Wednesday, August 1, 2012

EXALTING THE INDIVIDUAL TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE COMMON GOOD




R. Michael Dunnigan writing for The Catholic World Report's The End of the Age of Distraction, which you can read by pressing this sentence, says that the Catholic bishops of this country have begun a new way of teaching the truths of the Church and have moved away from the 1960's through the 90's liberalism that so formed many of their teachings thus diluting the real moral authority of the Church.

I was ordained in 1980 and most of the more controversial teachings of the bishops came out in the 1980's what was called "The Catholic Moment" becasue these teachings endeared the bishops to the main street press of the day and they got lots of coverage.

I tried heroically as a liberal priest in the 1980's to tow the bishops' line on all that they were writing. Bishop Raymond W. Lessard, emeritus bishop of our Diocese who at one time was the chairperson of the Bishops' Doctrine Committee was always very pleased with the work of the USCCB and wanted it promoted in our diocese.

Of course it was a hard sell to rank and file southerners and active military personnel and retired as well, which Georgia has a huge number.

Meanwhile as the bishops were saving the world with their verbose teachings that were winning accolades in the liberal media, their own house was burning down by other liberal leaning characteristics that had compromised so much of what the Church's patrimony was in terms of care and concern for the faithful.

You guess it, it was the sex abuse scandal that was taking place even as the bishops were the toast of the town with their liberal letters on this, that and the other. The sexual abuse scandal would eventually make them just toast in the eyes of the liberal media and rank and file Catholics.

It seems that since the 1960's when the bishops of the Church starting a rather romantic dance with psychology, which up until that time, most in the hierarchy were rather leery of, and as the me-generation of the 1960's infected so much of Catholic theology and practice elevating the individual far above the common good, we saw bishops turning over problem priests to the expertise of psychologists who told the bishops they could cure whatever malady a priest had with drugs, therapy and prayer, that like Jesus and his miracles, psychology could do it again in the imminent escathology theology of the day that said we, yes we, could bring about the escaton! You've heard of "Toys R Us?" Well psychologists were "Healing R Us" and the bishop took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

So the individual and his problems were the most important issues to address and not the common good of parish communities and the Church in general.

Priests who had abused mostly teenagers, but some who had been serial pedophiles were sent to comfortable church run, hotel like therapy centers and pampered for months at a time until they were deemed cured and sent back with a regimen of things to do to stay healthy especially 12 step programs.

Who was left out of this picture? The victims and the common good of parishes and those these priests had abused and could abuse again. It is the exaltation the needs of the individual over the common good, pure and simple.

And it manifests itself in so many other progressive, left leaning ways today. A woman wants to be a priest, so she must have a vocation, ordain her or push for ordination of women. Homosexuals want marriage relationships, their needs trump the common good and so we have liberals pushing the agenda of homosexuals to the detriment of the common good for which they could care less for the individual and narcissism are the high gods and goddesses of this fierce individualism. To hell with divine law and natural law and hello to whatever makes the individual happy.

Look at those who reject Humanae Vitae not only in terms of artificial birth control but also abortion and even late term abortions. Why do they reject it? Because these teachings while promoting the common good call for the limitation of individualism when it comes to sex and gratification. Even a child now is see as a disease by many that can be eliminated through medical procedures even the potential for a child. A child might hurt the individual's lifestyle and ability to get ahead in the world and become wealthy. Why spend money on a large family when a small family can have more and more and now.

It is all rather sad that Catholics have been seduced by the evil one who makes individual so-called happiness to the detriment of all who are harmed,(potential child, unborn child and sex abuse victims) the number one choice in one's life. In other words, the devil is at the core of the denigration of the common good and the exaltation of the individual.

P.S. Don't expect the liberals in the Church or the mass media ever to lump the following victims of fierce individualism together:
potential children, aborted children and sex abuse children and teenage victims. It messes up their agenda.

6 comments:

Henry Edwards said...

It is the exaltation the needs of the individual over the common good, pure and simple.

I do not agree. Where was the concern for the needs of the hundreds or thousands of individual youth and children who were sexually abused, some perhaps to the point of actual martyrdom? Where was the concern for the millions of individual Catholics who were spiritually and liturgically abused, suffering a white martyrdom for decades?

No, it was evil. Let us not whitewash it by appeal to any kind of alleged good whatever.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My use of concern for the individual is doing all to save the individual priest and his priesthood over the common good of parishioners either individually or collectively. The common sense steps in the face of outrage 10 years ago in terms of zero tolerance was motivated out of public shaming of the bishops and priests rather than what should have been concern for the good of the people of the church.

plasterers bristol said...

Very interesting article.

Henry Edwards said...

My use of concern for the individual is doing all to save the individual priest and his priesthood

This allegation of the motivation is just another whitewash (and denial) of the truth, which I believe was a desire on the part of bishops to avoid responsibility, embarrassment and scandal. Any sincere desire to save souls would have evidenced itself in a truly Catholic recognition of and response to sin and its consequences. The all-encompassing lack of concern of a generation of bishops for their accepted obligation as guardians of faith, morality, and worship precludes (for me) the acceptance any altruistic explanation of their collective failure to act as worthy bishops.

rcg said...

It's called selling out. The Catholic colleges and universities did it along with the bishops and the regular Catholics who want to be well regarded by other people.

As harsh as it sounds, I agree with Henry that the Bishops failed miserably at their shepherd mission. I can only pray that they were blinded by the Evil One and not because they chose the clergy over their congregation.

Pater Ignotus said...

"Fierce Individualism" is, indeed, the underlying cause of much of our societal suffering. It is not, as you seem to suggest, Good Father, unknown to "Vatican Two" Catholics. In fact, I have, on a number of occasions, referenced Robert Bellah's most excellent book "Habits of the Heart" which is subtitled, "Individualism and Commitment in American Life."

The Enlightenment rightly emphasized the importance of the individual as each of us is made in the image and likeness of God. With that emphasis came the understandning that, as individuals, we have rights that arise not from the will or pleasure of the monarch, the lord of the manor, or the local bishop, but from our nature, which is dininely oriented.

The phenomenon predates the 1960's and 1970's by a couple of centuries and certainly cannot be blamed on Vatican Two. Nor can the "traditionalist" camp claim that it is a weakness infecting only "progressives." It is a societal problem in the West, and is found in every age group, every religious faction, every political party.

We have, regrettably, carried the notion of the importance of the individual to the extreme of the cult of "individualism" in which the primary importance of the community and the Common Good have been, largely, lost.

Jacob Needleman's book "The American Soul," which I have just finished reading, offers some signficant reflections on our current situation and good suggestions on how we might begin to reverse the tyranny of "individualism."