A New Catholic Heresy
On August 13, 2013 the Guardian reported that astronomers had witnessed the birth of a new star. "Images of the birth of a star around 1,400 light years away from Earth is captured by scientists at the European Southern Observatory, (in) Chile." This is a rare event to document, but one that astronomers suspected has occurred often in the universe.
With the passage of same-sex marriage in Illinois, political scientists and theologians are also getting a chance to see another birth, one that is more down to earth. They can witness the emergence of a new heresy in the U.S. Catholic Church. Those professed Illinois Catholic politicians who advanced same-sex marriage in Illinois can now be seen as Babylonian Heretics.
Why would the birth of a heresy be of interest to others besides religious historians? One reason would be that the Babylonian Heresy helps explain the schizophrenic phenomenon of Catholic Democrats in Illinois. How is it one can believe in both Obama and the Trinity?
Julian Guthrie tries unsuccessfully to explain this split personality of Catholic voters in her article, "How Progressive Democrats Remain Catholic."
She answers her own question by writing, "...when I look at prominent Catholic politicians with liberal social agendas and wonder how they attend Mass on Sunday and legislate something very different on Monday, I have my answer... Catholicism, a club with magisterial rituals, good deeds, arcane teachings and more than 1 billion adherents, is far from monolithic."
She continues, "The house rules that apply are those set by believers themselves. These are the everyday Catholics who may honor their pope but disagree with papal positions...The Catholics who fill the nation's pews share something with the politicians at the podium: they believe that resistance and reverence can go together like bread and wine."
Guthrie's veiled reference to transubstantiation is not enough to explain the faith many Catholics have in the Democratic Party. To say that resistance and reverence go together is a gentle lie, a lie that relies more on a turn of phrase than a return to truth. The truth is that theology and revelation trump house rules.
The issue of being Catholic and Democrat is more serious than Guthrie imagines. "David Carlin, a veteran sociologist, philosophy professor, and author of 'The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America,' shows that his party and his religion have now taken opposite sides in the Culture War."
"Carlin's arguments challenge all religious voters to ask themselves the same question, 'Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?' Then he asks, 'How (did) the party I loved became the enemy of my religion.' Carlin claims that on issues of human life, sex, faith, morality, suffering... the modern, secularist Democratic Party has become the enemy of Catholicism; indeed, of all traditional religions."
From Carlin's perspective, Guthrie's solution to the dilemma of being both an everyday Catholic and a Democrat, is what passes for theology in California. It is the incense smoke that hides the reality of heresy. The truthful answer, the answer that blows away the smoke is a simple answer. The truth is, progressive or Democratic Catholics are heretics.
Like the birth of a far-off star, heretics in Illinois, with the passage of same-sex marriage, can now be clearly seen and given a name. What we now see in Illinois is the heresy of our age, the Babylonian Heresy.
Among other political positions, the Babylonian Heretics seek to further amnesty for illegal aliens, state-run health care, and abortion on demand. A theological error inherent in all these positions is that they turn to the state to solve problems that charity should solve, charity that begins with the individual.
The Babylonian Heresy skips over the Catholic moral principle of subsidiarity in favor of state idolatry. It is state idolatry that makes professional politicians like Gov. Pat Quinn and State Rep. Marty Moylan confuse everyday Catholics in Illinois. To use an old metaphor, because of the Babylonian Heresy, the poison of Marxism has been made sweet in Illinois.
Did Gov. Quinn and Rep. Moylan drink the polluted waters? We know Gov. Quinn and Rep. Moylan are professed Catholics. We know they had ample time and a modicum of intelligence to investigate the issue of same-sex marriage and to understand the Catholic Churches' teaching on it.
In spite of this, both men moved to further confusion and follow the teachings of the Democratic Party. Perhaps they are simply cynical politicians who are best described by Gibbon in his long history of the Roman Empire. They believe all religions are useful. They claim to be Catholic because it is useful to get the votes of Catholics.
If being cynical is not enough explanation for their behavior, then, perhaps Quinn and Moylan are like officials in the Roman Empire under Constantius or Valens. These emperors were in favor of Arianism, a heresy that almost won out against the Catholic faith.
Today, as in times past, the men who are supposed to be leaders of their community have led their community astray. It is uncertain how far the Babylonian Heresy extends among Catholics in Illinois. Because so few have called for the excommunication of Quinn and Moylan, the heresy is probably wide spread among Catholic Democrats and clergy in the Chicago area.
Why would other Catholics in Illinois, the ones Guthrie calls everyday Catholics, the ones who are not politicians, why would they prefer the Babylonian Heresy to Catholic orthodoxy? The answer is simpler. Life is easier for them as heretics.
The fabric of their life has the warp of Catholicism and the weave of the Democratic Party. It's been that way as long as they can remember. To point out heretical ideas is to show a tear in the fabric of life. To realize that Gov. Quinn and Rep, Moylan are either invincibly ignorant or are supporting a structure of evil is unsettling for many Catholics. It's best to just go along to get along.
Besides, certain ideas dominate a personality, no matter the era in which we live. Rush Limbaugh, who is reported not to be a Catholic but a Methodist, understands the Babylonian Heresy, if not in so many words. Limbaugh says that nowadays, "The liberal is a liberal first, and he's a Catholic second."
In short, the Babylonian Heresy is an easy faith where the Democratic Party will manage charity and grace. In the words of St. Paul, many prefer to wear the silk of the world instead of the armor of light.
Like the shepherds at Bethlehem 2000 years ago, in 2013 we have seen the birth of a far-off star. Furthermore, like St. Athanasius who witnessed Arianism in Alexandria, we have seen at home in Illinois the growth of the Babylonian Heresy. The closer we look, the more auspicious are the days.