Friday, October 16, 2015

Some Thoughts on the Synod on the Family, Ad Hominem Arguments, and The Nature of True Mercy

One widely practiced deplorable rhetorical technique is to psychoanalyze a person who has a valid critique of what you are doing or saying without addressing the actual facts being discussed. It's the ad hominem argument (attacking the person rather than addressing the person's argument), which has been augmented by Freudian analytical psychobabble ever since the early 20th century.  This technique comes in handy because it does not waste time addressing the validity of your opponent's argument but it lets you throw up a rhetorical smoke screen.  Using this technique, you can discount your opponent's arguments because you have supposedly discerned some "unconscious" motivation. This technique is invaluable when you don't want to address the actual truth of a criticism.

I found a great example today in this article in Commonweal Magazine titled, "Letter From Rome: Cardinals Oppose Francis's Synod Process." The author lauded "the Vatican II-minded theologian, Enzo Bianchi," who writes in the Rome daily, La Repubblica, for using a blatant example of this technique.

Bianchi doesn't address the validity of many Cardinals' objections to the way the Synod is being handled. No, he uses his bogus superior psychic powers to discern to his own satisfaction that the Cardinals don't really care about what many perceive as an attempt to weaken Catholic doctrine on marriage.

Bianchi, who is founder and prior of the Ecumenical Monastery of Bose in Northern Italy, said, “What’s at play here is not Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage… No, it’s the pastoral dimension, his attitude towards those who make mistakes and towards contemporary society.” Then he thundered: “Let’s be clear – what scandalizes them is mercy!” 
Bianchi "knows" that the objecting Cardinals just can't stand mercy. Right.

I on the other hand "know" that Bianchi and others who agree with him are scandalized by the idea that we show mercy by teaching truth and obedience to God's will for marriage. St. Paul wrote some strong things about what happens when a person living in sin receives the Eucharist.  Because of how the Scriptures are taught in liberal Catholic colleges, many are able to explain away what St. Paul taught by psychoanalyzing away his credibility.

But if you take the Scriptures as the inspired word of God, as I do, and the Church does, you know that you are only going to be truly merciful if you teach couples who marry outside the Church that to live in sin and take Communion can kill the soul and the body.

I just ran across this meme quoting Archbishop Chaput that sums up what I am saying here.

And here are some more of Chaput's words from Creative Minority Report: "We all feel the dilemma of good people who are divorced and civilly remarried but wish the solace of Communion, and others who deal with same-sex attraction. No one can dismiss the hardships these persons sometimes face. But it's the Gospel that needs to guide us in our reasoning. The central issue is, do we and they want Jesus Christ on his terms or on ours? If we can't in principle accept the possibility of discomfort, suffering and even martyrdom, then we're not disciples. "

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