The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



A clear misunderstanding

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It is my sincerest hope that every Philosophy professor on campus keep a copy of Steven DeLaurentis’ Feb. 18th letter “A Christian Acceptance.” It will certainly provide them several slides if they ever desire to teach logical fallacies. He invokes the same tired, irrelevant arguments used by rabble-rousing, anti-Catholic pedagogues without the energy or evidence to muster a substantial response.

He begins with a one-two ad-hominem-strawman argument – Brad Duffy’s irrelevant mistake in identifying the “Queer Film Festival” as a “play” – which somehow demonstrates that Brad Duffy intended to “attack the imminent Vagina Monologues” instead, as if this had anything to do with the actual content of Brad Duffy’s letter. It doesn’t.

He then gives us a convenient laundry list of the dark times in the Church’s history, even recently, and somehow he leaps from the idea that members of the Catholic Church – even Popes – have committed grave sins, to the idea that somehow the Church’s teachings aren’t valid, or aren’t infallible. Infallibility and Impeccability are two completely different things – no one has ever said the Pope won’t sin. Christ didn’t promise us a perfect Church with a hierarchy of haloed men. Instead, he made our first Pope Peter, a man who denied Him three times and cut off a soldier’s ear in anger. It would be foolish and absurd to claim that the Church has never acted unjustly, to whitewash the mistakes of the men who claim to act on Her behalf. But the actions of the Church’s members – Mr. DeLaurentis’, mine, B16’s – are not the same thing as the teachings of the Magisterium. These teachings cannot be dismissed so easily. He then tells us that Christ accepted prostitutes – and by extension, all sinners – lovingly. But this is a fallacy of composition – accepting a prostitute isn’t the same as accepting prostitution. Those sinners came to Christ repentant, not flaunting their sin. He accepted a prostitute who washed His feet with her tears (Luke 7:38) not who attempted to turn a trick on him.

He completely decontextualizes Deut. 25:11-12 as an example of an unchristian passage, just before telling us that condemnations of homosexuality must be taken in context, and that the Gospels don’t record Christ condemning homosexuality. But the Gospels don’t record a lot of things – “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) which is precisely why the Pauline epistles are so important. The Church exists precisely to provide the sort of contemporary context Mr. DeLaurentis calls for, the context he demands.But more importantly, if he claims to be Catholic or even Christian but doesn’t believe “sacred Scripture” is a reliable guide, then what remains?

In closing, we don’t need to “balance the Catholic nature of this institution” with anything. Catholic is a designation from which everything else should flow, not one against which everything else must balance.

Tommy Maranges


St. Edward’s Hall

Feb. 18