"But when Christ came as high priest...He entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God."
-Hebrews 9:11-14


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Sunday, February 12, 2012

O'Malley, Bishop Lennon, and the HHS Health Mandate: Part Two

Hello again!  Here's the next installment of my analysis of Mr. O'Malley's article concerning Lennon and the HHS mandate; Part One is here.

O'Malley continues:

 “On the books, church teachings say that birth control is not allowed,” said Schenk.  “But the vast majority of Catholics have not accepted the church’s teaching on contraception.

Okay, STOP.  It just keeps getting worse.

This seems to be a common enough tactic amongst the ‘Catholic’ relativists of our time.  They enjoy appealing to ‘the people’ – the common folk who believe Z instead of the X that the Church teaches.  Their reasoning seems to go something like this:

1.       The belief of the majority is the sole criterion of truth.
2.       The majority of Catholics believe that contraception is acceptable.
C.    Therefore, contraception is acceptable.

Well, they manage to break from reality right at premise 1.  Truth is not determined by the will of the majority, as any novice student of philosophy would attest.  It’s a classic case of the fallacious argumentum ad populum.  The beliefs of the majority are incidental to the truth of any proposition, as the precepts of reason and logic dictate.  The pro-abortion advocates that I've seen on the internet make use of this fallacy a lot, sadly enough, and in particular misguided Catholics who don't pay heed to the Magisterium; I'll record some of my musings regarding why that might be in the final post of this series.

“So, you have to ask yourself,” she added, “’Who are the bishops speaking for?’  It sounds like they’re speaking for themselves rather than the Catholic people.”
Schenk questioned why bishops, who don’t raise children or give birth, should be issuing statements on birth control without input from other Catholic voices.  “There’s a big disconnect on where most people are with the issue and where the bishops are,” she said.

As the colloquial exclamation goes: Newsflash!  Sister, you’ve got the role of bishop all wrong.

Bishops in the church are exceptional priests who have been appointed to shepherd and guide the people under their supervision.  They are not a democratically elected representative, as Schenk so foolishly seems to think.  They are appointed under the direction of the Pope – the Vicar of Christ – and are tasked with, among others, the following duties:

All their efforts must aim at preserving the true faith and a high moral tone among the people; they attain this end by good example, by preaching, by daily solicitude for the good administration of the diocese, and by prayer. Bishops, in effect, are bound by the Divine law to implore the help of God for the faithful committed to their care. (Catholic Encyclopedia)

And from the Catechism:

1558 "Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling. . . . In fact . . . by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative (in Eius persona agant)." "By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors."

In other words, they aren’t there to represent and enforce the will of the people.  They are appointed to guide the people, to uphold the will of Christ for His Church as manifested in the teachings of the Magisterium.  It is the obligation of the people to conform themselves to Christ’s Truth, as transmitted through Christ’s ministers on earth.  Christ tells us: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32) Adhering to the truth is more important than conforming to societal mores; the Catechism tells us that “Since God is ‘true’, the members of his people are called to live in the truth.” (CCC 2465)

Unfortunately, the misguided idea that the Church ought to be governed by the People rather than the hierarchy established by Christ and His apostles seems to be a darling amongst Schenk and like-minded folk (as briefly seen earlier in Part Two of my article about women priests).  Fortunately for the Church, Scripture and Tradition emphatically do not bear this out; in fact, they directly contradict it.  As a quick example, one need only look at the Council of Jerusalem, where Church officials met, discussed, and, under the aegis of St. Peter, decided that circumcision was not mandatory for Gentiles who had converted to Christianity. (cf. Acts 15:1-31)  Of course, one can also look at the hierarchy that Christ Himself instituted when He appointed the apostles, and the further developed hierarchy that the apostles in turn continued after Christ’s Ascension (CCC 880-86).

As the Catholic Encyclopedia puts it, the holy government of the Church is, in a word, monarchical.  The democratic paradigm is not the model that Christ and His apostles based the Church on.  Who are we to dare to contradict His will?  To insist on ‘democratizing’ the Church, as Schenk and her compatriots wish to do, is to impose one’s subjective whims upon the divine institution; it is, barring ignorance, to demonstrate a blatant disregard for truth and the virtue of obedience.

With regard to the idea that “other voices” ought to be given a say: that’s all well and good, but the issue is ultimately up to the Magisterium, or really, the Holy Spirit.  Concerning the issue of birth control, it has already been definitively settled.  It had already been settled, with regard to abortion, all the way back to the time of the Apostles – I refer Sr. Schenk to the second chapter of the Didache, where it is set forth that “you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.”  Of course, the Church has set forth that abortion is absolutely wrong in every circumstance and can in no way be justified.  Regarding contraception in general, it has always been condemned, with particular reference to Scripture for justification. (cf. Gen. 38:9, Deut. 23:1)  I’d write more on the subject of contraception and abortion, but it’s not the focus of this post; for concise treatments on the subjects, check out these helpful links

The next bit from Sr. Schenk is more of the same, but in a more flagrant manner:

“We’re really suffering from this little oligarchy, a small number of men.

In a sense, Schenk is right; the Church is sort of oligarchic, and it does seem like a small number of men (!) govern the Church, but that outright ignores both the position of the papacy and the authority vested in it, which point in turn to a monarchy, as stated previously.  But again Sister misses the whole point of this system, the whole reason why we still have it: because the apostles and their successors all instituted it and maintained it for a reason.  This was done not because of the cultural prejudices of the times, but because it was the model that Christ set, through his ordination of the apostles, his elevation of Peter over the other apostles, and through his establishment of the Church in general. (Again, see CCC, sections 880-86)  The Church is called a kingdom, modeled after the Kingdom of Heaven:

It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent. "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures." To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."
"This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ." […]
The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head. Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem. The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ's mission and his power, but also in his lot. By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church. (CCC 763-5)

I think that’s enough said about the kingdom.

More to come later; there isn't much left of the article that's worth commenting on, so I'll post the rest of it, along with my closing thoughts, in a day or two.  As always, feel free to leave your thoughts.

Pax Christi,



  1. Did you ever notice that Jesus was not in any sense a Christian, nor did he invent any of the religion about him, namely Christianity. He certainly could not have any of the doctrine/dogma about his presumed "resurrection".

    Jesus was always and only a Jew. He was an outsider, a radical Spiritual Teacher who appeared and taught on the margins of the tradition of Judaism as it was in his time and place.

    Jesus certainly had nothing to say about contraception, or abortion for that matter. Nor did he have anything to do with creating even a single word of the "catholic" magisterium.

  2. Thanks for this excellent artice on "argumentum ad populum" and the HHS health mandate! It needed to be said.

    By the way, 'Anonymous' must be an Alfred Loisy fan. It is clear that he got his idea's from Loisy's book L'Évangile et L'Église. It is not a very scholarly book, because Loisy takes bits and pieces from Scripture and manipulates them support his own heretical views. Both Pascendi and Lamentabili Sane denounce these ideas.


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