Another Bizarre Riposte from Reactionaries

…the weird defense of anti-semitism when their libertarian greed is criticized.

A couple of days ago, I noted the long patristic tradition of putting the poor so much in the forefront of the Church’s social teaching that we routinely find the Fathers of the Church saying things like:

These sorts of things are utterly normal remarks in the early Church, and conservative American Christians of every stripe tend to recoil from them as vampires do before a crucifix. The itch to explain them away, like the itch to explain why Jesus cannot possibly have meant “Woe to you who are rich”, is reflexive and deeply ingrained.

And one bizarre way Reactionary Catholics (who have a deep tendency toward antisemitism) try to do that is by deflecting from such commentary to a subject they are much happier talking about: medieval antisemitism.

Don’t get me wrong. The rhetorical goal of such tactics is not to say, “Medievals were antisemitic, so we can ignore their views on the obligations of the rich to the poor.” On the contrary, what they even more bizarrely do is argue, “If you are a Catholic who does not hate Jews, I can ignore your citation of Church teaching, because you aren’t a Real Catholic[TM]. Real Catholics[TM] hate Jews. You’re one of those fake Vatican II Catholics God has anointed me to save the Church from.”

I literally had this happen over on the Book of Face a while back. Some Reactionary, offended by my mention of these quotes, demanded to know if endorsed the Fourth Lateran Council’s order that Jews have to wear special clothing (think “yellow stars”) and not be allowed to go in public during Holy Week or to hold public office.

When I (duh) said no, he (I am not making this up) denounced me as a rebel against the will of Almighty God. In vain, I pointed out the fact that the Church has repudiated antisemitism with Nostra Aetate:

We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8).

No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.

The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,(14) so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.

All that was simply proof, for him, that the Council is likewise the fruit of an apostate Church.

And so, with the unerring talent for wrongness that is the mark of Reactionary religion at war with Catholic Church in union with Pope Francis, he managed to wind up fighting for libetarian war on the poor and Jew-hatred.

Now, I don’t think any normal person is likely to buy into this sort of demented antichrist religion. But as the past decade has shown, there are a lot of Mammon-worshipping crazies in love with Trumpian wealth and power and very ready to see themselves as anointed by God to save the Church from the Pope.

And there are also decent Catholics both confused and scandalized (rightly) by the failures of the sins of the Church’s members.

So next week, I would like to take up the issue of the Church’s blunders and struggles in implementing its own tradition. More on Monday.


3 Responses

  1. What I find rather humorous about the supposed Greatest Catholics of All Time: They continually set themselves up as masters to correct the errors of the Faith. In short, they have become Protestant. They just refuse to admit it.

  2. Those Church Fathers quotes are very good, and their spirit remains true today BUT how to apply them in 2023 in a democracy with a tax rate (in my country) of 50% does leave legit room for debate on how we can help the poor in our midst. That’s why people of good will can differ on public policy and the means by which we address the needs of the common good and the poor and needy.

    1. The entire point of Prudential Judgment in the Catholic tradition is to wrestle with *how best*, not *whether*, to implement her teaching. So your point is perfectly legit. The lie of the Reactionary sect at war with the Magisterium is to say that matters of Prudential Judgment concern *whether* to bother with the Church’s teaching or to feel free to make war on it.

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