From Ross Douthat, in The New York Times,
The rhetoric of anti-Catholicism, whether its sources are Protestant or secular, has always insisted that the church of Rome is the enemy of what you might call healthy sexuality. This rhetorical trope has persisted despite radical redefinitions of what healthy sexuality means; one sexual culture overthrows another, but Catholicism remains eternally condemned…But at the same time, the way the “healthy sexuality” supposedly available outside the church seems to change with every generation offers a reason to be skeptical that all Catholic ills would vanish if Rome only ceased making “unnatural” demands like celibacy and chastity.
The difference between the secularists of today who believe that priests need to be sexually liberated, and the Protestants of the past (and present), is that the Reformed believe Rome insisting on clerical celibacy goes beyond scripture and even violates it. This twists the gospel by concluding that celibacy is necessary for a better spiritual life…
Because few Catholics are bold enough to say they actually know all the Church’s teachings, the traditional recourse is some version of “the Church cannot err in its teaching, so whatever she teaches—even if I’m still struggling with, or even unaware of, that teaching—must be true.” But of course the Church teaches via her bishops, and preeminently the bishop of Rome. So the claim is, in effect, “I trust that the bishops and the pope speak the truth.” (Yes, I’m aware that the underlying theological claim is a little more sophisticated than that; still.)
But that trust is precisely what is being forfeited with the cover-up scandals. And note the already evident domino effect. In light of the scandals, many faithful Catholics, for example, are now comfortable saying that it was likely a mistake to canonize John Paul II. But it has long been the majority opinion of the Church’s theologians that canonizations are exercises of papal infallibility. If, in light of the scandals, otherwise faithful Catholics are now willing to doubt what was long believed an infallible exercise of magisterial authority, there’s little reason for them not to doubt other of the Church’s teachings. That’s not to say they necessarily will doubt other teachings; but the door’s been cracked and there’s no longer a principle to prevent it being thrown wide open.
h/t D.G. Hart.
The horror coming out of Pennsylvania is absolutely sickening. The attitude of “it’s not that big a deal” from the Roman Catholic episcopate communicates that the possibility of this kind of coverup happening again is very likely. Coming on the heels of the revelation that Cardinal McCarrick was a rapist and that the Catholic Church covered for him, the events in Pennsylvania should jolt the Catholic laity into the realization that this was not an abnormality: the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has no interest in or willpower to do what it takes to protect their people. And often the Roman Catholic Church itself is the source of this danger.
The Roman Catholic Church continues to teach that it is the only true church. Now, Protestant churches are not immune from sin or from covering that sin up, even sin as heinous as the abuses of the Roman Catholics. The difference lies in Rome’s claim to be the true church, and to be subsequently assaulting their own people and covering up that assault.
I had intended to keep up my comments on the Joint Declaration on Justification (JDDJ) that I began this summer, but time got away from me.
The JDDJ sets out to demonstrate that there is a common consensus between the Lutheran and Catholic signatories on the fundamental aspects of the doctrine of justification. The JDDJ is a reminder that Protestants need to engage with Roman Catholics as they actually are, not with caricatures of them…
There is much to commend with the report, as I previously mentioned. However, the JDDJ falls short of addressing the primary concerns that confessional Protestants and Trentine Catholics had with the doctrine of justification….