Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Belief, Knowledge, and Truth

Controversial topic, here. My apologies if anyone is offended, but this
is the kind of thing that comes to me in the middle of the night, and
writing them out helps to get a grip on them.

Does anyone else consider it faintly ironic that it is controversial to
readmit a man who denies the World War II era Holocaust, to an
organization that, as a matter of doctrine, denies Evolution, denies
equal rights for gays, and denies women control over their own bodies?
I'm not putting Holocaust denial on the same level--it requires a whole
other increment of hatefulness and perversity--but it is being
questioned whether or not this makes the man unfit to rejoin a religion,
which as a matter of definition, has a series of irrational beliefs at
its own core.

Now, I understand that Richard Williamson, a member of the ultra
traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which does not accept the
teachings of the 1962 to 1965 Second Vatican Council, was excommunicated
in part for having accepted an unauthorized ordination as a Bishop. In
the Church, this is a serious matter, and a serious punishment, the
spiritual equivalent of a death sentence. It would seem to me that if
Williamson has expressed that he is willing to accept the authority of
the Church and sincerely repents the sins that lead to his
excommunication, he should be readmitted to the body of the Church and
its Communion, regardless of personal beliefs he may hold that do not
conflict with doctrine. If not, not.
On the other hand, whether or not he is permitted to take Communion
again, as long as he DOES continue to espouse beliefs that call his
judgment and wisdom into severe question, he should not be readmitted to
duties as a priest, and certainly not accorded the rank of Bishop. I see
that Williamson has been relieved of his teaching post at an Argentinean
seminary as a consequence of his past remarks, which, given that the
Church doesn't have to respect free speech, is, I suppose, OK, but I
wonder what kind of teacher he was and whether or not the tales he told
out of school really justify dismissal. (Note: Here in Wisconsin, we
have a notorious character who is a lecturer at UW-Madison, who has
written several articles alleging US government complicity in the 9/11
attacks, and teaches this, albeit in a course on "conspiracy theories"
as one of several. The University defended his rights of academic
freedom against calls for his firing (while most of the faculty
simultaneously execrated his lack of academic rigor--).)
Do not mistake me: Holocaust denial and similar doctrines are entirely
pernicious. They are worse than lies, they are a kind of anti-truth,
since they seek to discredit and replace known facts with hateful
fabrications. They need to be confronted wherever they appear. However,
as a matter of strongly held principle, I must respect the right of a
man to hold onto and espouse his own beliefs, however stupid they may
be--as long as he allows me mine in turn, and is willing to hear debate.
And I can't justify letting bad ideas come between a man and his God,
who will, I trust, instruct that man on his errors at some future time.
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