Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Catholic "Traditionalists" v. Pope Francis

University of St. Thomas law professor Charles Reid has a thoughtful commentary on the phenomenon at ReligiousLeftLaw, here.  I think many MOJ readers will be interested.

https://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2013/04/catholic-traditionalists-v-pope-francis.html

Perry, Michael | Permalink

Comments


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Only men have their feet washed on Holy Thursday because it was on Holy Thursday that Christ instituted The Sacrament of Holy Orders to the twelve apostles.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 8, 2013 1:41:23 PM

That should read eleven apostles, as it appears that although Christ washed the feet of Judas in preparation for The Sacrament of Holy Orders, Judas left before Christ instituted The Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 8, 2013 2:36:32 PM

I would identify myself as a "moderate traditionalist" in that I see value in the traditional latin mass, sacred art, and sacred music. Pope Benedict did an enormous service for the Church when he reminded us that these things should not be discarded, but cultivated. He reminded us that Church was not born in 1960, that it has a rich legacy to be drawn upon. Yes, the Church must change, but it should not reject that which has cultivated the faith of the saints for centuries.

In the words of Joseph Ratzinger:

"If the Church is to continue to transform and humanize the world, how can she dispense with beauty in her liturgies, that beauty which is so closely linked with love and with the radiance of the Resurrection? No. Christians must not be too easily satisfied. They must make their Church into a place where beauty - and hence truth - is at home. Without this the world will become the first circle of hell."

And as Pope Benedict:

"Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendour."

My beef is not with Pope Francis, but with everyone (particularly in the media and the Catholic left) who is pitting Pope Francis against Pope Benedict. I don't think Pope Francis wants or desires this.

Yes, there are plenty of traditionalist cranks, but we should not forget how much the Church has suffered from the iconocalsm of recent decades--Churches white washed, gorgeous sacnctuaries and altars destroyed. Pope Benedict clearly taught us that these actions were crimes against the faith.

I'll end this with John Paul II's beautiful words in his encyclical on the Eucharist:

Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no “extravagance”, devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist. No less than the first disciples charged with preparing the “large upper room”, she has felt the need, down the centuries and in her encounters with different cultures, to celebrate the Eucharist in a setting worthy of so great a mystery. In the wake of Jesus' own words and actions, and building upon the ritual heritage of Judaism, the Christian liturgy was born. Could there ever be an adequate means of expressing the acceptance of that self-gift which the divine Bridegroom continually makes to his Bride, the Church, by bringing the Sacrifice offered once and for all on the Cross to successive generations of believers and thus becoming nourishment for all the faithful? Though the idea of a “banquet” naturally suggests familiarity, the Church has never yielded to the temptation to trivialize this “intimacy” with her Spouse by forgetting that he is also her Lord and that the “banquet” always remains a sacrificial banquet marked by the blood shed on Golgotha. The Eucharistic Banquet is truly a “sacred” banquet, in which the simplicity of the signs conceals the unfathomable holiness of God: O sacrum convivium, in quo Christus sumitur! The bread which is broken on our altars, offered to us as wayfarers along the paths of the world, is panis angelorum, the bread of angels, which cannot be approached except with the humility of the centurion in the Gospel: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof ” (Mt 8:8; Lk 7:6).

With this heightened sense of mystery, we understand how the faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated. This led progressively to the development of a particular form of regulating the Eucharistic liturgy, with due respect for the various legitimately constituted ecclesial traditions. On this foundation a rich artistic heritage also developed. Architecture, sculpture, painting and music, moved by the Christian mystery, have found in the Eucharist, both directly and indirectly, a source of great inspiration.

Such was the case, for example, with architecture, which witnessed the transition, once the historical situation made it possible, from the first places of Eucharistic celebration in the domus or “homes” of Christian families to the solemn basilicas of the early centuries, to the imposing cathedrals of the Middle Ages, and to the churches, large and small, which gradually sprang up throughout the lands touched by Christianity. The designs of altars and tabernacles within Church interiors were often not simply motivated by artistic inspiration but also by a clear understanding of the mystery. The same could be said for sacred music, if we but think of the inspired Gregorian melodies and the many, often great, composers who sought to do justice to the liturgical texts of the Mass. Similarly, can we overlook the enormous quantity of artistic production, ranging from fine craftsmanship to authentic works of art, in the area of Church furnishings and vestments used for the celebration of the Eucharist?

It can be said that the Eucharist, while shaping the Church and her spirituality, has also powerfully affected “culture”, and the arts in particular.

Posted by: CLS | Apr 8, 2013 3:10:37 PM

As I appreciated the most well-informed expressions of concern over the foot-washing by the Pope, it centered not, primarily, on whether women's feet should or shouldn't be washed. Rather, what folks like Ed Peters said was that if the Pope is going to wash women's feet, then the position of Rome, which as I appreciate it is that only men's feet should be washed, should be clarified and changed. Otherwise, it gives the impression that the practices can be modified at the whim of the celebrant. While I favor the inclusion of women in the foot-washing, I am sympathetic with Mr. Peters' view, otherwise it seems the Church will be "all change, all flux, lacking all core or conviction."

Beyond that, I find it more than a bit amusing that many "progressives" who spent a lot of time tut-tuttering at "traditionalists" celebration of Benedict's liturgical tastes as focusing on trivial matters to the detriment of the faith are now themselves seizing on matters sartorial as justification for their view that Francis is restoring things the right way. Fr. Komonchak had a great post on dotCommonweal last weak warning progressives over, in effect, lending magisterial authority to a Pope's "style."

Finally, a query for Professor Perry: who plays the role of "house critic" over at Religious LeftLaw as he seems to relish playing here?

Posted by: Josh DeCuir | Apr 8, 2013 3:24:57 PM

As I appreciated the most well-informed expressions of concern over the foot-washing by the Pope, it centered not, primarily, on whether women's feet should or shouldn't be washed. Rather, what folks like Ed Peters said was that if the Pope is going to wash women's feet, then the position of Rome, which as I appreciate it is that only men's feet should be washed, should be clarified and changed. Otherwise, it gives the impression that the practices can be modified at the whim of the celebrant. While I favor the inclusion of women in the foot-washing, I am sympathetic with Mr. Peters' view, otherwise it seems the Church will be "all change, all flux, lacking all core or conviction."

Beyond that, I find it more than a bit amusing that many "progressives" who spent a lot of time tut-tuttering at "traditionalists" celebration of Benedict's liturgical tastes as focusing on trivial matters to the detriment of the faith are now themselves seizing on matters sartorial as justification for their view that Francis is restoring things the right way. Fr. Komonchak had a great post on dotCommonweal last weak warning progressives over, in effect, lending magisterial authority to a Pope's "style."

Finally, a query for Professor Perry: who plays the role of "house critic" over at Religious LeftLaw as he seems to relish playing here?

Posted by: Josh DeCuir | Apr 8, 2013 3:25:03 PM

As I appreciated the most well-informed expressions of concern over the foot-washing by the Pope, it centered not, primarily, on whether women's feet should or shouldn't be washed. Rather, what folks like Ed Peters said was that if the Pope is going to wash women's feet, then the position of Rome, which as I appreciate it is that only men's feet should be washed, should be clarified and changed. Otherwise, it gives the impression that the practices can be modified at the whim of the celebrant. While I favor the inclusion of women in the foot-washing, I am sympathetic with Mr. Peters' view, otherwise it seems the Church will be "all change, all flux, lacking all core or conviction."

Beyond that, I find it more than a bit amusing that many "progressives" who spent a lot of time tut-tuttering at "traditionalists" celebration of Benedict's liturgical tastes over the past 8 years as fetishizing trivial matters to the detriment of the faith are now themselves seizing on matters sartorial as justification for their view that Francis is restoring things the right way. Fr. Komonchak had a great post on dotCommonweal last weak warning progressives over, in effect, lending magisterial authority to a Pope's "style."

Finally, a query for Professor Perry: who plays the role of "house critic" over at Religious LeftLaw as he seems to relish playing here?

Posted by: Josh DeCuir | Apr 8, 2013 3:26:13 PM

As I appreciated the most well-informed expressions of concern over the foot-washing by the Pope, it centered not, primarily, on whether women's feet should or shouldn't be washed. Rather, what folks like Ed Peters said was that if the Pope is going to wash women's feet, then the position of Rome, which as I appreciate it is that only men's feet should be washed, should be clarified and changed. Otherwise, it gives the impression that the practices can be modified at the whim of the celebrant. While I favor the inclusion of women in the foot-washing, I am sympathetic with Mr. Peters' view, otherwise it seems the Church will be "all change, all flux, lacking all core or conviction."

Beyond that, I find it more than a bit amusing that many "progressives" who spent a lot of time tut-tuttering at "traditionalists" celebration of Benedict's liturgical tastes over the past 8 years as fetishizing trivial matters to the detriment of the faith are now themselves seizing on matters sartorial as justification for their view that Francis is restoring things the right way. Fr. Komonchak had a great post on dotCommonweal last weak warning progressives over, in effect, lending magisterial authority to a Pope's "style."

Finally, a query for Professor Perry: who plays the role of "house critic" over at Religious LeftLaw as he seems to relish playing here?

Posted by: Josh DeCuir | Apr 8, 2013 3:26:34 PM

As I appreciated the most well-informed expressions of concern over the foot-washing by the Pope, it centered not, primarily, on whether women's feet should or shouldn't be washed. Rather, what folks like Ed Peters said was that if the Pope is going to wash women's feet, then the position of Rome, which as I appreciate it is that only men's feet should be washed, should be clarified and changed. Otherwise, it gives the impression that the practices can be modified at the whim of the celebrant. While I favor the inclusion of women in the foot-washing, I am sympathetic with Mr. Peters' view, otherwise it seems the Church will be "all change, all flux, lacking all core or conviction."

Beyond that, I find it more than a bit amusing that many "progressives" who spent a lot of time tut-tuttering at "traditionalists" celebration of Benedict's liturgical tastes over the past 8 years as fetishizing trivial matters to the detriment of the faith are now themselves seizing on matters sartorial as justification for their view that Francis is restoring things the right way. Fr. Komonchak had a great post on dotCommonweal last weak warning progressives over, in effect, lending magisterial authority to a Pope's "style."

Finally, a query for Professor Perry: who plays the role of "house critic" over at Religious LeftLaw as he seems to relish playing here?

Posted by: Josh DeCuir | Apr 8, 2013 3:26:40 PM

As I appreciated the most well-informed expressions of concern over the foot-washing by the Pope, it centered not, primarily, on whether women's feet should or shouldn't be washed. Rather, what folks like Ed Peters said was that if the Pope is going to wash women's feet, then the position of Rome, which as I appreciate it is that only men's feet should be washed, should be clarified and changed. Otherwise, it gives the impression that the practices can be modified at the whim of the celebrant. While I favor the inclusion of women in the foot-washing, I am sympathetic with Mr. Peters' view, otherwise it seems the Church will be "all change, all flux, lacking all core or conviction."

Beyond that, I find it more than a bit amusing that many "progressives" who spent a lot of time tut-tuttering at "traditionalists" celebration of Benedict's liturgical tastes over the past 8 years as fetishizing trivial matters to the detriment of the faith are now themselves seizing on matters sartorial as justification for their view that Francis is restoring things the right way. Fr. Komonchak had a great post on dotCommonweal last weak warning progressives over, in effect, lending magisterial authority to a Pope's "style."

Finally, a query for Professor Perry: who plays the role of "house critic" over at Religious LeftLaw as he seems to relish playing here?

Posted by: Josh DeCuir | Apr 8, 2013 3:27:26 PM

Josh DeCuir,

Mirror of Justice isn't "religious-right law." Mirror of Justice, as advertised, is "a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory." Are those on the left disqualified from having opinions about Catholic legal theory? It often does seem that conservative opinions predominate here, but I don't see that that makes someone who expresses a liberal opinion a "house critic." I think one of the reasons why MOJ seems to be predominantly conservative is that many of the most conservative contributors rarely if ever open their posts to comments. That makes it appear that the conservatives are making pronouncements, and the others are throwing topics out for discussion.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 8, 2013 4:10:59 PM

Josh DeCuir,

Mirror of Justice isn't "religious-right law." Mirror of Justice, as advertised, is "a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory." Are those on the left disqualified from having opinions about Catholic legal theory? It often does seem that conservative opinions predominate here, but I don't see that that makes someone who expresses a liberal opinion a "house critic." I think one of the reasons why MOJ seems to be predominantly conservative is that many of the most conservative contributors rarely if ever open their posts to comments. That makes it appear that the conservatives are making pronouncements, and the others are throwing topics out for discussion.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 8, 2013 4:11:18 PM

Josh DeCuir,

Mirror of Justice isn't "religious-right law." Mirror of Justice, as advertised, is "a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory." Are those on the left disqualified from having opinions about Catholic legal theory? It often does seem that conservative opinions predominate here, but I don't see that that makes someone who expresses a liberal opinion a "house critic." I think one of the reasons why MOJ seems to be predominantly conservative is that many of the most conservative contributors rarely if ever open their posts to comments. That makes it appear that the conservatives are making pronouncements, and the others are throwing topics out for discussion.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 8, 2013 4:12:01 PM

Josh DeCuir,

Mirror of Justice isn't "religious-right law." Mirror of Justice, as advertised, is "a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory." Are those on the left disqualified from having opinions about Catholic legal theory? It often does seem that conservative opinions predominate here, but I don't see that that makes someone who expresses a liberal opinion a "house critic." I think one of the reasons why MOJ seems to be predominantly conservative is that many of the most conservative contributors rarely if ever open their posts to comments. That makes it appear that the conservatives are making pronouncements, and the others are throwing topics out for discussion.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 8, 2013 4:12:57 PM

Josh DeCuir,

Mirror of Justice isn't "religious-right law." Mirror of Justice, as advertised, is "a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory." Are those on the left disqualified from having opinions about Catholic legal theory? It often does seem that conservative opinions predominate here, but I don't see that that makes someone who expresses a liberal opinion a "house critic." I think one of the reasons why MOJ seems to be predominantly conservative is that many of the most conservative contributors rarely if ever open their posts to comments. That makes it appear that the conservatives are making pronouncements, and the others are throwing topics out for discussion.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 8, 2013 4:13:13 PM

Nancy,

As I understand it, the "orthodox" explanation of when and how Jesus instituted Holy Orders was when he instituted the Eucharist and told the disciples to repeat it in his memory. However, it is only in the Gospel of John that Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, and there is no mention of the institution of the Eucharist in John's account of the Last Supper. It is difficult to assume that John didn't think the institution of the Eucharist was important, or that he absent-mindedly forgot it.

And in any case, there is nothing in any of the synoptic Gospels that says Judas left before the institution of the Eucharist.

Finally, if only the feet of men may be washed in Catholic religious ceremonies for the reason that only the feet of men were washed at the Last Supper, then why can't it be argued that only men may receive the Eucharist, since only men received the Eucharist at the Last Supper?

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 8, 2013 4:47:50 PM

"tradition [is] the living faith of the dead and traditionalism the dead faith of the living". Excellent!
Tradition is what people in past did to deal with their reality; traditionalism is what living people use to ignore their reality.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 8, 2013 5:25:18 PM

David, read The Gospel of John, Chapters 14-17, carefully.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 8, 2013 5:35:54 PM

Communion is not a matter of degree, as it is through Him, with Him, and in Him, in the unity of God's Holy Spirit, that The Body of Christ exists.
"No one can come to The Father, except through Me." - Jesus The Christ

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 8, 2013 5:47:03 PM

"But at the same time, the Church has been most alive when it has been swept by change -- whether that be the ascertainment of the Books of Scripture, the founding of the great religious orders, like the Franciscans and the Jesuits, or the shifts in Church teaching brought about by the Second Vatican Council."

Not one of these examples represents the Church being "swept by change." There was no "change" in the Books of Scripture universally recognized by the Church (a Church Father here or there is not "the Church"). Rather, the Church merely affirmed (at Hippo) the books that had always and everywhere been recognized. The founding of the great religious orders, such as the Benedictines, did not "change" the Church but rather conserved or restored traditions and discipline that had been lost. Thus Saint Francis had the mission of rebuilding the Church, not "changing" it. Vatican II did not "change" any Church teaching, and the phrase "shifts in teaching" is, for that reason, employed equivocally.

In fact, those times in her history when the Church has been "swept by change" are precisely times of degeneration in faith and discipline, followed by restorations such as that of the Counter-Reformation period. Living beings do not exhibit "sweeping change" in their makeup, and neither does the Church in her "living Tradition." The real history of Tradition is one of gradual, organic, and almost imperceptible growth, not "sweeping" change.

Saint Francis, by the way, would be utterly horrified by the spectacle of a Pope washing and kissing the feet of a Muslim woman (a gesture that also greatly offended Muslims, ironically enough). The mandatum is about the lesson Christ taught to the Twelve Apostles, not a personal Ceremony of Humility for a Pope in which anyone's feet will do. And what's with the foot-kissing business? Our Lord did not kiss the Apostles' feet. Rather, Mary Magdalene kissed His.

The Pope's improvised mandatum ceremony made nonsense of the rite. Catholics are not called to be mindless nominalists who accept everything a Pope does as consistent with "living Tradition." They have every right to voice prudent reservations about what the Pope did on this occasion.

Posted by: Chris Ferrara | Apr 8, 2013 11:17:08 PM

This is much ado about nothing. Reid uses "right-wing" and traditionalism interchangeably, as if (theologically) conservative Catholics were all Latin massers. This is a classic case of taking isolated developments in the blogosphere to be representative of attitudes in a wider culture.

The Latin massers that Rorate Caeli speak for are but a sub-set of conservative Catholics. If EWTN, Catholic News Agency and National Catholic Reporter are a sampling, then the radical traditionalists are a minor party, out on a limb. Nobody at EWTN, etc. protested the Pope's decision to wash women's feet. Indeed, the Associated Press article that relayed Rorate Caeli's lament also mentioned Jimmy Akin's defense of the Pontiff's prerogative.

Posted by: Clement Ng | Apr 8, 2013 11:26:24 PM

David, your statement that "conservative" (whatever that means) posters at MOJ only rarely open up posts for comments is a strange one, and not only because it seems obviously false. Why make it? In any event, MOJ is a rarity - nearly unique, sadly - in actually having people from different perspectives post. Why pretend it is "conservative", unless by "conservative" you mean "something other than the standard, same-ol' PC"?

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Apr 9, 2013 12:49:06 AM

I posted my contribution to this sort of debate on my blog last week http://susanjoan.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/pope-francis/). I think it worth repeating here:

I've been watching over the last two weeks as Catholics in the United States from various points on the political and religious spectrum argue about who between Republicans and Democrats or conservatives and liberals have more to fear from Pope Francis. "Republicans have a Pope Francis Problem," proclaimed one op-ed, prompting a blog post titled, "Who Has a Pope Francis Problem? Not only Republicans." Comments to articles and posts along either lines yield heated debates about whose "Pope Francis Problem" is a bigger one, "progressive" or "conservative" Catholics; political liberals or conservatives.

I was reminded while reading such posts of a conversation I had with my then spiritual director before an election some years ago. I remarked that I was no longer comfortable calling myself either Democrat or Republican. Without a pause he replied, "That's because you're not Republican or Democrat. You're Catholic."

The discussion of which of Republicans or Democrats or which of "progressive" or "conservative" Catholics has a bigger "Pope Francis problem" is at best a silly one and at worse a convenient diversion from the real issue.

Pope Francis is a challenge to all of us in the United States. Very few of us are living the lives of radical simplicity, generosity, and prayer his life models. All (or at least most) of us consume far more than we need. All (or most) of us could be more generous to and concerned for the needs of the most vulnerable around us. All (or most) or us could spend more time deepening our relationship with God.

Pope Francis calls all of us to a deeper relationship to Christ. And he calls each of us to live lives that reflect that relationship. It would be far more beneficial for each of us to focus on the challenge the new pope offers to our own lives than to worry about whether someone else has a bigger "Pope Francis Problem" than we do.

Posted by: Susan Stabile | Apr 9, 2013 6:41:59 AM

With all due respect, although it is true that it may be appropriate to wash the feet of women and Muslims on a day that is not Holy Thursday, ignorance of the truth regarding Scripture, is ignorance of the truth regarding Christ. To misrepresent the purpose of Christ's washing the feet of His Apostles in preparation for His instituting The Sacrament of Holy Orders and The Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist and The Holy and Divine Liturgy, serves to cause confusion, not clarity, which is why I found this to be so disturbing.

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 9, 2013 10:03:09 AM

Josh, when separating the wheat from the chaff, it is always necessary to make pronouncements, for how can one develop Catholic Legal Theory, if one does not know how to define Catholic, to begin with?

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 9, 2013 10:15:42 AM

Is anyone besides me a few others concerned this whole story is so driven by comments ( COMMENTS!! ) at a blog site ?

I actually found a lot of the " conservative " reaction quite supportive and most criticism quite measured ( See Ed Peters ).

I am sure some Traditionalist were not thrilled but for the most part they if the web was any indication it seemed they were asking their friends to calm down a tad over at that web site.

I am just wondering if a serious political story or religious story would use as its main quotes comments from a web site,

Posted by: JH | Apr 9, 2013 10:45:04 AM

I agree with Susan Stabile. Pope Francis's work will be a challenge to Catholics right and left. The right will be skeptical of his economic and environmental views and many will also be aggrieved by his apparent disinclination to revive Latin traditionalism (though he will not block the efforts of restorationist laity either). The left will be exasperated by his upholding of traditional moral and social norms and his refusal to alter doctrine in light of changed "historical context" (though he knows very well that the Church will never be re-established as state religion, even as it retains the trappings of such).

I expect that Francis will not spend much time focusing on our trials in the West. Momentum has shifted Eastward and Southward, even as the institutions of Western Catholicism remain dominant players. The new evangelization sparked by JP2 is well underway, carried forward by youth - if anyone wonders what the future of the Church will be like, then look to 2013 World Youth Day in Rio this summer.

Posted by: Clement Ng | Apr 9, 2013 12:33:43 PM

Rick,

You say: "In any event, MOJ is a rarity - nearly unique, sadly - in actually having people from different perspectives post."

But that was my point! I don't know why you commented on my message and not Josh DeCuir's. He said, "Finally, a query for Professor Perry: who plays the role of 'house critic' over at Religious LeftLaw as he seems to relish playing here?" Exactly how do you interpret this? It seemed to me his point was that Michael Perry's posts go against the grain here (that is, they represent a liberal point of view), and DeCuir is asking why there is no conservative "house critic" at Religious Left Law.

Regarding this being a place where people of different perspectives post, I affirmed that. I said, "Mirror of Justice isn't 'religious-right law.' Mirror of Justice, as advertised, is 'a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.' Are those on the left disqualified from having opinions about Catholic legal theory?"

I tried to explain why DeCuir and others *might* (mistakenly) perceive MOJ as a conservative site. But I was explicitly denying that it *was* a conservative site.

Now, admittedly, it may be a mistaken impression on my part that conservatives (and the word "conservative" *does* have a meaning) open their posts less to comments than liberals. It is somewhat of a subjective judgment as to whether certain contributors should be classified as liberals or conservatives. I don't want to start naming names, but I will name one. Certainly Robert George is a conservative. Is there anyone who would deny that is a meaningful statement? It is, of course, purely up to him whether he wants to open his messages to comments, but I don't think any fair minded reader of MOJ will deny that he *never* opens his messages to comments, and his messages are often chock full of questions that he invites answers to. Is Robert George to be slapped on the wrist for his post of March 31 saying, "I'm curious about how they would be answered from the liberal point of view. Any liberal MoJ colleagues like to have some fun giving it a try?" Should someone have said . . . "liberal (whatever that means)"? Clearly Robert George thinks that there are liberal contributors to MOJ. Are we to assume that there are liberals here but no conservatives?

I would agree that in general it is not always helpful to divide people up into liberals and conservatives, but when you said that people from differing perspectives post on MOJ, was that supposed to *exclude* conservatives and liberals? I do not want to pigeonhole people here, but clearly some contributors can be reasonably described as conservatives.

The main point of my message was to defend Michael Perry's posts here as legitimate MOJ contributions rather than the work of a "house critic." Do you disagree with me on that point?

And for the record, "house critic" is *my* job! :P

But in all seriousness, I felt I was *defending* Michael Perry and *defending* MOJ as a site that did indeed include people from differing perspectives.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 9, 2013 2:52:17 PM

Rick,

You say: "In any event, MOJ is a rarity - nearly unique, sadly - in actually having people from different perspectives post."

But that was my point! I don't know why you commented on my message and not Josh DeCuir's. He said, "Finally, a query for Professor Perry: who plays the role of 'house critic' over at Religious LeftLaw as he seems to relish playing here?" Exactly how do you interpret this? It seemed to me his point was that Michael Perry's posts go against the grain here (that is, they represent a liberal point of view), and DeCuir is asking why there is no conservative "house critic" at Religious Left Law.

Regarding this being a place where people of different perspectives post, I affirmed that. I said, "Mirror of Justice isn't 'religious-right law.' Mirror of Justice, as advertised, is 'a blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.' Are those on the left disqualified from having opinions about Catholic legal theory?"

I tried to explain why DeCuir and others *might* (mistakenly) perceive MOJ as a conservative site. But I was explicitly denying that it *was* a conservative site.

Now, admittedly, it may be a mistaken impression on my part that conservatives (and the word "conservative" *does* have a meaning) open their posts less to comments than liberals. It is somewhat of a subjective judgment as to whether certain contributors should be classified as liberals or conservatives. I don't want to start naming names, but I will name one. Certainly Robert George is a conservative. Is there anyone who would deny that is a meaningful statement? It is, of course, purely up to him whether he wants to open his messages to comments, but I don't think any fair minded reader of MOJ will deny that he *never* opens his messages to comments, and his messages are often chock full of questions that he invites answers to. Is Robert George to be slapped on the wrist for his post of March 31 saying, "I'm curious about how they would be answered from the liberal point of view. Any liberal MoJ colleagues like to have some fun giving it a try?" Should someone have said . . . "liberal (whatever that means)"? Clearly Robert George thinks that there are liberal contributors to MOJ. Are we to assume that there are liberals here but no conservatives?

I would agree that in general it is not always helpful to divide people up into liberals and conservatives, but when you said that people from differing perspectives post on MOJ, was that supposed to *exclude* conservatives and liberals? I do not want to pigeonhole people here, but clearly some contributors can be reasonably described as conservatives.

The main point of my message was to defend Michael Perry's posts here as legitimate MOJ contributions rather than the work of a "house critic." Do you disagree with me on that point?

And for the record, "house critic" is *my* job! :P

But in all seriousness, I felt I was *defending* Michael Perry and *defending* MOJ as a site that did indeed include people from differing perspectives.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 9, 2013 2:53:00 PM

"The main point of my message was to defend Michael Perry's posts here as legitimate MOJ contributions rather than the work of a "house critic." Do you disagree with me on that point?"

Mr. Nickol, please take a deep breath. The point of my comment isn't to criticize Professor Perry's posts here. Indeed I think it quite refreshing that a blog intentionally invites divergent viewpoints. In that vein, the use of the term "house critic" isn't meant in a derogatory manner at all.

Rather, the point of my question was simply that, if divergent viewpoints is so great for MOJ, shouldn't it be great for a more ideologically-identified blog like Religious LeftLaw?

Posted by: Josh DeCuir | Apr 9, 2013 10:17:50 PM

" . . . the use of the term 'house critic' isn't meant in a derogatory manner at all."

Josh DeCuir,

Ah. I see now that it was actually meant as a compliment, and you were only making suggestions for improving Religious Left Law. How imperceptive of me it was to think otherwise.

Posted by: David Nickol | Apr 10, 2013 1:54:04 AM

What I find interesting is how few comments the posts at ReligiousLeftLaw get; the vast majority have none. Comments can provide divergent view-points (as long as they are permitted) and serve when a "house critic" is absent.

I am not sure what to make of the paucity of comments; is the traffic to that site so thin? Are conservative critics unwilling to contribute? Other? At least at ReligiousLeftLaw, all the posts seemed to permit comments; which is not always the case here.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Apr 10, 2013 1:14:57 PM

David, and why you are at it, look closely at the words of consecration and communion,
for example, " Let them be one Father, as you and I are one..."

Posted by: Nancy | Apr 12, 2013 10:30:47 AM

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