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



What is acceptable?

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, March 23, 2009

Mr. Caruso extols the virtues of what some derisively refer to as cafeteria Catholicism in “Catholocism a la carte” (March 20). I refuse to criticize Mr. Caruso for not goose-stepping “page by page through the Catechism.” He is entitled to his theological opinions.

Instead, I want to explore several intellectual difficulties with his view. Let us assume that he is correct and that the values of tolerance, understanding and personal freedom ought to guide our religious judgments and actions. The question arises: How can we distinguish between those beliefs and actions we ought to tolerate and those which are unacceptable? I can imagine some easy cases. Imagine a contemporary religion that condones human sacrifice. Back in the real world, however, these issues are not so easy. Is homosexual marriage acceptable? Is polygamy acceptable? Should we tolerate the small (but very real) Church of Satan? Should we shun a religious leader if she has the audacity to proclaim that what she believes is true and that people ought to adopt her creed on pain of hellfire?

To wit: Should we tolerate intolerance? Mr. Caruso’s view is so fraught with these kinds of difficulties and contradictions that he fails to hold to it himself within the context of his own argument where he simultaneously calls for greater respect and tolerance while bashing those who do not share his views.

Francisco Fernandez del Castillo



March 20