Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Problem of "radical egalitarianism" in Catholic culture

Continuing our study into a realistic look at Christian marriage, I believe it is appropriate to examine the issue of egalitarianism. If there is one problem that is widespread in the Church today, it is the egalitarian impulse. It is hostile to hierarchies by nature, so as a result, the fact that marriage comes under attack from such a pernicious doctrine is no surprise.

However, if we are to accurately tackle the issue, we must define our terms. What is egalitarianism? Egalitarianism in itself is not necessarily a problem. It simply desires justice and equality for all people, no matter their sex, race, religious background, etc. That’s really not a problem, and is probably essential to any institution if it is to survive long. As with many nice sounding ideas, they became hijacked into very pernicious ones. Nowadays, as the Honorable Robert Bork pointed out in his work Slouching towards Gomorrah in what he calls “radical egalitarianism” means the equality of opportunity is replaced by the equality of results. Radical egalitarianism in the Church states that it is not enough for people to be equal in dignity; they must be equal in responsibilities and authority as well. As this pernicious view infests more than just modern thoughts on Christian marriage today, it is necessary to outline other areas where this appears before turning our attention to marriage.

A very successful tactic of egalitarians in the Church was to hijack otherwise fine phrases and suit them to their agenda. Collegiality, which was meant to express the relationship between the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops (and the balance that is struck, so that the Bishop of Rome is not the popular caricature of some irresistible despot who makes every decision himself) has been perverted into the idea that not only can the Roman Pontiff not act individually on issues, neither can local Bishops, who are told to be “collegial” and go along with what other Bishops say. It is not enough for each to be recognized as a Bishop, some having different responsibilities and purpose. We must do away with the idea that Bishops are difference in any sense, all have equal authority (as in the Bishop of Rome is no more powerful than the Bishop of Detroit). Their next plan would be essentially to do away with any such distinctions, destroying the hierarchical nature of the Church.

A second issue where egalitarianism is all the rage is in liturgical studies. Here as well they have perverted words. Taking the word ‘presider’ (a term used by such Church Fathers as Justin Martyr to describe the priest who offers the Sacrifice of the Mass) to mean that the priest simply “presides” over the congregation, there is no difference in authority between the average priest and the layman. To add to this fact, it is becoming the increasing trend for the priest’s responsibilities to decline during Mass, the lay faithful doing more. This includes the reading of Scripture, the handing out of communion, the setting up for Mass, etc. Increasingly during each Mass, the priest is always surrounded by the lay faithful, just with more elaborate garments. It was not enough to say that the priest was a sinner just like we were (indeed why he faced the same direction as the congregation during Mass, one of those reasons at least) and that he had rights as a Catholic just like we do, but those rights must include he has no different purpose than the lay faithful. Since just about anyone can “preside”, the priest is there not because of his sacramental powers conferred upon him at ordination to offer sacrifice; the priest is simply our representative before God at Mass.

No more obvious is this trend present than in the usage of “altar girls” and “inclusive language.” The latter eliminates any reference to male or female, master or servant, and substitutes in its place language which has no distinction. (I.e. in the Lectionary, where the Latin is translated not as brethren but instead brothers and sisters or something to that effect.) This trend becomes absolutely absurd when during the Gloria it will be sang “Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.” (It is bad enough the translation, peace unto men of good will is changed to peace to his people on earth, but now they butcher it even further by refusing to acknowledge that we refer to God in the masculine.)

With altar girls, the change is just as absurd. As the priesthood is “a boy’s only club” for grownups, it is natural that the egalitarians would target it. They have consistently called for women to be priests. However, since this is impossible (due to that dogma being infallible and hence not open to change), the drive has been to still leave in the minds of people it is possible by having the altar servers be female as well. For 1990 years altar servers were men only, particularly boys. This was the excellent stage to form them for possible service in the priesthood. The altar boys assist the priest, would say prayers together with the priest, learn the motions of the Mass, and many other things that would lead to formation. This much is enough to dispel the myth that altar servers being male only was part of a “patriarchal” concept and that it involves discrimination against women.

There seems to be no justification for altar service being permitted to females other than “well boys do it, so girls must be allowed to do this as well; otherwise we are subjecting girls to discrimination.” Yet most parents would not as soon dress their little boys up in dresses because “since girls wear them as well, boys must.” Furthermore, since as a Catholic they admit that women cannot be priests, then according to their logic, Rome is indeed discriminating by not allowing women to be priests. It is a slippery slope the egalitarians planted well.

We now see the problem of egalitarianism. However, the most success they have had is in regards to the Christian teachings of marriage. As marriage is the fundamental organ of society, and is where the hierarchy is held at its most basic point, the egalitarians recognize that destroying this hierarchy is essential to destroying larger ones. We will analyze the ways in which they attempt to carry out this plan in the next column.