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A Time to Tear Down, a Time to Build Print E-mail
By Anthony Esolen   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Quite literally front and center, marching down the main streets of Toronto, gay men and women will once again be flaunting their flesh and simulating their favorite behaviors, despite a city ordinance prohibiting public nudity. Wearisome are the displays of what passes for happiness in a dead world.
 A few people are upset about it. They are afraid that the august laws of Canada will be flouted, and that’s not a good thing for children to witness.  Sheepish people still jittery about the etiquette of legality, when you have shrugged away the laws of God, the common good, the welfare of the family, and plain human decency! You might as well toss a lace doily at a tank.

According to an article at Life Site News, the defenders of the nudity freely admit that the very purpose of the parade is to express their wanton sexuality and hedonism.”  “In your face sexuality is the point of the damn thing,” says one promoter.  Those who don’t like it, says another, can stay home with their children and watch “priests raping children” on television. 

Meanwhile, leaders of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) will be joining the festivities. They claim they wish to show solidarity with the most – here comes the inevitable word – “marginalized” group of people in the Catholic Church. For people on the margins, they sure do get around.  You cannot open a Canadian newspaper without hearing from them, day after day. You cannot watch a day of Canadian television without a gay altar-call. You cannot, apparently, attend a Catholic school in Ontario without being hectored about it.
    

Now, there are plenty of Catholics who are not marginalized or margarinized or whatever le mot du jour may be. That’s because they don’t even make it to the margins of the page. They don’t make it to a single gloss or footnote. They are perfectly invisible. They may as well not even exist.

They are boys who – well, they are just boys. No one in Canada has considered their welfare since the days of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, when Mounties rode horses and Canadians had a culture. They are young people trying to follow the moral law, who find themselves quite  shut out of what passes for social life in their schools and colleges.  They are children of divorced parents. They are abandoned spouses, their marriages dissolved against their will. 

They are Catholics who long for reverent Masses. They are fighters for the rights of unborn children, pleased if they meet no worse than indifference from the career bureaucrats in the chancery. They are parents who want their children to live in a wholesome and sane world. 


          Catholic children parading, New York, 1957

Those people get no notice from anybody. No one throws a parade for any of these people. You will never see Ontario honoring young men and women who have kept their bodies pure, entering into marriage as innocent as babes. You will never see the OECTA marching alongside old married couples who raised children and remained true to their vows. You will never see them promoting their schools as havens of sweet and natural girlhood and boyhood. No, these Catholics, struggling to be faithful in a sub-pagan world, would be delighted to make it to the margins.

Consider, too, the power that members of the OECTA wield. They, not the parents or the bishops or the parish priests, control the “Catholic” schools in Ontario. But as Pope Leo XIII said in Sapientiae Christianae (1890), it is incumbent upon Catholic parents “to hold exclusive authority to direct the education of their offspring, as is fitting, in a Christian manner; and first and foremost to keep them away from schools where there is risk” – note, “risk,” not certainty – “of their drinking in the poison of impiety.”

But our schools are organized for impiety. They pass out poison not accidentally but on principle. They peddle not liberty, which can only be won by virtue and the ordering of the passions, but license. “Pleasure,” says Leo in Libertas praestantissimum (1888), becomes “the measure of what is lawful; and, given a code of morality which can have little or no power to restrain or quiet the unruly propensities of man, a way is naturally opened to universal corruption.”
    

In other words, the members of OECTA can be trusted – to corrupt. Anyone who wishes to wade through a pool of the stupid and squalid need only go to the websites of the companies that hawk books to the teachers in our schools, both public and private. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Somebody who struts down the streets of Sodom is not going to hesitate to continue the parade, within the covers of the books he assigns to schoolchildren.
    

There’s no reforming a group like the OECTA. We should of course strive to pull individuals out of the road to the everlasting bonfire.  But once an organization has begun to sign checks to Beelzebub – with eyes wide open, spelling out the demonic name, and proud of it – there’s nothing to do but tear it down and burn the debris.  
    

In other words, it’s time to build all over again. We desperately need Catholic schools. They can bear only the most superficial resemblance to the public and pseudo-Catholic schools. That is, there will be classes in English, math, and so forth. But otherwise we’d do well to swear off all the rest of it. We cannot hire from the same pool of teachers. We cannot use the same textbooks. We cannot mimic the same insane habits of instruction. 

We cannot accept the same vision of a “good” life. We cannot smear religious makeup over a malignant melanoma. We must return to Catholic education: a truly human education.  


 
Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story Is God’s Story and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. He teaches at Providence College. 
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

 

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Comments (36)Add Comment
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written by Jack,CT, March 26, 2014
Mr Esolen,
Fantastic Article!
One Major issue is that a moral Life is
simply no longer "Cool"!
How can any society still "Live the ways
the Lord" would have us when not just
public policy pushes the young away from
this and NOT one public celebrity lives/
promotes a moral life.

We need to continue to pray.


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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, March 26, 2014
Those who control accreditation will, inevitably, control the schools.

“Teach your pupil what you like, says the state (as Frédéric Bastiat pointed out long ago), “but unless he learns what we require, he will be able to become neither a physician nor a barrister nor a magistrate nor a consul nor a diplomat nor a teacher" and so the list goes on.
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written by JRW, March 26, 2014
Excellent column. A question for Tony: You write, "There’s no reforming a group like the OECTA. We should of course strive to pull individuals out of the road to the everlasting bonfire. But once an organization has begun to sign checks to Beelzebub – with eyes wide open, spelling out the demonic name, and proud of it – there’s nothing to do but tear it down and burn the debris." In your view, does this apply to polities?
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written by Manfred, March 26, 2014
What concrete steps do you propose be taken, Dr. Esolen? Here is where all the ideas collapse, don't they? Nancy Pelosi will be given Planned Parenthood's highest award tomorrow, after years of Cdl Raymond Burke, head of the Signatora the Church's highest court, insisting that she be denied Communion because of her obstinate insistence on supporting abortion (Canon 915). No American bishop will deny her Communion, including the Cdl Abp of D.C. who refuses to "politicize the Eucharist".
A former priest named Fugee was laicized in four months by the Vatican within the last two weeks as the Bergen County(N.J.) prosecutor demanded it be done quickly, as the A'diocese of Newark, in which he was ordained and assigned, could not manage his activities which included hearing the confessions of teenagers and accompanying them on a bus retreat to Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec. The problem is simple-there are no MEN in the Church who can control it. They cannot clean up their own filth. But they love to retire to large, expensive homes!
I have served in the Army as an officer and I have worked in corporations and they work just as the centurion described to Christ when he told Him it was not necessary that He come to his home: I tell men to come and they come; I tell men to go and they go.
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written by Sue, March 26, 2014
It's time for many of the good schoolmarms to come home and teach their own kids, freeing up jobs in the schools for male breadwinners, who are now massively unemployed. Three quarters of the jobs lost in the recession were held by men.

Those who can, homeschool. Build real Catholic schools for the rest.
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written by maineman, March 26, 2014
Bravo, Mr. Esolen. Bravo!
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written by schm0e, March 26, 2014
Hear, hear. Especially this part: "There's nothing to do but tear it down and burn the debris."
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written by Mack Hall, HSG, March 26, 2014
The determination of the Enemy to penetrate benevolent organizations and pervert them to his will is obvious. One cannot imagine a more worthy organization in its origins and founding principles than an organization of Catholic teachers, and yet we see how the leadership of this group has been taken over by evil. This is the Rules for Radicals method.

In the U.S. the Veterans of Foreign Wars is now little more than an adjunct of the Democratic Party, funding Democratic candidates. Such of course was not the intent of its founders, but again a small, determined group of radicals has wormed its way in.

Similarly, some purportedly Catholic health care systems murder innocents with all the enthusiasm of King Herod.

It does not follow that teachers, veterans, physicians, nurses, and other health care workers are evil, but what does follow is that all of us should frequently exam the organizations to which we belong, and if they have lapsed in values we must attempt a correction in their leadership - such as running for school board and by voting in all elections - or withdraw from supporting them.
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written by Mack Hall, HSG, March 26, 2014
Examine. Not exam as a verb. Examine. Sigh. Old people...
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written by Deacon Ed Peitler, March 26, 2014
No need to burn anything down; sin consumes the sinner in quick order. It is up to us to proclaim a truth that at the very least allows those being consumed by their sin to, with God's grace, escape the fire before it's too late. We should take our charge seriously; lives are at stake - lives whom God created and whom He loves.
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written by Augustine Thomas, March 26, 2014
Leftism ruins everything.
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written by CCR, March 26, 2014
@Manfred: Surely they don't want to "politicize the Eucharist" while they have no qualms about firmly establishing sacrilege.

The problem has been --for a long time, perhaps over 100 years-- the lazy pastors that care not for the flock, our "hired men" are not taking care of the Church. As the Church degrades so does the world.
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written by Ted Seeber, March 26, 2014
We've lost the culture war, because we were afraid to fight. One cannot win against a dictatorship of relativism, with only relativistic passive pastoral actions.
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written by Rich in MN, March 26, 2014
Our planet is an ever-shrinking terrarium containing some increasingly incompatible species. Christianity has found itself in the position of "buffer zone," or terrarium dividing wall, between the two most dominant species: GLBTQA and radical Islam. But this barrier is hated by one side for preaching "oppression" and by the other side for preaching "heresy," and it is being vigorously attacked by both sides. What will happen if the wall is torn down? What will happen when GLBTQA and radical Islam meet? Will 9/11/2001 seem like a mere prelude by comparison? And, as Carle Zimmerman so presciently warned way back in 1947, we now have a 'new kid on the block' complicating the situation further, the 'new kid' known as the atom bomb. As Barry McGuire would say, "There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave...."
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written by grump, March 26, 2014
Well done, Tony, except it's much more a sashay than a march.
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written by Other Joe, March 26, 2014
Years ago, Tom Wolfe said during a radio interview to promote Bonfire of the Vanities - in response to the interviewer who asked why there are no good people in the book and did the author intend to suggest there were no good people, "Oh, there is the same number of good people as ever. They have just become (pause) irrelevant."
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written by Walter, March 26, 2014
Between Austin Ruse's proposal to shoot people and the plan here to "tear it down and burn the debris", all we are missing is a noose, some gallows, a bonfire and a few stakes. Then we could have an Extraordinary Form Requiem for the dead, and all would be well again in the Church.
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written by ron a., March 26, 2014
CCR---As I see it, the problem, for the most part, is not "laziness". It's COWARDICE. Soft and pliant is not only scandal, it's Satan's formation. These men would shrink, and shrivel up, at the FACE of the Cross. In their depths, they don't recognize their Savior!
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written by Aramis, March 26, 2014
Walter, you're onto something. I like your thinking.
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written by Howard Kainz, March 26, 2014
The "love that won't speak its name" has become the love that won't shut up. There are very few places left where one can retreat without hearing the megaphones saturating the atmosphere.
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written by william manley, March 26, 2014
Everyone needs to look closely at the photograph illustrating this essay. What do you see in the middle of the picture? A num in full habit. Traditional nuns, well trained in the doctrines of the Church, were the infrastructure of the Catholic education system. They are gone. We now have lay teachers, some of whom are clueless about Catholic teaching. This points up a larger issue. In numbers and quality the Catholic clergy has declined significantly. That is why the Church has declined. Pure and simple. A possible solution would be to allow women to be ordained and for priests to marry. We need to enhance the candidate pool for the priesthood to insure better numbers and better quality. If not, rants like Mr. Esolen's will feel good (or not..as .in Walter's case) but produce little.
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written by Chris in Maryland, March 26, 2014
Give it a rest Walter...you're being way too sanctimonious.

You sound like a member of the Thought Police.

Austin Ruse apologized. Reasonable people accept it. The character assassins of the left will not.

All reasonable people knew and understood the phrase when it was reported. Why? Because we've heard it a million times - as what it is - hyperbole.

As Rod Steiger said to Omar Sharif in Dr. Zhivago - "Is your delicacy really so exhorbitant?"

And that goes for you too Aramis.
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written by Stanley Anderson, March 26, 2014
I wonder if Anthoy Esolen’s conclusions in today’s column might be summarized by this (I hope not irreverent) parody of a familiar opening (or at least it was familiar to most people at some time in the past):

In the big ending was the world, and the world was at odds , and the world was odd. The flame was, in the big ending, methodically unmade and rebuilt. And without Him was not any thing taught that was taught...
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written by Stanley Anderson, March 26, 2014
(Oops. I accidentally inserted a comma after "The flame was" which alters the intended meaning of the sentence -- should be "The flame was in the big ending...")
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written by Mr. Levy, March 26, 2014
Outstanding, Prof. Esolen. I hope you will collect your essays at The Catholic Thing in a book. My wife and I have derived much education and inspiration from them, and they bear repeated re-readings.
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written by Walter, March 26, 2014
No can do, Chris. I follow the tradition of Manfred, Grump and others: I speak my mind.
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written by Chris in Maryland, March 26, 2014
Walter:

You should reconsider and relent from sanctimony. Some thoughts are better kept to oneself.
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written by JRF, March 26, 2014
Spot on Mr. Levy! The reviews to your excellent articles follow the make-up of the church today. In the main, the flock has been shepherded by cafeteria Catholic priests for the last 40+ years. It is no wonder that we hear from so many of their flock commenting on articles that appear in TCT. Of course many of the vitriolic comments are from individuals posing as Catholics which I know you realize. Please keep the soul food coming.
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written by Tony Esolen, March 26, 2014
I like to respond kindly to my interlocutors here; and I almost always do so. But I wonder whether Walter understands what a "metaphor" is. When I say, "Burn it down," referring to the OECTA, I am calling upon such loyally Catholic parents as remain in Ontario to do two things: to do all they can, politically, either to dismantle that association altogether or to compel the provincial government to obey the terms of its own laws as regards the funding of genuinely Catholic schools -- in other words, to bring down the OECTA; and to start building new schools from scratch. The first is highly desirable; the second is absolutely necessary.

William -- I cannot disagree with you more vehemently about the "candidate pool." First, the Church has already shut that issue down. She has no authority to ordain women. Second, if women are ordained to the priesthood, they will be far less, not more, likely to want to do the humble work of teaching schoolchildren. The nuns who got the feminist bug began to despise what they were doing. Third, every single denomination that has gone in that direction is dying or is dead. The United Church of Canada is Exhibit A. Fourth, you cannot cast out devils in the name of Beelzebub, and feminism has proved to be that Lady of the Flies -- or do you really suppose that women priests will inspire young men to lead the Church militant? Ordaining women is a suicide pill.

But it is time to build. Every week or so I receive a letter from somebody or other, usually from a perfect stranger, who is building a new Catholic school. Time to divert some of our donations away from the rot and towards what is growing up green and strong.
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written by william manley, March 27, 2014
Mr. Esolen, I'm confused by your response to me. The inclusion of women in the candidate pool for the medical and legal professions has enhanced those professions immeasurably. The inclusion of women in the candidate pool for historically all male colleges and universities has enhanced the academic quality of those student bodies significantly. It seems logical to me that the same thing would happen with the Catholic priesthood. It also troubles me that you seem to suggest that women in the priesthood would necessarily have a feminist bent. Many of the women joining the convent today seem to be more traditional as shown by their attraction to the more conservative religious communities. Your further suggestion that a female priest would be casting out devils in the name of Beelzebub is an unfortunate and mean spirited flight of rhetoric. Come on, Mr. Esolen, you are more civil and charitable than that. Finally, I would respectfully ask you to explain the Biblical reasons why the Church "has no authority to ordain women." I can find nothing in the Gospels prohibiting a female priesthood, and I would greatly appreciate a detailed explanation for this blanket prohibition. Perhaps that might be a topic for a future essay by you or another "Catholic Thing" writer. Thanks in advance for your response to my concerns....respectfully, William Manley.
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written by Mr. Levy, March 27, 2014
Mr. Manley:

How has the absence of mothers from the home enhanced the lives of the little girls they leave behind?

More generally, why do you believe that the spheres of men and women should be entirely identical? Do you think that men and women are the same?

I recommend starting from first principles.
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written by Tony Esolen, March 27, 2014
The problem with us is that men don't want to be fathers and women don't want to be mothers. The priesthood is not to be thought of as a source of employment, as is the medical profession. None of the women joining the convent today want to be priests! They want to enjoy the glory of spiritual motherhood, and not to pretend to be fathers.

What will happen to the priesthood if women were to enter it (which cannot happen; the issue has been settled, so there isn't much point in bringing it up), is well illustrated by what has already happened in the other Protestant denominations. Death, that's what has happened. They go soft on women's ordination; then they go soft on all the sexual issues; then men don't want to do what they perceive as effeminate work; or, rather, men and boys are never roused to interest in the first place. If women REALLY want a revival in the Church, they need to see to it first that there's a revival in what concerns them most nearly, and that is the home, the family, and the neighborhood.
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written by william manley, March 27, 2014
Thanks for the response, Tony. I'll reflect on it.
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written by Stanley Anderson, March 27, 2014
I hope I am not going too far astray from the main topic of the article, but in connection with the last couple of reply comments about women in the priesthood, I have often wondered whether the typical Protestant mistrust and discomfort (and therefore of distinct "distancing from") of the honor and reverence and attention that Catholics give to the Virgin Mary doesn't create a sort of vacuum that simply "needs" to be filled with something, and that this is the (likely subconscious) impetus and desire that drives the "need" for the ordination of women in virtually all the denominations. And that as a result, as Anthony Esolen makes clear in his post above, the mismatch between the position and its representative creates a very spiritually unhealthy, if not deadly (as he indicates) situation.
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written by Deacon Ed Peitler, March 28, 2014
The Holy Father reminded all clerics in the Church that ours is a call to service. Anyone who thinks of his ordained ministry as a source of money, power , or prestige will not be fulfilling his vocational call and will wind up being a miserable bishop, priest or deacon.

No, the consummate image for those of us in the ordained ministry is the cross. If I am unwilling to die for those I am called to serve, better I should go elsewhere in the Church; ordained ministry is not for me.
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written by Charles Burns, March 28, 2014
William,
How I would love to encounter a male doctor or a male voice on some gov't agency telephone. It is like women have taken over everything. One wonders what men do these days, besides being soldiers and cops--and even in those positions there are very many women. Besides, St. Paul says that it is disgraceful for women to speak in church. And given the "Epistle babes" at Novus Ordo cult meetings, I must wholeheartedly agree.

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