Rorate Caeli

Fiducia Supplicans & Bank Robbery: Cognitive Dissonance in the Life of the Church

A guest article.

Imagine you witness a man walk into a bank, point a gun at the teller, and say "I have no intention of legitimizing bank-robbing, but would you please give me $10,000 in the next five minutes?"

Horrified, you run to the nearest police station and relate what you saw, but to your shock the policeman looks at you with scorn: "Are you crazy? That poor fellow explicitly said he had no intention of bank robbing. He was simply asking for money. I hope the teller wasn't so unkind as to refuse him."

Dumbfounded, you stammer: "But, officer, bank robbing is against the law! How can you legitimize this?"

Now visibly angry, the officer stands up and begins to shout: "I'm not legitimizing anything! Of course bank robbery is wrong, but people ask for money all the time, even if they sometimes do it in a less-than-ideal way. Plus, that fellow even said 'please' and gave the teller plenty of time--clearly, he's on the road to a deeper conversion. Now get out, before I lock you up for disrespecting my authority!"

Such is the level of cognitive dissonance in the recent Vatican document Fiducia Supplicans (and this week's supposed "clarification"), which asserts "the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage." Like the witness to the bank robber "asking for money" in the thought experiment above, Catholics should not only be horrified at the idea of God's blessing being invoked upon an objectively sinful relationship, but positively insulted that anyone would expect them to believe that "blessings" of such couples are not indeed precisely "validating their status" -- no matter how much gaslighting and mental gymnastics by Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez to the contrary.

But while Catholics are understandably outraged by the sophistry and incoherence of Fiducia Supplicans, an honest examination of conscience reveals that this is only the latest (albeit, perhaps the most glaring) cognitive dissonance plaguing the Church over the past 60 years. Consider, just to name a few from a long list:

-The inconsistency of certain texts of the Second Vatican Council, not just with the Church's perennial teaching but even within the same document. To take just one example, the Council's declaration on religious liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, which purportedly "leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ" (par. 1) while in the next sentence claiming to "develop the doctrine" (sound familiar?) before seemingly outright contradicting it by declaring religious liberty a natural right (contra the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX, which condemned the proposition that "Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true"). As a result, we have the rejection in practice of the Social Kingship of Christ. (Evidence: try bringing this up as a continuing part of Catholic Social Teaching and see how far you get...)

- The dogma of the Real Presence of Christ -- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity -- in the Most Holy Eucharist, while at the same time allowing permission for the casual reception of Communion in the hand while standing, often from an unordained "extraordinary minister."

- Catholic teaching on the necessity of receiving the Holy Eucharist in the state of grace, contrasted with an almost total lack of preaching on mortal sin, resulting in huge discrepancies between the Communion and Confession lines in most parishes.

- The teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ regarding the indissolubility of marriage versus chaper 8 of Amoris Laetitia. We could also mention the widespread abuse of the annulment process, leading in practice to "Catholic divorce."

- The catch-phrases of "new evangelization" and "being missionary disciples" while, through interreligious dialogue and false ecumenism, refusing to clearly assert that the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ, indeed the one true religion willed by God, to which all -- without exception -- are called to belong.

Undoubtedly the list could continue, but every case has one thing in common: an external practice that directly undermines Catholic belief -- in other words, a cognitive dissonance.

Those attempting to subvert the Church's teaching know all too well that cognitive dissonance is difficult for the human brain to maintain. Belief inevitably follows practice. Traditional Catholics have long expressed this through the maxim lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.

Perhaps, in God's providence, the global opposition to the "bank robbery" of Fiducia Supplicans will finally wake up the entire Church to honestly confront -- and courageously begin to remedy -- all the cognitive dissonances that have afflicted Christ's Mystical Body on earth for so long.