The latest issue of the Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati arrives in mailboxes this weekend with several articles worth calling to your attention.
One concerns campus ministry at the University of Cincinnati’s Newman Center at St. Monica-St. George. Other than a mention of their version of the 80s-style “Mass on the Grass,” it’s unclear what’s especially Catholic about it. (Wouldn’t it be fun if the students showed up in Members Only jackets and shag cuts?) Does the center have a sacramental focus? Is confession available frequently? Adoration? Catechesis? You’ll need to do your own research.
Another article describes Fr. Barry Windholtz’s efforts to revitalize St. Peter in Chains Cathedral into an authentic parish. He will undoubtedly bring a tremendous amount of energy to the task, much as he did to St. Rose, which thrived under his leadership.
A parishioner at St. Gertrude of Madeira, a center of dynamic orthodoxy in the AOC, has been devoted to studying, writing, and promoting icons for the past ten years, and her efforts are described in a third article.
To promote the USCCB’s big immigration push this Sept. 8, the editors re-run Archbishop Schnurr’s* July letter, which uses as its touchstone a controversial address from Pope Francis in Lampedusa, Italy, in which he accused an unspecified number of people of “indifference” to the plight of migrants. Essayist Theodore Dalrymple took the Holy Father to task for the “loose thinking” behind his and, by extension, Archbishop Schnurr’s* words recently. Here’s the crux of Dalrymple’s piece:
Compassionate fellow-feeling, however, can soon become self-indulgent and lead to spiritual pride. It imparts an inner glow, like a shot of whiskey on a cold day, but like whiskey it can prevent the clear-headedness which we need at least as much as we need warmth of heart. Pascal said that the beginning of morality was to think well; generosity of spirit is not enough.
In his homily, the Pope decried what he called ‘the globalization of indifference’ to the suffering of which the tragedy of the drowned was a manifestation and a consequence. Our culture of comfort, he said, has made us indifferent to the sufferings of others; we have forgotten how to cry on their behalf. He made reference to the play of Lope de Vega in which a tyrant is killed by the inhabitants of a town called Fuente Ovejuna, no one owning up to the killing and everyone saying that it was Fuente Ovejuna that killed him. The West, said the Pope, was like Fuente Ovejuna, for when asked who was to blame for the deaths of these migrants, it answered, ‘Everyone and no one!’ He continued, ‘Today also this question emerges: who is responsible for the blood of these brothers and sisters? No one! We each reply: it was not I, I wasn’t here, it was someone else.’
The Pope also called for ‘those who take the socio-economic decisions in anonymity that open the way to tragedies such as these to come out of hiding.’
With all due respect, I think this is very loose thinking indeed of a kind that the last Pope would not have permitted himself. The analogy between the two situations, the murder of the tyrant in Fuente Ovejuna and the death by drowning of thousands of migrants, is weak to the point of non-existence. After all, someone in Fuente Ovejuna did kill the tyrant; no one in the west drowned the migrants. Is the Pope then saying that Europe’s refusal to allow in all who want to come is the moral equivalent of actually wielding the knife?
By elevating feeling over thought, by making compassion the measure of all things, the Pope was able to evade the complexities of the situation, in effect indulging in one of the characteristic vices of our time, moral exhibitionism, which is the espousal of generous sentiment without the pain of having to think of the costs to other people of the implied (but unstated) morally-appropriate policy. This imprecision allowed him to evade the vexed question as to exactly how many of the suffering of Africa, and elsewhere, Europe was supposed to admit and subsidize (and by Europe I mean, of course, the European taxpayer, who might have problems of his own). …
* The author of Archbishop Schnurr’s letter is almost certainly Tony Stieritz, the Democrat party activist who runs the Catholic Social Action Office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.