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Caruso and the Canon

Ben Reinhard | Sunday, February 26, 2012

There is a comforting predictability in Gary Caruso’s “Capitol Comments.” In fact, it is hardly necessary to read one of his columns to guess at its content: denunciations of Catholic teaching on contraception, abortion and sexuality or reckless mockery of the hierarchy of the Church. Every column begins with the same half-truths, logical lapses and misrepresentations of Catholic dogma — these would be laughable if they were not so serious. Appeals to that learned authority, the EMHC at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, and attacks on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell are seldom far behind. If I were Caruso’s professor, I would be forced to warn him of the consequences of recycling ideas from old essays as original work. As it is, I find the rhythm and regularity almost soothing — like a faucet dripping in the background or a dog barking in the distance.

But this Caruso column contains something new: a denial of the authority of Scripture. The Canon, as he has it, is unreliable and probably irrelevant: after all, first-century Palestine was so much simpler and the Canon was compiled by the same ecclesiastical hierarchy responsible for the rest of Catholic dogma. Marcion would be proud. Now, the inspiration of Scripture is a thorny topic and can be debated elsewhere. But I am unclear on one point: If Scripture is so unreliable, why does Caruso bother appealing to the actions and teachings of the “real” Jesus? From what source other than the Gospels does he draw his information? One almost suspects that Caruso’s Jesus is a figment of his imagination — a projection of his own 21st century prejudices and desires.

To close on a positive note, Caruso is right on one thing: Christ did seek out the tax collectors and sinners. If he paid more attention to scriptural context, Caruso would know why Our Lord did so: to call them to repentance. The Catholic Church continues this mission today. As the sacrament of salvation for the world, the Church is the means by which Christ will save us all — but only if we have the humility to let Him.

Ben Reinhard

graduate student

off campus

Feb. 26