Not Cease from Exploration

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn

June 28th, from CNN.

"Pope Benedict XVI slapped down Cardinal Christoph Schonborn on Monday over comments earlier this year in which he was seen as criticizing a fellow cardinal.

Schonborn – the archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and a former student of the pope – had said that Cardinal Angelo Sodano had blocked an investigation of sexual abuse charges against a former archbishop of Vienna, according to the Catholic News Service. Sodano was the Vatican's secretary of state at the time."

The full article link can be found HERE.

This story wasn't something that made big headlines. In fact, I just happened to catch it on in a very small news brief on the last page of the Scranton Times sports section (you read that correctly...the Sports Section). So much for rabid anti-Catholic media, Scranton style.

Anyway, I have two questions related to this story.

Question 1: Is it the wrong for the Vatican to criticize one of it's own?
I think the answer is no. In a hierarchy there are always rules for relating to/with your peers, subordinates and superiors. When you live and work inside that hierarchy you have to respect those rules or there will be consequences. That's as true for the Vatican and it is for the U.S. Marine Corps. It's also true for me: I have a chain of command that I work within for my vocation, and if I violated the rules associated with it there would be consequences.

Question 2: Is there a larger moral issue at play here?
Yes. Even in a very hierarchical organization like the U.S. military, there are instances where things like rules and orders can...and should...be disobeyed. In fact, according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (articles 90 to 92...you can read a summary HERE), a member of the military is required to disobey unlawful orders or face prosecution. Now let's up the ante just a bit and consider what Cardinal Schonborn was reprimanded for criticizing, namely the actions of another Cardinal who actively blocked the investigation of sexual abuse charges. I am not a Priest or a religious scholar of any sort...a point that has been repeatedly documented here...but in my Catholic high school educated brain I could make the case that Cardinal Schonborn had a moral obligation to criticize the actions of another, regardless of their title, if those actions ran counter to the teachings of the Church. In essence, wasn't Cardinal Schonborn actually defending the faith by criticizing the actions of another?

It seems to me that Cardinal Schonborn violated the rules in order to support a greater moral obligation. That's not something that should be criticized, rather it should be celebrated.

4 comments:

JD Curtis said...

I came across this article tonight and thought it might interest you.

Me? I'm reading this one right now though about one of your heroes.

Stephen Albert said...

JD,

You are nothing if not predictable.

Hillary Clinton one of my heroes? Nope. Because I don't believe that gays are the cause of every bit of immorality in the world doesn't make a supporter of gay rights my "hero".

That's the difference between folks such as myself who are more the political/social center and those on the extreme right: I don't paint with enormously broad brush strokes. I do believe that most things aren't black and white. And I don't pretend to know how others feel...or should feel...I just know how I feel.

As for the article from the Independent, well it reads like it's a report from an cheerleader's club meeting. "Missy had to talk to a bunch of ugly boys yesterday, but she survived". The substance of the article? Well I'll just say this: It's my opinion that the Church has the right to be the Church, and it can chose to believe what it wants. For example, not once have I EVER said the Church should accept gay marriage, or any other marriages it chooses to ignore. My only skin in this game is to point out that if the Church claims to be a moral authority, then it must be held to the highest standards of moral conduct. Censuring a Cardinal who spoke out on a moral issue...in other words punishing a whistle blower...is hardly the act of a higher moral authority.

One final thought: Ever watch "Der Untergang" JD? Pick up a copy and watch it. Well worth it if you are history buff. Historically very accurate and exceptionally well acted. Oh, and there is the part about what happens when one crawls too far into the bunker.

JD Curtis said...

Wrent there some spoofs made with footage from that film with Hitler ranting and raving?

Stephen Albert said...

JD...Yeah, that's the movie, but screw that stuff. The movie is awesome. One of my top ten favorites of all time The guy who plays Hitler is scary good. It's also a great perspective on living in a bunker...but it in Berlin or in someone's own head.