the rest of the conspiracy theories, but they are repeated and believed by many more than the wingnuts of society that we’re alarmed by.

In all of these cases, we have people who feel threatened by a certain Church teaching or government policy. They cannot perceive any other reason for that action than hostility to what they hold. That results in a belief that hostility towards X must be the cause for the position. It’s true we do need to beware of extremists and factional media who believe that legitimate policies or teachings are malicious. But we also need to beware of the mainstream media leading others to think this way about causes they simply disagree with.

Ultimately, we must scrutinize whatever we hear. Just because what we hear goes along with what we want to be true doesn’t make it so. Yes, our enemies can do evil, but so can our allies. And our allies can cause harm with good intention, but so can our enemies.

We cannot assume the worst of our enemies while being silent on the wrongs of our allies. Truth and charity are obligations for the Catholic. If we want others to speak truthfully and charitably about us (even if they’re sincere in believing their errors), we have an obligation to speak truthfully and charitably about others (even if we are sincere about believing our errors). That’s the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), and it applies to us even if others do not respond in kind. God will judge those who bear false witness against us, and He will judge us if we bear false against others.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Truth, Whether Convenient or Not

As we in the United States continue the lunacy that we call the election season, I notice a certain problem—where we see many people willing to make excuses for the factions that they support in a crisis but assume the worst possible motives for the factions they oppose. That’s not to say that the factions are equally valid of course. It’s quite possible to have one faction be correct on an issue and a second be wrong. But it overlooks the possibility of people being sincere in their error, or that the difference is one of policy, not of right and wrong.

This is a behavior which Catholics cannot condone. While sometimes we might have the right to conceal a truth rightly held in confidence, we’re never permitted to spread a falsehood to benefit our friends or harm our foes. This means we need to consider the reliability and biases of our sources before repeating what we hear. Regardless what we think of Trump, Pelosi, or Ocasio-Cortez, we don’t have the right to accuse them of things we don’t know are true, even if we rightly oppose what they stand for or against.

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of news going around with the COVID-19, where people are willing to accuse Trump of crimes against humanity for wanting to end the quarantine, or accusing the Democrats of creating a dictatorship for wanting to continue it. But these accusations strike me as wanting to denigrate the opponent when there is an election at stake, not as an accurate criticism of the actual policy.

In short, we’re seeing people replace a search for truth with propaganda. And as long as we’re willing to hear the propaganda we want to hear while deriding the truth we don’t want to hear as “fake news” we are likely overlook injustice as long as it suits us… and then turn around and get angry for the other faction using those precedents we set against us. That’s the recipe for an unjust society.

A just society requires us to determine whether a claim made is true or not, and reaching a conclusion that addresses the truth we don’t want to hear. For example, what are we to make of the coronavirus quarantine when we don’t have good numbers on how virulent it is or whether our policies are “flattening the curve” as the popular saying goes? We see people in some countries lifting the quarantines and we want to know why we’re still having restrictions. Whether someone is “reckless” for wanting to lift the quarantine or “totalitarian” for wanting to be more cautious depends on the truth of how dangerous or benign the coronavirus is. Our preference for one party or another doesn’t allow us to “shade” the truth to our favor.

Regardless of our political preferences, we have an obligation to make sure that our defenses for our faction or accusations against the opposing faction are truth.  If they’re not truth, we must not use them. If we’re not sure if they’re true, we must not present them as if they are true. We must not rely on the mindset of “I wouldn’t put it past him/her.”  Anti-Catholics have come up with all sorts of slanders against us based on that way of thinking. And since we must not do unto others what we do not want them to do to us, assuming guilt based on what we think someone is capable of is rash judgment.

In saying this, I’m not advocating the misuse of Matthew 7:1 where people think not judging means “let them do whatever they want.” I mean we must not assume guilt without actual evidence of guilt, nor assume motive without proof that this is the actual motive. 

Some people might protest, saying “we’ll never prove anything that way!” But these people should realize how they sound when they say that. This is saying that suspicion is good enough to convict when this is exactly what Our Lord condemns when He says not to judge. Our conspiracy theories—no, not only nuts follow them—are not proof of wrongdoing.

That doesn’t mean passivity in the face of wrongdoing. But it does mean that we must avoid begging the question where the “proof” we used to justify our accusations depend entirely on the accusation being true in the first place.

Yes, our politicians seem to be a disreputable bunch nowadays. But that in itself is not proof of wrongdoing. And even if one is guilty of wrongdoing, we must not impute the motives that are based on how we see their character. We must determine the truth before judging… even if nobody else does, because we profess to be Christians, and the God we know, love, and serve forbids us to do otherwise.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Practicing What We Preach: The Problem of Catholics and Toleration of Evil

Then Nathan said to David: “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7)

While it’s easy to forget it with all the other turmoil going around, the United States will have an election in November. Many Catholics have already decided how they will vote. Both sides justify that decision by pointing out the evils on the other side. They inevitably will say that the stakes are “too high” to do anything but vote the way they were going to vote anyway.

Catholics on both sides will use identical arguments, merely choosing a different “non-negotiable” issue that disqualifies the other side, and condemning the other side for refusing to think like them… even though they think identically in terms of arguments used in justifying themselves. In other words, for many Catholics, the elections involve who they plan to vote against, and whoever votes in a way opposed to how they plan to vote is condemned as willfully standing on the side of evil.

And God help the bishops when they speak out on an evil that one of the parties embrace. Catholics of that party invariably attack their bishops as being partisans for the other party. If the bishops speak out on abortion and the defense of marriage, they’re called “The Republican Party at Prayer” (an attack used in the 2008 and 2016 elections) or accused of being “played” by Trump. If they speak out against the treatment of migrants and the support for torture, or for military action that violate the teaching on Just War, they are accused of being Democrats. In 2016, the bishops were accused by Catholics on both sides of belonging to the other side. 

While I have been aware of this behavior for as long as I have taken my Catholic faith seriously (I’m sure it’s been going on far longer than that), what I seldom see is Catholics taking a serious look at the state of their preferred political party in light of the teachings of the Catholic Faith. While Catholics might ask the other side how they can possibly justify a vote based on their violation of teaching X, they usually deny or downplay the importance of the teaching that their party rejects.

But, if we are called to be the Salt of the Earth, and the Light of the World (cf. Matthew 5:13-16), then we must work to make the Christian message known to the world, not only by our words, but by our actions. If we want the world to see the Christian message as truth and not as another political position, we need to judge the political parties by our Catholic Faith, and not the Catholic Faith by our political parties. That means that, even if we decide that Issue X is more immediately dangerous than Issue Y, this does not absolve us from holding our party accountable for supporting Issue Y and fighting to change the policy.

If we will not do this. We should keep in mind, Our Lord’s words in Matthew 7:3-5.

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. 

If we want to avoid judgment from The Lord, we must remember that whatever standard we hold Catholics in the other party to, we must hold ourselves to the same standard. If we want Catholics in the other party to stop tolerating evil, we must stop tolerating it in our own. Otherwise, we will be opening the Church to charges of hypocrisy by those outside the Church who see our individual double standards and assume the whole Church is guilty. In fact, we risk causing scandal by letting others think that what we do justifies their own actions. Since God warned us about scandals and millstones (Matthew 18:6-7), we can be certain that if we cause others to justify their own inaction, we will certainly be called to answer for it.

None of this should be seen as justifying a relativistic “vote for whoever you want.” I do believe that certain positions should be a disqualification. What I am calling for is that we practice what we preach. If we are so outraged that Catholics of the “other party” are tolerating a great evil, then let us look at what our own party supports and stop making excuses for our inaction. If we want the “other side” to start challenging wrong in their party, then let’s do the same.

_____________


(†) Readers from outside the United States, who often have a large number of political parties, need to keep in mind that the majority of Americans are divided into two major parties and a number of inconsequential parties that only get noticed when the electorate views both with disgust. But then most of them vote for one or the other anyway.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Hatred as a Response to Mercy

At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them—in this case the Pope—he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint. (Benedict XVI. Letter of March 10, 2009)

Benedict XVI wrote these words in response to the backlash over the lifting of excommunication of the four illicit bishops of the SSPX and a call to reconcile them back into the Church. I recall the controversy of the time. In the now defunct Xanga version of my blog, I had written that while I personally had misgivings over the decision, I recognized his right to make this decision under his authority to govern the governing of the Church.

Recently re-encountering this letter, I was struck by the similarities between the message of mercy Benedict XVI had for the members of the SSPX who were (and, sadly, still are) at odds with the Church, and the message of mercy Pope Francis has for those at odds with the Church (like the divorced and remarried). But people seem to favor the outreach to one, but not to the other. In both cases, we have people willing to point out the wrongdoing on those unrepentant in the group and say that the Pope is in favor of their wrongdoing… otherwise he would never have opened the door to mercy. And, of course, it is easy to see the fault in the other side’s mercy while downplaying the problems that inevitably crop up with the mercy shown to a faction that we have empathy for.

Perhaps we should consider this when we look at those at odds with the Church. Whatever they have done, God desires our salvation, and calls on the Church to be His ordinary means to bring His salvation to the world. While we cannot force others at odds with the Church to accept that salvation, we must never tire of trying to be God’s coworkers for the truth (cf. 3 John 1:8), no matter what we think of the actions that have put them at odds with God and His Church… even if they should think that their wrong is “right.”

Yes, I hate how certain Catholics misrepresent the Pope through ignorance or malice. I also deplore how certain people misrepresent his words to lobby for “changes” that are incompatible with Church teaching. But I can’t treat them hatefully, even if I should speak against them forcefully.  Wherever I have failed in this, I must reconsider my attitude.

This isn’t a matter of factions. This is about making certain we do not fall into rash judgment or mercilessness in dealing with those at odds with the Church. We are called to be merciful to each other, forgiving seventy times seven because God is merciful to us, and if we will not be merciful, we cannot expect it from God (cf. Matthew 18:21-35).

Pope Francis warns against a Pelagian mindset in dealing with others. In Gaudete et Exsultate, he says:

49. Those who yield to this pelagian or semi-pelagian mindset, even though they speak warmly of God’s grace, “ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style.”

 And in the footnotes, he points to Evangelii Gaudium #94 where he writes:

A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying.

This is something that happens across the factions within the Church. Catholics in America frequently classify what is reallyCatholic according to their personal preferences, to the point that you can identify the political views of the Catholic doing the judging. But we cannot write people off because their positions err. The task is to help them understand why their position is in error and help them to find the truth taught by the Church—not to compel them to embrace the political contrary of their position.

If we forget our role as individual Catholics and as members of the Catholic Church as a whole, we’ll be missing the point of our calling. We’re not called to play “goalies” keeping undesirables away from the Church. We’re called to play medics in a field hospital, bringing them to know Christ and why it is important to change our ways to follow Him. People tend to do a poor job detecting their own hypocrisy, but do a good job seeing it in others. So, if there is hypocrisy in our own behavior, rest assured others will see it and recognize that we’re not doing unto others what we would have them do to us or those we sympathize with.

This is why Benedict XVI’s words should be heeded. There are some people who hold things we abhor. We might want them to leave—or be thrown out of—the Church, and we might be scandalized when the Pope reaches out to them. But he’s doing what he must as the Vicar of Christ, and if we condemn him for doing so, we’re merely displaying our hatred of our foes, not our fidelity to the Church’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

(†) The reader will have to decide how well or how badly I have done on this.

(‡) The disputes between the so-called “Original Pro-Life Movement” and the “New Pro-Life Movement” sometimes tends to say more about the party affiliation that the members subscribe to than their knowledge of the moral obligations which they often downplay when it’s inconvenient.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Government is not God: Wanting the State to Do What Only God Can Do

When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone for me to cure him of leprosy? (1 Kings 5:7a)

More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King’s command make it round? And if it is round, will the King’s command flatten it? (Bolt, Robert. A Man For All Seasons)

Everybody wants the quarantine to be over. As it drags on, more people are getting more forceful in insisting the government end it. Others seem perfectly willing to declare that if only the Government had done X or if we had elected Y, we wouldn’t be in this state. Both of these groups seem to be forgetting that governments do not have power over disease. The best a government can do is implement policies in response that justly protect the common good.

The people protesting the quarantine seem to be forgetting is that the necessity of the quarantine depends on the reality behind the coronavirus. Both sides partially grasp this: If the threat remains high, ending the quarantine does not serve the common good. But if the threat is low, strict quarantines do not serve the common good.

Likewise, the arguments over what the government should have done in preparation, or what candidate should have been elected does not serve the public good. Regardless of what should have been done to reduce the impact, it’s clear that governments by themselves could not have spared us from the existence of the pandemic. Countries with both more and less government than the United States have been impacted by the coronavirus, and—regardless of what role you might think government should play in health care—countries with one form of government or economic system were not spared the pandemic compared to another.

That’s because governments are made up of human beings and human beings are finite in both knowledge and power. Even when served by competent people of good will, it is not guaranteed that they will be able to respond as needed. 

Government is not God. It cannot perform miracles. It can only respond to the crises as they emerge, trying to limit the threat as they become aware of it. We can pray to God to deliver us and to provide insight to scientists and leaders so they might find cures and more ways to mitigate the harm. But the debates over when to end the quarantine or who would have prevented the pandemic from beginning is to confuse Government with God.

Until we remember that fact, there will continue to be a lot of wasted debate over things that are actually uncontrollable. 

__________


(†) Personally, I have no way of knowing whether the COVID-19 virus will be curable or not. I certainly pray that it is.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Subalterns and Church Teaching

In logic, there is a term called subaltern. The concept behind it is, if a universal is true, then the partial is also true by default. So, if the premise, “All dogs are white” is true, then the subaltern premise “some dogs are white” must also be true. However, the reverse is not always true. So, we cannot draw from the fact that “some dogs are white” the conclusion that “all dogs are white.” In other words, if the universal is true, the specific must also be true. But just because the specific is true, doesn’t mean the universal is true.

Unfortunately, some in the Church confuse universal and specific premises. Some think that a universal teaching is merely a localized one. Others think that a localized evil is proof of a universal corruption. For example, some Catholics seem perfectly willing to treat the universal obligation to oppose abortion as a merely limited one and justify voting for pro-abortion politicians as a result. Or we could look at the Catholics who deny the authority of Amoris Laetitia and Laudato Si while claiming to follow the binding authority of the truth: They’re ignoring the fact that if the universal (the Church must be obeyed when she teaches) is true, then the subaltern (a specific teaching of the Church) must also be obeyed.

Other Catholics assume that the fact of some corruption in the Church is proof of a universal corruption. The latter case is the fallacy of composition. The fallacy of composition errs in assuming that what is true in a part is true of the whole. An obvious and ridiculous illustration would be: Each brick in this wall weighs 2 lbs. Therefore, the wall weighs 2 lbs. But a less obvious error might be: Every element of this software works. Therefore, the software works. Maybe, but just because the parts work, doesn’t mean the combined product will work as an integrated whole. So, in terms of the Church, the fact that some Churchmen embrace corruption does not mean the Church—as a whole—embraces corruption.

What the concept of subalterns means is we need to be clear on what level the truth is on, and drawing the conclusion based on that level, neither denying the conclusions nor exaggerating them. If the truth is a universal the specific applications of the truth are also true. If the truth is a specific, then the conclusions drawn are also on the specific level.

Or, to give an example, if we are bound to obey the Pope when he teaches (and we are: canon 752) then we are bound to obey his specific teaching. But just because there is a problem at a local level cannot be used to indict the whole of actively participating in and supporting the problem.

___________________

(†) The counterpart, the fallacy of division, is a misapplication of the subaltern. It assumes that a universal proposition also follows in the parts (as a subaltern premise does do). But it confuses concrete objects with concepts. So, for example, it might argue that because a sports team is the best in the league, each individual member must also be the best in the league. But it might mean that some members are permanently on the bench, or that the team is better coordinated than other teams who might have better scorers but think “There may be no I in team, but there is a ME.”

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Confusing Contraries and Contradictories: How It Leads to Error

Let a people then, Catholic or not, be in ignorance of doctrine—let them be a practical busy people, full of their secular matters—let them have no keen analytical view of the principles which govern them, yet they will be spontaneously attracted by those principles, and irritated by their contraries so, as they can be attracted or irritated by no other. Their own principles or their contraries, when once sounded in their ears, thrill through them with a vibration, pleasant or painful, with sweet harmony or with grating discord; under which they cannot rest quiet; but relieve their feelings by gestures and cries, and startings to and fro, and expressions of sympathy or antipathy towards others, and at length by combination, and party, and vigorous action.

—John Henry Newman, Lectures on Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Submitting to the Catholic Church (London: Burns & Lambert, 1850), 49–50.

When one encounters Church teaching or discipline that goes against what an individual thinks should be so, it is easy for them to conclude that the thing they dislike is wrong, treating it as endorsing the polar opposite of their own position, asking “How can the Church support that?”. 

For example, it’s commonly believed that, in the 1832 encyclical Mirari Vos, Pope Gregory XVI condemned “freedom of conscience” and the freedom to publish. From that, he—and the Catholic Church—was portrayed as being an enemy of freedom

This is to confuse contraries and contradictories. A contrary would be the direct opposite of a statement. So, if you were to say “No men are named Johnson,” and I disagreed, you would be wrong to allege that I said “all men are named Johnson.” My disagreement would be a contradictory: Not all men are named Johnson. Contraries are “All vs. None.” Contradictories are “All vs. Not all.”


Understanding this, we can see what Gregory XVI was actually condemning was not all applications of freedom of conscience. He was speaking against an indifferentism that held that there can be no moral absolutes and the state should not insist on any absolutes. He was actually right, as the de-evolution of America shows us and our nation embraces things that would have seemed bizarre only 20 years ago. 

A similar error is made today. If someone dares to speak out and say that morals and values were better years ago, somebody will invariably bring up our nation’s shameful legacy of racism and segregation, claiming that the concern over morals is a rejection of all progress… which is why the non sequitur of “racism” gets thrown around when that was never the topic to begin with.

Unfortunately, the current critics of the Church and the Pope have fallen into this error. They have a certain conception of the Church. But, when the Pope tells them that their misunderstanding of the teaching is wrong, they assume that the Pope is saying that the teaching itself is wrong and he endorses the contrary. So, the Pope speaking out against the abuses in unfettered capitalism (as his predecessors had done since the time of Leo XIII) is transformed into support of the polar opposite of capitalism. Thus, we see risible claims that the Pope is a socialist.

Likewise, the Pope speaking out against the abuse of the Earth in Laudato Si, is transformed into a paganistic eco-extremism. His pointing out in Amoris Laetitia that confessors should make certain that all the conditions of mortal sin are present before denying communion to the divorced and remarried is transformed into “anybody can go and receive communion.”

But claiming that the Pope supports the contrary to their position is rash judgment at best, calumny at worst. His statements are contradictories to error. Against the claim that unfettered capitalism is good, he says that not everything about capitalism is good, and we must change that which is morally wrong. When speaking on the environment, he does not call the neo-pagan environmentalism good. He calls certain attitudes as incompatible with how we must treat the Earth. He doesn’t say that anybody who feels called should receive communion. He says that confessors should work to getting the divorced and remarried reconciled to the Church… which may include the sacraments if all the conditions of mortal sin are not present.

Once we understand this, we can see the web of falsehoods that ensnare the anti-Francis Catholics. They wrongly assume their interpretation is true, and the Pope’s correction means he supports the view they see as the antithesis of their own ideas. 

Until they recognize this error, they are liable to remain blind and persist in the false belief that he is teaching error and causing confusion. The danger is, they are—I assume unwittingly—reaching the same false conclusions that others did when they rejected and broke with the Church. If they do not change their attitude of rejection, they could very easily wind up separated from the Church while thinking it is the Church that fell into “error.”

_______________ 

 

(†) It’s commonly claimed he called freedom of conscience an “insanity,” but that seems to be a translation issue as no text I’ve ever seen uses it (or “madness”). 

(‡) We should be aware of the fact, however, that some of the values of the past were held more out of a sense of “we’ve always done that,” than out of a moral understanding why we should live that way. So, as societies rejected the past abuses, it also eliminated the past truths because they didn’t understand why X was wrong or Y was right. Any attempt to restore past values would have to understand and change that failing.

Friday, April 24, 2020

The “Guides” We Must Not Follow: Putting Personal Opinion Above Church Teaching

Today, on social media, I saw somebody had posted a link from an anti-Francis Catholic arguing that the SSPX was formed canonically. Apparently, the individual was trying to argue that it had been unlawfully suppressed by the bishop in question. I don’t think this link is particularly dangerous. It’s posted from someone I didn’t take too seriously even before the pontificate of Pope Francis. But things like this serve as a reminder that some people actually believe that their personal interpretations of Church teaching outrank the decrees of Popes and bishops.

Adding to the tragedy, these Catholics seem to take pleasure in trying to argue that the Catholic Church is becoming “Protestantunder Pope Francis. They use the term “Protestant” as an epithet, but seem unaware that the rejection of the teachings of Pope and bishops in favor of their own interpretation is the behavior of men like Luther and Calvin.

Luther and Calvin also insisted on their interpretations of Scripture, Church Fathers, and Councils to justify their own views, attacking everything that stood firmly against them as “unbiblical.” It’s a No True Scotsman fallacy where everything cited against their position is seen as “error.”

Once we recognize this, we have to choose: We either recognize that when the Pope intends to teach—even in the ordinary magisterium—we’re bound to obey, or we’re no different from any other dissenter, regardless of our motive. So, if we have a difficulty, we are bound to look at this and ask How did I go wrong, not declare The Church went wrong! But that’s precisely what the critics don’t do.

I think the modern Catholic critics who love to use the term “Protestant” as an epithet have drawn the wrong conclusions from Church History at that time. The main problem was not so much the novelties of those teachings by the founders of Protestantism (though they were wrong) as it was refusing to look to the Church for confirmation and correction.

“But wait,” the anti-Francis Catholic might say. “These aren’t my ideas. They’re the magisterial writings of the past!” To which I would respond, “No. They’re your interpretations of those past writings. The Pope and bishops determine whether or not your interpretation is accurate.*” Clergy and members of the laity can offer their insights of course. But in the end, the Pope is the one who determines if an interpretation is authentic.

The fact of the matter is, the concept of Protection from Error is not to be understood in a Pelagian concept where it depends on the character of the man who is Pope. It is the trust in God to protect His Church. God protects the Church from wicked men or clueless men who might occupy the See of Peter. If The man in the Papacy is morally or intellectually bad (I deny Pope Francis is either), this protection from error might be a negative act—preventing such a man from teaching at all. 

The difference between Ordinary and Extraordinary (aka ex cathedra) magisterium is not a measure of quality. Rather it defines the nature of the teaching: The former can be further developed depending on the needs and circumstances, while the latter is something that draws a line where the Church cannot cross. For example, the Immaculate Conception is an ex cathedra teaching that draws a line: Any attempt to argue that Mary was an ordinary sinful woman cannot ever hope to call their interpretation Catholic. However, in the ordinary magisterium, while wrong is wrong, it may be changed as we discover different things. For example, while contraception is always morally wrong, the Church may have to reach a decision on whether or not a new technique that regulates births is morally acceptable or not#.

That’s the difference between Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium. Both must be obeyed, but the former can be further refined as time goes on. The change of discipline falls under the Ordinary Magisterium. Whether we use the vernacular or not; whether we ordain married men or not; whether we give the chalice to the laity or not, these are all disciplines that the Church can change if they think the change is necessary. If they should do so, we are obliged to give religious submission of intellect and will to the decision, not to obey or not as we choose.

The modern dissenters should consider this well: If they think that they are faithful Catholics, then let them remember that obedience to the teachings made by the Pope and bishops of this time are just as required as to past teachings. If one thinks there is a “break” in teaching where the Pope “errs,” the presumption of error is to be placed on the critic’s interpretation, not on the official teaching of a Pope.

Once we realize this, we can realize that there is no “confusion” caused by the Pope. But there is a lot of confusion caused by those who claim to know the Catholic faith better than the Pope.

____________

(†) It is troubling that, for several anti-Francis Catholics, all roads seem to eventually lead to Ecône, even if that particular individual defended past Popes from the SSPX.

(‡) Actual Protestants I have encountered find the claim that Pope Francis, the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and Vatican II are “Protestant” to be risible.

(*) All the heresies and schisms in the history of the Church could have been avoided if the ones who fell into these things had listened to the Church instead of think that the Church had gone wrong.

(#) The 1960s discussion of the Birth Control Pill was never—in the eyes of the Church—about whether contraception could be made “good.” The question was whether the Pill (which did not use previous barrier methods) was contraception or not. Once it became clear that the pill was contraceptive, the Church had to reject its use.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

New Actors Playing an Old Part: The “Theology” Of Dissent

The Anti-Francis Catholic frequently identifies himself with orthodoxy within the Catholic Church. But he (or she) must reconcile that claim with the fact that they are choosing to reject the teaching of the current Pope as heretical, an opinion, or a prudential judgment. When faced with the challenge that the Pope must be obeyed when he teaches (Canon 752), the common attack is that this insistence to obedience is ultramontanism, and is an aberration compared to what was believed by the Church during the pontificate of his predecessors.

The problem is, they can’t reconcile their claims with the actual words of past Popes. In fact, during past pontificates, these anti-Francis Catholics cited the statements defending the authority of the Popes to bind and loose (cf. Matthew 16:19). No previous Pope would have considered his teachings optional. For example, St. John Paul II would write: 

This supreme authority of the papal Magisterium, to which the term apostolic has been traditionally reserved, even in its ordinary exercise derives from the institutional fact that the Roman Pontiff is the Successor of Peter in the mission of teaching, strengthening his brothers, and guaranteeing that the Church’s preaching conforms to the “deposit of faith” of the apostles and of Christ’s teaching. However, it also stems from the conviction, developed in Christian tradition, that the Bishop of Rome is also the heir to Peter in the charism of special assistance that Jesus promised him when he said: “I have prayed for you” (Lk 22:32). This signifies the Holy Spirit’s continual help in the whole exercise of the teaching mission, meant to explain revealed truth and its consequences in human life.

For this reason, the Second Vatican Council states that all the Pope’s teaching should be listened to and accepted, even when it is not given ex cathedra but is proposed in the ordinary exercise of his Magisterium with the manifest intention of declaring, recalling and confirming the doctrine of faith. It is a consequence of the institutional fact and spiritual inheritance that completes the dimensions of the succession to Peter. (Audience, March 17, 1993)

The Saint did not just invent this belief. He bases it on the consistent teaching about how the Church exercises her teaching authority. In fact, throughout history, you have to go to those who broke with the Church to find the same arguments that are made now. Whenever a Pope would rule against a person, the obstinate would argue that he could err or that his teaching was an “opinion.”

Understanding this, we begin to see the real issue with the attacks on Pope Francis. Whether the critics act out of defiance or out of ignorance, they do not like that his teachings differ from their interpretations, and think his words should match their views. This was a problem throughout history. It might be from a confusion of moral and doctrinal error. Many critics seem to think that the existence of morally bad Popes in history means that this Pope can teach doctrinal error. But that’s a non sequitur as the Pope can be protected from teaching error even if one acts wrongly in his personal behavior. So, the appeals to John XII and others are irrelevant in insisting on the possibility of a Pope teaching error.

Once we recognize this error among Papal critics, the justification for disobedience vanishes. St. Paul withstood St. Peter to his face (Galatians 2:14). But this was not because of any teaching error, but because withdrawing from the Gentiles to avoid conflict with Jewish Christians to avoid a conflict led some to think that Jewish practices were required—against St. Peter’s intent (Acts 15:7-11).

We need to realize that the critics who are claiming to defy the Pope out of a love of the Church are—at best—misled about the teaching authority of the Church. The teaching of the Pope is the teaching of the Church. Laudato Si and Amoris Lætitia are Church teachings and not opinions or “prudential judgments.”

It seems that one problem is that the critics are declaring themselves judge and jury. They claim to have the right interpretation of the Church teaching but refuse to hear the ones who are entrusted with that authority to clarify and deny the teachings. As long as they have that attitude, they will never consider correction of errors in their understanding. That’s dangerous because, while being innocently mistaken about what the Church teaches might be easily corrected, being obstinate against what the Church teaches is the definition of heresy (canon 751).

The tragedy of the modern critics is that they have invented a “theology” of dissent that claims that a Pope can be a formal heretic and teach error, and can be deposed by the Church—none of which is actually taught by the Church. Canon 1404 says, The First See is judged by no one and, during the history of the Church, only those in dissent tried to claim that they could.

There have been in the past and may be in the future morally bad Popes. I deny Pope Francis is one of those. But that fact has never meant that the past Popes have ever taught error. Yes, some disciplines may have been changed for the needs of the time, and some development of understanding have led to the prohibition of things once tolerated. But it was not a case of the Church once taught evil was all right but now it’s wrong ‡.

In this time when people are willing to justify disobedience in the name of the Church, we should remember that the new champions of the argument are just using the same old errors. As such, they cannot be considered “orthodox” when they argue that dissent is justified. It’s the same old error, but with new actors playing the part.

___ 

(†) For example, a thoroughly wicked Pope might be prevented by the Holy Spirit from teaching at all to prevent an erroneous teaching.

(‡) Sometimes Churchmen would support evils like torture or slavery. These are what we would call vicious customs. They were not invented by the Church. Rather, the local customs (often pre-Christian) were accepted as the norm. Slavery had been on the decline during the middle ages to the point that, when Europeans began taking slaves in the Canary Isles, Pope Eugene responded (1435) with an angry denunciation in Sicum Dudet. The worst one could say is that the some of those leading the Church stayed silent when it should have spoken. But that’s a moral failing on the part of the individual.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Chafing Under Confinement

As we continue the quarantine, we’re seeing a growing frustration with the confinement. Some protests are emerging against perceived heavy-handedness of the enforcement, combined with the need to get back to the proper balance of life. Even in the Church, we’re seeing some critics claim that the Church is “rolling over” for the state and should be allowing public mass. I’ve even seen a few—I pray they are merely trolls—say that they’re considering leaving the Church because some other denominations defy the state. Effectively, they say they’re considering leaving the Church for not providing sacraments and going to a Church that has no sacraments.

This attitude shows the chafing among the faithful. We want to be able to return to normal. I find the second reading for today’s Mass (Divine Mercy Sunday, Year A if you happen across this later) to be useful to our times:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope

through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,

kept in heaven for you

who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,

to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while

you may have to suffer through various trials,

so that the genuineness of your faith,

more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,

may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor

at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Although you have not seen him you love him;

even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,

you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,

as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

 

This is a trial, of course. Admittedly, not a trial like those who suffer persecution endure. But those who take their Faith seriously want to be able to return to the Mass and the Sacraments. The temptation is to look for someone to blame, either at a secular level (President, Congress, Governors) or the Church level (Pope, Bishops) for denying them something they need.

But we’ve been here before. During the 1918 Influenza pandemic, one of the priests, Father James E. Coyle† wrote in regards to the quarantine of the time:

You are for the first time in your lives deprived of the opportunity of hearing Mass on Sunday, and you will, I trust from this very circumstance, appreciate more thoroughly what Holy Mass is for the Catholics….

…Ah, brethren, let us today reflect on the meaning and the history of that great sacrifice at which we may not assist, a sacrifice that links us with the saints and sages of every age from Christ’s time till now, and let us beg God in his mercy to remove from us that sickness that keeps us deprived of the great sacrifice, so that soon we may again with glad, worshipful hearts, meet in our churches and assist in offering to the All High that clean oblation, seen by the prophet Malachy in vision, that sacrifice that is offered in every place from the rising to the set of sun.

I think that we can make use of the words of St. Peter and the words of Fr. Coyle to our advantage. This is a trial, and we have been deprived of the opportunity to go to Mass. Let us consider how we respond to it and appreciate what we have ordinarily but can take for granted so easily. Let us pray for deliverance from this pandemic so we might have the Mass restored to us.

In doing so, let us practice patience with the hardships we suffer and neither respond with blame nor acquiesce to injustice. If we believe that an injustice is being committed at the secular level, then let us respond in a manner fitting for Catholics, recognizing the legitimate authority where it is properly applied. If we have concerns with the spiritual needs and appeal to the Church under canon 212 §2 + 3, then let us remember that the canon requires that we present our petitions “with reverence toward their pastors.”

Pope Francis recognizes the need for the Sacraments, saying:

The Church, the Sacraments, the People of God are concrete. It’s true that at this moment we must have this familiarity with the Lord in this way, but we must come out of the tunnel, not stay there.

We need to be prudent, yes. But we also need the Sacraments. So, let us consider how we might increase access to the Sacraments prudently, letting our pastors know our suggestions, while complying with the quarantine and being respectful of our pastors. And let us pray for deliverance from the pandemic.

But while we are forced apart, let us consider the value of what we are separated from and resolve to never treat the Mass and the Sacraments lightly again. 

__________________

 

(†) He was murdered in 1921 by an Anglican minister for marrying a Puerto Rican man to his daughter. The murder seems to have been motivated by a combination of racism and anti-Catholicism.

(‡) I recommend reading his entire address which is presented in the link.


Friday, April 17, 2020

A Reflection on “From the Depths of Our Hearts”

Back when there were all sorts of nonsense being spread against the Amazonian Synod, the Church was rocked by the news that Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah were publishing a book on the issue of priestly celibacy. Since the synod was considering whether or not we needed to considered ordaining married men, this was seen as a possible attack on the Pope. At the time that the news was announced, I wrote:

This book isn’t even out yet. We have a few excerpts coming from the French version and some claiming access to the galleys of the Ignatius Press translation. We have no sense of context. Secular media and Catholic media hostile to the Pope are portraying it as a rift. Other Catholics, supportive of the Pope, are portraying it as a betrayal. But right now, any speculation is exactly that. Speculation.

The book has been out for a while now and I thought it would be time to read it, apart from the controversies of the time that no doubt would have colored my interpretation of it if I read it in the middle of the chaos. 


It should be noted that, after the publication of Querida Amazonia, the book is largely a moot point. Pope Francis decided against proposals for a limited married priesthood (and based on his previous comments, it probably wasn’t even remotely a possibility).

 

Contrary to the controversy, this book doesn’t read like an anti-Francis attack. I think the book was aimed at a certain mindset within the Church that sought to hijack the synod for their own views. Unfortunately, anti-Francis Catholics hijacked the book, and some parts of the book itself were written in an unnecessarily abrasive tone that probably cost the two some goodwill among the defenders of Pope Francis.

 

I would describe the book as two articles with a preface and a prologue. Benedict XVI wrote a short chapter on the important meaning of celibacy. I think Archbishop Gaswein’s claim about Benedict’s intended role as a contributor, not a co-author, seems plausible. The piece is good but short. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been written before the synod was announced. Cardinal Sarah’s chapter is longer and deals directly with the synod. His chapter was clearly written while it was in progress.

 

Benedict XVI has a solid, logical article that would be good as an emphasis of the general importance of celibacy as a Latin Rite discipline as a total commitment to God. Published alone as an article, and making clear it was addressing the Latin Rite, there probably would have been no controversy about it. 

 

Unfortunately, Cardinal Sarah’s article would have been controversial regardless of how it was published. At his highest points, he makes good comments about the patronizing attitudes over “primitive” people being unable to grasp Catholic teaching. Unfortunately, much of his chapter involves a rather emotional argumentation that borders on the disrespectful to people with a different but legitimate view… sometimes reaching the level of the ad hominem attack. That’s too bad because the bad elements managed to bury the good points that could have effectively shown why we shouldn’t make changes without a very good reason. 

 

Cardinal Sarah does call celibacy a “doctrine#,” which causes some problems, unless it was a mistranslation. Personally, I can’t find any Church documents that call priestly celibacy a doctrine. The closest I can find is Pius XII, in Sacra Virginitas 31-32 where he refers to the superiority of the virginal state as a doctrine. (Rightly. Our Lord Himself said that it in Matthew 19:12)

 

He considers the married priesthood in the East as a late seventh century innovation, based on an Eastern mistranslation of a council. I find that interesting, because the Eastern Orthodox think the Catholics are the innovators. I don’t say this to promote a “truth is relative” view. I say that because this is an East-West divide that needs to continue being addressed by the Church officially.  Moreover, if celibacy is doctrine, did the Church err in permitting Eastern Rite Catholics to retain a married priesthood? And if it did, what does that say about the Church claim of being protected from teaching error? 

 

Even though I don’t personally support the ordination of married men without grave reason, I found his arguments disappointing. While Benedict XVI wrote a short but logical chapter, Cardinal Sarah’s turn struck me as making assumptions that were not so much refuting a view he disagreed with as he was merely being dismissive. For example, when he wrote: 

 

I am persuaded that the Christian communities of Amazonia themselves do not think along the lines of Eucharistic demands. I think, rather, that these topics are obsessions that stem from theological milieus at universities. We are dealing with ideologies developed by a few theologians, or rather sorcerer’s apprentices, who wish to utilize the distress of poor peoples as an experimental laboratory for their clever plans.

I don’t doubt that some of those suggesting the viri probati do so as a sort of trojan horse, and that needs to be opposed. But by speaking so broadly, he risks alienating the faithful who do recognize that the Church has called celibacy a discipline. A serious discipline that ought not to be changed without a serious reason, but not a doctrine.

It does seem that he is neglecting the fact of the limited nature of the proposal. He cites an interview with an Eastern Orthodox priest who talked about the decline of the married priesthood there. What he doesn’t discuss, however, is whether the problems of the married priesthood there is because of the absence of celibacy, or is because of the growth of materialism that keeps people away from a religious vocation—married or not. Unfortunately, society is changing for the worse.

As for the case of rare admissions of married men to the Latin Rite priesthood, he makes a case that—while it might work in rare and transitory circumstances—making it a general practice would be wrong. The problem is, the whole proposal of the viri probati is not a case of making a general practice. If it is ever implemented, it would address a need that we pray is transitory.

I was disappointed by the book overall. This is a subject that needs a tome to explore and establish. One can’t satisfactorily discuss concerns raised in a 152-page book (and I think a third of the Kindle version included an excerpt from another of the Cardinal’s books, footnotes and bibliography). It needs to be handled in a calm manner (Benedict XVI succeeded there), and not written in a manner that gave the impression to many Pope-bashers and Pope defenders that it was a “rebuke.” 

That leads us to ask what was the point of releasing the book at all? After all, since the synod ended with the Pope ruling that simply boosting the number of the ordained was the wrong way to approach the issue, the book was ultimately unnecessary. Of course, that’s easy to say in hindsight.

But even though the Pope emeritus and the Cardinal no doubt acted out of concern for the Church, the message of the book was hijacked despite their intentions. The results were that some Catholics became more disrespectful of the Pope, while others began to think of Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah as “the enemy.”

Regular readers of my blog will know that I defend the Pope. But you should know I don’t see the authors of this book as “enemies” of the Pope. Unfortunately, I think how the book was viewed was largely on account of how the individual viewed the Pope. That’s the problem that needs to be combatted at this time.

Maybe Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah could write a book on that? 

 

________________________

 

(†) It should be noticed that both authors were respectful to the Pope. I don’t think one could legitimately accuse them of supporting the calumny used by his detractors, even though those detractors miscite the Pope-emeritus and the cardinal as being on “their side.”

(#) The only sources I could find that call priestly celibacy a doctrine were anti-Catholic sources who try to tie this discipline to a misapplication of 1 Timothy 4:3.

(‡) The division between Catholic and Eastern Orthodox is one of almost a thousand years. This division is not going to end soon.