Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From the people who gave us Aquinas: Dumb-as-a-post mediocrity

Andrew Sullivan writes the blog The Daily Dish for The Atlantic magazine. Sullivan is British by birth, gay, HIV+, politically conservative, and Roman Catholic. In short, he is a very interesting person. He is also very intelligent and writes a fine blog. Sullivan is a committed Christian first and Catholic second. He is very aware of contemporary Catholicism’s shortcomings and does not hesitate to expose them.

Here he provides excerpts from a public debate in London of the question, “Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?” It opens with a mind-numbingly dull affirmation from Nigerian Archbishop John Onaiyekan. This is followed by a jolting onslaught from world-renowned journalist and atheist Christopher Hitchens. Sullivan sees this battle of unequals as a direct consequence of the Vatican’s policy of elevating obedient yes-men to leadership positions.

You can forgive the pro-Catholic side for losing the debate…. What you cannot forgive is the sheer intellectual shallowness of the defense. Just listen to the small speech above, I mean: really, this is the best we've got?

In Onaiyekan, you have a classic Benedict/JP II Archbishop: dumb as a post, sheltered from the actual debate in the West, incapable of argument, and pathetic as a spokesman. The problem with the theoconservative take-over in the Catholic priesthood is not so much its extremism as its mediocrity. And it is mediocre because it has been trained not to think, not to argue, and not to engage the modern world. It has been trained solely for obedience - blind, dumb, unquestioning, intellectually moribund obedience.

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