Saturday, May 31, 2014

How Groupthink And Political Correctness Are Damaging Faithful Catholics

Last Thursday at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda, I attended a fascinating talk given by Stella Morabito-Green.  It was entitled "Living Faithfully In A Culture Of Fear", and it dealt with the threat of political correctness.  Her focus was on political correctness as it exists in secular culture and the very real threat it poses to faithful Catholics who seek to integrate their faith in all facets of their lives.  As I listened to her talk and related it to discussions I had been having on Facebook and elsewhere, I could see how even some faithful Catholics were embracing and even using some tenets of political correctness interlaced with groupthink.

Progressives have been quite adept at using political correctness, by seizing control of language and vocabulary to shape public thought.  Largely they've been successful because 1) most folks (including most faithful Catholics) don't understand the dynamics of group-think even though 2) they latch onto group-think as a means of social survival.  As she spoke, however, I could understand well what she was saying.  A little over twenty years ago, I had been involved with a "charismatic" group that had more and more assumed the characteristics of a thought-reform cult.  After many of us started questioning things AND the local church forced leaders to step aside, I left the group and started reading voraciously about thought-reform techniques, mostly from the Cultic Studies Journal.  Most cults exhibited similar behaviors.  The late Dr. Robert Lifton listed eight such characteristics.  As you read them, recall how the politically-correct left has hijacked certain words and phrases: "freedom of choice", "bigot", "homophobe", etc.  This is what Dr. Lifton would have called "loading the language".  Here is another summary on characteristics of cults.  As I go through the discussions in which I participated, I'l try to remember to point out these cult characteristics as I saw them at play.  You might want to keep these pages open and refer to them as I relate the examples in following paragraphs.

Please keep the preceding on the back burner, for I now have to switch gears.  Many of us will recall how young people spoke very highly of Saint John Paul II, flocking to his world youth day events.  The pope did nothing to encourage this following.  He did love them and was genuine with them.  However, some of the fervor was not altogether helpful.  A youth-worship grew around that, something that I'm sure the Holy Father would have found to be regrettable.  It continued with the pontificate of Benedict XVI and in some ways assumed even more adolescent characteristics; that is NOT a complement but again, it was no fault of the Holy Father.  For example, I recall that the American Papist blog would feature weekly pictures of the Holy Father as some mishap befell him (such as fabric flying in his face) and he asked his readers to provide captions for the photos.  To this day I still don't understand the usefulness of that endeavor; it was merely a way to indulge adolescent impulses. Unfortunately it also helped foster a belief that the "proper" attitude of a young person to the pontiff was adulation tainted with childishness and inappropriate jocularity.  Among other harmful effects, it discouraged logical thinking among Catholics.

There is also some confusion as to the meaning of papal infallibility.  For this I believe we can thank the lousy Catholic education that we received, especially from the mid 1960s and beyond.  Many good, sincere Catholics believe that every action and utterance by a Pope should be deemed infallible and to carry the weight of the Teaching Magisterium of the Church.  Not true!  Papal infallibility is actually only rarely invoked and only under conditions as I relayed after some research.  I'll link to an article penned by Father Longenecker that describes the dangers that happen when people ascribe inappropriate significance to every conversation, spontaneous action, etc in which the Pope engages.   They believe that imprudent actions of the pope cannot ever be criticized when in fact they probably should.  Moreover, they rail on those who do raise questions about papal doings, often with great rancor and even hatred.  In terms of cultic behavior, we call this both "dispensed existence" and "aura of sacred science".

We are seeing both mindsets in play in relation to Pope Francis.  Last September on a Facebook group (Catholic Tea Party, to be precise) one of the admins posted a "selfie" of Pope Francis, asking us if it was "cool or too casual".  When three of us opined that it the selfie was beneath the dignity of the papacy, we were told that we were "attacking the pope", we were "self-flagellating", and the such.  You might not be able to find it on that page since it was so long ago, but I do have screen shots for the dubious.  Now because the three of us dared to step out of the bounds of the obvious group-think in that group, we were vilified.  Go to the chart of cult characteristics and look up "dispensed existence" and "aura of sacred science".  Those were the psychological force at play during that incident.

That was rather long ago, but "dispensing of existence" in relation to discussion of prudential actions of the Pope's still continues.  Last week the Holy Father kissed the hand of, and concelebrated Mass with Fr. Michele De Paolis, a priest notorious for his decades-long public dissent from Church teaching regarding homosexuality.  The secular media, then the Catholic media lit up regarding this matter.  LifeSiteNews led the charge on this.  I blogged on it too, but my piece was largely commentary on LifeSiteNew's piece.  Please read that article very carefully.  I thought Hilary White did an excellent job in reporting the facts, but apparently those of the "the pope's every word/action is always infallible and adorable" crowd couldn't brook that.  On a Facebook wall a few days later, I had the temerity to support LSN.  For that most heinous of offenses I was deemed a Pharisee and told that I was on my way to hell: just before I was "unfriended" by the wall-owner, Gerard Nadal.  Yes, that too is "dispensed existence".

My little "unfriending" pales in comparison with the long knives that are being slashed in the direction of Hilary White.  I link now to Simcha Fisher's Facebook page and you can see for yourselves the venom that's being hurled in White's direction.  Fisher also took issue with LSN on the National Catholic Register blog.   I did put out my rebuttal against Fisher's piece.

If you saw my piece this past Wednesday (the one immediately preceding this one), you'll notice that I used a phrase "niggers of the new age" to describe the increasingly hostile way in which faithful Catholics (and other traditional Christians) are being marginalized and even persecuted by the now-dominant Culture of Death.  I've coined that phrase before, and am finding it to be more and more apropos, given the increasingly blatant mistreatment that we are experiencing.  I must now address a rather knee-jerk reaction that I'm receiving from otherwise faithful Catholics regarding this phrase for I believe that such reactions have some basis in thought-reform psychology.

Let's go back to the chart and review two definitions, bearing in mind how well the left has seized control of language with the unwitting acquiescence of Christians.  Consider also what I wrote regarding my purpose behind the coinage of the phrase "niggers of the new age".
  1. Demand for purity - Note the last sentence in that box: "People are punished and learn to punish themselves for not living up to the group's ideals."  They also learn to punish one another.  I've seen this throughout my early adulthood in Mother of God Community and yes, to my shame I've even engaged in that behavior.  Where I now see it being manifested is that I'm being urged to cease use of that term lest I offend against political correctness.  There is an attempt to police/punish me for speaking the truth, claiming that "I might lose credibility".  A question to be answered is "do I care for credibility in the eyes of the culture that is inflicting harm on me?"  The answer is that we mustn't give a rat's rump about their opinions.  I speak to rouse my fellow Catholics out of their apathy and into action before we lose our right to engage in meaningful action against this marginalization.
  2. Loading the language - Mind you, the term is accurate.  It is harsh of course but that's necessary to convey the increasingly harsh treatment being meted out to us.  By the way - I understand that those involved in abusive relationships, both the aggressor and the victim, will try to minimize via language manipulation the real harm being done in order to deny pain or guilt (depending on their respective roles in the relationship).  Clearly there's an attempt on the part of faithful Catholics to deny what is happening to themselves and their friends/families so they won't have to face it and deal with it appropriately.
I thought it important to highlight the thought-reform psychology that is in play against those Catholics who are trying to speak accurately against the attacks on the One True Faith.  I know of no other explanation for the venomous vehemence of the attacks against us (save demonic influence).  Unfortunately some Catholics, unwilling to face and deal with the encroaching culture of death, feel they must attack those of us who will face down the culture of death, lest their insular little bubbles be popped.  Eventually those bubbles will be popped anyway, but they'll be content to "arrange the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic" unless we challenge their groupthink and perhaps awaken enough of them.

I'll close this with a Vortex describing how these self-deluded Catholics behave against faithful Catholics.


  1. Outstanding article Janet.

    I couldn't agree more!

  2. Interesting piece. The Pontiff is the one selected with the guidance of the Holy Spirit via the College of Cardinals to either lead us or scourge us. We can only pray for him and take solace in the idea that Christ promised the Church would last till the end of time. It had and will be badly beaten at times by enemies within and without. But it'll survive. God's will be done and may He have mercy upon us all.

  3. Whenever someone proposes living in community as the answer for lay holiness I always go "let me tell you about an old story about the Mother of God group."

  4. Remember, there is the ordinary magisterium, too. "However, the doctrine of the Ordinary Magisterium, that of Papal Primacy in all matters of governance, the obligation of religious assent and obedience to non-infallible teaching (Lumen gentium 25), the concurrence of the apostolic college of the bishops (both at the Council and since) to the whole body of conciliar teaching and policies, together with the acceptance of the overwhelming majority of orthodox clergy, theologians and laity, argue in favor of the teachings and their application."

    I'm not saying you don't. I'm just saying that it's not just papal infallibility we must follow. Not that I disagree with what you are saying. I don't. (However, I was surprised with, and would not have used the word, "nigger.") But I'm just saying that ordinary magisterium is an aspect that is often overlooked. Not by you, per se, just in general. We must remember and be faithful to this also.

    However, some people do take this too far. Look at all the questioning done by Michael Davies, and he was surely a faithful Catholic.


    1. The problems arise when any off-the-cuff conversation, magazine interview, telephone call, etc is ascribed the weight of papal infallibility. We are also free to respectfully disagree with the Holy Father on matters of prudential judgment. For instance, while we all assent that we must address the needs of the needy, we can differ on HOW to best do that. This notion, for example, of the state "redistributing wealth" is absolutely disastrous and at best, counter-productive.

      As far as the "nigger" term goes, I intend this to describe the treatment that is being meted out to Catholics in more and more brazen ways. I agree it is shocking. It should shock, because it describes a reality that should shock us even more - and hopefully shock us into some meaningful action before it is too late.

  5. Also, I forgot to add this the other day, but I disagree with what Dymphna said about lay groups who live in community. Yes, there have been bad ones, but look at the Emmanuel community. They are good, right?



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