Thursday 19th September 2019

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A Potpourri… Women’s Rights, The Sexual Revolution, And The Jesuits

June 25, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By GEORGE A. KENDALL

Not long ago, I saw a headline on the Internet, indicating that Pope Francis is calling for the Church to support women’s rights. I can hardly object, because the Church has a duty to support everyone’s rights in principle — that is, as long as we are talking about legitimate rights, rights grounded in the order of creation, especially in the nature of man as God created him.
Many, even in the Church, seem to see this distinction as unnecessary, because they assume that the rights demanded by feminists (in many, many decibels and with much profanity) are the legitimate ones.
Just one example: Feminists see a key right of women as the right to work outside the home. Now, of course, women who really want to work outside, maybe even pursue a career, are entitled to that option. But what about the many women who actually want to stay home and be wives and mothers, homemakers, but are unable to do so, because we have an economy where both spouses usually need to work in order to support a family? (I will never forget a co-worker who, on learning she was getting a substantial raise, responded, “This is terrible, now my husband will never let me quit working.”)
When most women are able to stay at home, this strengthens the family (something feminists hate).
The right of women to be full-time homemakers is a legitimate right for the Church to support. In addition, it is closely tied to the right of the family not just to exist but to thrive, a right inseparable from the common good. So the right of women to stay in the home, and care for their families, needs to be protected in order to protect the common good and thus society as a whole. This right takes precedence over the rights of women seen only as autonomous individuals.
Rights inhere in the individual as a member of the community, not in isolation from the community. It is only in relation to others that we are fully individuated and become fully human. (Other rights demanded by feminists could be subject to comparable analysis, possibly in another article.)

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Another Internet item for which I can’t recall the source: Someone criticized Pope Benedict’s remarks on the crisis in the Church on grounds that he attached too much importance to the sexual revolution of the 1960s as a contributor to the crisis. The writer noted that sexual abuse occurred before the 1960s, hence there was nothing new about the sexual revolution.
My response is that the only thing absolutely new in history, other than the Incarnation, is its beginning with the creation of man. After that there is always continuity. Every event has ties to previous events and is in some way rooted in them. Yet history is not a bland continuity. I like to think of it as moving in a kind of wave motion, where high energy and low energy states alternate with each other.
We can see this if we compare the postwar years from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s (commonly but inexactly known as “the fifties”) with what came later (the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, commonly known as “the sixties.”)
In the first period, people were exhausted by the war and the Great Depression, and just wanted re-establish some kind of normal life. They wanted to regroup, rebuilding the economy and reaffirming the moral order and Christian principles, however imperfectly. It was no Utopia, but those of us who grew up in that era can tell you that, compared with the collective insanity of our present life, with its roots in “the sixties,” it can seem like not a bad time to live. It was a time of storing up energy. Unfortunately, when that energy was released, it was hugely destructive, especially in its sexual ramifications, which continue to ruin the lives of many people.
The sexual revolution certainly had antecedents — the mini-sexual revolution of the 1920s, the increased acceptance of contraception after the 1930 Lambeth conference, the careers of people like Margaret Sanger and Margaret Mead. But the revolution of the 1960s was comparable to a volcano which has rumbled for years and suddenly explodes, spewing out all kinds of noxious substances.
If you are looking for a time in the past when people lived perfectly ordered and contented lives, forget it. The last time that happened was before Eve’s unfortunate conversation with the snake. When you live in a time of chaos like ours, you will always find some of that chaos in the age that went before it, though in a less energetic state, but you can hardly argue that there was no difference between the two.

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My first dealings with the Society of Jesus were in the fall of 1960 when I began college at the University of Detroit, then a Jesuit school. At that time, the solidly orthodox Jesuits were still pretty much in control, though there were a few young ones with liberal leanings (but they had to be very careful what they said). By the mid-sixties, when I left, things were falling apart, as they were everywhere in the Church, and the young Jesuits no longer bothered to be cautious.
I have to admit that I had rebelled against the teaching of the older Jesuits, but at least they gave me something solid to resist. But by this time we were starting to get doctrinal mush, which gave way the moment anyone attacked it, and was, frankly, quite boring, though hugely damaging to the Church.
And now, in an article in LifeSiteNews (February 22, 2017, and recently republished on LifeSiteNews’ website) about the order’s current superior general, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, we learn that, when Jesus affirmed the indissolubility of marriage, He didn’t really mean we couldn’t get divorced, and maybe even remarried. Rather, we need to “discern” and “contextualize” what he said (in a “sensitive” way) and then decide what he really meant.
It’s not even mush but more like fog, which parts when you move into it, because it has no substance. Or maybe “the smoke of Satan.” What it amounts to is that if you do enough interpreting and discerning of a statement as clear as what Jesus said about marriage, you can conclude that He actually meant to say that marriage is not indissoluble — even though the two statements, placed side by side, amount to a flat-out contradiction.
No possible interpretation of x can add up to not-x. When we are ready to tolerate contradictions, then we have reached the point of affirming that “nothing is real.”
The Jesuits used to be the Church’s master logicians. What happened to them?
(© 2019 George A. Kendall)

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