Trouble with Teaching Authority


Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a inactive to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    Like there isn’t dissent within the church now?Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      I think that it’s the case of liberal dissent = ‘rebellion against authority’; right-wing dissent = ‘conserving/restoring true authority’.Report

  2. This is why Platonism has always gone particularly well with Catholicism: One can always imagine that the current crop of entirely human Church authorities has nonetheless escaped the cave, and they are explaining the wonderful things they see outside. Or not.Report

    • Avatar Lyle says:

      In reading Thomas Cahill, as well as other books it is clear that the christian church adopted Plato as a prophet. Augustine integrated him into western teachings. Or see The Cave and the Light the story of the contest between Aristotelian and Platonic thought. Again makes the point that the neoplatonism was adopted by the christian church, and that Plato was made an almost saint in the process. Aristotle came back with Aquinas, but then Plato came back later. Since Plato sees the need for the philosopher king to rule not rule by the people (he did not like the way Athens functioned, after all they killed Socrates). The church leadership sees its leadership as that of a philosopher king.Report

  3. Avatar Barry says:

    “If Pope Francis were to change the official teaching of the church on the indissolubility of marriage, or even try to do so, he would undermine the very teaching authority of the church. Conservative Catholics, convinced that this teaching cannot possibly change, would question the legitimacy of the pope’s move and the authority he used to make it. ”

    Yes, they would. And most of them (heck, all of them) would be the same people who denounced ‘cafeteria Catholics’ on the left, for not submitting utterly to previous Popes.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Is divorce vs. annulment really the sort of hot-button controversy that would threaten a schism? I’m skeptical, particularly when annulments seem to be granted on the basis of favor, not according to any set standard.

    (I was going to say that divorce isn’t something people would lose their heads over, but then I remembered Thomas More.)Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    When I was 11 or 12, I went up to my Grandmother’s house (she lived a mile up the road, I visited her frequently). There was a strange car in the driveway, so at first I was excited to meet a new person — the plight of young people who grow up in small communities. I got onto her front porch, and was stunned to hear her sobbing. And then a man’s voice, not yelling, but speaking in an almost menacing way, “All your children are illegitimate.” I don’t remember exactly what he said next, but it my young mind interpreted it to mean that my mother and aunts and uncles will burn in hell for what she’d done.

    And my grandmother wept and begged him to leave.

    I left the porch, and hid in her barn, and waited and watched to see who left. It was a priest. My grandmother had been raised Catholic, and left the church when she married my grandfather, who, as far as I can tell, subscribed to Christianity only as a cultural norm and not as a belief system. Later, when I asked my mother about what I’d witnessed, she told me that it was an annual event, and very traumatic for my grandmother.

    So this schism in the church, I view through that lens, and multiply it by all the women the world over who are told they or their children will suffer damnation. This is coercive and abusive. The Catholic Church does tremendous good the world over. But it does tremendous harm, too; particularly to women. Doctrine that says contraception as sin is troublesome to me; particularly given that we embrace medical advances that help save women’s lives in child birth but not the advances that give them the right to control family. The lack of women in leadership and priesthood is pure misogyny. To me, these things are evil.

    1000 years of not changing in a world that changes strikes me as a path lacking wisdom, a path that fails to see the schisms and cracks that have, inevitably, already happened because culture evolves and changes; yet the argument, so far as I understand it, is that changing causes the schism. This is nonsense. So I agree — Douthat’s only pointing out what’s already happened; the seeds are planted.

    Thank you, Kyle. I know that you love your church, that for you, the heart of belief is love. I admire that greatly. But I’ve been compulsively reading Douthat and Dreher, and I they are like that priest, they are not like you in some essential way. I hope your’s is the message sprouts from those seeds. Please speak louder.Report

    • Avatar Lyle says:

      As Thomas Cahill notes in Heretics and Heros p 291 there are two different aspirations in religious history first a desire to limit membership and limit it severely,” to limit the circle of the saved –to be exclusive, as small … as posible” The second and opposite aspiration “to include as many as possible, to open… the doors to all comers” My guess is Christ would take the latter approach as the Pharisees tended towards the former. Francis to me appears to want to follow the latter as compared to the Roman Churches (and indeed many protestant denominations) trend from Trent onward to restrict membership. Of course Cahill is a big fan of John XXIII.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


      I have a very close relative who hasn’t taken Communion in 30 years because she never got her marriage annulled before remarrying. Amazingly she still attends Mass from time to time but respectfully remains in her pew.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        Meanwhile, an unrepentant warmonger, torture supporter, despoiler of the weak will piously kneel, take communion, and then return to their work. No bishop (in the USA, at least) would have a problem with that.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Eh, there was talk for a while of denying Communion to John Kerry.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Add in the women who are told their kids aren’t the product of a true marriage because their husbands left them for someone else and had the clout to get an annulment.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        That was basically my mom. She had her marriage to my father annulled. Interestingly though she never really got any grief over it (to my knowledge).Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “And then a man’s voice, not yelling, but speaking in an almost menacing way, “All your children are illegitimate.” I don’t remember exactly what he said next, but it my young mind interpreted it to mean that my mother and aunts and uncles will burn in hell for what she’d done.

      And my grandmother wept and begged him to leave. ”

      Somebody deserved a long, leisurely massage with a baseball bat or axe handle.
      After which the implement should have been used to give him a prostate ‘exam’.Report

  6. This is a good post, Kyle. As an outsider, I’ll refrain from commenting too much (lest I distract from the topic at hand to a greater divide). I’ll just say that your thoughts on this are refreshing, and are applicable (at least indirectly) to other religious or philosophical (hell, even political) issues.Report