the whole thing -- but it is hard not to!
Read it below:
It may seem like little to expect, in our time of rapid cultural
disintegration, that Catholic bishops, who presumably can draw upon the
clear teachings of the Church’s Founder, the wisdom of countless
philosophers and theologians, the witness of Catholic missionaries and
teachers, and the life-breathing works of Catholic artists, should
refrain from repudiating all of that to join a rainbow parade of sexual
confusions. But these days we’ll take our favors when we can get them.
Otherwise the synod has been of no help.
The synod’s final recommendation to Pope Francis is mainly bland and
inoffensive. It is also an exercise in unreality. That’s what happens
when your mode of thought and expression is neither philosophical and
theological, nor earthy and poetic: It does not aspire to reveal the
essences of things, and it does not confront the sweat and mire of the
created world. The bishops write in sociological patois, abstract and
banal at once. Reality escapes them.
Let me illustrate. The document insists on the complementarity of man
and woman, and quotes Pope Francis as suggesting that each sex does not
know itself except in relationship with the other. But in what does
that complementarity consist? The bishops won’t say. Pope Leo XIII,
who spent his long pontificate writing about the Christian family, said
that the father’s authority in the family, which is a gift to its
members, proceeds from the fatherhood of God Himself. The bishops do
not cite Leo, nor do they note that fatherhood has been under assault in
every Western nation for the last 60 years. Boys spend their school
years having their natural energies smothered with drugs, and having
their natural bent toward what I call hierarchical adventures frustrated
or belittled. The bishops turn aside.
Men are to be like Saint Joseph, they say, the protector of Mary and
Jesus, and that is well enough, but some men must be providers for and
protectors of women and children even if they do not have Joseph’s meek
character. How do we raise all boys, whatever their dispositions, to be
strong and faithful fathers? Obviously, we must work with the
masculine nature, acknowledging its reality and training it up to
maturity. But the bishops ignore the problem. All they do for men is
to wag the finger and repeat that tired bit of feminist nagging, that
women’s entry into the workplace—often to the detriment of the
family—has not been answered by men doing more of the household chores.
Real men wear aprons.
The bishops repeat a common reading of Ephesians 5:21, “Submit
yourselves to one another,” as if it applied only to men and women in
marriage, and not to the whole of the Christian life. Yet almost in the
same breath they say there must be no “subordination,” and again the
patois gets the better of them. There can be no submission without
subordination. If a man submits his energies and his fatherly authority
to the welfare of his wife and children, he has established a hierarchy
or taxonomy of goods, whereby one good—say, his delight in risk—will be
subordinated to another (say, the security of the family). Besides,
subordination is what Saint Paul is talking about. His Greek hypotassomenoi is exactly equivalent to Latin subordinati.
The Christian life is to be characterized by subordination, as the
lower obeys and honors the higher, and the higher submits to the good of
the lower. That, after all, is how the body works, as Paul is at pains
to remind the egalitarians of Corinth. There is such a thing as a body
without a head. It is called a corpse.
And what if it is characteristic of that God-ordained masculine nature
to form hierarchies? For nothing dangerous or difficult in this world
is ever done without them. They are at the heart of every great
cultural institution in the history of man, from the Greek gymnasion
to the medieval university to the Renaissance art studio to Bell
Laboratories in its heyday. Without hierarchy you cannot dig a canal or
build a city wall or fight a battle. Or, for that matter, bring a
heathen people to Christ. But the bishops will not consider it.
So, too, do they turn their eyes from passion. It seems strange, in a
document on sexuality, that the bishops seem unaware of what moves men
and women to make the beast with two backs. By their account, young men
and women shack up because they are insecure in their finances, or
because they are beholden to the philosophical errors of individualism
or of a certain kind of feminism, or because they have witnessed the
pain of divorce. Let me correct you on this point, your excellencies.
If a boy and girl are playing house and doing the child-making thing,
there is nothing, financial or otherwise, to prevent them from getting
married. If they are committed to each other for life, they should make
that promise public before man and God. If they are not, they are
lying and are willing that their children should pay later for their